Forgotten Wars, Suffering In The Shadows
What do we cleave to as the darkness spreads?
A few months ago, some minor domestic disruption resulted in my good lady dropping me and my dog off in a woodland rather later than usual. The night was already setting in, but I insisted that the walk proceed because in my opinion we already spent too much time in our safety zone — one day drifting aimlessly into another. The fact that going for a walk at night, in the dark through thick woodland seemed to be a rather weird and perhaps stupid thing to do, is exactly why it should be done. At least that was my reasoning — Heidegger’s maxim of walking in graveyards to find out who you really are loomed large in my thought process, too.
Morgoth’s Review is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
It turns out that finding yourself in the woods, in the pitch dark, also entails lots of tripping over roots and rocks, a good deal of confusion, and even more swearing. Eventually, in what seemed a cowardly concession to modernity, I decided that I wasn’t making the ground I should be and fiddled with the phone until I figured out how to switch on the rather paltry torch app. Subsequently, I could see about four or five feet in front of me and along the trail, but no more than that. Yet, paradoxically, the fact that I was now ‘‘lit up’’ made me feel more ill at ease than I had been in complete darkness. In a Blair Witch Project sort of way, I was acutely conscious of what I could not see, precisely because I knew what I could see. I could ‘‘Enlighten’’ a tiny fraction of my surroundings at one time. If I turned the phone torch left, then the right would be dark, and vice versa.
Outside the glare of the light, there was nothing but darkness, which is to say, it was unknown and what is unknown is disconcerting, and creepy. I wondered if I was being watched, even though I knew there were no cars in the car park. Gradually, my logical and rational faculties seemed to be in contrast to deeper flight or fight impulses trying to push their way up from dormant depths in my psyche. I stuck slavishly to the light in front of me and wandered the trail back, wondering the whole way what I would look like to something, or someone, sitting in the dark observing me.
Like Sauron’s glaring eyeball realizing The Ring is about to have a lava bath, the blazing eyeballs of the Western media and political establishment recently turned with whiplash ferocity away from Ukraine and towards the Middle East, and with it so too did everybody else’s attention and focus. Ukrainian and Russian men are still dying in the mud, but now they’re doing so in darkness. In the same way that people are still dying because of the vaccines they were forced to take Three Current Things ago. How many? Nobody knows they suffer in the dark too.
It is curiously unsettling to think of titanic events unfolding without interest or acknowledgment. In Melville’s Moby Dick, allusions are made to great battles being fought far down in the gloom between whales and giant squid that result in not much more than a tiny ripple on the surface of the ocean. Forgotten wars are like this.