mr. mcnamara

"i think the human race needs to think about killing. how much evil must we do in order to do good."

robert s. mcnamara is a man forged in war. if you don't know him by now, you really should. this is a man responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, all under the tent of patriotic duty for the united states government. he has been considered evil, manipulative, coniving, arrogant, immoral... but at the same time, he's also been called brilliant and a mastermind. whatever, or whoever he is, one realizes that this is a man who has made decisions, good and bad, and now must live with them. and funny enough, he seems to be doing quite well.

the documentary, the fog of war: eleven lessons from the life of robert s. mcnamara, is an incredible film that some have criticized as being a platform for more of his egotistical blubber, while others have praised as being quite insightful and incredibly fascinating, if only as a character portrait of a man who not only helped engineer some of the military strategy behind the allied firebombings of japan, but also a man who helped president kennedy steer through the cuban missile crisis, as well as being at the forefront of the u.s. participation in vietnam. if you haven't seen this movie, go see it. it is infinitely fascinating. i did not think that his words would be so compelling, but when a man admits that he would have been tried as a war criminal had the united states lost the second world war, you tend to sit up and listen.

this is a good movie. a good documentary. what documentaries should be like. not the circus side show that michael moore's documentaries tend to be. a documentary is supposed to be about the subject, not its director. some say that errol morris, the director, was out-gunned, out-manned and out-witted by mcnamara. that mcnamara used him as a vehicle to relieve his own conscience. i don't necessarily think this is true. i think morris did what a film maker is supposed to do in this situation, which is to navigate, while letting mcnamara drive.

the reason i bring this up is because of the influence mr. mcnamara seems to be having on the writing of revolutionaries wanted. it's sort of unintentional, but not entirely unwelcome. don't get me wrong, i believe mr. mcnamara is as amoral as a human being can get, but there is merrit to his words, his life. for good or ill, he helped shape u.s. history. i just find myself thinking more and more about what he's said in the past few days.

revolutionaries wanted, i believe, will be a two part book. the first will be called wicked days, wherein you'll see a terrible war being waged. the second part will be called lay me down, and as the title suggests, will be something of a personal odyssey, which begs to answer the question, is it better to be forgotten than be remembered for giving in? i personally have an answer to that. to me the answer is very simple. but i'll leave it so people will read the damned book.

ps: music to write to: duran duran and elbow.