Occupantsby Henry Rollins
For the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earthfrom Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyondarticulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the… See more details below
For the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earthfrom Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyondarticulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he’s known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.
In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’s visceral full-color photographstaken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few yearswith writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forcesthe quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy.
“Punk-rock icon. Spoken word poet. Actor. Author. DJ. Is there anything this guy can’t do?” —Entertainment Weekly
"A whirlwind of gutting impressions to global cultures, Occupants unhinges what we know about being citizens of the world while challenging our conceptions."
"It's an impressive collection built entirely out of Rollins' desire to expose readers to corners of the world they may otherwise never see." —Wired.com
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OCCUPANTSPHOTOGRAPHS AND WRITINGS
By HENRY ROLLINS
CHICAGO REVIEW PRESSCopyright © 2011 Henry Rollins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKYRGYZSTAN 2003
The enduring power of Father's love. Sometimes Father seems angry. It can at times be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand what demons and dragons thunder inside Father's head, but you must. Father struggles so you will not have to. Whatever pain and hardship you endure, you must know that Father has been subjected to much worse. No matter how bad things seem, you must understand that you are living in better times. You may never understand why Father did what he did. You will read things about millions starving to death, mothers slaughtering their own children to feed the rest of the family. Not genocide! Sacrifice. What greatness can come without it? Civilizations that were not prepared for great and sustained sacrifice were doomed. History bears this out. The monumental effort of Father, who has given so much, must never be lost on you. No matter how heavily the pain and sadness of the recent past may weigh on your heart, this all-consuming and overwhelming sorrow is felt more by Father than you could ever know. It is not for you to question. It is only for you to be thankful and ready when you are called. You owe Father everything. There is only one question you should ask: How can I do more?
Welcome, my friend. By the grace of almighty God, you have given me purpose. You have given me a reason to live and a reason to die just as your ancestors gave to my ancestors. I am sure that in your wide and wonderful America, you must have history books that tell of the thousands of men who have come to conquer this land, only to meet their deaths. These men who have come over the centuries were brave, and some could have even fought alongside us. These brave and rugged sons gave their all yet still their lives ended here. Their bones, now turning to dust, are littered all over this country. We are a nation of warriors. It is what we know. You are soft men who need to be trained to fight. We are born to fight. If you are lucky and your god smiles upon you, you will go back to your America to embrace the members of your trembling, tearful family and to tell them of my land—and of your bravery. You will not tell of the fear you displayed so abundantly here as you vomited from altitude sickness, exhaustion, and cowardice while on patrol. You will tell of the great cold and the scattered landmines and the ruggedness of the terrain, but all the while you will think to yourself that this is a land you could never live in, never tame, never conquer. You will admit that this wild and dangerous land is neither wild nor dangerous to us; it is merely our home. It is all we know. We pray for the opportunity to die while killing the invader. You will lie about your exploits as you belittle the people of my land. You will call us filthy and insane, fanatical and animalistic, but you will also know that we are stronger than you are. You will admit that this land that you find so uninhabitable—as did Alexander, the Mongols, the British, the Soviets, and other would-be conquerors—this land that I have called my home for centuries, was too much for you. When you kill a dozen of us and we kill one of you, we consider it a victory because one invader has been vanquished. As for the warriors of ours that you kill, they were only born to meet your bullets. Their lives were perfect, and their deaths only inspire families to grow and our warriors to become even more courageous in battle. Someday, there will be history books in America that tell stories of how many brave men from your green and fertile country came here, year after year, to die. The books will tell of how thousands of our warriors met their deaths and how a much smaller number of your sweating, well-fed, terrified soldiers met theirs. The books will tell the reader of your great victory over my people. The books will not tell of how your soldiers screamed like women giving birth as they bled into our land, of how they begged for their mothers as stones smashed their skulls to pieces and their brains came out. But you know the truth is a much different story. After you claim victory and finally leave, we will still be here, stronger than before and waiting for your fat children to come here to be killed. Every day we survive, we are victorious; every day we die, we are victorious. If you kill us all, we will have achieved complete victory. This is why you will never win. You are not righteous. You are weak, as is your god, as is your purpose in life. You are invaders and you will always lose. We are history. We are centuries. We are thousands of warriors. We are endless battles and pain you cannot imagine. We are grief, the depths of which you can never fathom. We are loss you could never recover from. We are not leaving. You are. As soon as you arrive here, you have already lost. Your commanders know this but will not tell you. History knows this and begs you to listen, but you do not and so you come here to die. Your leaders who send you here know nothing of battle and apparently nothing of history. America's history is that of endless defeat, failure, and lies. Many is the time you have claimed victory when in fact you were not victorious. You not only lost the battles and the wars, but you have also lost the world. Everyone everywhere knows who their true enemy is. It is you. America wakes up in the morning, defeated, in debt, weaker and more frightened than the day before. Meanwhile, we are here. We wait for you. We pray to our god for the chance to kill you and the chance to die while doing so. Welcome, welcome my friend. We have been expecting you.
Futures, curses, silences. I load them into chambers and blow my brains out over and over, only to find my mind is in the same place it's always been. I am stuck in my life. I used to live it, now it lives me. My consciousness is a predator and I am its prey. Sleep is my enemy. I am unable to control the monsters. Sleep fights for possession of my mind every waking moment. I battle sleep. I resist hallucination. I want to put my brains in a bucket. I want to put them on the floor. I want to put them on the ceiling. I remember the screams of men. I remember them smashing their heads into the walls of their cells. Their screams have found me and have become my own. I can't stand what the quiet of the evening puts me through. I can't stay in bed. I can't leave the house. The lives I took have brought me here. If it were a lonely place, then I could think of someone to talk to, someone to beg for forgiveness. I can't. They're all dead. I'm so young. Life is so long. You will never see it in my face, but I am terrified of what I am. I am terrified of what I will do if you move too quickly. I told my wife that if she knows that I can kill her, that I will kill her in order to control a situation I don't understand, then we can stay together. She left three weeks ago. Meds keep me pretty straight, but I'm always ready.
Excerpted from OCCUPANTS by HENRY ROLLINS Copyright © 2011 by Henry Rollins. Excerpted by permission of CHICAGO REVIEW PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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