Tuesday, December 30, 2014


The day before the day before.
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Mavis Staples, Hard Times.So you see, an unexpected addition to the bespoke 7-11-13-17-22 being 30 - second last day of the year and all.

Not a happy year, though I still rise with a song - even if for the last weeks it has been Stephen Foster's 'Hard Times (Come Again No More)' with resonances from Mavis Staples' joyful rendition. That and 'Hello Young Lovers' from 'The King and I'.

Last month there were meditations: responsibility, guilt, and shame; and Martin Buber's essay Guilt and Guilt Feelings.

Grief and grieve come from Latin gravis - heavy, via Old French gref - with positive links to grávida (Portuguese), gravid - pregnant, heavy with young. Grief: hardship, suffering; deep or violent sorrow caused by loss or trouble; keen or bitter feeling of regret for something lost, remorse for something done, or sorrow for mishap to oneself or others; Grieve: to sorrow deeply.

About as old as English itself; OED citations from the 13th century onwards including one from Chaucer, variously interpreted as: "Tel me of youre grief parauenture I yow may in youre meschief conseille or helpe," and "Telleth me your grief; paraventure I may, in your meschief, conseille or helpe," (Shipman's Tale lines 127-8).
Elia Kazan: A Face in the Crowd, 1956, Patricia Neal.
[Enter Lear, with Cordelia dead in his arms, Edgar, Captain, and others following]. Lear: Howl, howl, howl, howl! ... Do you see this? Look on her! look! her lips! Look there, look there! [He dies.]

Except for Job and a couple of the Prophets the word is not much in evidence in the KJV - almost not used at all in the New Testament.

Do you see how quickly I run away, put it away? Put it out into the OED, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Launcelot Andrewes ... anywhere but here and now; anything but what it is. The only useful part is recognizing that quick avoidance.

A friend of mine used to tell me that she often/always felt herself 'de trop', heavy and unworthy.
Not long ago in Congo.
Yvo de Boer, Copenhagen, December 2009.
He covers his eyes. So not to see? So not to be seen? If the latter then is there an element of shame? The 'remorse' in the OED definition may also be a (weak) link to guilt.

Elizabeth Anetta among the oaks & sumacs, 1931.My mother had a remarkable transcendent notion around carnal knowledge - she believed it's a lifetime and unbreakable connection. Some of this may have come from her personal history - that my father was her only lover - and some of it may have come from ... somewhere else. Whatever the background, this wonderful idea (which corresponds so nicely with Maritain's "Au lieu d'un chateau fort dressé au milieu des terres, il faudrait penser a l'armée des étoiles jetées dans le ciel.") is, of all she gave me, what I thank her for most.

Elizabeth Anetta old and frail, 1990.Naturally I've gone on with it (ad absurdum of course). Sex is not the only intimate and significant touch - much of what goes on between loving parents and children shares some similar quality. Sight (including glances and sometimes photographs), certain sounds (particularly music), even certain written passages; seem to me to expand the network - l'armée des étoiles being a network of sorts.

And in my silly way I attach all of this to the word 'saw' in Luke 10,33. (I do draw a firm line excluding anything to do with computers and smartphones - but anyone who reads this blog already knows I'm a bigot. :-)

So ... Buber's heroic practitioner who "must lay his hand in the wound of the other" becomes for me the authentic healer, not only of guilt, but of shame and grief as well - perhaps even the only authentic healer. Echoes & reverberations of the 'laying on of hands' but with the Holy Ghost divested of divinity and properly transmogrified into the human will.

Mike Baldwin, Cornered: Inner Child.tOad's perfect puns strike again! and ...
... a rock'n roll band called Inner Animas.
A few words on Lima from Gwynne Dyer; and a few more from John Ibbitson (in the Globe of all places).

A suite of reports from The Guardian on profligate plastic (beware: 'micro' in this context does not mean 000th; and the stuff is in the beaches as well as in & on the water):

   • 2013-11: Marine plastic pollution: the threat pervading Australia's waters;


   • 2013-12: Mounting microplastic pollution harms 'earthworms of the sea';


   • 2014-12: Full scale of plastic in the world's oceans revealed for first time;


   • 2014-12: Microplastic deposits found deep in world's oceans and seas.


I remember collecting salt bags on the Marticot Back Cove beach (we used them to start our kitchen fire in those days) and finding them turned to flakes & dust in the sun & salt.

And thinking, "Ah! So that's where they go."

tOad: L'imaculée / Lima-culée.Arcadio Esquivel: garbage bla bla bla.Angel Boligán Corbo: wave of garbage.
Arcadio Esquivel: ocean of garbage.
 Don't want to forget Thais Santi:
Thais Santi.Thais Santi.Thais Santi.
This long interview (in Portuguese) - originally in El País, and translated (poorly) by Google - tells a story well worth the time it takes to understand. Thais Santi (who has been mentioned here previously and here) tells us much about the development of Belo Monte - and also much about herself and some of the changes that have come to her in the process. In the end she admits that most of what we can do is bear witness.

She also makes the link - through Hannah Arendt - between the environnmental armageddon and Hitler's Holocaust. People I try to talk with about this connection turn their backs on me so it is good to hear it from such a source. This woman is no flake - she was Professor of Law before she came to Altamira - and given the situation for activists in Brazil generally but Pará state particularly, we know, without the fear of contradiction, that she is courageous in the face of personal danger.

She uses the term 'State of Exception' which makes me think she may have read Giorgio Agamben as well.

Someone I respect tells me I'm just being politically correct in my ranting craziness. 'Cept ... there are observations which may only appear (human rhetorical skills being as fallible as the rest) to be judgements. Some are stoutly tied with a knot and some with a bow - I prefer the silk ribbon.

Two films:
Sudan, 'The Good Lie'.
'The Good Lie': I weep from start to finish, not because the story is a sad one - it's clearly U-shaped from the start - but because I (selfishly) wish some tribe would show me such compassion as these children consistently show one another. There.
Ross Sea, 'The Last Ocean'.
'The Last Ocean': The makers keep a website where you can find more about it. The copy I watch comes from the library - there are no torrent copies anywhere that I can find, wish I knew how to make one. Meanwhile in the EU: Fishing quotas defy scientists’ advice as they increase quotas and relax regulations around dumping bycatch.

Shaumiga.taka yo ler a mi, akuni ler a mi
laka lo laka lo laka lo
pung ai yo karra tak, khauto kata khalu tak
laka lo laka lo laka lo

The end of it is in this tiny story. I betrayed him. Ai ai ai.

He lived for years in the north with the people, around Frobisher Bay maybe, knew the language, raised children. He would have known about the old & frail walking off into the ice but I never asked. Such a tradition seems reasonable - and in that culture, walking off into the ice would have a context, be comprehensible, understandable ... not walking quite entirely alone then.

Here it's nothing like that.

If you say to someone, "You are not able to understand this but ..." it's a sure way to get their back up. Most of the time these urban muggles like to imagine they are able to understand everything, anything; which, of course, they aren't.

Oh well.

Daniel Pudles: Silence & Talk.The danger is not the loss of faith & hope, the danger is not despair; the danger is that no one will notice and take interest, understand, comprehend, appreciate, be true. There is a calculus of spirit though it is not mathematical and so is not suitable for engineering.

When it comes to grief (beyond guilt, shame, remorse) isn't it mourning that's required? Maybe this can be accomplished privately by well founded individuals - for me (who is not) it's a process requiring common confirmation, some kind of shared experience (I shudder at the phrase but there it is).

'The Pawnbroker' for which I imagined, remembered, explicitly remembered, an entirely different denouement (in which Sol & Tessie mourn together). The joke's on me.
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Monday, December 22, 2014

What to do?

Apply the Golden Rule and see if it sticks.   
Fuck, fight, hold the light.
(Thanks to Ken B.)
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Neil Young: Who's gonna stand up?

Here's a start for Y'all.   Ask yourself:                                                                    
  Who's gonna stand up?

   Other versions:
   A-and: Fork in the Road.

This is what's really happening:
Ballard Street: He throws himself on the mercy of the day.
Berkeley Breathed. Bill The Cat.

... all the rest is strictly hypothetical.

Earth First!But seriously ... three possibly useful & effective examples have seeped and soaked into the squash over the last few years:

                Crowbird & Occupation Apple Tree;
                Zoe & the Forest Action Network; and,
                The entire East End Against Line 9 committee.

More on this below.
What to do betwixt & between? Infinite possibilities! ...

Blame the Arabs:
John Larter.Matt Wuerker.
Or ... don't blame the Arabs:
Tom Toles: Church of the Almighty Dollar.Tom Toles: Our survival plan is to sacrifice our children.
Find morally ambiguous people (at home & abroad) to blame:
MacKinnon: Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino the sleveen.Malcolm Mayes: Veterans Christmas.
Lee Judge: Hate America.
Dress up the lies & dissembling, put lipstick on 'em:
Harry Bliss.John Larter.
Chip Bok.Tutu pig.
Give up, stop thinking, say "Fuck it!" & resign yourself:
John Cole: Justice. Bah!Lee Judge.
Become a perfectly realized being or ... get sentimental:
Chiquinha: Voando / Flying (stoned).Lassalvy: Sea Shell.
Take the time for a serious course of reality therapy:
Anita Kunz: Arctic Ark.Mike Thompson: Fear.
Pray to the Great Cloud Dragon; hope a Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake comes along:
Signe: Pope UnSelfie.
Jay Williams & Mercer Mayer: Everyone Knows What a Dragon Looks Like.
The Elephant's Child Rudyard Kipling.
Tarot reading, astrology, star-gazing, tea leaves:
Pearls Before Swine: Give Up Pig.
Indulge in positive thinking:
Anonymous but defiant frog.Paul Conrad: Congressional Bipartisanship 1999.Remember, it may get worse.
... or one-word aphorisms:
Shepard Fairey: Andre the Giant, OBEY.Anonymous: Resist.Barack Obama: Hope.
... or the heroes of your youth: (Show 'em off, brag on 'em, go ahead - be pretentious.)
Hunter S. Thompson.Hunter S. Thompson. 
Some people say to take examples from the abolitionst movement of the 17th & 18th (& 19th & 20th & 21st) centuries (which has yet to eliminate slavery in its many forms) - I think we might be better off taking examples from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943.

Adam Czerniaków, Neville Chamberlain - are those the kind of leaders you're looking for? Is that why the palliative & appeasement dimensions of 'mitigation' have such widespread appeal?

The three examples I gave at the top can be found:

                Occupation Apple Tree,.
                Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network.
                East End Against Line 9.

All well worthy of praise and whatever support they may ask for.
We can quibble if you like. A quick round of intellectual table tennis over whether it's Earth (mother or father), or Humanity (sapiens or graedum or agapiens), or Nature, or Ecology, or simply life itself. Regardless of the outcome I like this phrase 'Earth First!' with a gen-u-ine exclamation point and all.
Earth First!
[I myself can probably not be found. Weak and worn out; smoking, sipping & savouring death (while avoiding the main draught). Holding the light perhaps or ... consumed by self-pity, or both - no way of telling - but either way, demonstrably supernumerary, superfluous and ... not required, unworthy of any engagement.

The danger is not the loss of faith & hope, the danger is not despair; the danger is that no one will notice and take interest. There is a calculus of spirit though it is not mathematical and so is not suitable for engineering.
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