Notes from The World Without Us:
If, in the immediate aftermath of Homo sapiens petrolerus, the tanks and towers of the Texas petrochemical patch all detonated together in one spectacular roar, after the oily smoke cleared, there would remain melted roads, twisted pipe, crumpled sheathing, and crumbled concrete.
White hot incandescence would have jump-started the corrosion of scrap metals in the salt air, and the polymer chains in hydrocarbon residues would likewise have cracked into smaller, more digestible lengths, hastening biodegradation.
Despite the expelled toxins, the soils would also be enriched with burnt carbon, and after a year of rains switchgrass would be growing. A few hardy wildflowers would appear. Gradually, life would resume.
Achilleus and Hector
Sing, goddess, the anger of Peleus’ son Achilleus and its devastation.
Achilles reluctance to fight, his open criticism of the war, his heartbroken acceptance that he will in fact lose his life in a wholly pointless campaign…
Achilles isn’t even in his essence a military figure. He is famously vulnerable and unnaturally defined by his mortality. He has been raised to know the arts of healing, and tricked into going. And yet he is the hero because he alone has the nature and the stature to think and speak as an individual. He alone stands apart and challenges heroic convention.
The greatest war story ever told basically commemorates a war that established no boundaries, won no territory, and furthered no cause. Worse yet, it’s hero dies a pointless death.