“The catastrophe of 1914 represented a decision of consign the future of Europe, and with Europe the World, to the immemorial final arbiter, force.”
“The new forces of the modern age were, as in the market system, thrown into contests in which the life and death of nations and empires were determined”.
” That Wilson’s plan could not be implement did not mean that the existing war system had turned into a formula for peace and stability”.
How I Got Involved Illustrating War’s Issues 15 Years Ago
Both March and April 2003 issues of Harper’s Magazine where mainly dedicated to an essay on the history of war by Jonathan Schell. It was not decided at the randoms by the editors, at the time of this two publications the general opinion was confronted with a very crucial historical moment: will America start a new war on Iraq?
Why was I asked to illustrate this extremely harsh topic and delegated such a heavy responsibility? After all, I had on the past tacked much softer issues, such as creating poster and banner for The Lincoln Center in New York for their musical and dance event Mid-summer Night Swing. Besides, during Spring time, one may hope being asked celebrating the renewal of life on a Primavera Botticelli’s spirit, rather than its death. But this again would be naive thinking, Botticelli painted also Dante’s Inferno, which is difficult to equal in hardness. And it is only fair to ask an artist to be able to cover every spectrum of life.
As for war, what was I suppose to know about? Certainly, my parents would never have met if it wasn’t for a “war” that displace my families. In many ways I am well aware of carrying its stigma, being a “consequence ” or a “root” of the historical humanity drama.
Even so their provided me with plenty of “mood”, gathered during my youth, I didn’t want to rely only on hearing my mother’s traumatic experience. The New York Public Library provided me with sufficient research, the documents, [ needless saying ], were quiet horrific, more specifically the one on World War One, which where the rawest … the list of lost young lives, [alone], whose names have been long forgotten but still present – carved on stone in the smallest village in Europe … as a proof difficult to erase.
15 years ago this month all my linoleum cuts where created within this atmosphere of “war” use to be, or “war” on hold, soon it become the reality and the norm in our daily lives, and the evidence I would not be able to be off the hook on this topic for some time. The New York Times got me on board for few years to illustrate Op-Ed issues on, what became commonly know as, ” the Iraq war”. And as if it was not enough, I embarked into others [Darfur…etc].
As my linoleum cuts gained on “visibility” I was than commissioned to illustrate for various publications [ including universities’ magazines and presses ] the same or similarly related human struggle…
The author, Jonathan Schell, died March 2014, exactly eleven years after his essay was published, leaving us with his legacy of thoughts for us to continue to reflect upon. This alone may justify my today’s post, oddly enough [ some may argue], at the eve of the coming Easter’s Holidays. But aren’t life and dead just one? True, but still during the course of our ephemeral passageway, does not one wish for a chance on a peaceful life and a peaceful death?
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Dessin . drawing . original linoleum cut and woodcut . linogravure originale et gravures sur bois . linóleo grabado original . incisione originale . xilografie. Copyright © Raymond Verdaguer 2008