A Strange Music is the title of Robert Hunter's automatic writing project from the Gulf War. I think it's quite interesting to see him cut and paste various TV commentaries and his own thoughts on that sad war. I think it has some relevance to this New War against Terrorism taking place in Afghanistan.

I've included the introduction from the project here but if you wish to read the whole cycle (and it's quite long) please take a look at: http://www.dead.net/RobertHunterArchive/files/hjx/strangemusic.html

Introduction to A Strange Music by Robert Hunter

Working up a collection of poetry at the outbreak of the Gulf War, I began incorporating snatches of military dialogue and civilian reactions, including my own, into my writing. The military accounting gradually subsumed the poetry and this manuscript is the result. The Gulf War in blank verse. Collateral damage as they say.

Open verse format, established in the unfocused opening pieces, with no idea they would continue to accumulate into book form, proved a useful way to continue representing the crapulous verbiage of war while permitting a latitude of personal response outside the bounds of customary reportage.

Transformations in my own orientation to the subject, as a representative observer, seem to me to be as pertinent to this document as its chronology of unfolding events as presented by the media. I began by listening for a strange music I thought I detected as an undertone to impending war. This thread served to lure me into the fray.

For grist I relied mainly on CNN, the indisputable world organ of war reportage, availing myself freely of the data provided by this extension of my ears and eyes, if not my mind. The mind was exercised by threading through mine fields of censored, biased or incomplete information to arrive at an independent perception. Alertness is the third casualty of war, after truth and decency.

I don't know, or care to decide, if this war should have been fought or not. If you put the cat among the pigeons certain results may be expected. Prejudgement on my part would exclude many shades of debatability which seemed worth recording. For the most part, a controlled exercise in tolerance of ambiguity allowed me to examine and portray situations without attempting to prove anything beyond what dialectic unraveled of its own accord.

Robert Hunter
San Rafael, California
March 4, 1991


Sing, Muse, of death
in battle and of the
shining wreaths of
victory. Of ;Soldier],
Sailor and Marine, of
Aviator and of Enemy.
of flashing bayonet
and field artillery.

The columns roll,
trenches yawn,
flash steely teeth,
snap up their meat.

Sing of honor and dishonor,
of injustice and oppression.
Of wrong addressed in blood
more crimson than the sun
rising through the smoke of
scarry battle shriven, sing!

Hail Queen Victory
in her raiment of
multicolored flames,
from dark ascended,
to consort with destiny.

A Note on Method:

Applying a technique of
observation, quotation,
extraction, abstraction,
transcription & refrain,
strange music emerges
seeming to be the song
of electronic war in
counterpoint to itself.

The method is one of
ignorance, innocence
& attempted impartiality,,
refusing to turn back or
re-think a day's insights,
or lack of, in light of the
next day's revelations.

The attempt to make sense
of trying to make sense
of something that possibly
makes no sense
makes a sense of its own;
a sense often more akin
to music than to reason.

©1996 Robert Hunter
Download for private
free distribution OK.

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