Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Companion To Ian Isherwood's "Experiences of World War I Soldiers"

Celebration of Discovery in the Classroom and the Roots of Wartime "Satirmockpooning"

photo courtesy: CSPAN

Commentary By Lexington G. Pershing, CPW News Service

    It's rare to find young historians who embrace the college professor's traditional attire and wrap themselves in the accoutrements of academic excellence.   In Ian Isherwood's case he shares not only a name rich in Anglophile linguistic artisanship, but he carried it into the classroom April 22, 2014, with great sensitivity to his students and the grace one would expect from the name Isherwood. There is little to add except to say that I would drop a couple of probing insights that may help students later on to feel that he had found injected into the myth of history a spoonful of harsh reality.
    For example,  the questions.....
  • "How might Robert Graves' friendship with Siegfried Sassoon have informed Graves' apparent sense of disgust with the British oligarchy?  Compare and contrast Grave's 'satirmockpooning' of British power elites with that of the U.S.'s breed of later semi-disillusioned....William Ayers, Patty Hearst, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan and his friend Albert Maher."  
  • Or, alternatively, "What might have informed Robert Grave's desire to teach in Egypt, given the interest in metaphysics in Britain at the time, besides simply teaching in Egypt?"   
  • Or, "What was it about T.E. Lawrence and Siegfried Sassoon and their relationship to Robert Graves that may have fascinated Graves about both men besides their common martial experiences and the Lawrence-led defeat of the Ottoman Turks and what significant goods and services did Germany receive from their alliance with the Ottomans?" 
  • Or "Given the attempt by Rudolf Hess to arrange a German/British/Anglo/Aryan alliance at the estate of Lord Hamilton in May 1941, in what ways might T.E. Lawrence, given that his birth-father was a Hamilton, have been for Great Britain what General Smedley Darlington Butler had been for the U.S.A. had Lawrence lived a bit longer?"
    These are probing questions that provide significant additional enlightenment to inquiring minds.
   As for Hemmingway....
  • "Why might Hemmingway have chosen to blow his head off with his shotgun at Averill and Mary Harriman's Hotel in Idaho and in what ways might Edwin Black's book War Against the Weak and The Transfer Agreement have influenced Hemmingway's decision if  Black's books were written before Hemingway's death on July 2, 1961?"  Alternatively, "What of Hemmingway's wartime writings are reflected in the short story Old Man and the Sea and as a war correspondent would he think that soldiers identify mostly with the great fish, the old man or the sharks?"
  • Compare and contrast Robert Grave's disillusionment with war with that of Hemmingway and what elements, beyond the mud and blood and gore of trench warfare and the ratcheting up of industrialized death, within both the British and American cultures, embraced by the families of the rich and powerful, could have fed their shared vexations?

    About the Author:  Lexington Pershing is a freelance author and film critic who works at San Francisco's St. Augustine Half-way House for Disabled Veterans Dishonorably Discharged for Dereliction of Duty.  "Most were injured while fleeing the front as they tripped on a land mine," says Pershing.  "Before that I was the Facility Coordination for the Sisters of Mercy Center for Incurable Nose Pickers in Miami, Florida, preceded by a two-year stint at Stony Cove Rehabilitation Hospital for 12-Step Program Consolidators and Abbreviators Syndrome or '12SACS Sufferers' in Stony Cove, Maine," said Pershing.

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