Arne O. Holm says Behind a Desk, They Decide Over Life and Death - Bob Dylan, 1962

Bob Dylan

"You that build all the bombs, You that hide behind walls," said Bob Dylan 60 years ago. (Photo: Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz - Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0

Commentary: "Come, you masters of war. You that hide behind walls. You that hide behind desks." I resort to Bob Dylan in the search for words to describe a world in which bestiality is the subject of every headline.

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Because how does one describe the suffering of the confined people in the Gaza Strip being continuously bombed to death without the world community interfering?

Or a Ukrainian people heading into yet another winter under the bombs from a Russian despot?

How can we, in the peaceful part of the Arctic, describe a life that we have never experienced or felt? We, who live in an increasingly more vulnerable and depopulated part of a country bordering blood-thirsty Russia?

At a loss for words

I make a living of words, but I am at a loss for words in the search for adjectives that can make us understand. To react. To ward off.

I am at a loss for words in the search for descriptive adjectives.

The words are spent and have lost their significance. American presidential candidates are calling their opponents scum and insects. Israeli leaders are calling two murdered civilians per terrorist "a good ratio," although it is neither good nor true.

Hell is a refugee camp in Palestine. It is not a conservative biblical description of life after death. The forecourt to hell is a trench in Ukraine, or Russian soldiers sent as fodder into the defensive fire from Ukrainian combatants.

Follow art closely

In High North News, we are following Arctic art and culture closely. As an actor, we organize debates in which artists meet the audience. We dissect Bodø's European Capital of Culture program in the search for Arctic life.

We are there when Tromsø is named the European Youth Capital because "young people from the Arctic are of central strategic significance to Europe," as they say. We follow Barents Spektakel in Kirkenes on the border to Russia and the Arctic Arts Festival in Harstad.

We are there when Scene Nord organizes "Big experiences in small places." Just to mention a few.

We have learned nothing.

We are there because art is important when a lot is at stake. Or rather, it can be important when the rest of us become helplessly speechless in the face of bestiality's tireless fight to squash humanism.

Loud and clear

Right now, the artists of the traditionally peaceful Arctic must want more. It must become more loud and more clear. It must intensify its sting.

Bob Dylan wrote "Masters of War" in the period from 1962 to 1963, right before the US seriously took over the warfare in Vietnam. More than 2,5 million people were killed. An exhausting war that affected my generation, the way today's wars will affect the current young generation.

Because nothing has changed. Nothing is learned. 

That is why I borrow a few lines from Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" for today's commentary. The two first and the final verse. Dylan says it louder and clearer than most.

And I hope that you die.

60 years later

Even 60 years after the lyrics were written.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

And I hope that you die
And your death will come soon
I'll follow your casket
By the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

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