Hold It All

Share the Wealth with Mary Bast: The Magic of Self-Gift, Or, Why You Should Ask Yourself the Big Questions in Life, With Some Russian Literature Sprinkled In Along the Way

Mary Bast came back from a whirlwind year-long working holiday in Ireland in 2014, wondering why she was so unhappy over what she thought was going to be the journey of a lifetime with her one true love. Turns out, the love wasn’t so true, and the journey had only begun when she got back to the States. She spent the next few years trying to figure out what the purpose of life was, where she fit in it all, and, at turns, contemplating and careening her way through finding the courage to love again (spoiler alert: it’s a work in progress). This talk is an amalgam of what she’s learned along the way about God, life, love, being yourself, and never giving up on your dreams, and she very much looks forward to sharing her story with you and hearing all the machinations of yours afterwards.

Mary Bast is a writer, reader, learner, lover, Catholic, and insatiable curiosity junkie. She lives in St. Louis, is the oldest of six children, and can at turns be found nerding out or making new friends. She loves to devour large books and will probably try to find out your life story within the first five minutes of meeting you. She looks forward to speaking with you soon.

Join us
Sunday 28 October
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 a.m.
Mary begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Gregory A. Pass and Jennifer J. Lowe
2358 Tennessee
Saint Louis 63104

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This Pilgrimage of the Heart

I first read the seven volumes of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time spring through autumn of 1997.  A couple of years later, I read the collection of Proust’s essays in On Art & Literature: 1896-1919. Looking back over my notes on the text, I can see how significant Proust was for me in the two works (Mev, Layla)  that came after my Elie Wiesel book, on which I was  working at the time of this reading.  I was particularly drawn to Proust’s criticism of the French critic Sainte-Beuve.

Should I make it a novel, or a philosophical study — am I a novelist?

Every day I set less store on intellect.

And if intellect only ranks second in the hierarchy of virtues, intellect alone is able to proclaim that the first place must be given to instinct.

At the same time I put myself in tune with those other realities for which solitude whets the appetite, and whose possibility, whose reality, gives a value to life:  the women one does not know.

[Sainte-Beuve’s method] ignores what a very slight degree of self-acquaintance teaches us:  that a book is the product of  a different self from the self we manifest in our habits, in our social life, in our vices.  If we would try to understand that particular self, it is by searching  our own bosoms, and trying to reconstruct it there, that we may arrive at it.  Nothing can exempt us from this pilgrimage of the heart.

One regards oneself as no more than the trustee, who from one moment to the next may disappear, of an intellectual hoard which will disappear with him; and one would like to say check to one’s previous idleness or force of inertia by obeying that noble commandment of Christ’s in the Gospel of Saint John:  Work while ye have the light.” Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Joanie French: An Introduction to Feldenkrais

Dear Friends,

This week’s Share the Wealth is an Open House with my partner Joanie French and her colleagues. Please come for part or all of this gathering.

Mark

Feldenkrais…The means to know and appreciate oneself
The freedom to become…

For current and former students, your friends and family, and those interested in learning to move with ease—

Please join us!

Feldenkrais Open House
Sunday, October 21st
1 – 4 p.m.

Hosted by:

Virginia McClish and Mark Siebert
12535 Sunset Drive
Sappington, Mo 63128

Enjoy food and drink, a Feldenkrais class, as well as a brief introduction to the Feldenkrais Method. Come for the entire event or stop by when it is convenient. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Linsey Stevens: Collage is a Simile for Life, And Other Reasons for My Medium of Choice

When I started collaging last year, I stumbled into an activity that is—by all definitions—my happy medium. While I also enjoy pen and ink sketching, I’ve found collaging to be endlessly entertaining, mentally stimulating, and spiritually curative. It’s an art form that invites the whole person to participate in their world as it is here and now, with all its disparities, relics, and technological innovations.

Collaging can be a retreat, a confession, and an odyssey. It also demands a balance between control and surrender that, for me, is an extension of the meditations that inspired me to start collaging in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

A U.S. American Voice, Laotian Voices

Fred Branfman, Voices from the Plain of Jars: Life under an Air War (first published in 1972)

If our country had  decency, at the death of Fred Branfman there would have been coverage, interviews, retrospectives, similar to that at the recent death of U.S. Senator John McCain.  You reading this have surely heard of McCain yet  you may wonder, who is Branfman?

In the 60s Branfman had been a volunteer in Laos, and he later bore witness to what was happening there involving the U.S. Air Force.  He and a team managed to interview Laotians who survived. He worked tirelessly to expose what the U.S. inflicted upon an innocent people.

_____________________

Fred Branfman

The disappearance of the Plain of Jars was indeed “the other war”: automated war, in which participants are never face to face; war from the air, in which ground troops play but a supplementary role; total war, inevitably waged against everyone below; secret war, in which whole societies are eradicated without a trace.

For five and a half years—as village after village was leveled, countless people buried alive by high explosives, or burnt alive by napalm and white phosphorus, or riddled by anti-personnel bomb pellets—the leaders of the superpower waging this war kept it secret.
Read the rest of this entry »

Remembrance, Responsibility, Reparations

Ariel S. Garfinkel, Scofflaw: International Law and America’s Deadly Weapons in Vietnam

With the recent passing of Senator John McCain, it’s clear how hard it is for many Americans see what we’ve done in the world. It’s much easier to see what others have done to us, in this case, the Vietnamese  who held McCain captive and tortured him.  Despite Trump’s demurrer that McCain was no “hero,”  the week-long mourning and focus on his death and life speaks otherwise.

Ariel Garfinkel can help us better see who we are and who we’ve been.  In her timely, informative, and piercing  book, Scofflaw: International Law and America’s Deadly Weapons in Vietnam, she brings attention to the damage the U.S. did to the Vietnamese people both during the war and since, with its unexploded ordnance (UXO), and the lethal defoliant, Agent Orange.  Because of these, people continue to suffer and die in excruciating ways.

Regarding UXO, Garfinkel writes, “Children are still being maimed by cluster bombs, their parents are still dying from grenades and mines, and the full removal of remaining live ordnance at the rate of success over the past two decades will reportedly take hundreds of years more.”  As for Agent Orange, it is true that the U.S. government has acknowledged the significance of Agent Orange when it comes to care for our veterans, yet  the government is unable and unwilling to  acknowledge its responsibility for the death and devastation its has caused the Vietnamese people.  According to the author, “an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese died as a result of exposure to the chemical sprays.” Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Dianne Lee and Bill Quick: Postcards to Voters

This coming Sunday, please join Dianne and Bill in writing friendly, handwritten reminders to voters encouraging them to vote November 9th.

In an age of digital overload, old-fashioned mail makes a lot of sense. Younger people are 30% more likely than other age groups to feel “very positively” about receiving mail and report ignoring snail mail at far lower rates than they do digital ads. In an age when everyone’s grandmother is texting and commenting on your Facebook posts, how often do people, especially young people, even receive a handwritten card or letter? Dianne and Bill will provide the postcards, stamps, addresses and a simple encouraging message. Please stop by, enjoy one another’s company, share a meal, and write a postcard or two or more.

Join us
Sunday 7 October
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
We begin writing at 6:45
At the home of Dianne Lee and Bill Quick
7457 Wise Ave
Richmond Heights 63117

The Ideal Text

“My idea of the ideal text is still the Talmud. I love the idea of parallel texts, with long, discursive footnotes and marginal commentary, texts commenting on texts.”

–Noam Chomsky, Mother Jones, 1987

For Friends in NYC: Norman Finkelstein Lectures

Check out Norman Finkelstein at the Brooklyn Central Library for his lecture series, “Bracing for the Revolution: Landmark Documents and Speeches in American History”:

Bracing for the Revolution is a free ten-week class offered as part of BPL’s Library School series taught by Norman Finkelstein.

The US is at a crossroads. The status quo cannot endure much longer.  Too many people are hurting and desperate.  They don’t want to repair the system.  They want to radically alter it.  We, the People, are about to embark on a journey into uncharted territory. But it’s still unclear which path will be chosen: the one on the left or on the right. The upcoming elections in November 2018 will present a tantalizing hint.  To prepare for the journey ahead, we must learn from the past, so as to preserve in the future what’s best from the past and so as not to repeat in the future the errors of the past.

This class will critically analyze the most influential and insightful documents and speeches in American history, with an eye to learning practical-political lessons from them. Among the documents we will look at are: Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms,” Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Martin Luther King’s “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam,” Malcolm X’s speech at Oxford, Noam Chomsky’s “Responsibility of the Intellectual.” The last 30 minutes of each class will be devoted to a discussion of current events.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Nobody’s Going To Do It for You”

Anne Waldman and Laura Wright, editors, Beats at Naropa: An Anthology
Coffee House Press, 2009

I read Beats at Naropa exactly nine years ago, 2009. In my notes on the dialogues, essays, and interviews are the seeds of what became projects like Arab Writers in Translation Reading Group, People’s History of the United States Monthly Discussion, St. Louis Mindfulness Sangha, Share the Wealth, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, Writing to Wake Up courses on Demun Avenue and Spring Avenue, Brothers Karamazov Sessions at Sasha’s, Monthly Via Creativa Colloquium with Cami Kasmerchak for a Year, Chinese Poets in Translation Reading Group, approximately 700 cafe rendezvous, and 450-page draft of Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris, to name several.

It pleases me to recognize my deep indebtedness to the writers, poets, and artists in this volume who nurtured my vision. Accordingly, I savor provocations like the following—

Diane di Prima: There’s also: once you finish writing something it doesn’t belong to you. It has its own life and needs to go where it wants to go.

Anne Waldman: The scope and influence of the New American Poetry and its attendant offshoots and cross-fertilizations with other writers of the expansive poetry world is an Indra’s Net of inter-relatedness and is thus difficult to codify. Suffice it to say, however, that some of the writers most associated with the Beat movement were already very cognizant of and extremely well-read in Buddhist philosophy and psychology.

Diane di Prima: A lot of this is hit-and-run. It doesn’t have to be a life work. Read the rest of this entry »