The Meaning of Light: Seeing and Being on the Battlefield

I haven’t always written about algorithms and digital capitalism, but I have previously used poetry as a lens through which to expose the politics and asymmetries of technology and space. The Meaning of Light: Seeing and Being on the Battlefield (cultural geographies Vol: 22 issue: 4) is a paper I published in 2015 based on my experiences as a reservist soldier in Iraq in 2003. It’s about vision, affect, bodies, materiality and the (often imperial) politics of terrain on the battlefield. It all started with a poem I wrote about watching illuminating shells lighting up Basra before an artillery attack.

Light Discipline (2013)

In a blackout we adjust our sights

by touch and cup our smoke against

the desert, waiting for the light.

At long last the barrel scrapes

into place and the night is instantly

exposed. I cover my ears and watch.

In the distance a fitful city crouches,

seared eyes raised to the floating

arc above, waiting for the strike.

First written for the Sensing War Conference organised by Kevin McSorley in London in 2014, I subsequently presented the completed paper at the 2015 AAG in Chicago in a session on Terrain organised by Stuart Elden and Gaston Gordillo.

The paper in cultural geographies is available here, alternatively you can get an open access pre-print from my Royal Holloway PURE page here.

light Screenshot 2018-03-21 17.40.17

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