CONSEQUENCE Volume 6 Release and Panel Discussion
On April 22, 2014 CONSEQUENCE hosted a panel discussion: The Personal and the Political: American Culture and Militarism featuring panelists BOB SHACOCHIS,
LEA CARPENTER, AND TONY SCHWALM.
Since 9/11 less than one percent of Americans bear the burden of our nation’s wars. An all-volunteer force means we are insulated from the stress of military life and protected from the risks of the physical and psychological wounds of war. What are the benefits to citizens and what are the potential dangers to society that this policy presents? What does the cultural gap between civilians and professional soldiers mean for our country now and in the years to come? These questions are rarely posed in public discourse or analyzed by the media whose default position promotes an almost mythical image of our armed forces.
Bob Shacochis, author of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, and The Immaculate Invasion, Tony Schwalm, author of The Guerrilla Factory: The Making of Special Forces Officers, The Green Berets, and Lea Carpenter, author of Eleven Days.
CONSEQUENCE AWP 2013 Panel - Watch the video!
On March 8, 2013, CONSEQUENCE held a panel at the AWP Conference in Boston: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About War. Writers Bob Shacochis, Sioban Fallon, Laura Harrington, Cat Parnell and CONSEQUENCE Editor George Kovach spoke on the issue of writing about war. When writers address the subject of war they face tough choices about what material to include and how to give voice to the unspeakable. The writer’s job, then, is to examine what drives nations into war and terrorism and to focus on atrocities that are ignored or under-reported. This panel will discuss the roles that research, experience and reportage play. It will ask how the choice of genre impacts the topic of war, and what literature can achieve that journalism cannot.
Excerpts from Volume 6, Spring 2014
A story by
"I’m tired of telling war stories,” I say, not so much to Jenks as to the empty bar behind him. We’re at a table in the corner, with a view of the entrance.
Jenks shrugs and makes a face. Hard to tell what it means. There’s so much scar tissue and wrinkled skin, I never know if he’s happy or sad or pissed or what. He’s got no hair and no ears either, so even though it’s been three years after he got hit, I still feel like his head is something I shouldn’t stare at. But you look a man in the eye when you talk to him, so for Jenks I force my eyes in line with his.
“I don’t tell war stories,” he says, and takes a sip of his glass of water.
“Well, you’re gonna have to when Jessie and Sarah get here.”
He gives a nervous laugh and points to his face. “What’s to say?”
I take a sip of my beer and look him up and down. “Not a lot.”
My Mother the Arsonist
A story by
Her own bodyguards shot her, our beloved Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi. Her body lay covered under a sheet of yellow marigolds. Only the bright face and the hair with its precise white streak were visible. Her nostrils were plugged with cotton, but her soul must have leaked out and frightened the nation because Mrs. Gandhi’s supporters were rioting in the streets, clubbing men wearing turbans, torching their houses and raping their wives. Most of the Sikhs in our town had fled to their native Punjab, but the trains stopped running before the Singhs could leave.
As soon as we heard the news on the radio, my mother called Mr. Singh and urged him to stay with us until the disturbance died down. “You will be safe here,” she reasoned. “I cannot stand by when Gunjan is in danger. She is like a daughter to me. You must come,” she insisted.
The Narrative of the Network
An Essay by
The Internet runs like a river, its surface teeming with Web pages full of data: text, images, audio and video. At the bottom of the river lies a bedrock of fiber optic cable, the conduit that physically transmits the data along with instructions on how to move it. Above the bedrock, submerged at different depths, digital switches and routers parse those instructions, packaging the data and sending it up to the surface. Cisco manufactures most of these switches and routers.
While the number of these devices increases as companies and governments build more operations centers, the finite network only increases with the addition of more fiber, laid below city streets or along the ocean floor. Occasional advances in technology have the same effect of increasing network capacity. New compression techniques squeeze more data through the same conduit, while routers and switches become more efficient with upgraded software.
The Meaning of a Machete
An Essay by
Ever since that checkpoint moment, I’ve been awaiting the way it didn’t end: my abduction, my rape, my death, my postmortem defilation. This is the palpable thing in the room with me as I hunch over my computer, scouring gore sites for images because I am not there and I have to know. What does a suicide bomber look like, exploded? When a rubber tire is filled with gasoline, placed around your neck, and lit: what remains of your face? Enough to identify, under charred cheek and tendon, the taut, final scream. Even when the face is unrecognizable—shattered, teeth like pebbles in a mess of blood, or blown off, or smashed in, or smiling—it howls, always, like a rabid dog.
I stop sleeping. I wonder if this could have been me. If I’m not completely covered at night I feel it in my skin, death, everywhere. The way it might have gone.
The Sang Le Forest
A Poem by
Why do people call it the sang le tree?
In an old forest of the Truong Son
Did a lonely person, years ago
Call it sang le--the single sang?
Other People's Problems
A Book Review by
We all have a crazy friend. You know the one I mean: the one who talks the rest of us into skinny-dipping despite the scurvy lake, the one who equates trekking alone in the jungle with a wee stretch of the legs, the one who is fast-talking and dry and grabs life by the balls. In terms of style and voice, Shacochis is that friend. He has never met an adjective he doesn’t like but that’s OK because he likes nouns and verbs too and knows how to use all of them. You don’t read his sentences; you chew them. You chew through the southwest wind “known to gather in its gust-blown skirts plum-colored clusters of malignant squalls,” and you chomp through men like wary dogs “shoveling gray porridge into sour-looking mouths, munching links of burned sausage, their weathered skin boasting an array of new scars and old scabs and dusted with grit and soot,” all the while clinging to the tail of a narrative thrashing ahead of you like a riled snake through tall grass. His style intoxicates because, like his characters, he takes enormous risks and you are never sure how far he’s prepared to go. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is a perfect match of voice to story to form, and given this voice, this story, and this form, it could not be anything other than this length. The events depicted won’t have you rolling in the aisles but there is some consoling irony. I chuckled grimly, like a crone straddling an abyss, when one woman remarks in the rubble of 1945 that what we need now “is another war,” while a Colonel predicts that “this is how peace would begin.... one beating at a time,” a gem of perverted reasoning which has proven so potent from Nanking to Belfast to Mostar to Kandahar and back.
Excerpts from Previous Issues
Military Sexual Trauma - Profile of David Mair, A Survivor
On the first Monday of May 2012, David Mair’s flight from Redding, California landed in Washington DC. The next day he would address a summit on Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and tell an audience something he had kept a secret for nearly fifty years— that as an eighteen-year-old airman, he’d been raped by a superior officer.
A story by
It is the sixth of eight weeks at basic training and you are standing chest-deep in a foxhole on the M-16 firing range. You have placed the rifle on the sandbag, as instructed, ejection port side up, and are under no circumstances to touch the weapon until told to do so. You take all instructions from the firing-range tower, the tin voice crackling from the speaker with the loose wire. You dare not make one move—left, right, back or otherwise—unless given explicit permission. Otherwise, the wrath of the drill sergeants will come thwapping down on the crown of your helmet in the form of a metal rod similar in size and heft to a martinet’s riding crop. The drills stalk the line of foxholes looking for the weak and disobedient whom they can smite with the holy fury of The Rod. Two groups ago, your battle buddy Kidner came wobbling off the line saying his head was still ringing like a bell. You’re prone to migraines so you are determined not to let yourself get thwapped.
Remembering Denise and People's Park
A poem by
Denise, in that remote era when
it was a tribal custom for friends
and sometimes even strangers
to kiss each other on the mouth
each of us became entranced
by Peoples’ Park
The Education of the Terrorist Osman Aziz
A chapter excerpt from
How old do you have to be to be a terrorist? Someone whose very existence makes the devlet—the state—fear for its own survival. Is fourteen old enough? Twelve? Six? What about six months? The answer is yes, even babies are terrorists, if the devlet, in its obligation to preserve the nation, determines the existence of a baby is a threat to security and stability, if not today then certainly tomorrow. How does the devlet make this determination? Is it a reasoned process, or a caprice of the moment, a paranoid and arbitrary whim? How many mistakes are made? How many mistakes can the devlet afford? I don’t know the answer, he said. Perhaps we should ask the Kurds or the Armenians.