The Eye in the Door

I’m reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy, which is elliptical, perturbing, and depressing but very good. It’s about WWI, the trauma suffered by soldiers, conscientious objectors, and the people around them. It’s deeply anti-war.

I liked this bit from Eye in the Door, the second book. Prior, a former soldier with severe shell shock and asthma, is thinking about his boss Major Lode’s mindset.

Lode had no idea. He’d spent his entire adult life–boyhood too, for that matter–in uniformed, disciplined, hierarchical institutions, and he simply couldn’t conceive of the possibility that other people might function differently. It was all a great big chess board to him. This rag-bag collection of Quakers, socialists, anarchists, suffragettes, syndicalists, Seventh Day Adventists and God know who else was merely an elaborate disguise, behind which lurked the real anti-war movement, a secret disciplined highly efficient organization dedicated to the overthrow of the state as surely as Lode was dedicated to its preservation. And on the other side of the board, as head of the opposing army, elusive, tenacious, dangerous: The Black King himself…

Very apt in thinking about the state mentality about the OccupyWallStreet and #OccupyEverything protests. There isn’t a King. That’s the whole point.

The Eye in the Door book cover

I’m still trying to untangle the fiction from the reality as I read articles about Maud Allan and the infamous Cult of the Clitoris article and the “Black Book” that supposedly held the names of over 40,000 lesbian, gay, or bi people in Britain who were being blackmailed by Germany into betraying state secrets. Okay! Totally weird! Truth stranger than fiction, as usual. If we don’t have the supposed Berlin Black Book I’m surprised someone didn’t write a fake one!

But on a more serious note the books made me think of Bradley Manning and his ongoing ordeals in prison. His “eye in the door” is the same eye from 1917. I also often wonder about sexuality, gender identification, and anti-war resistance (result of consciousness raising/epistemological inquiry). Though there isn’t a King, there may be a rhizome. Consider that we also present a greater attack surface because of our intersectionalities, so that our strength is also our weakness. Apparently Pat Barker’s ellipticalness is infectious!

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