Sunday, April 29, 2007


Jason, who is still alive, is vomited up by the dragon that protects the Golden Fleece. Nearby stands Athena, poised to rescue the hero.
"Homer meant by Athena mind and intelligence. And the maker of names appears to have had a singular notion about her, and indeed calls her by a still higher title, divine intelligence, as though he would say, This is she who had the mind of God." --Plato, Cratylus, p. 147
Let us imagine American life before and after the Revolution, or life before and after Harper's Ferry, or again, before and after Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Selma, Alabama. The nation has survived bloody internal convulsions, as well as foreign wars; and up to this point we have survived to contemplate the "before and after". Nonetheless, our birthday today at Tholos seems to be the most solemn one so far; and we have to wonder whether "mind and intelligence" or some other aspect of God will light our way beyond the present chapter of history.

As citizens of an American nation (or as citizens of any nation) we recognize that--like the naked man in the mouth of a dragon--we are not in the usual kind of trouble.

Christian and Islamic absolutists are convinced they won't die themselves, as they bring the "before and after" to a crashing end.

How shall we frame the end of history? Clearly a species that will continue to slow cook its habitat rather than change lifestyles is not in line for "natural selection". Creationists can't figure out how mass extinction takes place. It won't be so biblical when no one's around to enjoy the end of history, and witness the harsh judgment of those they always hated, feeling liberated enough to clap and cheer and howl, as folks do at a football game. We give God more credit than that; we think God is more subtle.

Most people don't know that God was put on trial at Auschwitz by a small group of learned Jewish men who were imprisoned there. Elie Wiesel had lost his mother and little sister in the camp by that time, and it broke his heart to witness that trial. He was only a boy himself; but he understood the finding that God was wrong.

There was a "before Auschwitz" and an "after Auschwitz" and it is our responsibility to remember what happened. Keeping the "before and after" is a sacred obligation. And Elie Wiesel has said that "the opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference". Believing what he said, we cannot be indifferent to Israelis bottling up Palestinians in a ghetto. We cannot be indifferent to an American-led jihad for oil. We cannot be indifferent to Sunni and Shia pinning notes on the bodies of each other's Iraqi relatives, which read "this is what happens to unbelievers".
"There is so much to be done, there is so much that can be done. One person--a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King Jr.--one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs."
--Elie Wiesel, Night, p. 120
Look at the Golden Fleece! How beautiful! How near at hand and elusively out of reach! It is the venerated object that bestows blessings and healing upon the community that possesses it. Now is the moment when it should belong to the whole world.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

wislawa szymborska TORTURES

Nothing has changed.
The body is a reservoir of pain;
it has to eat and breathe the air, and sleep;
it has thin skin and the blood is just beneath it;
it has a good supply of teeth and fingernails;
its bones can be broken; its joints can be stretched.
In tortures all of this is considered.

Nothing has changed.
The body still trembles as it trembled
before Rome was founded and after,
in the twentieth century before and after Christ.
Tortures are just what they were, only the earth has shrunk
and whatever goes on sounds as if it's just a room away.

Nothing has changed.
Except there are more people,
and new offenses have sprung up beside the old ones--
real, make-believe, short-lived, and non-existent.
But the cry with which the body answers for them
was, is, and will be a cry of innocence
in keeping with the age-old scale and pitch.

Nothing has changed.
Except perhaps the manners, ceremonies, dances.
The gesture of the hands shielding the head
has nonetheless remained the same.
The body writhes, jerks, tugs,
falls to the ground when shoved, pulls up its knees,
bruises, swells, drools, and bleeds.

Nothing has changed.
Except the run of rivers,
the shapes of forests, shores, deserts, and glaciers.
The little soul roams among those landscapes,
disappears, returns, draws near, moves away,
evasive and a stranger to itself,
now sure, now uncertain of its own existence,
whereas the body is and is and is
and has nowhere to go.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


"Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and responsible America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas."

--Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country, p. 71-2

"Where are Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln now when we need them? They were country boys from Middle America, and both of them made the American people laugh at themselves and appreciate really important, really moral jokes. Imagine what they would have to say today.

One of the most humiliated and heartbroken pieces Mark Twain ever wrote was about the slaughter of six hundred Moro men, women, and children by our soldiers during our liberation of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Our brave commander was Leonard Wood, who now has a fort named after him. Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

What did Abraham Lincoln have to say about America's imperialist wars, the ones that, on one noble pretext or another, aim to increase the natural resources and pools of tame labor available to the richest Americans who have the best political connections?

It is almost always a mistake to mention Abraham Lincoln. He always steals the show. I am about to quote him again.

More than a decade before his Gettysburg Address, back in 1848, when Lincoln was only a Congressman, he was heartbroken and humiliated by our war on Mexico, which had never attacked us. James Polk was the person Representative Lincoln had in mind when he said what he said. Abraham Lincoln said of Polk, his president, his armed forces' commander-in-chief:
Trusting to escape scrutiny, by fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory--that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood--that serpent's eye, that charms to destroy--he plunged into war.
Holy shit! And I thought I was a writer!

Do you know we actually captured Mexico City during the Mexican War? Why isn't that a national holiday? And why isn't the face of James Polk, then our president, up on Mount Rushmore along with Ronald Reagan's? What made Mexico so evil back in the 1840s, well before our Civil War, is that slavery was illegal there. Remember the Alamo? With that war we were making California our own, and a lot of other people and properties, and doing it as though butchering Mexican soldiers who were only defending their homeland against invaders wasn't murder. What other stuff besides California? Well, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Speaking of plunging into war, do you know why I think George W. Bush is so pissed off at Arabs? They brought us algebra. Also the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which Europeans had never used before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman Numerals."

--ibid, pp. 75-7
AP Photo/Buzz Orr

Thursday, April 05, 2007

jean chilner morris: PIECES OF CHESS

The cruelty of men
(Disguised as gallantry)
Pushes to the precipice
This dazed, beleaguered
Who leans staring
Into space or death.

Men have hurled you
Into the abyss;
They seek themselves,
And leave you staring
Back in horror, pity.

Possessed by feeling...
You are alone...alone
Beyond the shallow
Rim of the unfeeling.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


The innovative artist, Cosimo Cavallaro should have known that a six foot, genital inclusive, standing sculpture of Christ, made of 200 lbs. of dark chocolate, would land him in a world of trouble. And I guess it didn't help that he entitled the exhibit My Sweet Lord.
The religious right moved with dispatch, when it was announced that a mid-town Manhattan exhibition of the huge confection was in the planning stages. The ultra-conservative Catholic League was quickly on the case and Guardian reporter, Ed Pilkington, describes a campaign in which “the league sent emails to 500 other religious groups—including Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist with a combined reach of millions—calling on them to boycott the Roger Smith hotel in which the gallery, The Lab, is based.”

Pilkington writes that “Within 24 hours the hotel was so inundated with calls and visiting protesters that it pulled the exhibit.”

As Catholic League president and right-wing mouth-organ, Bill Donahue, put it...”All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don't react the way extremist Muslims do when they're offended.”

A counter-demonstration of sorts, roughly a dozen local anarchists, were gathered outside the lobby of the hotel, chanting “Eat the Chocolate Christ.”

The 45 year old sculptor, Cavallaro, explained that he just liked to do art with foodstuffs. One of his most famous projects involved the 1999 interior decoration of a house in Wyoming with ten thousand pounds of spray-on cheese.

President Bush and Vice-President Cheney are informed of the existence of a Chocolate Christ

copeland morris ENTWINED SONNET

Her shaded eyes, her necklace black velvet, onyx. Anguish she spoke; and he carried on, obsessed As only a young man could. An odd harm...