Sunday, April 25, 2004

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (2004)

Wow. Saw this awesome panel on BookTV today. They were covering the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Thank God for CSPAN (and all its related entities). Unreal. From the BookTV website, we have:

Saturday, April 24

Panel: The Seduction of War

Anthony Swofford, "Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles"
Chris Hedges, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning"
James Hillman, "A Terrible Love of War"
Leo Braudy, "From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity"
Samantha Power, "'A Problem from Hell': America and the Age of Genocide"—Moderator

I'll start by saying that Anthony Swofford's book, "Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles", must be awesome. I still haven't read it, but some of the stories he tells are just unreal. He says he used to be a scrawny little kid - now's he's a monster (he is) - and part of his book details the changes in his psyche as the Marines are transforming him into a superior killing machine. Awesome stuff.

Some of the other panelists have some very interesting things to say, also. I know Samantha Power, the moderator, is now being trumpeted as one of the top intelligensia voices in America today. The other panelists, one a reporter were also very valuable. The reporter had a very interesting point. He noted how, when he was following a particular war - within the battle zone - he and his war-reporting colleagues would actually feel sort of depressed when the war ended. Despite the horrifcs they'd witnessed up close, they could not wait to get to the next war zone. He said he knew, when he was in the middle of the war zone, he knew that there was no place on earth he'd rather be b/c he knew that he was, right then and there, living his life to its fullest, at its highest possible value. He was so fevered for war that he would have gladly given his life for the chance to report on the war because, while there, he felt so extremely alive. As soon as he left the war zone and got over the intoxication of war, he felt how shallow and stupid was his enchantment with it all. It was pretty awesome how he just laid it all out there - the truth - that as vulgar and horrific as he and many of his correspondent associates felt war was - they couldn't help themselves - they had to be there - they were drawn to it.

Will post link to CSPAN as soon as it's available...

UPDATE: Got it!

Also, I saw another panel at this festival which was not quite as awesome, but still very interesting (and fun):

Sunday, April 25

Panel: From Negro to African American: Is There a Limit to Identity Politics?

A link to this panel is here. This panel was cool because it covered the very serious topic of identity/race politics, and the panel did it with a good amount of humor.

On a side note, I love it how black intellectuals can drop the $5 words with the best of 'em, but they can also bring their language down to 'street' whenever they're talking to laymen. Awesome! Reminds me of the newest black pol on the scene - Barack Obama (pronounced like Osama). The now semi-famous stump speech to the blue-collar crowd: My name is Obama, not yo-mama!