History is But a Constant Stream of Ideas.

I got through the little bios of the six men in the epic flag photo before I had to put Flags of Our Fathers down. Really, James Bradley? You're going for the silent, stoic Indian, the hardworking loyal-to-adopted-homeland immigrant angle? Bradley skims through the first four guys because, let's face it, they were just regular ole small town white boys. There wasn't a whole lot to say about them. If he were a better, less painfully biased writer, perhaps he could have found a way to make me see the significance of such ordinary American boys becoming part of a legendary piece of history. Shit though, it's not that significant, if you think about it. Ordinary people are thrust into legend all the time. That's just how it works. You don't need to shove it up my butt. Jeez.

Anyway, the first four boys are pretty ordinary. It's not till Bradley gets to the last two that he really gets into it. Ira Hayes, the Pima Indian, the guy furthest to the left in the photo. Bradley writes that Hayes' hands are outstretched, unable to grasp the flagpole, when the sequence of photos on the inside of the front cover shows very clearly the progression of the pole as it's raised. As in, by the time of the infamous photo, the flag was well enough grounded and well enough on its way to going up, that Hayes had most likely just let go of it. Bradley's attempting to make a dramatic correlation between Hayes' place and attitude in the photo to his position in society, as a good ole American Injun, different and apart, though Hayes is right up there against the other guys. Bradley also says that Ira Hayes is silent in the photo. I'm not sure what this means. It sounds like he's really stretching it. He has almost no information on the man's character, other than that he was a very quiet person. Bradley takes this to mean that he was silent and stoical in the typical manner of all Indians, even while he quotes several people as saying that Hayes was particularly quiet.

Here's Bradley's words on Mike Strank: "He was the enigma: the immigrant who became the ultimate fighting Yank..." Talk about glorifying. Strank was out fighting battles, got promoted and stuck in charge of scared men even younger than him, so he told them he'd do his best to keep them alive. Sounds like a good guy, but jesus christ, the ultimate fighting Yank?? What's so enigmatic about him? Strank was the oldest brother in a coal-mining family. He was pretty smart and took care of his own. Bradley romanticizes and glorifies to no end. If the guy is really awesome, the reader will be able to pick that up. All the author needs to do is tell the damn story.

I think the problem is Bradley arranged his book like a really biased essay, when it's obvious he wants to write a novel.

Here is what annoys me about historical books and movies: they spend so much time setting everything up and showing supposedly necessary and factual clips and snippets that the whole point, the message, the ideals, get lost. What is your point? Your thesis? Why should I bother reading Flags of Our Fathers? Does the iconic image on its cover represent the indomitable spirit of America, as carried out by six seemingly unremarkable men? Is the meaning so blatantly obvious that I should feel mentally challenged for even having to ask? All this extra fluff is not necessary. Most often it obscures the true idea. Just like harlequin romance novels put a lot of bells and whistles on sex, most historical books and films cloud the real significance of events, the ideas that push history forward.


Show, Don't Tell, Mo'fucker, Do You Speak It?

I've only just begun Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley, and I can already tell it's going to suck. Here's why:

A. The author's father was the only flagraiser to return home from Iwo Jima and live to a ripe old age.

B. The author's father never spoke of his role in raising the flag.

C. The author states in the beginning that the image of the six men raising the flag on Iwo Jima is iconic, but he doesn't say why; he either assumes it's unnecessary, or is going to explain it later.

Thus far, James Bradley has been shoving images of good ol' American boys in my face, trying to make me see what they sacrificed in the name of their country. He's trying to glorify war by telling me that it makes men out of boys. He even refers to himself now and then, giving his personal opinion from first-person perspective, as though this book is about him, too. Which in a way, it is, since he went to all the trouble to find out about these guys, but Bradley is detracting from their story. His stake in the story of the flagraising is too personal and he can't tell it objectively; Bradley feels this need to uncover the story because his father was always silent about it, even though Bradley Sr. was the one who lived the longest.

Yes, I know the flagraising picture represents the indomitable spirit of America or some shite, but the author gets so lost in his own emotional drivel that he fails to point this out. I should think that would be the thesis of the whole book, the whole point. As in, I'm reading this book to find out how six young men came to represent the indomitable spirit of America in one iconic image. But noooooooo, I'm treated to all this "American boys" this and that.

Basically, James Bradley is all tell and no show.


Sedimentary Evolution

As things stand nowadays, pretty much anyone and everyone can be a star. We all know this. The bar for talent has been considerably lowered. All it takes to become famous is an entertaining internet video. The majority of the people no longer need a glamorous idol who will be remembered for decades; all they need now is a few minutes of quotable absurdity. Andy Warhol's prophesied 15 minutes of fame is more applicable than ever, with our attentions spans no longer surpassing that of a goldfish.

We steadily retreat further and further from reality, allowing it to become fully subjective, until reality is only what we see on our computer screen, whether it be funny videos of cats or images of purported irony.

I wonder what comes next.