The Soldier’s Dream

Mind you now: there may not actually be an enemy! All along we are speaking of the idea of an enemy, a phantom enemy. It is not the enemy that is essential to war and that forces wars upon us, but the imagination. ~James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War

The Soldier’s Dream is a meditation upon the dualistic nature of war.

War as activity is ritualized violence, practiced by all cultures at all times throughout human history. For every year of recorded history there have been at least two wars. In the 20th century over 60 million people were killed in war. In the 1990s, 6 million were killed in 14 wars. War is carnage, death, destruction, mayhem, perversity, barbarity.

War as concept is something altogether different. War is noble and mythic. War brings out the best in a person, promises glory and a place in paradise. War is sublime, ecstatic. The warrior knows no greater eros than for his fellow warrior in the heat of battle.

If for a day we disengage ourselves from the endless round of military rituals, the whole structure might collapse into nothingness. For out here it is nothingness, emptiness that men fear. The military treadmill, the mission in the offing, is our one tangible proof of reality. This conquest of desolation, of sheer ennui is a matter of genuine heroism, as much as battle itself.  ~David Tucker Brown, Jr. USMC, 4 August 1944

The images in this series combine found photographs from an unknown World War II photographer/soldier with personal images representing a fantasy world in contrast with the world of war. Titles of each image are the names of military operations chosen to highlight the physical and psychological condition depicted.

A softcover book of these images is available at