For the soldiers in this book, this moment of afterwar life is essentially and
profoundly precarious. It is a moment of living in which attachments and
vulnerabilities to others are powerfully felt and the world and one’s fleshy
presence in it are marked by instabilities wrought by the incommensura-
bility of being publicly bound to war while moving toward an anonymous
American good life to come. The process of rehabilitation is, in part, an
attempt to fix this: to repair and stabilize life and bodies and to regularize
them in their appearance in contact with the world. In considering the
plays of attachment and exposure that compose and decompose the lives
of these injured soldiers, I have moved from the exceptional worth vested
in them as national symbols to the questions of life thrown open by the
capturing of such worthy life in forms of flesh that are set up in opposition
to it. I have traced the shimmering of ordinariness across this unsteady
ground: the in-durable socialities of life in common at Walter Reed that
help sustain it and do not last, the various forms of excess that spring up
around and mark injured soldier bodies and the worlds they make as they
move, the modes of being with others that might make living on all the
more or less possible. Ordinariness has been emergent, and not more than
that, throughout.
Life in this mode is awake to the knowledge of its markedness, confronted
as it is by new arrays of possibilities and limits, and the expectations that
return again and again to the tension between the heteronationally repro-
ductive capacity of soldier bodies and the leaky violence of war. The hope of
a future unmarked by this—a passable and fixed future of heteronormative
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