[ by Charles Cameron — not to mention crushing Khomeini, lubing your M16, and that Afghan powerpoint ]
In my previous post, Of morale, angels and Spartans, I raised the question of how our increasingly visual and graphical age could visually represent morale. I noted that the Muslims outfought a larger force at the Battle of Badr, and that the Qur’an suggests that this was because thousands of “angels, ranks on ranks” fought alongside them.
Dave Schuler suggested the Archangel Michael — which sent me all over in search of a suitable representation. The icon above, by Andrei Rublev, is the most profound and beautiful work I was able to find, but hardly serves our purpose.
I ran across a politically explicit comntemporary image in which the Archangel wears Airborne insignia:
— but it was this image from the Maidan in Kiev that came closes to the sense of military power in angelic form —
— although I’m not sure that military power or prowess is necessarily the same as morale or esprit de corps…
Synchronistically — or coinidentally, as sceptics would say — Justin Erik Halldór Smith headed his blog post Ragnarök on the Seine today with an image of Peter Nicolai Arbo‘s Wild Hunt, or Aasgaardreien. Here’s a detail:
And here’s “the big picture”:
That’s probably closer to “amok” than to “esprit de corps” — although the relationship between them is worth pondering.
I’m still not convinced that contemporary minds will “get” morale from any graphic image yet devised.. I can’t help remembering the M-16 manual I picked up one day at a library sale or flea market, titled The M16A1 Rifle: Operation and Preventive Maintenance:
My guess, however, is that we’ll wind up with something closer to this:
Andrei Rublev, icon of Archangel Michael Archangel Michael, Especial Forces graphic Sculpture, Archangel Michael, Kiev Peter Nicolai Arbo, Aasgaardreien M16 manual, DA Pam 750-30 Powerpoint, Afghanistan Stability
The photo of the Kiev St Michael is by Mstyslav Chernov, used under CC-BY-SA-3.0 license