The god of war assured King Arsounas, “Do not be fooled by words. No life is taken. Know that no one was ever born, nor does anyone die.” In the violent mini-eternity of the warrior, combat is conducted according to a ritual formal as song: no one is ever born, no one can ever die. The left-handed rockabilly guitarist whose left arm was severed by an RPG round at Dak To has come back to life in a part of my body that died long before we started to patrol this part of the river. His life is mine though I never lived it. The violent backwash of the rotors is crimsoned by a fine aerosol spray of blood while a loudspeaker amplifies the goddess’s excited laughter.
Phra Prang (central tower) of the Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Bangkok, Thailand, details showing Hindu war god Indra and three-headed mythological elephant Erawan (Airavita): photos by Manfred Werner, 2001
Hindu warrior goddess Durga ("the invincible", "one who can redeem in situations of utmost stress"): image by Redtigerxyz, 2007 (Asian Gallery, British Museum)
Skysoldiers of the 173rd Airborne, faces showing the stress of the Central Highlands campaign, Dak To, Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, November 1967: US Army photo