Category - Arts & Culture

A New ‘Wrinkle in Time’

Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has sold 14 million copies since its publication in 1962. Now, a never-before-seen passage cut from an early draft is shedding surprising light on the author’s political philosophy

The Wall Street Journal, By Jennifer Maloney, April 16

Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” resisted labels. Her books weren’t for children, she said. They were for people. Devoted to religious study, she bristled when called a Christian writer. And though some of her books had political themes, she wasn’t known to write overtly about politics. That is, until her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, came across an unknown three-page passage that was cut before publication.

The passage, which Ms. Voiklis shared with The Wall Street Journal so it could be published for the first time, sheds new light on one of the most beloved and best-selling young-adult books in American literature. Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” has sold 14 million copies and inspired a TV-movie adaptation, a graphic novel, and an opera. Meg Murry, the novel’s strong-willed misfit heroine, has been a role model for generations of children, especially girls. Now, Jennifer Lee, the co-writer and co-director of the Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen,” is writing a film adaptation for Disney.

A witches’ brew of science fiction and fantasy, Christian theology and a hint of politics, “A Wrinkle in Time” has long been considered influenced by the Cold War. It explores the dangers of conformity, and presents evil as a world whose inhabitants’ thoughts and actions are controlled by a sinister, disembodied brain.

Many readers, then and now, have understood the book’s dark planet Camazotz—a regimented place in which mothers in unison call their children in for dinner—to represent the Soviet Union. But the passage discovered by L’Engle’s granddaughter presents a more nuanced worldview.

In it, Meg has just made a narrow escape from Camazotz. As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a jarring trip through space and time, she asks: “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father proceeds to lay out the political philosophy behind the book in much starker terms than are apparent in the final version.

He says that yes, totalitarianism can lead to this kind of evil. (The author calls out examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, Mr. Murry says. “Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.”

A poem for Tuesday

Faces in the Street

Henry Lawson

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street —
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet —
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.
And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street —
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

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George Carlin’s Website Relaunched With Rare Recordings

Celebration of comedian’s legacy coincides with a photograph of the comic being placed in the National Portrait Gallery

Rolling Stone, By Daniel Kreps, March 28, 2015

The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. added a new piece to their collection Friday when they affixed a photograph of George Carlin to their prestigious walls. To celebrate the late comedian’s newest achievement, George Carlin’s official website has dug into the legendary comic’s vaults and unearthed rarely heard recordings from throughout Carlin’s career.

The Smithsonian holds a twice-a-year contest to determine who will be featured in a special “Recognize” wall there. This time the contenders were comedians: Carlin, Ellen DeGeneres, and Groucho Marx.

Detroiter Philip Levine, working-class poet laureate, dies at 87

Detroit Free Press – Not all of Philip Levine’s poetry was about his hometown of Detroit, but a lot of it was. And as this son of Russian immigrants rose from the streets to win the Pulitzer Prize and even become poet laureate of the U.S., his literary voice never stopped pulsating with the sweat and soul of the blue-collar city where he was born. Levine, whose poetry sang of the triumphs and tragedies of the working class, died Saturday at his home in Fresno, Calif, less than a month after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 87.

Levine spoke about the influence of Detroit on his work in a 2011 interview with the Free Press. “You grow up in a place and it becomes the arena of your discovery,” he said. “It also became the arena of my discovery of the nature of American capitalism and the sense of how ordinary people have no choice at all in how they’re going to be formed by the society. My politics were formed by the city.”
more at the link

Que Sera, Sera

Greece is rebelling in the streets and the halls of government.
Spaniards are following suit in the streets – government’s not onboard but it may not matter.
The Euro is tottering and NATO is a lot shakier than it wants to admit (it’s in denial).
Sanctions are failing. Banksters fear jailing – or poverty or the guillotine.
Control is slipping here at home – it’s desperation that’s making the PTB escalate repression.

Times, they are a-changin’

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Thomas Merton Listening to the Rain

This, via Monksworks, from Thomas Merton:

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

The rain I am in is not like the rain of cities. It fills the wood with an immense and confused sound. It covers the flat roof of the cabin and its porch with insistent and controlled rhythms. And I listen, because it reminds me again and again that the whole world runs by rhythms I have not yet learned to recognize, rhythms that are not those of the engineer.

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Separating Church and State Still an Issue in the US

Truthout, By Eleanor J. Bader, November 8

It bills itself as “southwest Florida’s newest hometown . . . A town where children can ride their bikes to school, walk to the candy store and scoot their way to the ice cream shop. Where neighbors are friends and life is good. Where everyone enjoys life as it is meant to be lived.”

Yes, it sounds like Mayberry, USA, but this is not the description of a made-for-TV utopia. Indeed, it’s a very real place created by Domino’s Pizza founder and former Detroit Tigers’ owner Tom Monaghan, in partnership with the Florida-based Barron Collier companies.

Indeed, Ave Maria, Florida, was founded as an unincorporated “stewardship community district” in 2005. Florida’s then-governor Jeb Bush attended Ave Maria’s groundbreaking and dubbed it “a new kind of town where like-minded people live in harmony between faith and freedom.”

Faith? Freedom? For Monaghan, the two are inseparable, and he has trumpeted his intention of creating a city “according to strict Roman Catholic principles.” As he sees it, this means that stores will be unable to sell pornography, pharmacies will be barred from selling condoms or other forms of birth control, and cable TV will not be allowed to carry X-rated channels.

Evil clown phenomenon sparks police Halloween warning

French authorities warn against trick-or-treaters carrying weapons as fancy dress shops refuse to sell clown costumes to teenagers

The Independent, By Henry Samuel, October 31

Paris – French police fearing “evil” clown attacks on Halloween have issued warnings of prosecution for any threatening clown behaviour on social networks after a spate of incidents across the country.

The warnings on Facebook and Twitter came as one village in southern France banned teenagers from dressing up as clowns on Halloween at its traditional procession to avoid spreading panic, while some fancy dress shops are either refusing to sell the outfits or asking for ID before doing so.

Police have issued a statement on their national website entitled “Evil Clown Phenomenon”, reminding would-be clown pranksters: “Carrying a weapon in public is a crime punishable by a prison sentence.”

This followed a warning last week from Pas-de-Calais police in northern France that “clowns inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre are not welcome outside schools.”

France has been gripped by a clown psychosis following a raft of incidents in which eerie, fake clowns have terrified passers-by in what some see as attempts to emulate the TV series American Horror Story or highly popular YouTube killer clown videos – including one by Italian DM Pranks Production that has been viewed 30 million times in five months.

Matt Taibbi Leaving First Look

Naked Capitalism, By Yves Smith, October 29

Matt Taibbi has been missed. He went into a writing black hole when he decamped from Rolling Stone to Pierre Omidyar’s wannabe media empire, First Look in February. But when the billionaire’s news venture was launched, the press was sloppy in reporting on Omidyar’s financial commitment. It was widely depicted as a $250 million venture, when the tech titan never committed anywhere near that amount of funding. Admittedly, it takes time to get a new publication going, but the lack of any apparent progress was becoming noteworthy. From the outside, it looked like the project might be going pear-shaped, and it appears it did.

I had heard, second hand, that Taibbi had envisioned a publication that would mix satire and serious reporting, and would have a strong focus on skewering plutocrats. That may have struck too close to home. The official announcement of Taibbi’s departure is clumsy:

Important Announcement

Pierre Omidyar October 28, 2014

I regret to announce that after several weeks of discussions, Matt Taibbi has left First Look. We wish him well.

Our differences were never about editorial independence. We have never wavered from our pledge that journalistic content is for the journalists to decide, period.

We’re disappointed by how things have turned out. I was excited by Matt’s editorial vision and hoped to help him bring it to fruition. Now we turn our focus to exploring next steps for the talented team that has worked to create Matt’s publication.

I remain an enthusiastic supporter of the kind of independent journalism found at The Intercept and the site we were preparing to launch. As a startup, we’ll take what we’ve learned in the last several months and apply it to our efforts in the future.

Above all, we remain committed to our team and to the First Look mission.

…continued at the link.

Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

The Voice of America, By Carolyn Presutti, October 18

Miami – Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion.

According to the organization whyIslam.org, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino.

And according to Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), a group that promotes Latino conversions, a little more than half of new converts are female.

Greisa Torres arrived in Miami four years ago from Cuba.

While she felt at home in the Florida city, where two out of the three residents are Hispanic, Torres says she lost her identity in the move and found it in the Prophet Muhammad.

[…]

Londono says her research found that some people might view Islam as giving women less freedom, but the converting Latinas see it as a positive change.

“It defines their world on a clear grid of what’s permitted or ‘halal,’ and what’s prohibited which is ‘haram.’ So they know exactly where they stand,” Londono says. “So the Koran becomes this guidebook that tells you exactly what to wear, what to eat, how to wash, how to behave, when to pray.”

Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace Prize

Reuters, November 10

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, and Indian children’s right activist Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Yousafzai, aged 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner by far.

Satyarthi, 60, and Yousafzai were picked for their struggle against the oppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

[…]

“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.


Time: Malala Will Use Nobel Prize to Further Her Cause
Reuters: Nobel peace prize ‘an honor to children in slavery': Satyarthi

Satyarthi, 60, founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan – or Save the Childhood Movement – in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of 80,000 children.

[…]

“Something which was born in India has gone globally and now we have the global movement against child labor. After receiving this award I feel that people will give more attention to the cause of children in the world.”

The Times of India: Who is Kailash Satyarthi?

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