Hello everyone, I’m back to blogging after a month and a half of packing, moving, unpacking, and getting used to a new place.   More about that, in so far as any of it might be interesting, later.

As a brief aside, I am composing this post on my new MacBook Air, which I bought at back to school prices and with a student discount, which is a nice deal if you can get it at fifty years age.   I’m using a Mac app called Mars Edit, from the wonderfully named publisher Red Sweater.  I am still figuring it out, but it is intuitive and much easier to use than trying to use Google’s Blogger tools in my browser.  At $30 it’s not cheap, and a casual blogger might not need it, but if you are a Mac person, you may wish to check it out.

My other blog is predicated on the idea that toy soldiers are interesting and fun to play with, but not everyone agrees with that premise.  In contexts other than the war-games table, toy soldiers can be political, and even sinister.  In this image from the Foreign Policy website, they are used in Santiago in front of the Presidential Palace to mark the 40th anniversary, on Sept 11, of the military coup in Chile.

As thoughtful war gamers know, there is something both seductive and pathetic about toy soldiers.  They offer us fantasies of command and control unknown to real battlefield commanders, but their vulnerability to badly conceived attacks and the price they pay for our failures on the gaming table hints at horrors that our gaming would keep at a safe remove.  That (as I understand it) is the point made by art critic Dave Hickey in his preface to a book of disturbing photographs of toy soldiers by David Levintha, of which you can see some here:

As described by art critic Dave Hickey in his foreword to War Games (the soon-to-be published book featuring Levinthal’s full body of toy-soldier work), Levinthal’s art is “a kid’s solution to an adult dilemma.” Levinthal, Hickey writes, has “combined the aggression of battle, the visual aggression of photography, and the built-in cultural aggression of ‘serious’ art to create a lethal cocktail — a body of objects that are admirable, affecting, beautiful, and not comfortable at all.”  

But Levinthal’s work is more than just arranging toys in play-fighting poses — or merely an imitation of war. As Hickey keenly notes, Levinthal’s photographs contain an “intimate appeal of toy soldiers and the fantasy of omniscience they bestow. First, toy soldiers are all very much the same, they all wear uniforms, and they are just where they are. They represent a species not a class. They have no dreams, no interiority or individuality, and Levinthal never tries to infer that they do.”