For Palestine, in May 2021

“Indeed, I tremble for my country
when I reflect that God is just:
that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

— Thomas Jefferson,
unrepentant slaveowner, in 1781,
80 years later came the Civil War.

May 2021:
In Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem,
Israeli mobs shielded by Israeli soldiers
expropriate Palestinian homes:
more living room for Greater Israel.

Israeli airplanes, unopposed,
bomb Gaza
84 years after Guernica,
retaliating for Palestine’s right to exist:
infants, children, women, men die,
civilians all:
blown up,
buried in the rubble of their homes,
bleeding away in hospitals
denied pandemic vaccines:
all eyed hungrily by bulldozer blades
eager to raze
more living room for Greater Israel.

Triumphally
does America’s largess to Zionism
clear out another Western Expansion
to echoes of Crazy Horse:
“My lands are where my people lie buried”;
raining hellfire on infidels to White Supremacy.
USS Liberty continues to sink:
the Associated Press Building is bombed;
Americans, too, like Abraham of yore,
must be willing to offer blood sacrifices
on the altar of Biblical Glory:
more living room for Greater Israel.

The Conquest continues
because empty souls with blank hearts
cling to tribal hate with loaded guns.

When will “God’s justice” rain down on us
in retribution for our lush sponsorship
of Zionist war crimes?

We have forgotten Nuremberg,
and “never again,”
only 76 years ago:
so I tremble for my country.

May 2021:
These are our crimes: tremble.

15 May 2021

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A Reflection on Zionism’s Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

For Americans, Stan Goff perfectly summarized the situation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem today, and in Palestine generally for the last 54 years:

“Establishment Democrats support ethnic cleansing… There is no Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict.’ It’s the decades-long military occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. I know I sound like a broken record, but my [social media] feed keeps filling up with this weasel worded bullshit that assigns some utterly bullshit equivalency between occupier and occupied. No reasonable and honest person who is even superficially familiar with this issue can describe Israel as anything but an Apartheid state. An Apartheid state that is sustained and protected in its racist aggressions by the United States government with your taxes. Democrats and Republicans. Heretofore I will unfollow anyone who posts this kind of sly ‘moral equivalency’ trash. And no, it is not fucking ‘complicated’; it’s ignorance or cowardice, and it is objectively lending support to this lawless fascist state. That is all.”

The American “political class” runs a white supremacy state; to them, a threat to white supremacy anywhere is a threat to white supremacy everywhere. Hence the knee-jerk fealty to ethnic cleansing in Palestine by Zionists.

This is as it has always been and remains regarding “others” in the territory of the United States and the Western Hemisphere, with: the Amerindians, Blacks (long held in slavery, and ever discriminated against), Mexicans (the American West north of the Rio Grande is Occupied Mexico), and many other designated apart-from-white people.

With the growth since the 19th century of the fossil-fueled industrial power of American white supremacy came the global reach of its campaign of conquest: the Caribbean (1898, and 1959+), Central and South America (from Smedley Butler to Kennedy-Johnson, and Reagan, et al.), Southeast Asia (Vietnam+), South Africa (Kissinger, Reagan, the 1980s for Angola, Namibia, the U.S. support for South African apartheid — I knew a “jackal”: a retired unacknowledged U.S. mercenary-assassin who worked for S.A. in those years).

The World is “the enemy” of American white supremacy, just as Palestine is “the enemy” of Zionism. And Zionists have paid their way into being “honorary white people” — an apt Goffism characterizing our apart-from-white-Christian domestic compradores serving our domestic white supremacy settler colonialism — who are part of that American white supremacy establishment; and have financially metastasized themselves into the careerism of that narcissistic and intrinsically racist political class.

“Indeed I tremble for my country when [I] reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!” — Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia).

But he still kept his slaves to the bitter end, banking on God’s justice continuing to sleep. And such is the attitude of the anguished self-absolved collectively guiltless perpetrators of today, and which drives their hypocritical equivocations and torturously convoluted hyperbole in defense of continuing with the slow-motion genocide in Palestine (as in Xinjiang, as in…) of the “others” to be dispossessed and discarded as fast as the marketplace of world public moral consciousness will bear.

For me it all begs the question: when do we reach the point where we deserve our own destruction?

The phrase “never again” should have been emblazoned on human memory many times in the past, for example searingly by Guernica in 1937, but tragically it never seems to fully catch hold as a guiding principle for human beings.

To my mind, one significant impetus to the eruption of World War II in Europe in 1939 was the failure of the Democracies including the United States to defend the Spanish Republic and stamp out fascism in Spain during 1936-1939. The retreat into nationalist comfort (as today with vaccine nationalism) and ‘the Democracies’ not-so-covert anti-socialist collaboration with the fascists in Spain, Italy and Germany during the 1930s, doomed them to be sucked into the genocidal maelström of 1939-1945. And we are yet not free of that poison. [1]

While “collective guilt” of the German people for the crimes of the Nazis was officially disavowed by the triumphant United Nations, after 8 May 1945, in the vital interests of pacifying, stabilizing and rebuilding Germany and the rest of devastated Europe without a resurgence of fascism — which itself was first sparked by the draconian punishment of Germany after World War I — it nevertheless was a moral truth. That the German people of the 1930s and 1940s (with the exception of an incredibly brave and noble minority) overwhelmingly supported the Nazi regime, is plain fact. [2]

But such collective guilt cannot be assigned to the children of those times, who have strived so vigorously to create a socially enlightened postwar Germany, a nation that is far more forthright in acting to compensate for the wrongs of its past than the United States has ever been about its Amerindian Genocide or its Black Slavery and Jim Crow (which latter was so instructive to the Nazis fashioning their race laws of 1933).

But such collective guilt can be assigned today to the self-styled Jeffersonians who are the adult perpetrators, enablers, and equivalents of 1930s “good Germans” in Israel and America (and China, etc.) acquiescing to the slo-mo genocides of the moment, like the vividly repulsive violent expropriations in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, and the aerial bombings in Gaza (84 years after the bombing of Guernica).

Can we be so sure that “God’s justice” will conveniently continue to sleep for us, as the Jeffersonian white supremacists hoped in the 18th and 19th centuries, and our American exceptionalists and Zionists hope today? Can we be so sure that our white supremacist equivocations today will escape retribution as was visited upon the European and American democracies, and on perfidious Russian Communism [3], after their failures to support the obvious moral imperatives of defending designated outcast “others” from persecution: European Jews (1933), Ethiopia (1935), Spain (1936), China (1937), Czechoslovakia (1938), and Poland (1939)?

In fact, “God’s justice” looms before us and without pity on even our children, in the forms of the climate crisis and the crisis of the destruction of Nature and habitability on Planet Earth. Today’s children have no share in the collective guilt of their parents and grandparents for creating and expanding that planetary crisis — by the decades-long fossil-fueled orgy of exclusionary industrialized capitalism in all its forms — yet those children are facing the brunt of these accelerating catastrophes. That bald fact is pointedly stated by Greta Thunberg, voicing the judgment by humanity’s robbed future on its greedy present that is also its future discredited past.

To extract ourselves from the climate crisis would require widespread cooperative altruistic action over the long term. None of those four qualities: “widespread,” “cooperative,” “altruistic,” “long-term,” have been exhibited simultaneously by human civilization in the past. The most accurate guesses about humanity’s future are likely to be arrived at by using the imagination without invoking any of those four qualities.

To salvage optimism in these times it is necessary to realize that there are no physical barriers nor prohibitive scientific “laws” preventing humanity from exhibiting “widespread cooperative altruistic action over the long term,” even starting tomorrow, to effectively and justly stop the slo-mo genocides underway now and the crisis of accelerating bio-inhospitality, and to compensate for the wrongs of the past. Such optimism, though logically limited by “realistic” thinking, is essential for heartening and motivating the people seeking to expand the scope of those collective altruistic actions. Greta and her generation deserve our best efforts — for life.

Even without possessing any political power or impressive wealth, we ‘ordinary, everyday adult people’ can individually add our mite to such good collective action by disavowing collaborationist lies (say it: the Israeli occupation of Palestine is apartheid, and ethnic cleansing), by speaking the truth plainly and without fear (“You say that you love your children above everything else. And yet you are stealing their future”) [4], by being honest witnesses (#SayHerName, Breonna Taylor and at least 103 others) [5], and by not allowing our words to be self-censored nor our attitudes to be submissively polite so as to cloak the repulsive moral nakedness of “our” political leaders, emperors and parasites.

[My thanks to Kathryn Morse, Stan Goff, and Louis Proyect.]

Notes:

[1]
“The Silence of Others” is an intense (especially for me) documentary about the efforts of the survivors of torture and persecution by Franco’s fascistic dictatorship in Spain (1939-1975), to gain justice.

The Spanish state, with many Francoists still ensconced in positions of authority and power, and shielded by the Amnesty law of 1977, resist tooth and nail all judicial efforts to provide such justice for the victims of these crimes, via the internationally recognized (and very little adhered to) judicial principle of universal jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and there being no statute of limitations for prosecuting them.

My father (a Spaniard born in Cuba) had an uncle, a violinist in a symphony, jailed by the Franco regime after the Civil War (he had regained his liberty by the late 1960s).

The Spanish Civil War continues to cast a long, long shadow on the character of Spaniards, and on the character of humanity. And there are too many new reflections of that cancerous fascism flickering on today around the world.

The Silence of Others
https://thesilenceofothers.com/

[2]
The Accountant of Auschwitz
http://www.accountantofauschwitz.com/

Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
https://www.netflix.com/title/81070008

Benjamin Ferencz
https://benferencz.org/

[3]
The Nazi-Soviet Pact: A Betrayal of Communists by Communists
[An excerpt from Bini Adamczak’s book “Yesterday’s Tomorrow: On the Loneliness of Communist Specters and the Reconstruction of the Future.”]
https://thereader.mitpress.mit.edu/the-nazi-soviet-pact-a-betrayal-of-communists-by-communists/

Intense. In the 1980s I read about the prisoner exchanges in 1939 of escaped German communists (antifascists) — and veterans of the Republican (socialist) side in the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War — pulled out of asylum in Russia and given back to the Gestapo, and escaped Russian anticommunists (czarists and fascists) pulled out of asylum in Germany and given back to the NKVD. According to books by Michael Voslensky (Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class), Roy Medvedev (Let History Judge) and other similar authors whom I have now forgotten: the NKVD took the Communist Party membership cards away from their communist now-prisoners, and then with a Gestapo officer present verified the identity of each individual to check them off a Gestapo ‘shopping list,’ while similarly verifying the identity of an anticommunist prisoner being given to the NKVD in exchange. Then both the Gestapo and the NKVD led their repatriated prisoners away for executions in private.

The reason that Communist Party membership cards were removed by the NKVD, excommunicating those individuals from the CP, was so that the Gestapo would not be shooting “communists”: those in good standing with the Stalinist party of that time.

Very large gears turn in the machinery of power, indeed, and are lubricated with the blood of many lives whose identities have been erased from memory.

In the 2000s I met a woman who is a Spaniard born in Arkhangelsk (in West Arctic Russia), as her parents were Spanish communists who escaped Franco’s fascist Spain on the defeat of the Spanish Republicans in 1939. Her daughter and my youngest were friends in a girls chorus in San Francisco. She said that Stalin wanted the Spanish Communists as far from Europe (western, southern, central) as possible. She is a survivor (and very Russian), and obviously did not believe in any ideology. She made it real for me, without having to say very much.

All of this literature about the largely unnamed and long forgotten victims of betrayed better futures, is also about the historical achievements of the successful practitioners of the Arthashastra, The Prince, The Pentagon Papers, and the more recent derivatives of such manuals of “statecraft.”

[4]
Greta Thunberg speaks
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/18804443.Greta_Thunberg

[5]
SayHerName
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SayHerName

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The American Freedom UBI and Tax Plan

52 State Flag (proposed); if add Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

This is a 1st Draft of a proposed economic plan for the United States of America. It does not solve everything, it just makes life generally better. I have yet to arrive to any objections to this plan, except for the discarded one of those who would be crying over “lost” imaginary profits.

“Universal Basic Income” (UBI) is defined here as:

  • $62,000/year (in 2020 dollars) per person, paid directly by government.
  • National Medicare Coverage at 100%:
  • – no age restrictions,
  • – medical, Rx, dental, vision, hearing, hospitalization,
  • – physical & occupational rehab, long-term & disability care,
  • – addiction rehab, hospice, funeral.

“Work” is defined here as:
32hours/week x 52 weeks = 1664 credited work hours per year,

  • with 8 calendar weeks of vacation+holidays
  • – (non-expiring accumulation, for days not taken within the year)
  • 3 years maternity or paternity leave (government funded)
  • minimum wage = $37/hour ($61,568 for 1664hours/year).

Tax Schedule for Individuals

  • “Tax” is defined as total of Federal+State+County+City taxes,
  • no deductions of any kind,
  • “Total Income” is defined as cumulative from all sources (i.e., includes capital gains),
  • “Taxable Income” is defined as (Total Income – $62,000)
    For:

(1)
Taxable Income = $0.
Tax = $0.

[no one has Total Income < $62,000]

(2)
$0 < Taxable Income < $938,000.
Tax = 17% x (Taxable Income/$62,000)^0.397
i.e. (4 examples):
0% for Total Income at $62,000;
[leaving $62,000 net income]
25% for Total Income at $225,788.57
[$40,947.14 tax, leaving $184,841.43 net income]
35% for Total Income at $444,264.78
[$133,792.67 tax, leaving $310,472.11 net income]
49.984% for Total Income at $1,000,000.
[$468,849.92 tax, leaving $531,150.08 net income]

(3)
$938,000 < Taxable Income < $999,938,000.
Tax = 38.335% x (Taxable Income/$62,000)^0.098
i.e. (2 examples):
50.028% for Total Income at $1,000,000.
[$469,266.76 tax, leaving $530,733.23 net income]
99.069% for Total Income at $1,000,000,000.
[$990,630,091.60 tax, leaving $9,369,908.40 net income]

(4)
Taxable Income > $999,938,000.
Tax = 99.1% x (Taxable Income)
i.e. (2 examples):
[$990,938,558.00 tax for Total Income = $1B; leaving $9,061,442.]
[$9,909,938,558.00 tax for Total Income = $10B; leaving $90,061,442.]

Corporate Taxes = 50% of Total Income, no deductions.

Stock Market Transaction Tax = 30% on every transaction/trade, whether electronic or in-person.

The U.S. military budget is mandated to remain below 1% of GDP (which was $22T in 2020),

  • – so under $220B (2020)

Climate Change Response, Energy Systems Transformation, Environmental-Biodiversity Restoration mandated to remain above 2.5% of GDP,

  • – so over $550B (2020)
  • – no fossil fuel subsidies
  • – no nuclear subsidies (beyond safe maintenance of legacy waste)
  • – steadily reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions annually to arrive a “0” by 2040
  • – plastic packaging banned
  • – all potable water systems bought up to maximum standards nationally.

Agriculture:

  • – regenerative agriculture mandated
  • – chemical pesticides banned

Internet:

  • – nationalized (free access)
  • – including social media

Guns:

  • – each gun must be insured at $1,000/year, to pay for gunshot victim injury and death costs, nationally.

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MOVIES, TV and BOOK Reviews (8 April – 10 May 2021)

“Sarah’s Key” (2011) is a superb, affecting movie. The start of its story thread is in July 1942, when the French round up the Jews living in Paris, for deportation into the Holocaust; and this multi-thread story ends in New York City in 2011, with multiple generations of several families critically affected and inspired by “Sarah,” even if they didn’t know her. While plot is certainly important to this movie, it is not the most essential element: the reverberations of tragic history through human hearts is the essence. Kirstin Scott-Thomas leads a first-rate cast. The grinding of the massive impersonal wheels of political power are lubricated in the human blood of countless nameless and forgotten individuals. “Sarah’s Key” is about one such individual recovered appreciatively to human memory.

Sarah’s Key (2011) – Movie Trailer
https://youtu.be/0AmxnNxiNWA

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“The Disciple” is about the displacement in these times, of Classical Indian vocal music, which aims to absorb the conscious meditative mind into the drone of eternity; a traditional form of sound-production stretching back over 1,000 years or more.

It is entirely outmoded for today’s youth-oriented minds that strive to remain at the bubbly sparkly superficial inconsequential level of rapid-fire bursts-of-entertainment threaded by indecipherable torrents of rhymed attitudinally hip couplets riding on bouncy jingles: mega-hits.

I listened to a tribute concert to Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams, on the occasion of their being given honorary doctorates in music — which are clearly deserved (craftsmen in any field always recognize who are their best practitioners, and as they would want to be) — and which I give a web-link to.

The polar opposite of this music and video, in: pacing, sound, intent, and concept of temporality, is shown in the film “The Disciple” (the trailer is web-linked). For the devotees of American pop mega-hits, this movie is b*o*r*i*n*g — “a snore” — but if you awaken to the undercurrent of that snore: it is about the dissipation of the drone of eternity by the evaporation of modern consciousness into mega-hit amnesia.

But I never condemn any music, because it all serves a fundamentally important purpose, each such piece being tailored to the needs of the listener and the stratum of consciousness that listener is operating on. Human variety is vast, and so must be the music that instills it with spirit. Any music of quality in its type is of value, because any human life of quality in its expression is of value.

The Disciple
https://youtu.be/uIqAOGM_zZ0

Berklee Virtual Commencement Concert 2021
Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams
[1:23, about Chad and Pharrell; 6:13, begin tribute medley by graduating music students; 18:20, end]
https://youtu.be/_ePTkzYHPxA

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INCREDIBLE! A masterful exposition (by Errol Morris) on one of America’s still-living apex war criminals. The fundamental tragedy in American government is that its most successful careerists all aspire to match Donald Rumsfeld’s achievement in this regard. His close “friends”: George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, all did. Americans waking up to, and taking responsibility for, that fact could very well equal the outbreak of world peace.

The Unknown Known
https://youtu.be/J-NSyMTpkYI

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“The Year The Earth Changed” is an excellent new documentary about how Nature — animals, air waters — quickly expanded their ranges and health when we humans retreated into our pandemic lockdown “caves.” Basically: people are mostly bad for all the rest of Nature.

The story is told with spectacular photography of quite amazing animal behavior: when we went into lockdown they came out! It is abundantly clear from start to finish of this hour that the way of reversing biodiversity losses, and slowing the degradation of global climate, is entirely a matter of humanity disengaging from its obsessive hard-hearted and polluting behavior, and instead both relaxing and living in solidarity with all other Life On Earth (including human): Peaceable Kingdom, with deer calmly walking city streets in daylight, and people raising fields of crops for elephants to graze contentedly in the suburbs, and whales sing to each other across wide expanses of ocean untrammeled by mechanical noises.

David Attenborough narrates with his usual charm and elegance. The film literally shows a better version of our world that is beyond the merely possible because it actually happened. We could make that change permanent.

The Year The Earth Changed
https://youtu.be/XswV_yqPq28

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DOGS (Netflix): I have seen the first three episodes of this series so far.

The stories here are really about the improvement of the “man-pack” (as Mowgli called it) by the presence in it of dogs of good character.

1, on medical service dogs for children, explains what a “medical service dog” actually is (a loyal pack-animal friend) and does (lives out his/her pack-bond by watching and protecting you; when the same is done well by humans they call it “love”).

2, transmits the true and horrible reality of the Syrian Civil War, one of the direst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century, through the simple story of a good sweet dog relayed by the humans he has touched (on them note: “pack bond,” and “love”), out of perilous Syria and back to his boyhood human companion, now a refugee in Germany.

3, shows an aging Golden Labrador Retriever (my family had a black one when I was as a boy), the stalwart who anchors the affections of an Italian fisherman family facing an uncertain future because of the environmental degradation of Lake Como.

Dogs
https://www.netflix.com/Title/80191036

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“The Day After” is an excellent, intelligent, realistic, and frightening movie about the human consequences of nuclear war. It was made in 1983 and broadcast by ABC Television, during the height of Reaganism and the nuclear tensions provoked by the Reagan Administration.

This film ranks with “On The Beach” (1959) and “Dr. Strangelove…” (1964) as superb cautionary believable tales about nuclear apocalypse. None of these movies has really gone out of date: can you guess why?

Of the three films mentioned here only “The Day After” despite offering the grimmest scenes and lingering over them, leaves a hint for the continuation of humanity and even slivers of civilization; “On The Beach” (my favorite of the three, a film of great humanity) is definitive about the finality of life on Earth; “Dr. Strangelove” (the funniest of the three, if you don’t think too much) leaves with a small and select group of the top U.S. leadership class headed for long term sequestration deep underground. Will they survive to emerge decades later to reconquer the Earth (unless the Ruskies beat them to it!), or will they go mad down in their hole and kill each other by and by?

It won’t matter to the rest of us, all left topside in the fallout. Nuclear War, and now Global Warming could end our beautiful Blue Planet, but they don’t have to if enough people focus their attention on what really matters, and stick with it.

The Day After
https://youtu.be/Iyy9n8r16hs

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“Community” is a TV situation comedy that is basically: gamma-level college as Gilligan’s Island. it is simple mindless American fun, similar though more sophomoric than “A Good Place.” For me, the most hilarious characters are Annie (the Mary Ann equivalent) and Abed (the Professor equivalent). Other humorists here are: Britta (the Ginger equivalent), Jeff (the Captain equivalent), and Shirley (the Lovey Howell equivalent). Chevy Chase, embalmed in the character of Pierce Hawthorne (the Thurston Howell not-at-all equivelent) seems not to be actually acting, in my view; and the Dean and Chang are too hopelessly stupid for my tastes (though I’m sure the actors portraying these caricatures must be highly skilled to be able embody these ridiculosities; too bad bad work pays so well). i watched the whole series, and shamelessly enjoyed it (“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy.”)

Community
https://www.netflix.com/title/70155589

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“The Silence of Others” is an intense (especially for me) documentary about the efforts of the survivors of torture and persecution by Franco’s fascistic dictatorship in Spain (1939-1975), to gain justice.

The Spanish state, with many Francoists still ensconced in positions of authority and power, and shielded by the Amnesty law of 1977, resist tooth and nail all judicial efforts to provide such justice for the victims of these crimes, via the internationally recognized (and very little adhered to) judicial principle of universal jurisdiction for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and there being no statute of limitations for prosecuting them.

My father (a Spaniard born in Cuba) had an uncle, a violinist in a symphony, jailed by the Franco regime after the Civil War (he had regained his liberty by the late 1960s).

The Spanish Civil War continues to cast a long, long shadow on the character of Spaniards, and on the character of humanity. And there are too many new reflections of that cancerous fascism flickering on today around the world.

The phrase “never again” should have been blazed on human memory many times in the past, for example searingly in Guernica in 1937, but tragically it never seems to fully catch hold as a guiding principle for human beings.

To my mind, one significant impetus to the eruption of World War II in Europe in 1939 was the failure of the Democracies including the United States to defend the Spanish Republic and stamp out fascism in Spain during 1936-1939. The retreat into nationalist comfort (as today with vaccine nationalism) and their not-so-covert anti-socialist collaboration with the fascists in Spain, Italy and Germany, doomed them to be sucked into the genocidal maelström of 1939-1945. And we are yet not free of that poison.

The Silence of Others
https://thesilenceofothers.com/

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ALSO:

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On “Tales By Light” (season 3), which is superb.

[links in the article]

Human Solidarity and Nature Conservation
11 April 2021
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2021/04/11/human-solidarity-and-nature-conservation/

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Don’t leave the planet without seeing these masterpieces by Jean Renoir, “the Mozart of cinema”:

“Greatest film ever made. Orson Welles said if he could save only one film, this would have been it.”

Grand Illusion | Critics’ Picks | The New York Times
https://youtu.be/rZkrioz5Zc0

The truth about society: everywhere and always.

Rules of the Game, Trailer (Jean Renoir, 1939)
https://youtu.be/qxs4P6u1EiI

See them twice, or more… many times more.

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A seminal song by Lhasa de Sela, a very talented and all-too-short-lived (like Eva Cassidy) singer-songwirter, and world-musc performer. I find this song a bit flamenco-ish (which is good).

Lhasa de sela — El Pajaro
https://youtu.be/3_WcygKJP1k

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Spy Hummingbird Films Half a Billion Butterflies
https://youtu.be/Hq3X60H7aBo

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Interesting blog on modern art:

Art & Crit by Eric Wayne
https://artofericwayne.com/

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BOOKS
“The greatest book ever written on…”

The greatest book ever, period:
History of the Peloponnesian War,
by Thucydides

The most important religious work:
The Upanishads

The most important book on ethics:
Bhagavad Gita

The closest American equivalent to Thucydides
(if that were possible):
Cadillac Desert,
by Marc Reisner

The greatest book on Buddhism:
The Way of Zen,
by Alan W. Watts

The greatest book on Anglo-American morality:
Huckleberry Finn,
by Mark Twain

The greatest book on the American Dream:
The Great Gatsby,
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The greatest book on Man Against Nature:
Moby-Dick,
by Herman Melville

Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby and Moby-Dick tie for the greatest American novel ever.

Moby-Dick is for the Anima, The Great Gatsby is for the Animus, Huckleberry Finn is for the Psyche.

The most unique book that exhausted the possibilities of its style:
Thus Spoke Zarathustra,
by Friedrich Nietzsche

[excerpts: https://manuelgarciajr.com/2021/05/04/from-thus-spoke-zarathustra/%5D

The greatest novel ever:
The Three Musketeers,
by Alexandre Dumas, père

The greatest book on Western Philosophy
by Plato

The greatest work of scientific writing:
[a tie]:

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein
[physical science],

On The Origin of Species,
by Charles Darwin

[biological science, and as supplemented by the works of Alfred Russel Wallace, in particular “On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely From the Original Type,” 1858]

The greatest volume of poetry:
There are far too many poetry books worthy of that title to select just one; and we are very grateful for this.

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Remember:

Great artists funnel a wide range of culture (art, literature, music) through their own personal experiences to produce superior works of art by the use of their skill.

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Movie Reviews by MG,Jr. (14 November 2020 – 8 April 2021)
https://manuelgarciajr.com/2021/04/08/movie-reviews-by-mgjr-14-november-2020-8-april-2021/

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Eleven Capsule Disquisitions

SPACE: is filled with emptiness,
everything else is a garnish.

TOTALITY:
The unknown reality is of infinite depth;
but consciousness has limits,
which are unknown.

CONSCIOUSNESS:
The most captivating image to human consciousness
is the female form.

TIME:
No matter how much you think you have,
it is never enough.
No matter how much you actually have,
it will always be too little.

BOOKS:
A good book captivates you,
a great book changes you.

CAPITALISM:
Capitalism is the ideology of parasites.

GLOBAL WARMING:
Global Warming is the Universe’s way of telling us
that making money is contrary to Nature.

WAR:
War is a societally catastrophic theft by a group of criminals who compel two sets of victims to destroy each other. For decades I studied looking for the root causes of nuclear war, and then for war in all its forms: conventional, economic, genocidal, imperialistic, and now climate-destroying; and I have come to this: Lack of moral character expressed individually as selfishness through bigotry and greed, and organized socially as capitalism and exclusionary bureaucratic hierarchies for the defense of mediocrity.

PATRIARCHY:
The religious strictures enforced as sacred traditions by men against sex and women are them fleeing from the recognition of their own simplistic bestial lusts and fearful insecurity in their manhood, before the nurturing face of love seen by all as female: the mother.

GOVERNMENT:
It is always the rulers against the people,
and so in defense it has to be the people against the rulers.
What rulers everywhere fear most is the people united.

The first victory of political rebellion
is to free yourself from the self censorship
imposed by your fear of loss of approval by “authority.”

There will always be a new emergency to distract people
from the institutionalized theft of life they are paying for.

The fact that charities exist shows that governments are failures,
and moral character far too lacking all around.

Never underestimate the power of the Status Quo
to protect itself from reform
by tossing out members who have become liabilities.

I’m all for Socialism,
I’d just hate having to do it with Americans.

Being a Republican in these United States today
is to have an emotional attachment
to sexist White Supremacy ignorance.

THEM:
I only care about the effect of a person’s actions
on other individuals and on society;
I do not care how they choose to imagine
their relationship to eternity.

People can’t be changed,
they either evolve on their own,
or they persist as they are to the death.
The best you can do, for the rare few,
is tell them the truth if they ask.
I cannot change the world,
I can only affect the people I interact with:
rarely.

Going out among the people is the best way
to lose any concern about human extinction.

The effort to lead a moral life in an immoral society
causes much personal suffering,
only partially relieved by gaining
a righteous sense of self-respect.

The most pernicious idea in human history is:
profits.
The most important idea in human history is:
gratitude.

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From: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Portrait of Nietzsche, by Edvard Munch, 1906

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From: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Great star! What would your happiness be,
if you had not those for whom you shine!

Behold! I am weary of my wisdom,
like a bee that has gathered too much honey;
I need hands outstretched to take it.

— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, (1883-1885)

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“As the bee takes the essence of a flower and flies away without destroying its beauty and perfume, so let the sage wander in this life.”

— The Dhammapada, 49
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Zarathustra answered: ‘I love mankind.’
’Why’, said the saint, did I go into the forest and the desert? Was it not because I loved mankind all too much? Now I love God: mankind I do not love.
Man is too imperfect a thing for me.
Love of mankind would destroy me.’
Zarathustra answered: ‘What did I say of love?
I am bringing mankind a gift.’
‘Give them nothing,’ said the saint. ‘Rather take something off them and bear it with them — that will please them best;
if only it be pleasing to you!

But when Zarathustra was alone,
he spoke to his heart: ’Could it be possible!
This old saint has not yet heard in his forest that God is dead!

I teach you the Superman.
Man is something that should be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?
All creatures hitherto have created something beyond themselves;
and
do you want to be the ebb of this great tide, and
return to the animals rather than overcome man?
What is the ape to men?
A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And just so shall man be to the Superman:
a laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm.
Once you were apes, and even now
man is more of an ape than any ape.
But he who is the wisest among you,
he also is only a discord and hybrid
of plant and of ghost.
But do I bid you become ghosts or plants?
Behold, I teach you the Superman.
The Superman is the meaning of the earth.
Let your will say:
The Superman shall be the meaning
of the earth!
I entreat you, my brothers,
remain true to the earth,
and do not believe those who speak to you
of superterrestrial hopes!
They are poisoners,
whether they know it or not.
They are despisers of life,
atrophying and self-poisoned men,
of whom the earth is weary:
so let them be gone!
Once blasphemy against God
was the greatest blasphemy, but God died,
and thereupon these blasphemers died too.
To blaspheme the earth is now
the most dreadful offence,
and to esteem the bowels of the Inscrutable more highly than the meaning of the earth.
Once the soul looked contemptuously upon the body:
and then this contempt was the supreme good — the soul wanted the body lean, monstrous, famished.
So the soul thought to escape from the body and from the earth. Oh, this soul was itself lean, monstrous, and famished:
and cruelty was the delight of this soul!
But tell me, my brothers:
What does your body say about your soul?
Is your soul not poverty and dirt and
a miserable ease?
In truth, man is a polluted river.
One must be a sea, to receive a polluted river and not be defiled.
Behold, I teach you the Superman:
he is this sea, in him your great contempt
can go under.
What is the greatest thing you can experience? It is the hour of the great contempt.
The hour in which even your happiness
grows loathsome to you,
and your reason and your virtue also.
The hour when you say:
‘What good is my happiness?
It is poverty and dirt and a miserable ease.
But my happiness should justify existence itself!’
The hour when you say:
‘What good is my reason?
Does it long for knowledge as the lion for its food?
It is poverty and dirt and a miserable ease!’
The hour when you say:
‘What good is my virtue?
It has not yet driven me mad!
How tired I am of my good and my evil!
It is all poverty and dirt and a miserable ease!’
The hour when you say:
‘What good is my justice?
I do not see that I am fire and hot coals.
But the just man is fire and hot coals!’
The hour when you say:
‘What good is my pity?
Is not pity the cross
upon which he who loves man is nailed?
But my pity is no crucifixion!’
Have you ever spoken thus?
Have you ever cried thus?
Ah, that I had heard you crying thus!
It is not your sin, but your moderation
that cries to heaven,
your very meanness in sinning cries to heaven!
Where is the lightning to lick you
with its tongue?
Where is the madness,
with which you should be cleansed?
Behold, I teach you the Superman:
he is this lightning, he is this madness!

I love all those who are like heavy drops
falling singly from the dark cloud
that hangs over mankind:
they prophesy the coming of the lightning
and as prophets they perish.
Behold, I am a prophet of the lightning
and a heavy drop from the cloud:
but this lightning is called Superman.

I will not be herdsman or gravedigger.
I will not speak again to the people:
I have spoken to a dead man for the last time.

His wisdom is:
stay awake in order to sleep well.
And truly, if life had no sense and I had to choose nonsense, this would be the most desirable nonsense for me, too.

There have always been many sickly people among those who invent fables and long for God: they have a raging hate for the enlightened man and for the youngest of virtues which is called honesty.
They are always looking back to dark ages: then, indeed, illusion and faith were a different question; raving of the reason was likeness to God, and doubt was sin.

He whom the flames of jealousy surround
at last turns his poisoned sting against himself, like a scorpion.

He who writes in blood and aphorisms
does not want to be read,
he wants to be learned by heart.

Untroubled, scornful, outrageous —
that is how wisdom wants to be:
she is a woman
and never loves anyone but a warrior.

It is true we love life,
not because we are used to living
but because we are used to loving.
There is always a certain madness in love,
but also
there is always a certain method in madness. And to me, too, who love life,
it seems that butterflies and soap-bubbles,
and whatever is like them among men,
know most about happiness.

Learn that everyone finds the noble man
an obstruction.

I do not exhort you to work but to battle.
I do not exhort you to peace, but to victory.
May your work be battle,
may your peace be victory!

The state is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too;
and this lie creeps from its mouth:
‘I, the state, am the people.’

But the state lies
in all languages of good and evil;
and whatever it says, it lies —
and whatever it has, it has stolen.

I call it the state
where everyone, good and bad,
is a poison-drinker:
the state where everyone, good and bad,
loses himself:
the state
where universal slow suicide is called — life.

A free life still remains for great souls.
Truly, he who possesses little
is so much the less possessed:
praise be a moderate poverty!

The market-place is full of solemn buffoons — and the people boast of their great men!
These are their heroes of the hour.
But the hour presses them: so they press you. And from you too they require a Yes or a No. And woe to you if you want to set your chair between For and Against.

— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, (1883-1885)

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“The preference For or Against
is the mind’s worst disease.”

— Jianzhi Sengcan, 3rd Zen Patriarch (496?-606)
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Perhaps what he loves in you
is the undimmed eye and the glance of eternity.

My impatient love overflows in torrents down towards morning and evening. My soul streams into the valleys out of silent mountains and storms of grief.
I have desired and gazed into the distance too long.
I have belonged to solitude too long:
thus I have forgotten how to be silent.
I have become nothing but speech and the tumbling
of a brook from high rocks: I want to hurl my words down into the valleys.
And let my stream of love plunge into impassible
and pathless places! How should a stream not find
its way to the sea at last!
There is surely a lake in me, a secluded, self-sufficing lake; but my stream of love draws it down with it —
to the sea!
I go new ways, a new speech has come to me;
like all creators, I have grown weary of old tongues. My spirit no longer wants to walk on worn-out soles.

The enlightened man calles himself:
the animal with red cheeks.
How did this happen to man?
Is it not because he has had to be ashamed too often?
Oh my friends! Thus speaks the enlightened man: ‘Shame, shame, shame — that is the history of man!’

— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, (1883-1885)

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“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
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One has to speak with thunder and heavenly fireworks to feeble and dormant senses.
But the voice of beauty speaks softly:
it steals into only the most awakened souls.

For
that man may be freed from the bonds of revenge:
that is the bridge to my highest hope
and a rainbow after protracted storms…
Revenge rings in all their complaints,
a malevolence is in all their praise,
and to be a judge seems bliss to them.
Thus, however, I advise you, my friends:
Mistrust all in whom the urge to punish is strong!

Have you never seen a sail faring over the sea, rounded and swelling and shuddering
before the impetuosity of the wind?
Like a sail,
shuddering before the impetuosity of the spirit,
my wisdom fares over the sea —
my untamed wisdom!

Beauty is unattainable to all violent wills.

You should aspire to the virtue of a pillar:
the higher it rises,
the fairer and more graceful it grows,
but inwardly harder and able to bear more weight.

Alas, whither shall I climb now with my longing?
I look out from every mountain for fatherlands and motherlands.
But nowhere have I found a home;
I am unsettled in every city
and I depart from every gate.
The men of the present,
to whom my heart once drove me,
are strange to me and a mockery;
and I have been driven from fatherlands and motherlands.
So now I love only my children’s land,
the undiscovered land in the furthest sea:
I bid my sails seek it and seek it.
I will always make amends to my children
for being the child of my fathers:
and to all the future — for this present!

Where is innocence?
Where there is will to begetting.
And for me, he who wants to create beyond himself has the purest will.

Is wounded vanity not the mother of all tragedies?

I have found all vain people to be good actors:
They act
and desire that others shall want to watch them —
all their spirit is in this desire.

He wants to learn belief in himself from you;
he feeds upon your glances,
he eats praise out of your hands.
He believes even your lies when you lie
favourably to him:
for his heart sighs in its depths:
What am I?

Now, as Zarathustra was climbing the mountain he recalled as he went the many lonely wanderings he had made from the time of his youth, and how many mountains and ridges and summits he had already climbed.

I am a wanderer and a mountain-climber
(he said to his heart),
I do not like the plains
and it seems I cannot sit still for long.
And whatever may come to me as fate and experience —
a wandering and a mountain-climbing will be in it:
in the final analysis one only experiences oneself.

In order to see much one must learn to look away from one-self — every mountain-climber
needs this hardness.

Courage is the best destroyer:
courage also destroys pity.
Pity, however, is the deepest abyss:
as deeply as man looks into life,
so deeply does he look also into suffering.

For one love from the very heart only one’s child
and one’s work.

To desire — that now means to me:
to have lost myself.

Happiness runs after me.
That is because I do not run after women.
Happiness, however, is a woman.

We do not speak to one another,
because we know too much:
we are silent together,
we smile our knowledge to one another.

Together we learned everything; together
we learned to mount above ourselves to ourselves
and to smile uncloudedly — to smile uncloudedly down from bright eyes and from miles away
when under us
compulsion and purpose and guilt stream like rain.

A little wisdom is no doubt possible;
but I have found this happy certainty in all things:
that they prefer — to dance on the feet of chance.

Never in my life have I crawled before the powerful;
and if I ever lied, I lied from love.

For one person, solitude is the escape from an invalid;
for another, solitude is escape from the invalids.

Once they fluttered around light and freedom
like flies and young poets.
A little older, a little colder: and already they are mystifiers and mutterers and stay-at-homes.

Alas! They are always few whose heart possesses
a long-enduring courage and wantonness;
and in such, the spirit, too, is patient.
The remainder, however, are cowardly.

Loneliness is one thing, solitude another:
you have learned that — now!
And that among men you will always be
wild and strange:
wild and strange even when they love you:
for above all they want to be indulged!

Man is difficult to discover, most of all to himself;
the spirit often tells lies about the soul.

He who wants to learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and to walk and to run and to climb
and to dance — you cannot learn to fly by flying!

Meanwhile I talk to myself,
as one who has plenty of time.
No one tells me anything new,
so I tell myself to myself.

You shall love your children’s land:
let this love be your new nobility —
the undiscovered land of the furthest sea!
I bid your sails seek it and seek it!
You shall make amends to your children
for being children of your fathers:
thus you shall redeem all that is past!

Life is a fountain of delight: but all wells are poisoned for him from whom an aching stomach,
the father of affliction, speaks.

To know: that is delight to the lion-willed!

There are many excellent inventions on earth,
some useful, some pleasant:
the earth is to be loved for their sake.
And there are many things so well devised
that they are like women’s breasts:
at the same time useful and pleasant.

And let that wisdom be false to us
that brought no laughter with it!

How sweet it is, that words and sounds of music exist; are words and music not rainbows
and seeming bridges
between things eternally separated?

With music does our love dance
on many-coloured rainbows.

Everything goes, everything returns;
the wheel of existence rolls for ever.
Everything dies, everything blossoms anew;
the year of existence runs on for ever.
Everything breaks, everything is joined anew;
the same house of existence builds itself for ever. Everything departs, everything meets again;
the ring of existence is true to itself for ever.
Existence begins in every instant;
the ball There rolls around every Here.
The middle is everywhere.
The path of eternity is crooked.

For man is the cruellest animal.
More than anything on earth he enjoys tragedies, bullfights, and crucifixions;
and when he invented Hell for himself,
behold,
it was his heaven on earth.

For I count nothing more valuable and rare today
than honesty.

He who cannot lie does not know what truth is.

It is what one takes into solitude that grows there,
the beast within included.

Great love does not desire love —
it desires more.

For fear — is the exception with us.
Courage, however,
and adventure and joy in the unknown.
the unattempted — courage
seems to me the whole pre-history of man.

For the sake of this day — I am content
for the first time to have lived my whole life.

Alas! This world is deep!

Did you ever say Yes to one joy?
O my friends, then you said Yes to all woe as well.
All things are chained and entwined together,
all things are in love;
if ever you wanted one moment twice,
if ever you said:’ You please me, happiness,
instant, moment!’
then you wanted everything to return!

‘My suffering and my pity — what of them!
For do I aspire after happiness?
I aspire after my work!’

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— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900),
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, (1883-1885)

[from the R. J. Hollingdale translation]

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On Reading THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA

THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA, by FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE. I just finished reading R. J. Hollingdale’s English translation of this book; here is my immediate and short reaction: It is impossible to know the greatest joy unless you have also lived through the deepest and most tragic of sorrows: joy is inextricably entwined with sorrow. Question: What one experience in your life can you say of: “For the sake of this day — I am content for the first time to have lived my whole life.”? I can think of a very few in my life (and you don’t have to reveal yours here). Life must be lived with full intent and enthusiasm, despite all the joys and sorrows it will heap upon you, otherwise we have wasted a unique, precious and miraculous gift. THAT joyful intent for living life to your fullest is your SUPERMAN power! Do I recommend you read this book? “What does it matter!” My own experience of reading it is: “O Nietzsche! Reading your words is like gargling with gravel to sift out gold! I am sinking in my deepening dotage awash in memories of youthful debaucheries! Is this deserved punishment for my unintended cruelties and ignorant harshness, or rewarded grace for my clumsy kindnesses and stumbling harmlessness?” And there is gold in it, plenty, but one must dig, and pan and gargle through the muddy wash and sand and gravel of Nietzsche’s torrent, to extract it. At a minimum know this: whoever invokes Nietzsche to justify their own bigotries and cruelties is DEAD WRONG!

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First of May in World’s Autumn

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First of May in World’s Autumn

Bright sunlight falls through clear air with fresh coolness in the shadows touching skin with warmth as imperceptible eddies sway green leaves gently beneath a blue sky under which an unmeshing fragmenting spray of white wispiness skims over the hillcrests framing my canyon ringing with the songs of thrushes, the darting sparkling forays of twizzling hummingbirds, and the chirping calls of White-Throated swifts swooping all about to and fro from their attic-hidden nests through corridors of tree fronds with scattered emerging hints of drought yellowing, while Brown Creepers flutter by in their nervously butterfly-like dropping flight hops; and all is under the confident and commanding eyes of Red-Tailed Hawks, a pair, wheeling majestically so close overhead, their shadows whisking across the panorama arrayed to view, their tails glowing gold with translucent sun, their arcing wingtip feathers scribing crisp the moment flashed to eye onto the crystal of memory.

O Nietzsche! Reading your words is like gargling with gravel to sift out gold! I am sinking in my deepening dotage awash in memories of youthful debaucheries! Is this deserved punishment for my unintended cruelties and ignorant harshness, or rewarded grace for my clumsy kindnesses and stumbling harmlessness?

I marinate in memories of your presence, my fulsome love, flesh-instilled beyond the force of thought, punished by the absence of presence irredeemable by time, rewarded by the presence of absence of fading spirit, the scent and hunger and skin-feel of that lost eternity of your warm smiling gaze enfolding all. My candle flames melting the cold hardened wax of the past lofting its vaporous luminosity into the pitch blackness of all futures’s oblivion, a flare along the passage from the unknown to the forgotten. Stars are the luminous hot bubbles of light in the roiling cold boil of existence into nonexistence, time into timelessness, space into self-absorption, substance into void.

Smoke from extinct rainbows burnt in offerings by dead souls to imaginary gods lifts memories of lost oceans into night’s blackness to fall slowly rolling down from canyon rim hillcrests the cool mist diffusing space disappearing before penetrating earth’s thirsting embrace, submerging this island of forest in an ocean of quiet whose silence can be heard far past distant unseen horizons beyond which the sun is being reborn in the womb of eternity, as hummingbirds sit hunched on their perches snoring. The singing light of day again will wake me soon, for all I know.

1 May 2021

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Awards Are Political

Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn (20 June 1909 – 14 October 1959)

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Awards Are Political

“As a measure of just how absurd the Academy Awards are (even at its primary function of being a slick marketing gimmick for the reissue of films that most people have already seen) consider the fact that the two greatest directors ever to work in Hollywood, Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock–both of whom were workhorses who made popular films that were also cinematic masterpieces, all of which made money for the studios (Bringing Up, Baby and Vertigo, excepted)–never won an Oscar for directing.”
— Jeffrey St. Clair

Who indeed are “the greatest,” in any field? And how do we know?

Cary Grant never won an Oscar despite being a consistently popular leading man (over 30 years, 1930s-1960s), and big money-maker for the studios and theater chains. He retired in 1966, was given an Honorary Oscar (you know, an ‘Ooppsie’) in 1970, and died in 1986.

All awards (Oscars, Nobels, etc.) are political. Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 (100 years ago), for his discovery in 1905 of the law of photoelectric effect (which is an aspect of CCD devices today, like solar cells and digital cameras). But pointedly NOT for his revolutionary theories of relativity (the special theory related to light, speed and time; and the general theory that includes the effects of mass and gravity, and the law of mass-energy equivalence that is the basis of nuclear fission and nuclear fusion). Einstein’s papers on relativity were all published before 1917, the first in 1905. Einstein’s 1921 Nobel was an Ooppsie.

The giving of awards is more often about the “needs” of those awarding, than the merits (often ignored even when exceptionally worthy) of those being awarded. When you explore any field you find that there are many workers in it of admirable character and exceptional skill, and who have accomplished wonderful things deserving recognition, but who are more conveniently ignored by “the management” that doles out rewards, and by “the audience” that is mainly fascinated by the tinsel of fame, notoriety and popularity (basically: money wealth) they wish dearly to camp onto even if even just virtually.

Great artists, poets, singers, musicians, actors, thinkers, writers, scientists, engineers, naturalists, and gifted goofballs (our societal court jesters) are all around us all the time, but you will not see most of them if you rely solely on “the management” (‘the capitalist management,’ as a good Marxist would justly correct me) to ‘award’ them for you to notice and fan-cult onto them (“branding”).

We are always happy when by coincidence one such worthy has the official award spotlight placed on them for merited wide acclaim, but don’t expect such justice to be routine to the operations of the politics of awarding. In general, politics is the defense of mediocrity.

So enjoy your movies, insights from engaging and even philosophical writers, music from poetic architects of soundscapes, and humor from our societal court jesters with deep understanding of human emotions. “The greatest” are those who move you to knowing more and being better than you were before becoming aware of them; and you discover more of these authentic luminaries as you expand your own appreciative awareness. Don’t take my word for it: try it.

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Burnt Cold Distance

Burnt Cold Distance

Smelling burnt haze
Morning sunlight
Warming back
Hot coffee aroma
Steaming face
Jays squawk
Chickadees cheep
Hummingbirds twizzle
Pale light caresses
Smooth barkskin, leaves
Green fading to dull rusts
Silence, mostly
Police siren far far away
Downwind stillness
After deep night cold fog
All our sins infected air
Drying, burning, flooded away
Nature claws back
At our flawed caresses
Sleepwalkers everyone
Sad unseeing
Paradise shrivel
Staccato minds
Illusions coiled
Atomize
As we all sink
Beneath fantasy clouds
Fragments floating on the sea
Of a void, avoid
What could be
Voices calling out deafly
Ears awash in echoes
Falsely, drones
Of inner emptiness
Engulfed by ignorance
Despite the richness
Embracing us
Cocooned in shells
Of helpless absorption.
The world collapses
from our loss of soul.

The Coldness of Distant Burning

The morning’s hazy sunlight smells of burning
From far off distance past last night’s cold deep fog

Coffee aroma steams waking in my face
The spreading sunlight soaks warmth into my back

Jays squawk, Chickadees cheep, Hummingbirds twizzle
Pale light caresses smooth eucalyptus bark
And drying leaves that fade dull from greens to rusts

The silent air hints of sirens far away
This downwind stillness infected by our sins

Of dying life, burning lands, flooding away
As Nature claws repelling our failed caress

Sleepwalkers everyone sadly unseeing
Paradise shrivel with their staccato minds

Illusions coiled so tightly we atomize
To sink like stones under fantasy’s clouds

Our shattered world floats as fragements on the sea
The once so certain is now a void of dreams

Unrealized castaways are droning still
Engulfed by echoes from shallowness within

Despite nature’s richness embracing us all
Cocooned in our shells of helpless absorption

So the world collapses from our loss of soul

1 September 2020

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Human Solidarity and Nature Conservation

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Gustav Jung [1]

Life is the actualization of potentialities embedded within the biochemical processes that form the mechanisms of genetics and evolution. Does life have a purpose, or is it entirely a statistically random fluke made possible by the astronomical number of possibilities available for the expression of molecular chemistry in the wide array of physical conditions interspersed throughout the vastness of space? To believe that life has a consciously intended purpose is to believe that life is an intentional creation by a conscious supernatural entity or entities. If so, what is that purpose?

We know that the most elementary organisms of proto-life, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that infects people with the deadly COVID-19 disease, have no purpose beyond the mindless mechanical continuation of their genetic formats, by feeding their metabolisms through parasitism. But, what of more conscious organisms, like: plants, animals, us?

We humans pride ourselves as presumably having the most highly developed conscious minds of all life-forms on Planet Earth (though very deep ecologists and naturalists disagree with this presumptuousness). From this human-centric point of view, the various levels of consciousness of living organisms are all evolutionary adaptations enhancing the survivability of individuals, to thus enhance the likelihood of the propagation and continuation of their species as environmental conditions change.

For believers in the supernatural there is an imposed obligation, or supra-natural goal, or “higher purpose” to human consciousness, which can be most generally characterized as finding union with God. For non-believers, the fully conscious experience of being alive is the totality of that higher purpose. In either case, the realization of that purpose is to be had by the combination of human solidarity and nature conservation.

Homo sapiens are social animals, and their full development as individuals — their realization of purpose — requires social connection and connection with Nature.

TALES BY LIGHT

“Tales by Light” [2] is an Australian television series (in 3 seasons) about the use of photography and videography to tell stories visually so as to change society for the better: activism. Here, I am only writing about episodes from Season 3. By its very nature this series is visually “beautiful” — in terms of the technical perfection of the image composition, capture and presentation — even when abysmally grim and ugly situations are being shown in order to advance the complete story. This is about emotional punch delivered visually. And of course, incredibly happy bursts of emotion are delivered in the same way by the presentation of images of lushly colorful nature, and joyful and inspiring scenes of human warmth, kindness and sheer exuberance. The three stories (each given in two parts) that affected me were:

1, CHILDREN IN NEED: This story, by Simon Lister, is about the children of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who scrounge through the most disgusting, unsafe and unsanitary heaps of rubbish to find scraps of material that can be recycled locally — like plastic forks and containers — in the abysmal poverty of their society; or who do difficult work in unsafe and toxic conditions to support their families. There are millions of these kids in Bangladesh.

Many Bangladeshi kids work in primitive workshops with zero health and safety codes, procedures and equipment, for example to produce pans and bowls by hands pressing sheet metal against spinning mandrels, again with no protective shields from whirling machinery gears and belts right at hand; nor any proper ventilation and filtration to protect them from toxic metal dust, or fumes in workshops using solvents and chemicals.

The story of such child laborers in the poorest societies on Earth is being documented as part of a UNICEF program to bring world (rich world) attention to the problem of child labor, and to generate financial resources to then provide safe and sanitary spaces for such children to be able to get food, education, rest, shelter for the night off the streets, and the joyful companionship of other children. But, since the money these children gain from their difficult and hazardous work is always the lifeline for the support of their families, often of single mothers, such a labor force is considered “normal” in their societies, and lamentably economically essential for these individuals.

The ultimate “solution” for eliminating this heartbreaking situation would be a worldwide awakening to an actual commitment to species-wide human solidarity. That that idea becomes self-evident through the medium of photography testifies to its power as an art-form.

2, PARADISE IN PERIL: This story, by Shawn Heinrichs, is of the conservation of the ocean biodiversity and habitat of the Raja Ampat Islands. Here, the art of photography is being used to present the story of the value of an amazing tropical coral reef and mangrove forest environment in New Guinea (Indonesia).

That story is told in two directions, first “upscale” to the societies of the wealthy industrialized and developed economies, to generate financial resources needed to establish locally manned, maintained, patrolled, owned — and in selected zones sustainably fished — marine reserves, and to ensure their continued operation and ongoing scientific study.

That story is also told “downscale,” in video presentations in their own language to the actual people living in the environments that are being protected, so that new generations of conservationists grow out of the youth of that indigenous population, now fired up with a greater understanding of the positive impact their healthy local environment has on their own lives as well as on the global environment.

The emotional impetus to these conservation efforts, both locally and remotely, is sparked by the visual impact of the photos and videos of the stunning and vibrant beauty of life moving in that magical submerged translucent habitat. The Raja Ampat Islands is one of the few places on Earth where all measures of biodiversity and ecological health are improving right now, even despite advancing global climate change; and this is entirely because of cooperative human intentionality.

3, PRESERVING INDIGENOUS CULTURE: This story by Dylan River, an Australian filmmaker with an Aboriginal grandmother, is of the recording for posterity of Aboriginal ways and languages slowly being lost with the passing away of elders, of the stories behind some of their ancient rock art, of ways of living off the land and sea while being intimately connected to the natural environment, and of community as the essence of being.

On a visit to Arnhem Land, Dylan is immersed into a welcoming ritual by the Yoingu people, whose spokesman at the event states that though Dylan is from far away he is “part of the family” as is everybody in spirit. The entirety of this brief and simple greeting conveys a fundamental truth that is more clearly and wisely stated, and lived by the Yoingu, than with any of the fatuous self-satisfied pronouncements by our many supposedly powerful and always hypocritical political leaders, who collectively oversee and exacerbate the poisonous fractiousness and sociological cannibalism of our national and world societies.

The basic truth here is that every human being “is something Nature is doing” — as Alan Watts put it — and that Nature is integral, it is a harmoniously self-entangling network of life. And that is what healthy human community should be.

I recommend this series to you because of its many simultaneous dimensions of beauty.

To my mind, the financial investments made by the executives of Canon Incorporated, National Geographic (a subscription television network in Australia and New Zealand that features documentaries, and is owned by The Walt Disney Company), and Netflix, to produce and broadcast this series were very worthy, even as I know there would necessarily also have been a component of profit motive in those investment decisions.

What is needed in our world is ever the same: more human solidarity and nature conservation. The wider broadcast of these three stories from the series Tales By Light could help awaken more people to that realization, or at a minimum give some comfort to those who already know.

Acknowledgment: Gretchen Hennig perceptively brought Tales by Light to my attention.

Here is a musical ornamentation to all the above; about a child, really any child: “Chihiro.”
https://soundcloud.com/ellasolanagarcia/chihiro

Notes

[1] “Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a daemonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the shortsightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man’s task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious.”

C. G. Jung (1875-1961), from the closing chapter of his autobiography “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” entitled “Life and Death,” written between 1957 and 1961. This excerpt is highlighted and discussed at
https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/03/13/memories-dreams-reflections/

[2] Tales by Light (on Netflix)
https://www.netflix.com/title/80133187

Tales by Light (official website)
https://www.canon.com.au/explore/tales-by-light

Tales by Light (series described)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tales_by_Light

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