Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Then the war was just two valleys over, but still they didn’t worry, and then it was in the very next valley, but even so, no one could imagine its actually intruding into their quiet lives. But one day a car suddenly careered into the village’s central square, four young men in militia uniforms leaping out, purposefully crossing the square, seeming to single out a particular house and cornering its occupant, whereupon the leader of the militiamen calmly leveled a gun at the young man and blew him away. The militiamen hustled back off to their car and sped off. As van Cleef subsequently recounted the incident for me, "They left behind them a village almost evenly divided. Those under fifty years of age had been horrified by the seeming randomness of the act, while those over fifty realized, with perhaps even greater horror, that the young man who’d just been killed was the son of a man who, back during the partisan struggles of the Second World War, happened to have killed the uncle of the kid who’d just done the killing. And the older villagers immediately realized, with absolute clarity, that if this was now possible everything was going to be possible."

 – Lawrence Weschler, Vermeer in Bosnia