Leonardo da Vinci, “Profilo di capitano antico (Il Condettiero) – Leader of Mercenaries”, 1480

The aesthetics of militancy is not a goal in itself, but organic part of preparedness for war, for battle and for fight. Look at the leader of the mercenaries with his bloated posture of readiness to kill, with a furious lion on his armor and predatory bird’s wings adorning his helmet. His facial expression impregnated with chauvinism and bravado is the main psychological and aesthetic attribute of a military commander. It is looking at a commander and remembering his face carrying contempt not only for the enemy, not only for civilians who are nothings in comparison with militaries, but for the whole world doomed to be conquered, low ranks got power to win. Looking at his profile not cognitively, but emotionally, we following Leonardo and disagree with the military leader’s hubris. Yes, Leonardo understood it all. Di capitano antico, indeed a monster of self-aggrandizement!

Of course, in the times when high-tech weapon didn’t exist yet – the physical strength and endurance of a fighter were even more important than today – it is from here the commander’s exaggerated grimaces and poses. Today, everything is more complicated, but the psychological predisposition we read on the face of da Vinci’s “commanding officer” is still the same but left from the surface to the emotional basis of the warriors – the same hate, contempt and cruelty is the posture of any, not only military power. Even diplomats of civil government luck the ability to discuss problems and reason with opponents. The universal and untimely crudeness of the soul which Leonardo registered on the face of his Il Condettiero is still the heart of our condition today, in the 21st century.


Pablo Picasso, “Warrior” or “Head of the Warrior”, 1933

There are two kinds of impairment – physical and mental. Let’s look at Picasso’s “warrior”. His physical mutilation and disability are tragic. But it is his mental infirmity could make Picasso to add a second title to his sculpture – it looks like he wanted to attract the viewers’ attention to the warrior’s head – to his mentality much more than to his physical disfigurement. Especially important moment in Picasso’s sculpture is, it seems, that physical infirmity of the warrior is not only a result of his wounds and of the fact of losing his limbs, but also of psychological nature, that the tragedy of a warrior who, probably, volunteered for military service, is that he is carrying inside his psyche the belligerent complexes which were pushing him to unconscious passionate search for dangerous situations – for heroic self-exposure to the risks of combat.

The reasons for the existence of such complexes of super-fearlessness is exactly the presence in the unconscious of the desperate fear to look not heroic and cowardly, and to have a strong conscious shame of being called a sissy. Look at the incredible, silent pride in the very profile of the warrior. It is his wounds and lost limbs that makes him proud and confident – for him it is the proof that he never was a sissy. It’s only when you have proved that you are courageous and a fearless hero, you can be free to die with a light heart – because not only your comrades in arms and people of your country, but god also will know that you are a real hero.

The young people who are born in conservative families with authoritarian fathers much more often than those grown in democratic family atmosphere are prone to feel that natural human fear of being killed is not natural at all and is a sign of being a weakling and sissy. So, as soldiers such youths became, as if more “masochistic” than their peers – in order to prove that they are the very embodiment of courage and prowess they are ready to sacrifice themselves to demonstrate – how great they are personally and how great their army – greater than any other army in the world. Inferiority complex in post-adolescents and yearning to cover it up leads not only to pugnacious behavior, but to a general belligerency and the absence of courage to have only your persuasions and your speech without weapon, ultimatums and “diplomatic bribery” to confront your opponents, discuss problems and together to come to reasonable resolution.