Hold It All

Month: October, 2013

Austere, Moral, Mythic, Ceremonial

Thursday 31 October 2013


A while back I read this collection, Sartre on Theater, and I noted especially the following passages from his lectures, interviews, and articles. I want to share them with you, since you are thinking about theater much of your waking hours–on the trains and buses, the Harlem streets, before you fall asleep, as you daydream about the projects you could do in Saint Louis (perhaps put on a production of The Condemned of Altona?), as you organize other people’s chaos (a miracle before their amazed eyes), and as you remember that handful of NY performances that matter most to you–as actor, audience member, citizen, human being. Read the rest of this entry »

Fighting Injustice: A Discussion with Kelley Schwartz

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
–Archbishop Desmond Tutu

For our next Share the Wealth, join us for dinner and discussion with Kelley Schwartz, who has been grappling with injustice since a summer trip through South America, such current events as the bloodshed in Syria, and issues explored in her social studies classes she teaches at Westminster Christian Academy.  If you have ever struggled with frustration and despair at the state of our world or wondered how to stay motivated when it all seems too much, you’ll add a lot to our sharing.

For our discussion, please read and give some thought to Kelley’s recent article.
Bring a friend!
Sunday 3 November
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Kelley begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Mark and Joanie
4514 Chouteau Avenue
Friends who have been to Chouteau before,
please park on Taylor or the 4400 block of Chouteau.


The Little There Is To Do

A friend sent us a letter
At a loss for words of wisdom
She simply wished she could be with us

To share the day to day
Do the little things
That needed to be done:

Like when a friend was sick and dying in the hospital
She threw away the dead flowers
And moved the fresh ones closer to her

Brainard’s Memories

The NY painter Joe Brainard wrote a wonderful book, I Remember, in which he collected memories from days gone by in one long litany. He writes about ordinary things:  chicken noodle soup, juke boxes, tanning, blowing your nose, over tipping, games, daydreams, shoes, head rushes from eating ice cream too quickly, sandwiches, outhouses, hair, songs, and rumors.

Here are some excerpts to convince you: Buy this book!

I remember how much, in high school, I wanted to be handsome and popular.

I remember when I lived in Boston reading all of Dostoyevsky novels one right after the other.

I remember the day Marilyn Monroe died.

I remember Frank O’Hara’s walk. Light and sassy. With a slight bounce and a slight twist. It was a beautiful walk. Confident. “I don’t care” and sometimes “I know you are looking.” Read the rest of this entry »

May We Always Be Amateurs

Nonrequired Reading: Prose Pieces
Wislawa Szymborska
Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

Herein are a few score short pieces by the Nobel laureate (Literature, 1996), usually no more than a page or two, although I think of them more as her writing practices, as she uses the book at hand to provoke wide-ranging exploration.  Her reading has breadth — statistics, Polish history, birds, El Cid, Vermeer, the history of clothing, the persecution of witches, handyman guides, Napoleon, deer, the Polish nobles, Ella Fitzgerald, yoga for everyone, divas, wallpapering your home, all the Cleopatras, gladiators, Catherine the Great, Hammurabi’s Code, the Three Tenors, Fermat’s Theorem — but my favorite pieces were those about other writers, like Jung, Milosz and Montaigne.  She admits, “Basically I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various loose associations. Anyone who calls these pieces sketches will be correct. Anyone insisting on ‘reviews’ will incur my displeasure.”

Many of these books were published in Poland, and I have no desire to read them (my “To Read List” is already impossibly long). However, she inspires me to go to Left Bank Books to browse in sections I’ve never been to before, if only to whet my curiosity as to what’s out there. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News of Art according to Jerzy Grotowski

Thanks to Magan Wiles, who shared this with me  at Amy’s Corner Bakeshop this morning…

Why do we sacrifice so much energy to our art? Not in order to teach others but to learn with them what our existence, our organism, our personal and unrepeatable experience have to give us; to learn to break down the barriers which surround us and to free ourselves from the breaks which hold us back, from the lies about ourselves which we manufacture daily for ourselves and for others; to destroy the limitations caused by our ignorance and lack of courage; in short, to fill the emptiness in us: to fulfill ourselves. Art is neither a state of the soul (in the sense of some extraordinary, unpredictable moment of inspiration) nor a state of man (in the sense of a profession or social function). Art is a ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light.
–Jerzy Grotowski


Gratitude Journal/7

Dear Doc,

Thank you for leaving voice messages for me. You may say three or four sentences, but your voice is always calming to me. (I trust that your voice has that same beneficent effect on some of your patients.) That you leave word with me so regularly is touching, as I am fully aware that, as a resident, you have very limited time.

Earlier today (it’s gorgeous, sunny and 70), I was remembering that day we walked from your condo on Waterman to Forest Park and made our way around the Ralph Waldo Emerson Basin by Art Hill on a comparably beautiful day, as we discussed the “F” word (the future), literature (Kesey, Dostoevsky), and our own writing, which could use a friendly push from time to time. I miss those strolls!

I told Nima when all six of us gather in Chicago in late December, Joanie and I will have power over her kitchen as we prepare something delicious for you, Neil, Matt, and Nima in celebration of your wonderful lives of love and service.

Namaste forever,


Dr. Neeta Shenai; Virginia Beach, VA; 2013; photo by Dr. Neil Munjal

Dr. Neeta Shenai; Virginia Beach, VA; 2013; photo by Dr. Neil Munjal

The Task of Our Lifetime

The ideological position common to nearly everyone in the system is that America is best, its ideals perfect, its history spotless, its actions and society at the highest levels of human achievement and greatness. To argue with that—if that is at all possible—is to be “un-American” and guilty of the cardinal sin of anti-Americanism, which derives not from honest criticism but from hatred of the good and the pure…. The substance of American discourse is that it is divided into black and white, evil and good, ours and theirs. It is the task of a lifetime to make a change in that Manichean duality that seems to be set forever in an unchanging ideological dimension.

Edward Said, November 2002

From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map: Essays

Edward Said & Mahmoud Darwish

Edward Said & Mahmoud Darwish

U.S. Ruthlessness

The leaders of the United States of Amnesia prattle on about our love for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, etc.

But Abbie Hoffman knew the truth…
“No one who read the fine print of The New York Times doubted that Vietnam War policy was the creation of Lucifer. What should one make of cluster bombs—that open a hundred meters above the ground, releasing bomblets which in turn release a spray of deadly needles killing all that is human in their wake? Silent penetration of body flesh. Can one talk in civil terms about saturation bombings, strategic hamlets, and free-fire zones? Could you describe napalm to a ten-year-old? Dropped in large barrels, a jelly-gas that spread rapidly through villages and stuck to the skin with a fiery grip. Or herbicidal defoliants designed to poison miles upon miles of plants and trees. Not since the Romans, in revenge, salted the earth of Carthage, has the world seen such a calculated wasteland.”

The Autobiography of Abbie Hoffman


Us, Ruthless? Never

I suspect that the Washington Post never used the word “ruthless” to describe Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s bombing of North Vietnam.  Only the Giaps, Castros, and Arafats of the world are “ruthless.”