Friday, October 30, 2015

This is Allhallowtide!

Allhallowtide, Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or the Hallowmas season, is the triduum encompassing the Western Christian observances of All Hallows' Eve (Hallowe'en), All Saints' Day (All Hallows') and All Souls' Day, which last from October 31 to November 2 annually. Allhallowtide is a "time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Hubris in Leftist Ideologies Will Kill Us All

Wrong place of birth, wrong papers, wrong accent
“Your presence here is unacceptable accident“
They turn backs on them, puppetry level’s excellent
They’re spitting lies in their eyes and never hesitate

You know what I’m saying, it’s time to spare your prayers
They look the other way for terrorists, smugglers and slavers
But if you’re running for your life, trying to escape the slaughter
They’ll let your wife die and feast on your sons and daughters

Poison the water, the feast of legalized murder
Their lies about human rights don’t cost a quarter
They bomb your home, let the beast roam, close the border
And feed the world another tale by double-tongued reporter

Forward to the past, Can I ask? Do you remember
How the allies were sending people back to gas chamber?
Beware the beast, at least you know what to expect
The circle closes and the history repeats itself

Hook 2x:
Papers, please! They get you on your knees
Straight face, race to the death, Deaf to your pleas
Who’s the real illegal people, who’s the real disease?
We’re all immigrants, We're all refugees.

The circle closes and the history repeats itself
Like 80 years ago abandoning those to the death
Who happened to be born on the wrong side of the fence
Ignoring obvious atrocities and cries for help

Not all was apathy - fallacy, lost humanity
Progressive wanna-be society begets another malady
No remedy, humanitarian calamity
another people denied the right to live with vanity

Another Human race catastrophe,
Another instance of entitled masses showing lack of empathy
Authorities are waging war, you people lie in idleness
Refuse to take responsibility for leaders' violence

Communities of hypocrites reveal their rotten values
“Civilized world” devoid of basic principles of kindness
Close minded, close the borders: entry denied
The price of economic comfort is their innocent lives

Hook 2x:
Papers, please! They get you on your knees
Straight face, race to the death, Deaf to your pleas
Who’s the real illegal people, who’s the real disease?
We’re all immigrants, We're all refugees.

Face the facts, no thanks, "Your passport lacks stamps
Please go back for war, torture and the death camps"
Join the ranks, labeled as illegal people
Cursed by those who suck blood from golden calf’s nipple

Broken families, tragedies, who the devil is
They put another spiked wall on the land they've seized
Barbed wire, peace expires, lost evidence
Infection of the whole soul, unknown genesis

Friday, October 23, 2015


Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
That wavers with the spirit's wind:
But in half-dreams that shift and roll
And still remember and forget,
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Our lives, most dear, are never near,
Our thoughts are never far apart,
Though all that draws us heart to heart
Seems fainter now and now more clear.
To-night Love claims his full control,
And with desire and with regret
My soul this hour has drawn your soul
A little nearer yet.

Is there a home where heavy earth
Melts to bright air that breathes no pain,
Where water leaves no thirst again
And springing fire is Love's new birth?
If faith long bound to one true goal
May there at length its hope beget,
My soul that hour shall draw your soul
For ever nearer yet.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, "Insomnia"

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chickens in the Coop

In the chicken coop in our side yard
When I was just a child
My siblings taught me how to cuss
It drove my mother wild

We went into the Chicken house
And climbed upon the perch
Then said some words you never heard
On Sunday while in church

We said them way too loudly
Just laughing all the while
What happened next you'll never guess
It did not make us smile

My mother yelled come in the house
For dessert we had some hope
We went in hoping for the best
Got our mouths washed out with soap

The lesson learned for me that day
Here and now I have to tell
If your mother calls when cussing
Be smart and run like hell
- Franklin Price, "In the Chicken Coop"

Transcending the Blues...

In the darkest hour of the longest night
If it was in my power I'd step into the light
Candles on the altar, penny in your shoe
Walk upon the water transcendental blues

Happy ever after 'til the day you die
Careful what you ask for, you don't know 'til you try
Hands are in your pockets, starin' at your shoes
Wishin' you could stop it transcendental blues

If I had it my way, everything would change
Out here on this highway the rules are still the same
Back roads never carry you where you want 'em to
They leave you standin' there with them ol' transcendental blues
- Steve Earle, "Transcendental Blues"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


That greatest thief of all of time
Is erasing my memories.
He comes in unexpectedly
With no thank you or a please.
I labeled them very carefully,
And filed them away in my mind.
I knew they would be there when needed.
They would be so easy to find.
Page after page of my long life
Would be there for a book.
But what has become of those images
And mental notes I took?
Alzheimers slipped into my storage room
And has left everything in a heap.
How could he treat me so cruelly?
Did he do this when I was asleep?
Whose are these faces around me?
I really don't know them at all
And I don't recognize the pictures
That are hanging on my wall.
Why has he hidden my babies?
I'm so sure I can hear them cry.
I look but I cannot find them
No matter how hard I may try.
Please go and find my mama
Everything will be alright.
She knows that I will need her
To tuck me in at night.
I'll just pull up these blankets
And wait for her to come.
Now who is it I'm waiting for?
It's okay, I've found my thumb.
- Joyce Johnson, "Erased Memories"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Tale of Two Totalitarianisms

A small note – not the stuff of headlines, obviously – appeared in the newspapers on 3 February. In response to a call for the prohibition of the public display of the swastika and other Nazi symbols, a group of conservative members of the European Parliament, mostly from ex-Communist countries, demanded that the same apply to Communist symbols: not only the hammer and sickle, but even the red star. This proposal should not be dismissed lightly: it suggests a deep change in Europe’s ideological identity.

Till now, to put it straightforwardly, Stalinism hasn’t been rejected in the same way as Nazism. We are fully aware of its monstrous aspects, but still find Ostalgie acceptable: you can make Goodbye Lenin!, but Goodbye Hitler! is unthinkable. Why? To take another example: in Germany, many CDs featuring old East German Revolutionary and Party songs, from ‘Stalin, Freund, Genosse’ to ‘Die Partei hat immer Recht’, are easy to find. You would have to look rather harder for a collection of Nazi songs. Even at this anecdotal level, the difference between the Nazi and Stalinist universes is clear, just as it is when we recall that in the Stalinist show trials, the accused had publicly to confess his crimes and give an account of how he came to commit them, whereas the Nazis would never have required a Jew to confess that he was involved in a Jewish plot against the German nation. The reason is clear. Stalinism conceived itself as part of the Enlightenment tradition, according to which, truth being accessible to any rational man, no matter how depraved, everyone must be regarded as responsible for his crimes. But for the Nazis the guilt of the Jews was a fact of their biological constitution: there was no need to prove they were guilty, since they were guilty by virtue of being Jews.

In the Stalinist ideological imaginary, universal reason is objectivised in the guise of the inexorable laws of historical progress, and we are all its servants, the leader included. A Nazi leader, having delivered a speech, stood and silently accepted the applause, but under Stalinism, when the obligatory applause exploded at the end of the leader’s speech, he stood up and joined in. In Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be, Hitler responds to the Nazi salute by raising his hand and saying: ‘Heil myself!’ This is pure humour because it could never have happened in reality, while Stalin effectively did ‘hail himself’ when he joined others in the applause. Consider the fact that, on Stalin’s birthday, prisoners would send him congratulatory telegrams from the darkest gulags: it isn’t possible to imagine a Jew in Auschwitz sending Hitler such a telegram. It is a tasteless distinction, but it supports the contention that under Stalin, the ruling ideology presupposed a space in which the leader and his subjects could meet as servants of Historical Reason. Under Stalin, all people were, theoretically, equal.

We do not find in Nazism any equivalent to the dissident Communists who risked their lives fighting what they perceived as the ‘bureaucratic deformation’ of socialism in the USSR and its empire: there was no one in Nazi Germany who advocated ‘Nazism with a human face’. Herein lies the flaw (and the bias) of all attempts, such as that of the conservative historian Ernst Nolte, to adopt a neutral position – i.e. to ask why we don’t apply the same standards to the Communists as we apply to the Nazis. If Heidegger cannot be pardoned for his flirtation with Nazism, why can Lukács and Brecht and others be pardoned for their much longer engagement with Stalinism? This position reduces Nazism to a reaction to, and repetition of, practices already found in Bolshevism – terror, concentration camps, the struggle to the death against political enemies – so that the ‘original sin’ is that of Communism.

In the late 1980s, Nolte was Habermas’s principal opponent in the so-called Revisionismusstreit, arguing that Nazism should not be regarded as the incomparable evil of the 20th century. Not only did Nazism, reprehensible as it was, appear after Communism: it was an excessive reaction to the Communist threat, and all its horrors were merely copies of those already perpetrated under Soviet Communism. Nolte’s idea is that Communism and Nazism share the same totalitarian form, and the difference between them consists only in the difference between the empirical agents which fill their respective structural roles (‘Jews’ instead of ‘class enemy’). The usual liberal reaction to Nolte is that he relativises Nazism, reducing it to a secondary echo of the Communist evil. However, even if we leave aside the unhelpful comparison between Communism – a thwarted attempt at liberation – and the radical evil of Nazism, we should still concede Nolte’s central point. Nazism was effectively a reaction to the Communist threat; it did effectively replace class struggle with the struggle between Aryans and Jews. What we are dealing with here is displacement in the Freudian sense of the term (Verschiebung): Nazism displaces class struggle onto racial struggle and in doing so obfuscates its true nature. What changes in the passage from Communism to Nazism is a matter of form, and it is in this that the Nazi ideological mystification resides: the political struggle is naturalised as racial conflict, the class antagonism inherent in the social structure reduced to the invasion of a foreign (Jewish) body which disturbs the harmony of the Aryan community. It is not, as Nolte claims, that there is in both cases the same formal antagonistic structure, but that the place of the enemy is filled by a different element (class, race). Class antagonism, unlike racial difference and conflict, is absolutely inherent to and constitutive of the social field; Fascism displaces this essential antagonism.

It’s appropriate, then, to recognise the tragedy of the October Revolution: both its unique emancipatory potential and the historical necessity of its Stalinist outcome. We should have the honesty to acknowledge that the Stalinist purges were in a way more ‘irrational’ than the Fascist violence: its excess is an unmistakable sign that, in contrast to Fascism, Stalinism was a case of an authentic revolution perverted. Under Fascism, even in Nazi Germany, it was possible to survive, to maintain the appearance of a ‘normal’ everyday life, if one did not involve oneself in any oppositional political activity (and, of course, if one were not Jewish). Under Stalin in the late 1930s, on the other hand, nobody was safe: anyone could be unexpectedly denounced, arrested and shot as a traitor. The irrationality of Nazism was ‘condensed’ in anti-semitism – in its belief in the Jewish plot – while the irrationality of Stalinism pervaded the entire social body. For that reason, Nazi police investigators looked for proofs and traces of active opposition to the regime, whereas Stalin’s investigators were happy to fabricate evidence, invent plots etc.

We should also admit that we still lack a satisfactory theory of Stalinism. It is, in this respect, a scandal that the Frankfurt School failed to produce a systematic and thorough analysis of the phenomenon. The exceptions are telling: Franz Neumann’s Behemoth (1942), which suggested that the three great world-systems – New Deal capitalism, Fascism and Stalinism – tended towards the same bureaucratic, globally organised, ‘administered’ society; Herbert Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism (1958), his least passionate book, a strangely neutral analysis of Soviet ideology with no clear commitments; and, finally, in the 1980s, the attempts by some Habermasians who, reflecting on the emerging dissident phenomena, endeavoured to elaborate the notion of civil society as a site of resistance to the Communist regime – interesting, but not a global theory of the specificity of Stalinist totalitarianism. How could a school of Marxist thought that claimed to focus on the conditions of the failure of the emancipatory project abstain from analysing the nightmare of ‘actually existing socialism’? And was its focus on Fascism not a silent admission of the failure to confront the real trauma?

It is here that one has to make a choice. The ‘pure’ liberal attitude towards Leftist and Rightist ‘totalitarianism’ – that they are both bad, based on the intolerance of political and other differences, the rejection of democratic and humanist values etc – is a priori false. It is necessary to take sides and proclaim Fascism fundamentally ‘worse’ than Communism. The alternative, the notion that it is even possible to compare rationally the two totalitarianisms, tends to produce the conclusion – explicit or implicit – that Fascism was the lesser evil, an understandable reaction to the Communist threat. When, in September 2003, Silvio Berlusconi provoked a violent outcry with his observation that Mussolini, unlike Hitler, Stalin or Saddam Hussein, never killed anyone, the true scandal was that, far from being an expression of Berlusconi’s idiosyncrasy, his statement was part of an ongoing project to change the terms of a postwar European identity hitherto based on anti-Fascist unity. That is the proper context in which to understand the European conservatives’ call for the prohibition of Communist symbols.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Two Totalitarianisms"

Monday, October 19, 2015

What's Your Problem?

OLD MAN: What is it that’s green, hangs on the wall, and whistles?
YOUNG MAN: I don’t know. What is it?
OLD MAN: A red herring.
YOUNG MAN: But it isn’t green.
OLD MAN: So you can paint it green.
YOUNG MAN: But it doesn’t hang on the wall.
OLD MAN: There’s a law saying you can’t hang it on the wall?
YOUNG MAN: But it doesn’t whistle.
OLD MAN: No, it doesn’t whistle... I just threw that in to make it hard to solve

Friday, October 16, 2015

One Hung Low

It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two.

One prisoner had been brought out of his cell. He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. He had a thick, sprouting moustache, absurdly too big for his body, rather like the moustache of a comic man on the films. Six tall Indian warders were guarding him and getting him ready for the gallows. Two of them stood by with rifles and fixed bayonets, while the others handcuffed him, passed a chain through his handcuffs and fixed it to their belts, and lashed his arms tight to his sides. They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water. But he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening.

Eight o'clock struck and a bugle call, desolately thin in the wet air, floated from the distant barracks. The superintendent of the jail, who was standing apart from the rest of us, moodily prodding the gravel with his stick, raised his head at the sound. He was an army doctor, with a grey toothbrush moustache and a gruff voice. 'For God's sake hurry up, Francis,' he said irritably. 'The man ought to have been dead by this time. Aren't you ready yet?'

Francis, the head jailer, a fat Dravidian in a white drill suit and gold spectacles, waved his black hand. 'Yes sir, yes sir,' he bubbled. 'All iss satisfactorily prepared. The hangman iss waiting. We shall proceed.'

'Well, quick march, then. The prisoners can't get their breakfast till this job's over.'

We set out for the gallows. Two warders marched on either side of the prisoner, with their rifles at the slope; two others marched close against him, gripping him by arm and shoulder, as though at once pushing and supporting him. The rest of us, magistrates and the like, followed behind. Suddenly, when we had gone ten yards, the procession stopped short without any order or warning. A dreadful thing had happened - a dog, come goodness knows whence, had appeared in the yard. It came bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together. It was a large woolly dog, half Airedale, half pariah. For a moment it pranced round us, and then, before anyone could stop it, it had made a dash for the prisoner, and jumping up tried to lick his face. Everyone stood aghast, too taken aback even to grab at the dog.

'Who let that bloody brute in here?' said the superintendent angrily. 'Catch it, someone!'

A warder, detached from the escort, charged clumsily after the dog, but it danced and gambolled just out of his reach, taking everything as part of the game. A young Eurasian jailer picked up a handful of gravel and tried to stone the dog away, but it dodged the stones and came after us again. Its yaps echoed from the jail wails. The prisoner, in the grasp of the two warders, looked on incuriously, as though this was another formality of the hanging. It was several minutes before someone managed to catch the dog. Then we put my handkerchief through its collar and moved off once more, with the dog still straining and whimpering.

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working - bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming - all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned - reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone - one mind less, one world less.

The gallows stood in a small yard, separate from the main grounds of the prison, and overgrown with tall prickly weeds. It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling. The hangman, a grey-haired convict in the white uniform of the prison, was waiting beside his machine. He greeted us with a servile crouch as we entered. At a word from Francis the two warders, gripping the prisoner more closely than ever, half led, half pushed him to the gallows and helped him clumsily up the ladder. Then the hangman climbed up and fixed the rope round the prisoner's neck.

We stood waiting, five yards away. The warders had formed in a rough circle round the gallows. And then, when the noose was fixed, the prisoner began crying out on his god. It was a high, reiterated cry of 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!', not urgent and fearful like a prayer or a cry for help, but steady, rhythmical, almost like the tolling of a bell. The dog answered the sound with a whine. The hangman, still standing on the gallows, produced a small cotton bag like a flour bag and drew it down over the prisoner's face. But the sound, muffled by the cloth, still persisted, over and over again: 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!'

The hangman climbed down and stood ready, holding the lever. Minutes seemed to pass. The steady, muffled crying from the prisoner went on and on, 'Ram! Ram! Ram!' never faltering for an instant. The superintendent, his head on his chest, was slowly poking the ground with his stick; perhaps he was counting the cries, allowing the prisoner a fixed number - fifty, perhaps, or a hundred. Everyone had changed colour. The Indians had gone grey like bad coffee, and one or two of the bayonets were wavering. We looked at the lashed, hooded man on the drop, and listened to his cries - each cry another second of life; the same thought was in all our minds: oh, kill him quickly, get it over, stop that abominable noise!

Suddenly the superintendent made up his mind. Throwing up his head he made a swift motion with his stick. 'Chalo!' he shouted almost fiercely.

There was a clanking noise, and then dead silence. The prisoner had vanished, and the rope was twisting on itself. I let go of the dog, and it galloped immediately to the back of the gallows; but when it got there it stopped short, barked, and then retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out at us. We went round the gallows to inspect the prisoner's body. He was dangling with his toes pointed straight downwards, very slowly revolving, as dead as a stone.

The superintendent reached out with his stick and poked the bare body; it oscillated, slightly. 'He's all right,' said the superintendent. He backed out from under the gallows, and blew out a deep breath. The moody look had gone out of his face quite suddenly. He glanced at his wrist-watch. 'Eight minutes past eight. Well, that's all for this morning, thank God.'

The warders unfixed bayonets and marched away. The dog, sobered and conscious of having misbehaved itself, slipped after them. We walked out of the gallows yard, past the condemned cells with their waiting prisoners, into the big central yard of the prison. The convicts, under the command of warders armed with lathis, were already receiving their breakfast. They squatted in long rows, each man holding a tin pannikin, while two warders with buckets marched round ladling out rice; it seemed quite a homely, jolly scene, after the hanging. An enormous relief had come upon us now that the job was done. One felt an impulse to sing, to break into a run, to snigger. All at once everyone began chattering gaily.

The Eurasian boy walking beside me nodded towards the way we had come, with a knowing smile: 'Do you know, sir, our friend (he meant the dead man), when he heard his appeal had been dismissed, he pissed on the floor of his cell. From fright. - Kindly take one of my cigarettes, sir. Do you not admire my new silver case, sir? From the boxwallah, two rupees eight annas. Classy European style.'

Several people laughed - at what, nobody seemed certain.

Francis was walking by the superintendent, talking garrulously. 'Well, sir, all hass passed off with the utmost satisfactoriness. It wass all finished - flick! like that. It iss not always so - oah, no! I have known cases where the doctor wass obliged to go beneath the gallows and pull the prisoner's legs to ensure decease. Most disagreeable!'

'Wriggling about, eh? That's bad,' said the superintendent.

'Ach, sir, it iss worse when they become refractory! One man, I recall, clung to the bars of hiss cage when we went to take him out. You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. "My dear fellow," we said, "think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!" But no, he would not listen! Ach, he wass very troublesome!'

I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing. Even the superintendent grinned in a tolerant way. 'You'd better all come out and have a drink,' he said quite genially. 'I've got a bottle of whisky in the car. We could do with it.'

We went through the big double gates of the prison, into the road. 'Pulling at his legs!' exclaimed a Burmese magistrate suddenly, and burst into a loud chuckling. We all began laughing again. At that moment Francis's anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.
- George Orwell, "A Hanging"

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great.
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?
- WIlliam Butler Yeats, "No Second Troy"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Columbus Day Descendent

Are these the honors they reserve for me,
Chains for the man who gave new worlds to Spain!
Rest here, my swelling heart! — O kings, O queens,
Patrons of monsters, and their progeny,
Authors of wrong, and slaves to fortune merely!

Why was I seated by my prince's side,
Honor'd, caress'd like some first peer of Spain?
Was it that I might fall most suddenly
From honor's summit to the sink of scandal?
'T is done, 't is done! — what madness is ambition!

What is there in that little breath of men,
Which they call Fame, that should induce the brave
To forfeit ease and that domestic bliss
Which is the lot of happy ignorance,
Less glorious aims, and dull humility? —

Whoe'er thou art that shalt aspire to honor,
And on the strength and vigor of the mind
Vainly depending, court a monarch's favor,
Pointing the way to vast extended empire;

First count your pay to be ingratitude,
Then chains and prisons, and disgrace like mine!
Each wretched pilot now shall spread his sails,
And treading in my footsteps, hail new worlds,
Which, but for me, had still been empty visions.
- Philip Freneau, "Columbus in Chains"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ukiyoe Bijinga (1603-1868 CE)

The Lady-in-Waiting Suwo

IF I had made thy proffered arm
A pillow for my head
For but the moment's time, in which
A summer's dream had fled,
What would the world have said?
The authoress was the daughter of Tsugunaka Taira, the Governor of the Province of Suwo, and a lady-in-waiting at the Court of the Emperor Goreizei, who reigned A.D. 1046-1068. She was present one day at a long and tedious court function, and, feeling very tired and sleepy, she called to a servant for a pillow; a nobleman on the other side of the screen, the First Adviser of State Tadaie, gallantly offered her his arm, with a request that she would rest her head there, and she replied with this verse. She intended him to understand that, though she was willing to accept him as her husband for life, she feared that his attachment would last no longer than a fleeting summer-night's dream.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poem from the Asuka Period

When she was still alive
We would go out, arm in arm,
And look at the elm trees
Growing on the embankment
In front of our house.
Their branches were interlaced.
Their crowns were dense with spring leaves.
They were like our love.
Love and trust were not enough to turn back
The wheels of life and death.
She faded like a mirage over the desert.
One morning like a bird she was gone
In the white scarves of death.
Now when the child
Whom she left in her memory
Cries and begs for her,
All I can do is pick him up
And hug him clumsily.
I have nothing to give him.
In our bedroom our pillows
Still lie side by side,
As we lay once.
I sit there by myself
And let the days grow dark.
I lie awake at night, sighing till daylight.
No matter how much I mourn
I shall never see her again.
They tell me her spirit
May haunt Mount Hagai
Under the eagles’ wings.
I struggle over the ridges
And climb to the summit.
I know all the time
That I shall never see her,
Not even so much as a faint quiver in the air.
All my longing, all my love
Will never make any difference.
- Hitomaro (circa 640 AD)

Baltimore Blues

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.
- Countee Cullen, "Incident"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

October 7, 1849

Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.

The night, tho’ clear, shall frown—
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given—
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
And the mist upon the hill,
Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token—
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!
- E.A. Poe, "Spirits of the Dead"

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fading Youth

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
- W.B. Yeats, "When You Are Old"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How Do You Gate Off Your Community?

Intellectual Property is the Death of Capitalism, the Way we Know it

Measures of Harmony

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
- T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (Excerpt)

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Anthropic Principle

Wind chimed the masts
like xylophones across the shore
heat rose shivering
filthering the lights
On the other shore
like the high white notes
on the piano board
played aimlessly

Where you and I collide
in constants and laws
that must be somehow right
'cause I'm drowning in those eyes

Provisional arrangements of dust
the earth will ponder on
beyond our reveries
'til the sun swallows us

Where you and I collide
in constants and laws
that must be somehow right
'cause I'm drowning in those eyes
- Coulour the Mundane, "The Anthropic Principle"