down for whatever
Ready and willing to participate in most any activity. If said by your homie it implies that he is ready to have a good time in any situation.
That was how Will and I interacted with one another. Sometimes, Will would set it off and I would be like "Let's do it!". Sometimes, I would set it off and Will would be like "how do we start?" Some of these efforts never got off the ground, but they were still fascinating to imagine. Some were partially successful and incredible to try. Some failed miserably but were fun to attempt. Some were more successful than we could have possibly imagined and these were just heavenly or the urban/funkier version of that (Mo' Betta Hevnly).
In my new series, I am going to explore Will, Willness (or, Mooreing) and my interaction with him. These adventures are useful to put out there because it is soothing to remember them now and because they not only tell us something about the type of human that he is but also the type of humans, situations and social science that he helped create - these were connected in his mind. Most of these are not on either of our vitaes - we just did them in an effort to start something, try something, create some resource for ourselves and others.
At its core, the adventures represent some bizarre mashup that is part buddy film, part travel story, part Mindwalk and part bromance set over 25 years. To help me tell these stories, I will use film, music, literature and perhaps a drawing or painting or two. I create with a little help from my friends. Damn, that's a good song for right now (here you go).
In Apocalypse Now (the Vietnam war film that defined Vietnam war films in addition to other topics), the lead character - Willard (played by Martin Sheen) reflects on his relationship to the other leading character - Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) and the story that is about to be told saying that
It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz's memory, any more that being back in Saigon was an accident. There was no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story is really a confession, then so is mine.
Now, I am no Sheen to Will’s Brando but we have had our moments (probably swapping roles more than a few times) and thinking about this line in Apocalypse Now after Will’s passing proves useful to address how we met and interacted in the beginning.
Willard - Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission. And for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service.
Will dove head first into Gurr’s world but, ever the entrepreneurial scholar, he did this with a careful eye as to what was missing. His dissertation explored one of the glaring absences within not only Gurr’s work but the larger field that was emerging: he investigated not why internal conflicts began or why they varied but why they ended (his peace-side). This investigation was significant for it represented a part of the domestic turn in the rigorous study of political conflict/violence. Up to this time, the bulk of work had been conflict between states (i.e., interstate) with some attention to civil war. Will changed and lowered the threshold of violence (tapping that which was much more commonplace/frequent) and considered its varied manifestation. This was his mission/calling: shedding light on intrastate conflict behavior to anyone who would listen and even barking at those who would not (part of his Don Quixote vibe).
This task was not an easy one. The Cold War was just winding down when we were coming out of grad school. Accordingly, most were focusing on interstate conflict behavior and there was very little interest in shifting this focus; indeed, there was a little hostility/hesitation when such an interest was expressed. This is how we would find one another.
Back then in the second wave of political conflict/violence studies (in the early 1990s), the panels with intrastate interested folks were small in number. Before we knew enough people to create our own panels, section chairs kept putting us together. We were also frequently being called upon to evaluate each other’s work.
Soldier (to Willard) - Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in a navy patrol boat, pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it, learn what you can along the way. When you find the colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available, and terminate the colonel's command.
Willard (to General) - Terminate...the colonel?
Initially, we did what well(ish) trained graduate students and hypercompetitive males would do: we ate each other alive in the review process – skewering everything put forward. Each article seemed to unleash a litany of explosives that rendered the submission process quite brutal. Sent one over there, BAMN!! Sent one over there, BAMN!!
The sting of forthrightness was a bit much to take at first but after I was able to breath and realize that my “anonymous reviewer” (Will quite often) was right, I just exhaled and made the suggested changes. Then one day at one of our national meetings, he walked up to me and said: “that last one was really good.” This is how it all got started. We realized that we could help one another get better and have some fun along the way.
Now, this is no grand conspiracy. We did not agree to take it easy on one another or give each other a pass. Stuff could get quite real with one of us suggesting that a paper not be continued/scrapped entirely or providing so many marks that the paper looked like a piece of modern art more than an academic work. Rather, we just agreed not to try and kill each other in gladiator-like arena that was/is the discipline. We concluded that we could be as straightforward and helpful with one another as possible as we tried to figure out creating, writing and publishing - all the while being human(e). We decided that we would be stronger and happier together as opposed to working at cross-purposes. In short, we decided to become brothers; we decided to embrace the fellowship that we had entered at different places but with similar aspirations. We decided to find a different way.