In the 19th issue of Notes, Grace Carroll considers the development of an American War doctrine, from the War of Independence to the Cold War. Her essay sets the precedent for an issue loosely themed on brutality and simulation. The first part of Sarah Caulfield’s ‘Not a Victory March’ considers the subjects of war and art’s ability to express human brutality. We follow sixteen year old Oscar during the first world war; see Jonathan and Andrion attempting to restore missing art works after the second world war; we follow Rachel, a journalist and photographer during the Vietnam war.
Paul Nash, quoted in Caulfield’s short story, discusses the war-writer’s most difficult task.
‘It is unspeakable, godless, hopeless, I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on forever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth’.
Arthur Thompson’s short text ‘It Was Merry for Elza’, takes a darkly comic stance and considers the audience’s ambiguous position in face of pain. Oscar Farley’s ‘Motorway’ is a fascinating and fast-paced look into simulation and television’s overlap with human brutality. Adam Napier’s prose poem ‘Fag’ deserves special mention, as it explores the strictly simulative component of the theme. Katie Fox’s illustration of a late nineteenth century nursery rhyme does the same.
Notes 19 encourages discussion concerning art’s ability to mediate or simulate brutality. However, it contains a wide range of poetry and prose and readers will find contributions that aren’t as dark as the theme suggests. We hope that the issue proves an inspiring read, and would like to thank all those who submitted.
The Notes Team