Hold It All

Disponibilidade

I first learned this Portuguese word from Mev, when she worked in Brazil among so many radical, radiant Christians. Here’s how she defined it in her book, The Struggle Is One: “a disposition of openness in which one is accessible, available and willing to be inconvenienced by the needs or requests of another person or event.”

This came back to mind this morning as I was reading a column by James Mustich, whose recent book, 1000 Books To Read before You Die: A Life-Changing List I browse almost daily. Here’s the pertinent citation he makes from Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café:

In his essay, “On the Ontological Mystery,” written in 1932 and published in the fateful year of 1933, [Gabriel] Marcel wrote of the human tendency to become stuck in habits, received ideas, and a narrow-minded attachment to possessions and familiar scenes. Instead he urged his readers to develop a capacity for remaining “available” to situations as they arise. Similar ideas of disponibilité or availability had been explored by other writers, notably André Gide, but Marcel made it his essential existential imperative. He was aware of how rare and difficult it was. Most people fall into what he calls “crispation”: a tensed, encrusted shape in life — “as though each one of us secreted a kind of shell which gradually hardened and imprisoned him.”

May we daily discover the wonders of being available for others.

 

Ale Vazquez

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Share the Wealth with Priya Sirohi: Find Out Who You Are and Do It On Purpose: On Leaving Academia

I am currently a former SLU grad undertaking her PhD in Rhetoric at Purdue University. I am also in the process of transitioning out of academia and pursuing a job more filled with light and positive people, and less with toxicity.

The subject of my Share the Wealth this weekend is a description of the path I’ve had to walk before realizing the true nature of academic work, and what I do or do not count as valuable labor. The process has led me through tough extremes and equally rewarding self-discovery. I will conclude my presentation with a group writing exercise. Please bring some paper and a writing utensil!

Join us
Sunday 17 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Priya begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 Demun Avenue, 3rd floor
Clayton, MO 63105

The Long Trail behind You

Shirin Ebadi, with Azadeh Moaveni, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope

But a personal story is more powerful than any dry summary of why a given law should be changed. To attract people’s attention, to solicit their sympathies and convince them that these laws were not simply unfair but actively pathological, I had to tell stories. Iranian culture, for all its preoccupation with shame and honor, with all its resulting patriarchal codes, retains an acute sensitivity to injustice. The revolution against the shah, after all, had premised itself on the ethos of fighting zolm, or oppression; it was a revolution conducted in the name of the mustazjin, the dispossessed. People had to see how the dispossessed had now become the dispossessors. [111]

Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is an inspiration of staying in the struggle for the long haul. Unlike 4-5 million other Iranians, she stayed put in the Islamic republic and worked from within to offer humane resistance to the religious fundamentalism that would deprive her of her own career as a judge. She is both a strong feminist, using her lawyer skills to advocate for women in a system that sees them as merely half the value of men, and she is also a faithful Muslim, although one different than those Khomeini wanted to hold up as a role model for women. She is also a dissident, who was willing to take strong stands, oppose the Republic’s interpretations (not defame it), did jail time, was on a death list, raised her daughters, did the proverbial twice as much work as the man, and stayed put. The authorities weren’t going to drive her away. Read the rest of this entry »

Festival of Kissing, Festival of Touching

Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces

Marginalia and Notes, February 2001

I read this book because, like Arenas’s The Color of Summer, it exemplifies a style and structure that I wish to adapt for my second book: short, compressed, packed chapters, thematically linked over the course of the book by numbers, with ample illustrations, mixing autobiography, journalism, “theology,” history, lyricism.

Addition to Jack Kerouac, shorter, the better. Consider, fracturing further currently long chapters.

A part of me died with him. A part of him lives with me. [What for a dedication page?]

Think of all the words I can include, with examples, in my Lexicon chapters.

Depending on layout and format, consider using little photos (of Mev, even) .

Tell my story; no, tell your story.

Do some chapters, like his The Function of the Reader, on “Reading.”

NB: keep the chapters short. 23

Chapter: Voice. And, Voiceless. Check synonyms. Read the rest of this entry »

The Political Economy of Memory

Alan S. Rosenbaum, ed., Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives on Comparative Genocide

I read this book for my treatment of Wiesel and it gave me plenty of perspectives, arguments and insights. The question of the volume already reflects its Shoah-centric status and bias. For example, there is no debate about the uniqueness of the Armenian slaughter. I still think that this question, which is but one reflection of the cultural production of the American political economy of memory, has its roots in the 1967 June War: after this there have been both sincere and disingenuous reckoning with the Holocaust. And Wiesel is torn — quelle surprise –between these two.

But there have come to be challengers to the implied moral claim that the Holocaust was the worst catastrophe in history (see even Dussel’s footnotes in Invention of the Americas) — and this volume gives them a voice, from Ian Hancock’s meticulous, impassioned claim that there was no difference between the treatment accorded Jews and Gypsies to Dave Stannard’s critique of the uniqueness proponents, especially Katz, for engaging in denial of other people’s Holocausts in the attempt to gain the monopoly on the genocide label only for the Jewish people. Read the rest of this entry »

On Sunday Evenings, For Instance

If people meet regularly and know each other, they begin to feel whom they can trust and whom they cannot, who is constructive and who is not, and in the process of their own participation, their own sense of responsibility and self-confidence grows.
–Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope

Share the Wealth with Sarah Dwidar: The Successes and Failures of International Justice and Human Rights Mechanisms

Despite the prevalence of international criminal law and human rights law in our modern geopolitical discourse, both fields are in their infancy – international accountability finding its roots in the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the wake of the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, and contemporary human rights law stemming from the birth of the United Nations and post-WWII covenants. We have therefore only recently begun to grasp some of the limitations faced by these areas of law, as well as to address the successes upon which to capitalize and the possible alternatives to an international framework that we embraced not so long ago. Sarah will share her thoughts on this timely issue and reflect on how her professional career has impacted the evolution of her worldview.

Sarah is a SLU alum and St. Louis native currently based in The Hague, the Netherlands. She previously worked as an Associate Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Prior to this, she was a Visiting Professional in the Trial Division of the International Criminal Court, assigned to cases related to the 2007-08 post-election violence in Kenya. Most recently, Sarah served as Legal Officer at the International Commission on Missing Persons, where her work covered a range of countries and regions including Syria, Iraq and the Western Balkans, as well as subjects including public international law, the implementation of human rights standards in domestic criminal law, and the migration crisis. Prior to moving to The Hague, she interned with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in Washington D.C. In her spare time, Sarah loves to sing in choirs and opera workshops, make pottery, and watch sketch comedy.

Join us!
Sunday 3 February
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Sarah begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Katrina Becker
5918 Loughborough 2N
Saint Louis, MO
63109

“Using Hatred to Fight Hatred Is the Surest Way to Create Even More Hatred”

Thich Nhat Hanh, Love in Action: Writings on Nonviolent Social Change

Immediately before I read this book by Nhat Hanh, I read David Grossman on  the advances in psychology to get us to kill, to overcome our disposition NOT to kill;  then I read Bao Ninh’s novel about the sorrow of war, and how many people were done in by the bombing, the rape, the destruction.  Herein, Nhat Hanh looks at the same worlds as these authors and offers his Buddhist, non-dualistic, interbeing approach to solving social problems.

The best chapter of the book is the play, “The Path of Return Continues the Journey.” How I’d like Magan Wiles  to direct this play, with all an Vietnamese cast, a fund-raiser for Plum Village’s Love and Understanding project.  Reread this play, which will take an hour.  Think about it, and recognize how  deeply it makes me feel.

There are also several chapters from the 60s and 70s which deal directly with the war in Vietnam, some of his poetry, and the Buddhist path to peace: “Love in Action,” “A Proposal for Peace,” “Our Green Garden,” “The Ancient Tree” (written for Nhat Chi Mai), “Call Me by My True Names,” “If You Want Peace, Peace is with You Immediately,” while “The Way Ahead for Buddhism in Vietnam” deals with the need for guaranteeing the right to religious freedom and “To Veterans” examines how veterans can be a constructive force for peace. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Lorraine Glass-Harris: Exploring the Un-Conducted Life–Life after the St. Louis Symphony

Lorraine Glass-Harris retired her 43-year-long career with the St. Louis Symphony in 2015. From early childhood, following the family’s dream of a generation of professional musicians, she studied the violin and contemplated the role of music in our society, as she played concerts, traveled the world with the orchestra, and performed with the great conductors and soloists of our times.

Now on the other side of this performing career, she explores her life on its own terms, at her own tempo, to her own script. She shares what it means to go slow, grab the joy, find one’s own pace, create the future from within, some Lessons from the Stage, from Paying Attention, from Living Horizontal.

Read the rest of this entry »

We’ll Always Have Berkeley

Letter/3 (Dissidents/4)
The Book of Mev

In August 1995 as Mev and I were getting settled in our new home in St. Louis, we learned that Steve Kelly had been arrested for a Plowshares action in California on the anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Steve and his friend Susan Crane went to the Lockheed-Martin Corporation in Sunnyvale, California and, inspired by the biblical call to “beat swords into plowshares,” used a hammer to beat on missiles; they also poured blood on them. They and their partners on the East Coast issued a statement, which read, in part, as follows: “The period of August 6 through 9 marks the 50th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. . . Since August 1945 the entire world, led by the U.S. has been held hostage by nuclearism and the exponential rise of military violence. This violence permeates every level of society … Disarmament is the necessary first step to Christ’s Jubilee. We refuse to see violence as inevitable, injustice as the order of the day, and death dealing as the only way of life. Join us in this declaration for disarmament to announce the jubilee for the poor, relief for the children, and peace for us all.”

August 25, 1995
The day of your sentencing

Dear Steve,
What? No book? Are you meshugah? No way — Mev and I have already pledged that we will edit your letters and postcards, and have contacted Robert Ellsberg at Orbis for a deluxe edition. Mev’s going through her negatives of you for the appropriate cover shot.

I miss you, Steve. So you were preparing us for the big civil disobedience action by driving us over to Lockheed in San Jose — I shoulda known better with a resister like you/that I would love every action that you do/and I do, and I do, hey hey hey. Read the rest of this entry »