12 May 2005 shlomif   » (Master)

In Memory

I'd like to tell the story of my personal encounter with a soldier who lost his life in battle. At first, though, a note is in order for International readers: terrorism in Israel is not as severe as people are led to believe. Most households are completely unaffected by it, the streets are perfectly safe, most people don't carry weapons, and more people get killed due to car accidents than terrorist acts. While Israel is far from being as peaceful as Switzerland, for example, it is nonetheless pretty safe to be here.

At high school, I became friends with a kid who studied in my class. He was very fun, very intelligent, and had a great sense of humour. I really liked him. He wasn't one of my two best friends who were from my class, and my two secondary friends whom I knew from Elementary school, but he was a good friend nonetheless.

It was in our Junior year, when his brother (whom I did not know) who has served in the Army at the time as a Battlefield Medic died in battle. It was an encounter with the Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon. We heard about the upcoming funeral by word of mouth, and I was able to attend as well as many people of my class. (Jewish funerals must be conducted as close as possible to the time of death). I recall that I forgot to bring a Kipa (a traditional Jewish ceremonial hat), and had to borrow one from my aunt's friend. I don't recall too much from the ceremony except for people saying Amen or Qadesh several times.

My friends and I went to visit this kid a few days later, when his family was hosting friends and relatives for the "Shiva'a" - the traditional Jewish week for comemorating the dead. We chatted a bit. He was dealing in his geneoulogy at the time, and having given him a freeware geneology program for DOS to facilitate it. I asked him how it went, and he answered that he had problems because many of the records were in German. When he left the room my friends scolded me for doing that, because they thought it was inappropriate at a time when a family member died. I did not thought so at the time, and retrospectively don't think it was inappropriate today as well.

Afterwards, I felt a change in him. He became more cynical, and used to insult me in public (not too much or too hard). He was still very fun, but I definitely felt a change.

As a result, I started having bad sentiments and thoughts about the Hizbullah. At one time I said to myself "I hate the Hizbullah." (I don't think rationally feeling hatred is bad, and still hate them.). I had less emotional baggage towards the Palestinian organizations. I considered the Hizbullah the second worst "Liberation organization" I knew of after the IRA. Don't get me wrong, some liberation organizations were very noble. Prime examples are the Maquis and the Haganah (except for a brief period in which they performed Terrorist acts) were very noble. But the Hizbullah, the IRA, and many other organizations some of which are still highly reverred, and most others entirely forgottten are anything but.

Eventually, I decided I'd like to write a story about the Hizbullah. I had an idea for a story about a Hizbullah soldier (or was it a friend of a soldier) who had stayed in his village, right before his troop (or is it platoon) went to battle, when he knew most of them would never survived. The kind of stuff, many completely uninteresting movies in Holywood or the Hallmark channel are made of.

My real inspiration came later on from two things. First I read Neo-Tech and was heavily inspired by it. Among the many things of inspirations were:

  • A specific mention that the Ends never justify the means. This in turn made me think that "The Ends Justify the Means" actually mean "Ethics = No Ethics".
  • I encountered a piece of Aristotle's Organum:

    1. A is A.
    2. A is not not-A.
    3. All entities are either A or not-A.
  • Together with "Ethics = No Ethics" I had a winning formula.

The other source of inspiration was reading The Bastard Operator from Hell, a delicious story about a UNIX system administrator who re-defines the term "User Friendly". ("'What's your username, again?' click-click-clickety-click").

I came up with the idea for The Enemy and How I Helped to Fight it during a trip to England. I became so obsessed with the story during the last days of the trip that I could hardly function. During our return home I fired up MS WordPad and started writing the first draft. It was relatively short, and as I showed it to my best friend, he said that it was OK but not too funny. He was right.

It took me six months to rewrite it. I started by writing the first chapter (on Paper), and went to my friend's house and read it to his brother and him. They liked it as a whole and gave some useful commentary. I transcribed the story into the computer refactoring it as I went along and continued it. I printed excerpts to my friend, but he was too busy with his army service to read it till its end. My co-worker, once he heard I was writing a story, insisted on me sending it to him to read. I send it to him and his commentary was essential for shaping the final story.

I received mostly good critiques of it since.

I'll give a teaser which covers only the first chapter, out of 10. One day the Member of the Organization wakes up and goes to the base. It's a lovely spring day, the flowers are blooming and there is a lot of wildlife on the way. He thinks it would have been a perfect day to fire missiles on the Enemy's soldiers, but he has different plans.

After having a chat with some of his co-soldiers who are outside, telling them he plans to quit, he goes to his commander and tells him he's quitting. His commander is sorry to hear he's living, saying the Other Member of the Organization is also quitting today ("When it rains it pours") and wishes the now ex-Member of the Organization, good luck in his future whereabouts and that he would maintain the spirit of the organization and its philosophy.

The ex-Member (sorry for the bad connotation) is about to leave, when he comes back and says that he has served the organization for several years now and yet no-one has told him what its philosophy was. So the commander explains it to him. The objective of the organization is to fight the Enemy (a country to the south of the country in which the Organization operates) with all of its might. However, there's one thing that hinders their actions. It's not even real, but a meta-physical term, that accepting most interpretations of it would have caused them to be unable to operate. This term is "Morality". As a result, they have decided to accept the Philosophical Equation "Morality = No Morality.". However, since it contradict Aristotle's Organum (see above), they decide to reject the Organum or at least don't see it as necessary true.

The ex-Member tells him that in this case, it is a good thing. He too has read the Organum and had his doubts about it, but thinks that rejecting it opens a possiblity for the members of the Organization. If A can be not-A and since the Members of the Organization are not the Enemy's soldiers it is evident that they are its soldiers (!!!). This makes there task more easy: they can kill each other, and all of the casulaties are of the bad guys.

The Commander thinks it's a brilliant idea. He thanks the ex-Member of the Organization and tells him he'll implement his decision right away. The ex-Member tells him he's glad he did. He says goodbye to his commrades, finds the other member who quit that day, and they walk back to the village.

As they finish climbing a hill that overlooks the base, they hear sounds from its direction. They see the members of the base killing each other. Eventually one last member remains on the roof victorious. The commander exits from the remains of the base and shoots him. He then enters and writes a memo about it to the Organization's upper level, files it in the base's post-office box, and then shoots himself to death.

The two ex-Members shrug their shoudlers and continue on their way back to the village.

Like I said, it is only the first chapter. There are nine more. The story is available in English Hebrew Word-Generated-HTML (sorry, but it seems to be readable on every browser I tried). The Hebrew is quite high, and I (who is not a native English speaker) did the translation. I translated some words using a dictionary and when reading the translation could not understand them. (I know it's lame). I'd like to write a fourth draft in which I simplify the langauge of the story, but I did not get to it.

An Iranian correspondant (who now relocated to Canada), has read and enjoyed the story, and said he would try working on a translation to Farsi. The story's copyright does not say so explicitly (I have not updated the page yet) but it is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license version 2.0 or at your option any greater version.

If you like it, please circulate this blog entry or link to it. Remember Death.

Latest blog entries     Older blog entries

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!