First draft of Apocalypse Now part 3 of 3

(Posting my notes explaining the gist of the thing at Ken’s request. I’d like to flesh it out with references, pictures, etc. but he asked very nicely that I post this stuff immediately.)


The thesis of Apocalypse Now is that borrowing authority from an institution is like being stuck between a hammer and an anvil. On the one hand, you have to bring your own initiative, exercise individual judgment in pursuit of the mission, and get blamed for every failure that happens under your command. On the other hand, you have to carry out nonsensical missions to achieve contradictory strategic goals and follow arbitrary rules of engagement (written by people with no understanding or sense of responsibility) that prevent your success. This leads to the paradox that is tearing apart Colonel Kurtz’s soul. (Since I’ve been analyzing the movie as Captain Willard’s psychological journey back from becoming a monster, it’s actually Captain Willard’s soul that’s being torn apart.)

Kurtz is, as mentioned, archetype spiraling into the perfect soldier. He wants a clear mission so he can bend everything in his power to its accomplishment, like a paperclip maximizer for winning wars. The trouble arises once he takes responsibility for winning the war outside of the authority vested in him by the degenerate American generals. He becomes lost in a postmodern chaos where definitions like “what would winning this war even look like?” become too complex to be approximated by propositional declarations. He didn’t sign up to be a philosopher, he signed up to be a warrior! But of course signing up to follow orders and then abandoning his orders was the contradiction. It is categorically either true or not true that a person is under orders to fulfill missions handed to them by the institutional authority.

So in the end he followed his fantasy of being a god of war, defining his own morality, but also be perfectly pragmatic and therefore unbothered by “why” questions. You can’t be half a gangster, and if you want to own the successes of being a gangster you have to own the decision to become a gangster. Incidentally, this is why black societies rarely amount to much- most blacks want responsibility for the good but not the bad, but if you blame other people for the bad you’re admitting you were powerless to stop them (which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy). If you claim you sold drugs and hip-hop to survive because you had no other options but now you’re showing off the cars and house you bought with the money, you’re being a pussy. If you’re gonna own the good you have to own the bad or you’re admitting it was never your choice to make and you’re basically a beneficiary of fate. Captain Willard owns his decisions at the end, and owns up to what he had to become to survive and thrive in Vietnam, hence the catharsis. “I made this, therefore it’s mine to unmake if I want.”

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6 Responses to First draft of Apocalypse Now part 3 of 3

  1. Ryu says:

    Kurtz is an important figure in modern WN.

    All “legal” methods of changed have been subverted. The white race now has to either disobey orders, or die. The State’s lockdown order is an economic suicide order, and most obey.

    This is not an easy position to be in. Criminality is a skill like anything else, and must be practiced. Kurtz would have tales to tell on how he “deprogammed himself” of US military indoctrination. It must have taken years.

    He did not fully succeed, because he was not pleased to be a gangster and to operate without permission. It is nearly impossible for a modern cop or soldier to wake up, turn on his masters, and work from his own orders. Only a few dozen such men have existed over the last 30 years.

    Usually, cops and soldiers don’t make good criminals. They become accustomed to operating with protection, under someone else’s authority. They flounder when they work AGAINST the law, versus for it.

    When working against the State today, one has to deal with the surveillence grid and modern forensics, which virtually no living cop or soldier can do.

    Have you seen the documentary “the Act of Killing?” It is about a group of gangsters made politicians, backed by the US-CIA in Indonesia. You might consider this the “after” portion, when Kurtz fully commits to being a warlord, with no regrets.

  2. LOADED says:

    The part on gangsters in black society reminds me of my ruminations on how the concept of “real” in that subculture (if you can call it that) came to be. Realness is one part honesty and integrity and another part tough love. You cant tell someone that theyre wrong and expect them to change you have to put them in that position where their only option IS to change.

    When your dawg says something stupid a verbal warning will never be enough. You have to let him get deep in dat wat-a boi. And once yo dawg gets deep in dat wat-a you can say to yourself he became a better and more importantly a REALER person for it!

    • LOADED says:

      This is what being “real” is about. if you wanna be real be as transparent as possible be loyal to your values and never let things go until they change themselves for the better.

  3. Some other name says:

    I had a history professor who talked about fence posting as his teaching style.

    Facts are the fence posts and the wire you run between the fence posts is the narrative.

    This is why Obama had a fiction writer as narrative writer. Taleb talks a bit about randomness and how traders creat a narrative about how winning their trade strategy is; when it’s just lucky fence posts.

    Fences and narratives create boundaries of what is inside and outside of bounds.

    Narratives add meaning to facts; but different people can run the fence through different fence posts depending upon their objectives.

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