Monday, October 27, 2008

The Experiment.

All of these interviews started with some version of this information:

"I have a friend right now in Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Is there anything you would like to say to a future army infantryman? Any message you would like to send him? From Civilian to future soldier?"
My words are in italics.


I. Little Miss Molly

"Good luck. And I thank you for your... I don't know. I don't know. Very profound. Let me think about it, let me sleep on it and you can record me tomorrow."
Tomorrow:


II. Ben, a Freshman (I believe) who unluckily sat across from me.

"I have three friends that have already been over there, and two more that I already know are going. I guess the biggest thing would be, how are you preparing yourself to, uh, for like, the complete lifestyle change."
"They tell him when to take a shit."
"Yeah..."
"Anything you want to send to him? You can ask him questions but, if you could send him any message when he's sitting in basic, what would it be?"
"Send any message to him? Um, like, I don't know, thanks for serving our country, thanks for..."
"Really?"
"I don't know."
"Thanks for serving our country?" (me, laughing)
"I guess, I don't know him so, the question is why did you decide to go, what do you think of the war."
"Not questions: A message."
"Ummm, my message is, come back safe. Come back, do your job. Do what the United States is hoping to do. What the rest of the world... I mean, spread democracy. And, do what you can. Protect your friends, protect your family. Do what you can while you're there."

III. Cassandra

"... (a small burping sound) (laughter) Thanks..."
"Thanks, bye!"
"Thanks, byyyye! (laughing) Thanks but no thanks... I don't know, Josh Zeis did it for money for school."
"That's not why Colin did it."
"No, I know."
"He turned down 40,000 dollars."
"Really? why? What do you mean?"
"You can sign on with different options and colin had some pretty high options in the military, and potentially..."
"See that's the thing, cause Josh Zeis, got training in computer stuff, and what did he do? He was like out doing one of the most dangerous jobs ever. He was disarming bombs. That was anything that they said he was going to be doing, and he couldn't do anything about it. That's what so shitty about it, they tell everyone they're going to be doing this really safe thing."
"They told him he had special forces written all over him."
"I know, that's what they told Josh Zeis. And he's like, "that's totally sweet, I'll sign up if that's going to be what I'm doing, and he was blown up like three times. You know, he never got hurt, but he couldn't believe he got that close to it."

III. Chelsea, a girl sitting in front of me before a documentary film shown on campus about racism after 9/11 with red hair. (somewhat attractive)

"Should there be? What am I supposed to say?"
"Does it make you feel anything?"
"I don't know. No?"
"Does it make you think about anything?"
"Patriotism?"
"What is that?"
"Patriotism is honoring our country and loving-our-country-sort-of-thing, right?"
"What about shooting guns at brown people? Is that patriotism?"
"Um, not necessarily. I mean we have to be fighting for a cause in order for it to be
patriotic, right?
"What cause is that?"
"It all depends upon the cause."
...

"It's really hot right there, right now in Georgia. Lots of flies. He gets up and runs at 6am.
"Yes, it is. It's probably very miserable."
"He's got one hour of free time to himself. And the only book he has; is the bible."
"Why don't you send him a book?"
"They won't let me."
"All he wants is the Bible?"
"No, he doesn't want the Bible. Just any book he can have."
"What form of the Bible?"
"They also tell him when to take shits."
"That's nice."
"That's nice? How does that make you feel?"
"It makes me feel really bad for him."
"Really?"
"But, he chose to do it, so..."
"What percentage of people who go into the army choose to go into the army do you think?"
"Don't they all get a choice in one form or another?"
"Well, I suppose on some level we all have the potential to chose to do anything at any moment, but..."
"Exactly."
"Hmmm... (taking a bite of my crispy, cold apple) Anything else?"
"No."

IV. Matt

"Is there anything you would like to say to a future GI right now?"
"Maybe after this glass of scotch I will."
"Alright."
(Proceeds to drink glass of good scotch)
"So, he's getting shipped off right away?"
"He doesn't know when he's going."
"So he's getting shipped off right away. That's what they always say. They said to my cousin."
...
"So you're recording now?"
"Is that alright?"
"I'd say first off, don't give a shit what I say. And totally fucking ignore what I say. Cause I'm not in that situation, and I'm not feeling what you're feeling in that moment. But I would say honestly, if I was in that situation, and I had to be in that situation, I'd protect my ass."
"That all anybody does."
"But isn't that the nature of being a soldier? I mean, honestly...
"How many dying men and women think of their flag or their country."
"I'm sure none of them do. I'm sure it'd be like, I want to live, I want to get back home, but that's not going to happen if this doesn't happen right now, so... I mean, that's the soldier's dilemma, I think."
"That shit (your "shit") should be voluntary at any point I think."
"It should be, but war isn't fair. Fighting isn't fair. It's not going to be fair. It's not going to be a rational decision if bullets are flying at you. At that point, it's a primal instinct, and you're going to do what you need to do to live."
"Maybe you to say... alright, maybe you don't have to say this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is true: That war helps societies function. That there are people who want to kill other people and want to enforce their will on another person."
"I totally agree with that."
"And to have those types of people go out of this country to do that to other people who want to force their will on other people, and kill each other? I don't know."
"I agree, but at the same time, military... culture."
"This is probably not a good conversation to be having at the VFW."
"Probably not. But maybe it's a good conversation to be having at a VFW. I think military culture is probably aimed towards that goal."
"What, killing each other off, or having long conversations at Veterans of Foreign Wars Bars?" (laughter)
"If all your soldiers were asking questions, why should I be doing this? Would there be any real action happening? Probably not. There probably wouldn't be."
"Well, that's what basic training tells you not to do."
"Well there it is. Your conscious state of mind is turned into the military's conscious state of mind. And their perogative. But then again, does that perogative help you? Or does it hurt you? Think if you were a military person right now over in the middle east thinking, "Should I really be doing this? Oh no, these people are awesome!” But then you’re trying to be the good samaritan and trying to change the world and all of a sudden, they push a button and you and ten of your friends die. That’s what I’m saying, I can’t elaborate or say anymore on this because I’m not there. I've learned it from my family and everybody else. I have these spectacular ideals that i want to live by, but you know what? As soon as I have a fucking gun pointed at my face, I'm not going to say a word. And that's why it's hard. I think that's why it's really hard."
...

V. Jenna, a film major and insane person.

"Can I say, "I can see Russia from my house!" (quoting Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin) (laughing)
"There you go."
"That's all i have to say. Have fun in basic training."

VI. Cody Arso

"RUN."
"Fuckin ruuun! And never look back.
Run.
Run run run. Run run run, run run.
Keep shooting bullets and run.
Away from the bullets.
Keep runnin'.
You don't even have to run as long as you get away.
Doesn't matter what it is, just run and get away.
And keep shootin' bullets."
"That's it?"
"NEVER PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPON. EVER."

1 comment:

Catherine M Brehmer said...

Why did he go?

I haven't had any phone calls returned to me, so maybe the internet is the best way to do this?

I'd really like to know.

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