Tim was fascinated by using art to hold a mirror up to people, and what really ultimately is reflected is themselves [the viewer]. And so in that little bit in Diary, what you hear in that empty space after he says that is a reflection of yourself. He didn’t want to do something that reflected on him. If he had finished that sentence, then you learn about Tim’s brain. But for Tim, Tim’s brain didn’t matter. What he was interested in was in doing something where you had to self reflect. He wanted to use art to get us to understand ourselves.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’ve said this before, but I’m saying it again because I think Tim would have appreciated this sentiment and agreed with it, and been pleased by it.

Last year on book tour I met a Vietnam vet who really liked the movie and liked my book. And we stayed in touch a little bit, and the day Tim was killed, I got an e-mail from him. He said, “I’m so sorry. And I hope this doesn’t sound callous but I do want to tell you this.” He said, “You guys with your book and your movie, you got really close to understanding war. You got very close, but you didn’t get all the way.” And then he said, “The ultimate truth about war isn’t that you might die. The ultimate truth about war is that you are guaranteed to lose your brothers. In some ways, until today, you didn’t have the first idea about war. You didn’t know the first thing about it until today. And you’ve lost a brother. And now you understand.”

It was such a profound insight. I think Tim and I were brothers in that context, in that kind of battlefield context. We relied on each other, we depended on each other. And, yeah, now I know what I’m talking about—about war.

 

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Michael Meyer is a CJR staff writer.