Category - Arts & Culture

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?

Cave Paintings in Indonesia May Be Among the Oldest Known

New York Times, By John Noble Wilford, October 8

There is nothing like a blank stone surface to inspire a widely shared urge to make art.

A team of researchers reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday that paintings of hands and animals in seven limestone caves on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi may be as old as the earliest European cave art.

The oldest cave painting known until now is a 40,800-year-old red disk from El Castillo, in northern Spain.

Other archaeologists of human origins said the new findings were spectacular and, in at least one sense, unexpected. Sulawesi’s cave art, first described in the 1950s, had previously been dismissed as no more than 10,000 years old.

“Assuming that the dates are good,” Nicholas Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany, said in an email, “this is good news, and the only surprising thing is not that analogous finds would exist elsewhere, but rather that it has been so hard to find them” until now.

The Atlantic: Confirmed: The Oldest Known Art in the World Is Spray-Painted Graffiti

All of which make the Sulawesi dating not just a scientific discovery, and not just a cultural revelation, but also something of a political point. “It allows us to move away from the view that Europe was special,” Aubert told Nature. “There was some idea that early Europeans were more aware of themselves and their surroundings.” The discovery of proto-art in Indonesia—the flecked and frozen outlines of the hands of unknown humans—negates that idea, scientifically. “Now,” Aubert says, “we can say that’s not true.”

“It’s Been a Good Run…”

h/t Tina

BillMoyers.com- The third and final year of Moyers & Company comes to an end on January 2 and I am writing to assure you that this time it’s the real deal. You may recall that we had originally raised the funds in 2011 for a two-year series but when I announced last fall that the end was near, thousands of you wrote imploring us to reconsider. My long-time funders came forward with a renewed commitment to a third year of support. How could I say no?

But as the end of the third year approaches it’s time finally to sign off.

Weekend Flashback: Touched By The Tremendum

The Edge, By Terence McKenna, March 27, 1990

[Speculative, but what the heck…]

First of all, I am delighted to be here. The great thing about being here in New York is you don’t have to worry if you’re the smartest person in the room. What impels me to talk to groups like this is the conviction that a major aspect of what it means to be a human being has received short shrift in our civilization for at least a couple of millennia. And that, to some degree, the solution to the mega-crisis that is bearing down on Western institutions is to be found in a revivifying of the archaic. And this takes many different kinds of forms. It’s nothing to do with what is popularly presented as the new age. It’s, to my mind, a much larger and deeper and persistent phenomenon than that. In fact, the entire intellectual tone of the 20th century can be seen as a groping toward a recapturing of this archaic mentality.

This is what psychoanalysis was about. This is what cubism, surrealism, and—in the political zone—negative phenomena, such as national socialism. All of these various intellectual concerns, to my mind, can be traced back to a kind of unconscious nostalgia for the archaic.

Now, when a society feels itself to be in crisis, the unconscious response is to look back into time to attempt to find a previous model that seemed to work and then to crystallize energy around that model in an effort to reorient society. The last time this happened was with the breakup of the medieval stasis of the pseudo-eschatology of Christianity, and out of that chaos, that sense of disconnectedness came classicism.

In other words, people were looking back into time for a serviceable model that could step in to the vacated shoes of the discredited medieval church. And what they came up with was platonic philosophy, Roman law, the esthetics that ruled Periclean Athens, and so forth. To a degree we are still living in the twilight of that return to classicism, but it no longer serves. And in its place is this inchoate groping for yet another historical paradigm that can somehow be contextualized in the late 20th century and give meaning to the experience that is coming, is sweeping over the world.

Via the Naked Capitalism links entry


…Just reading this article can induce hallucinations…

Once you unleash psychedelics in the population the dreams that will be dreamed are large dreams, indeed. It’s very clear that within the next 50 years we will understand the human genome to sufficient depth to probably take control of the human form, we will become who we want to be. We will design ourselves into being the kind of organism that is consonant with our politics. Strangely enough, the only kind of organism I can think of that is congruent with our politics would be something like a mushroom.

A mushroom is a mycelial network through the soil. It has as many connections as a neuro network. If it’s a psilocybin mushroom it’s a network filled with neurotransmitters, yet it’s as fine as a cobweb. Look at how delicately the mushroom touches the earth; it lives only on decaying matter. But if it has menus inside of itself, then it may be living in situ, a fuller, deeper, richer, more feeling filled existence than we can imagine. So I don’t think we should cling to the monkey form. Shedding the monkey is a real potential possibility. Techno freaks will want to download us into a solid state cube on the dark side of the moon. I would rather download us into planktonic life and put us into the oceans.

Update, Reuters: Scientists use brain scans to find how magic mushrooms alter the mind
WaPo: Psychedelic mushrooms put your brain in a “waking dream,” study finds