#72: The Fog of War

     This Lee Ka-sing photo-diptych—with its suggestion of an intransigent leader and a smattering of followers—took  me back to the book Vom Krege (On War) by Carl von Clausewitz. It was published in 1832, hard on the heels of the Napoleonic era (Napoleon died in 1821).
     Unlikely as it may sound, I actually read Clausewitz’s grim and relentless book.  I read it because during the five tears I taught at what is now the absurdly named Ontario College of Art and Design University (it was just plain serviceable OCA when I was there), I was teaching alongside am absurdly expansive, alarmingly ambitious sculptor who was then sort of, more or less, kind of a friend.  Well, he made me laugh a lot anyhow.  This volatile friend was at one point somehow elevated to head of the Experimental Arts department (where all the homeless, avant-garde types like us then resided).
     I bring this up because this cheerfully overbearing sculptor then set about to impress the then OCA President—I think his name was Clifford Pitt (wonderful name for a college president!)—by sending him daily memos, outlining precisely how things were progressing at the department, and if there was dissention in the ranks, that kind of thing.   He composed these memos by lifting the writing directly from Clausewitz’s On War.  "Many intelligence reports in war are contradictory,” Clausewitz would write, and “even more are false, and most are uncertain.... In short, most intelligence is false." This circumstance he described as part of “the fog of war.”   
     President Pitt dutifully read all this stuff with great care, and was of course dazzled.