Meditations On US Forces Firing A Howitzer Into The Empty Desert “Just To Say We’re Here”

I saw a line in a recent New Yorker article about America’s endless wars, and it’s been been rattling around in my head ever since:

“In Syria, McKenzie visited the Green Village, a community of decrepit apartment blocks near a bombed-out oil facility that served as the operational headquarters for the final push to erase the caliphate, in 2019. These days, the only military action there is from U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, ‘just to say we’re here,’ one officer told me.”

U.S. forces firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, “just to say we’re here.”

Tell me that’s not the sexiest line you have ever read in your entire life. The poetical beauty! The ennui! The oh-so-relatable existential ache! Oh God, I need a cigarette.

I mean it just hits on so many different levels. Could you ask for a better snapshot of life within the soulless US war machine than a small cast of Beckettian soldiers, waiting around near a bombed-out oil facility for a Godot who never arrives, firing heavy artillery rounds into the desert twice a week for no reason whatsoever? You just want to hang it in an ornate wooden frame with the caption “YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK, LADIES AND GENTS” and then shove it so far up Tom Cotton’s personal anatomy that it takes an entire emergency room team to extract it.

And isn’t it such a wonderfully concrete, in-your-face iteration of the meaningless struggle so many of us are going through in this decaying fustercluck of end-stage metastatic global capitalism? Firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert at no specific target “just to say we’re here” is simply the military’s version of working at a desk forty hours a week doing essentially nothing other than making the boss and the shareholders a tiny bit richer than they already were. Working to pay the bills so you can afford the car you drive to work and the food and shelter which sustains your ability to work is no less pointless and absurd than what those soldiers were doing in the Green Village in 2019.

If you think about it, aren’t we all in our own way firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert at no specific target “just to say we’re here”? Lost and despondent in the wilderness, boxing with shadows, firing giant guns at imaginary enemies, watching our expensive artillery shells disappear into the emptiness and wondering why it hurts to live? Screaming a loud, violent noise into the abyss just to show we exist, and then seeing the abyss roll its eyes like an annoyed teenager and return its attention to its iPhone?

We are such silly, confused little ape mutants. We could be using these giant brains we just evolved to create a chill, harmonious world where everyone has enough and we work in collaboration with each other and our ecosystem, where creativity has space to flourish and art gushes from our heads like the air we exhale. Instead we’re coasting to armageddon under the thumb of an empire that pours its wealth and resources into an endlessly expanding worldwide military campaign while impoverishing its people at home and keeping them in line with an increasingly violent and militarized police force.

We could have paradise on earth; there’s not one single valid reason why we cannot. Instead we’re letting governments controlled by a few idiotic sociopaths wave nuclear weapons at one another in the name of an imaginary god called unipolarity. Instead we’re letting ourselves be pressed into an absurd competition-based model where we must step on our neighbor’s head just to keep our own above water while destroying the environment we depend on for survival. Instead we’re firing a 155-millimetre howitzer twice a week into the surrounding desert, at no specific target, “just to say we’re here.”

This world is so silly. So beautifully, insanely, bittersweet cup of extinction noodles silly. We hurdle on a spinning rock we do not understand, through a universe we do not understand, made of particles we do not understand, and we behold one another in a field of consciousness we do not understand, and we shrug.

God I love us. I love us so much.

I really hope we make it.

___________________________

New book: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix.

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