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Man is a bubble, and all the world is a storm.
He kept it on a shelf in our family den, where for years when I was a kid it roared down at us -- unappeasably furious or so I always thought at being trapped up there on its high perch, with no company except some painted beer mugs and a set of purple glass swizzle sticks.
Probably my brother and I were having a skirmish and a shot went wild. Carefully, almost reverently, he wrapped up the tiger and the shards of its shattered leg and put them away in a box in the basement. A long time later, years after my father died, my mother and my wife found the box when they were clearing out some old family junk.
My wife knows how much I like big cats and all other varieties of predators and raptors, and she painstakingly glued the tiger back together and gave it to me as a present. The tiger seems to fit right in, but I sometimes suspect it feels shanghaied.
That was all part of the past, and he had no use for the past. He used to wave off any question I asked about the world before I was born, irritatedly dismissing it as if all of that were self-evidently too shabby and quaint to interest a modern kid like me. What did he think about when he saw it?
Whatever patina of private associations the tiger had for him is gone for good. No matter what their occasion was, they sooner or later slip free and are lost in a generic blur: What really happened in Korea?
Nor does that frozen roar speak to the complex of murky policies that had sent my father into battle in the first place, thousands of miles from home.
We think of the limitless peace around us as the baseline condition of life. To the Greeks, peace was nothing but a fluke, an irrelevance, an arbitrary delay brought on when bad weather forced the spring campaign to be canceled, or a back-room deal kept the troops at home until after harvest time.
In our own culture the people who know what war is like find it almost impossible to communicate with the children of peace.
Everybody knew that if those values had ever really existed in America, they were only the result of some Norman Rockwell collective delusion. It was the largest war ever fought, the largest single event in history. Its aftereffects surround us in countless intertwining ways: Before the war there were 3 suburban shopping centers in the U.
In the mids, when my own consumption of pop culture was at its peak, the war was the only thing my friends and I thought about. We all had toy boxes stuffed with World War II armaments -- with toy pistols and molded plastic rifles and alarmingly realistic rubber hand grenades.
We refought World War II battles daily and went out on our campaigns so overloaded with gear we looked like ferocious porcupines. Decades after it was over the war was still expanding and dissipating in our minds, like the vapor trails of an immense explosion.kaja-net.com accepts submissions for its annual Narrative Travel Writing Contest offering a $ first-prize, $ 2nd place and $ 3rd place.
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