LMDA Conference Washington DC


The final session of the conference at 10 AM Sunday morning was entitled Theatre of War. It was an astonishing presentation. Director and Greek scholar Bryan Doerries presented the conceptual framework for his project with examples from his translations of Sophocles’ Ajax and Philoctetes. The goal of his work is to destigmatize psychological injury through ancient stories about warriors struggling to be heard. Given the military context of service in 5th Century BCE, Doerries theories on the relationships between the Athenian drama of Dionysus and the military culture of the city of Athens and how that culture mirrors that of the United States were illuminating.

The conference wrapped with everyone who was still in attendance relaying a moment that stood out for them. And then it was over.

It’s always hard to walk away from conferences like this. Something feels incomplete.

I went back to the Vietnam memorial for another look. Despite its controversial history, I find it to be the most powerful monument on the Mall. It is an expression of sorrow that honours the dead in a way the others don’t. It humanizes the scale and emphasizes the tragedy of all war. That said, a similar monument in present day Vietnam commemorating the North Vietnamese military dead (not counting the civilian casualties on both sides which were many times the number of military dead) would have to have been twenty times the length of this one. The horror.

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam on a Human Scale

Vietnam on a Human Scale

My final event before heading home is a visit to see Barack Stars, a Second City Chicago offering at the Woolly Mammoth. Watching a satirical review focusing on a president from Chicago in the heart of Washington DC was very much of the moment, and a great way to wrap up my visit to this great Capitol City.



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