Table of contents

Rambo 1

The city & the man of war

Rambo is walking through the Pacific Northwest. Without the city, he asks a woman about a man, her son, his fellow soldier. He shows her a picture from Vietnam. The man died of cancer, without glory, relief, or consolation. His country used him & abandoned him. From the beginning, the story is impossible to solve: Rambo has no more friends. Rambo’s tragedy starts with his loneliness. He wanders into a town, hungry, like an animal.

The sheriff takes him for a bum & wants to run him out of town, bravely contemptuous of veterans in times of peace. The sheriff is what people say on election day – Rambo is warlike whatever people say. A man weakened by age is harassing a young man of superb strength… Democratic conventions have blinded people to nature: men & manliness are decaying.

Rambo is a man who loses his citizenship to save his freedom. His great self-pity, his suffering shows his greatness. This man’s story is interesting because it is ever the urgent problem of civilized people to understand warlike men. In the city, Rambo becomes a foreign beast, to be hunted. When Rambo returns, enshrouded in murder, he confirms the opinion of the city, but the city is powerless to act on it then. Men must follow necessity to war in order to defend the city. But this causes them to forget the difference between the city & the world at war, which makes them dangerous.

The laws empower the sheriff & his deputies to humiliate & torture Rambo. This petty tyranny shows us the American city at its ugliest. If Rambo were not who he is, this would not have happened. But men of war do not suffer violence like cowards. He hates men of peace for their weakness; they contemn him. He judges the worth of a life by the harshness of the world – they judge his worth by his ability to spare them that knowledge & that experience. What reconciliation is possible anymore? Only one man in the city speaks for Rambo, a boyish deputy whose fear & shame lead him away from tyranny.

Justice requires that people get what they deserve: the good the good, the evil the evil. Men’s outrage at injustice causes tragedy. The city requires that men of war & men of peace live together. In a democracy, the men of peace lead. This is that cause of tragedy. But if the city were always at war, there would be no city. – Therefore, the city cannot repay those whom it needs, if it is going to survive. Now, tragedy seems impossible to avoid, given our political limits – our limits as men, which the manly men despise.

The closest thing to tragedy. Find it. See it.