Just to get it out of the way, my thoughts on this ‘holiday’ haven’t changed since my earlier post. All the spin and political soundbites, the one-day sales and commercials, the war-mongering and propaganda have buried the truth, along with what little decency we had as a nation. The unfashionable virtues of humanity and love, of fellow-feeling and compassion, of peace and good will now only exist on the personal level. Americans as individuals (or at least most of them, including some we all recognize as assholes politically) are generally more caring than their government, even if they loudly support a draconian regime. Read More
Category - Ruminations
I recall visiting the homes of childhood friends and often noticing the droning presence of an AM radio. I recall riding in the cars of their parents and the radio always on. When I got to junior high school, I recall friends doing their homework in the living room or family room with the television on. If you asked them, they would swear up-and-down they had to have the TV on in order to do their homework. More often than not, the parents grew up in the Golden Age of Radio and kept the radio on just for company long after the novelty of wireless wore off and their favorite shows disappeared.
When I arrived at an urban college in a wholly different part of the country, I confirmed these practices were not peculiar to the rural mountain people I grew up among. Underground FM stations, amplified through battling component stereo systems, cut through the walls of the dorms and apartments. It was normal for students to go about their business oblivious to the acoustic chaos all around, and a lot them again claimed they could not do without it. One popular justification was, “I am trying to drown out the noise on the street”, or next door, or upstairs. Real noise was somehow distinguished from the cacophony of phonograph recordings and broadcast programs. Real noise was anything but their noise. It was up to each individual to carve out his or her own acoustic territory. It was a personal declaration. It was your personal soundtrack. Read More
I recently got into a discussion on FB about rising heroin use and attendant ODs in the middle class. Some of the commenters had very personal and painful histories of losing family and the thread threatened to turn into a flame war. I dropped out, but the experience got me thinking and I decided to collect my thoughts on the matter in one place. Read More
Particularly like the last lines:
Baseball fan I am,
And lifelong Yankee Hater
Except for Yogi, Number Eight
That golden tongued orator!
Despite what my children used to claim, I did not grow up fighting off dinosaurs or sabretooth tigers. I have, however, always been fascinated by history; not so much the facts of events but what history reveals about the nature of human beings. For the same reason, my library holds a large number of books – poetry, novels, non-fiction – spanning most of the Dewey Decimal classification, but which have in common that they all shine some light on some corner of what it is that makes us what/who we are. Perhaps as a child I found adult behavior puzzling and have been trying ever since to better understand it. And when I contemplate not only our current world but the long, chaotic march (stumble?) of mankind, it seems to me it finally comes down to one simple question:
Am I my brother’s keeper? Read More
I also re-read Alexander’s writings on the Rat Park experiment.
I light of that in particular, I was contemplating what is missing in the the life of most people, at least in the developed (and developing) world that seems to lend itself to the misuse of various chemicals. Aside, of course from those who promote both addiction and the conditions that promote addiction, for their own personal benefit – from drug dealers to Big Pharma to Banksters to the MIC.
Somewhere in cyberland, I recently saw an article that the rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump reflect the fact that a large part of the population recognizes that the wheels have come off our society and its political processes. This should not come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to the faltering of America and the world in general. Both Bernie and Donald are essentially populists – they just disagree about causes and cures.
One type of populism is based on recognition of one’s humanity and the humanity of others, a brotherhood-of-Man feeling. The other type is based on recognizing only one’s own self and group. For one, power means the ability to benefit everyone. Fo the other, it means the ability to benefit one’s self. One type founded the utopian communities in the 1800s; suffered and died for other peoples’ rights, safety and quality of life; union organizers, civil rights supporters, etc. And National Socialism was a populist movement of the second type. Read More
Summertime, and the posting ain’t easy.
When the spirit is willing, Agonistas, please add comments on anything to this free-form thread. Of course, play nice. –
I have not read Go Set A Watchman. I plan to. In the meantime, I am enjoying the hype that is carpeting the media. I don’t think the publication of Harper Lee’s first complete effort as a novelist could have been better timed. Suddenly it all seems to come together: the boiling conversation on race relations, the meaning of Southern culture, and the role of illusion in art and life.
The question of hour is “Who is the real Atticus Finch?”. Serious people are engaged in ‘some really meta’ (self-referential) contortions to find the answer to this question in the hope of unlocking the greater mystery of who we Americans are.
I want to play too.
The publisher says there are two distinct versions of Atticus: the rough draft and the finished product. Story goes a first-time writer cobbles together a good story, but her editor suggests a considerable re-write. She obediently responds. And she knocks it out of the park. The author prepares a fine story mostly as the report of a child’s recollections. That was To Kill A Mockingbird. The point of view is that of a nine year old kid, but the teller of the tale is someone who reflecting on those memories as an adult. The memories and the reflections compose a beautiful story that is clearly drawn, lovingly rendered, and topical. The character of Atticus is one of principle, competence, integrity and compassion.
Once this child’s representation of Atticus was embraced and embedded in the popular mind, along comes the alternate version of Atticus—this one seen through the eyes of an adult—an adult who has been away from him for a while. This Atticus is also older and he has some warts the child might have overlooked.
Until I read the new book, I cannot say much about Atticus 2.0 apart from repeating the dire warnings in the press: Be Disappointed! Be Very Disappointed! He’s not your Daddy’s Atticus! (?)
Within the art world there is concern about whether Harper Lee is Jean Louise “Scout” Finch? If so, are these stories really about Harper Lee joined into a continuous tale about a woman distilling her Maycomb memories and coming to terms with her father’s true character? Are both books literary devices to present the South she knew and treated with a mixture of sadness and delight? Or are these books really about how anyone can awaken from the confusion caused by childhood recollection morphing into a rather different, hardened reality?
The news says Greece has voted against Euro-Austerity. Forecasters are suggesting there will be a stern “it’s just business” reaction by the bankster community, so they will insist Greece get out of the EU, and then they shall recruit all lenders to apply every economic pressure upon Greece with ‘extreme prejudice’ . They hope to embarrass the Greek leadership while maximizing the misery of Greek citizens. Most American commentators I read say there will be almost no ripple effect felt by the American economy.
Today, in a comment by Lisa over at Ian Welsh’s blog, I read of a possible consequence that never crossed my mind: coup d’etat.
On the one hand, it does not make much sense. The governing party will be under tremendous pressure to ease the already awful economic pain Greece suffers and the odds in favor of succeeding are long. Unless the nation finds a way to sacrifice and rebuild on its own, the Greek people are very likely to boot their government out. Given the debt load, this might happen to one or more succeeding governments. With that in mind, agents who might otherwise contemplate a violent short-cut may be better off biding their time.
Lisa was one of the commenters who alluded to the history of regime change. While I have believed all along that Greece was going to vote “no” because of national or cultural pride, I had not considered that the 1% have their pride too— the pride of possession, nine-tenths of the law.