Presented by Two Small Blocks

Four Dreams of War

Copyright 2006 Hannibal Taubes. Don't frickin' touch.
I may or may not choose to illustrate this further.


1) Nero

In my dream, I sat at the helm of a spaceship, playing my violin in grief as planets cracked and split apart. . .

2) Persons

What happens to those who survive? When the people are gone, what happens to the persons who remain? Because They do remain. They are hiding in haystacks as we speak, and crouched beneath bridges listening to the crunch of boots above. To be dramatic about it, They are out there. They are the children lying pinned beneath the bodies of their parents, as einsatzgruppen march off through the searing sunlight. They are the soot-faced deserters, hidden in chicken coops while men with guns destroy each other in the distance. They are the girls, left for dead in ditches, with unwanted babies between their hips, to be born with foreign eyes. What happens to Them?

They come out at night, with distended bellies and eyes pale. They live by the cloudy moons, Their faces strange in the light of burning cities, their skin grown thick and grey with the dust and the mud. Where do They go? What happens to Them all? They are not People, for “People” is a collective word, a generalization. They are singulars, creatures of exception, creeping across enormous theatres of war and darkness to congregate in secret, burned-out cities to hold sooty and ill-understood rites. They crept back into Stalingrad, as They crept back into Kigali and Dresden.

Although it is possible that They will repopulate the earth, it isn’t certain. As effortlessly as they were reduced, the People return. As stealthily as they were born, the Persons disappear. They become stories, eventually; They become unspoken histories of your fathers, and then perhaps tales you are told of your grandparents; the nights spent in burned-out barns and empty chicken coops, the refugees, the blank looks. Finally, and from a distance, They must cease to be remembered. As individuals, these numberless Persons are lost irrevocably with the passage of human memory, and on the pages of histories they become once more a People, a collective, an undifferentiated mass of stragglers, refugees, loners, and survivors. Beyond living memory, their stories are forgotten simply because they are anomalous, because as singular units they are somehow irrelevant, because they are exceptions, and because historians operate by principles of generalization, and not specification.

And although this is necessary, it is perhaps unjust. But who expects justice? People or Person, everyone must live and die alone. . .

3) The Petsamo Campaign


Skiing Finnish guerillas mount an ambush on the advancing 104th Division of the Red Army, while Soviet tanks roll west from the Rybachi Penninsula and bear down on the town of Parkinna through interminable forests.

In a blizzard.

4) Tank War Trip

Start out in the steppe. Bring the enormous grasses. Bring the thunderheads bursting one from the other, ringed across the horizon. Bring the coming night.

You can see it as fleets colliding, as some great iron-clad meeting of polarizations, touching and meshing in the smell of burnt flesh and the roar of thunder. Like interlocking fingers, armies connect and find their shapes congruent, then cracking digits and snapping bone against bone, knuckles clenching and sinews flexing beneath the surface of the earth. Battalions flow into and around each other, finding their opposing divisions laid out in perverse symmetry, Panzers and Messers connecting, placed by their negative values and added or subtracted to zero and oblivion, as the grassy ground below begins to roll and throw and ripple with the impact of these fiery arithmetics, divisions multiplied by maniples and deleted once more by laws of geometry and the parabolic trajectory of shells.

Now bring the clouds, the night, the storm, as the horizon catches fire and the grass takes flame, consumed by inorganic heat, reduced to relationships, ultimately to matter - to chemistry and physics subverted by the politics of humanity. This is the miracle of war, this is the sacred conversion, the reversed transubstantiation that melts blood to unliving liquid, flesh to fodder, ordered machines to ash and twisted steel, humanity to simple matter, lessons in the animation of inanimates and the propagation of reproducible objects. All of this divided, broken down into immobile parts in this fiery night. There is only one escape – reduction. Reduction into parts and fragments of equations, reduction into aspects, carbons, lipids, nitrogen, cogwheels, gear-shafts and oxygen. Reduction into the earth, reduction below the motherland’s curling sinews, subsumption into the thunderous night, sinking down first through the fire, then into ash, then into maggots, into the prying fingers of scavengers, into the furtive arms of peasants and refugees. Dissemination of matter – impregnating the ground and the people with the raw material, newly rendered; to sink into the fabric of the earth and re-emerge in the roots of new grass, children with the eyes of unknown fathers, old wounds, someone’s greatcoat the winter after, and the steel carcasses of tanks that remain, ribs bared, rusting slowly into the irreducible steppe.

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