Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: July, 2015

The Last Sentence of Middlemarch

For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Be Here Now

In one of Tolstoy’s parables, a peasant is plowing a field. The narrator asks the old man what he would do if he knew that Death was coming to take him away within the hour. The peasant answers, “Keep plowing.” — Michael Dirda

Share the Wealth with Melissa Chapnick: Sunday 2 August 2015

What Does Our Food Eat? – Eggs, Chickens, and Food Systems in Pastocalle, Ecuador

This summer Melissa Chapnick spent six weeks living and working in Pastocalle, Ecuador. Working in conjunction with Dr. Lora Iannotti of Washington University, Melissa spent this time exploring the potential of eggs to improve infant nutrition. Her project immersed her in a country in transition – where current generations are making the shift from subsistence agriculture, to living in urban centers. This shift brings with it important questions about the food system, which she touched on in an independent exploration of chicken production practices. Melissa will discuss the issues of developing food systems through eggs, a food item with which we are all familiar.

Join Us….
Sunday 2 August 2015
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00
Melissa begins sharing at 6:45
At WeAlign Gathering with Jane and Steven
4125 Humphrey Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63116

Two Views on Civilization

1.

The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world.

— James Baldwin, 1976

2.

We will use every necessary weapon of war. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen.

Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. I’ve put the armed forces on alert and there is a reason: The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud.

This is the world’s fight, this is civilization’s fight. The great achievements of our time and great hopes of all time, now depend on us.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain… and we know that God is not neutral.

—George W. Bush, 9.20.2001

Finkelstein’s Pessimism and Optimism

Philosopher Paul Ricoeur identified Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche as three masters of suspicion in the modern West.  Over the last three decades, Norman Finkelstein has shown himself to be a contemporary  maven of suspicion when it comes to  such matters as the Holocaust Industry,  Middle East scholarship applauded by the mainstream, and Israel’s policies that torment the Palestinian people.  His most recent book, Method and Madness:  The Hidden Story of Israel’s Assault’s on Gaza, continues in this vein, by critiquing Operations Cast Lead (2008-2009), Pillar of Defense (2012), and Protective Edge (2014).  In addition to his rebuking of the official story, Finkelstein offers a political vision that calls for resistance in practical, not merely discursive, terms.

Seeing the title, I immediately think of Polonius’s observation of Hamlet: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.”  After the 2008-2009 Israeli Operation Cast Lead in  Gaza, Finkelstein referred to Israel as lunatic state.   Simply put, Israel’s devastating attacks on Gaza  were based on pretexts so as to achieve political goals.  For example, he notes, “If Israel had wanted to avert the Hamas rocket attacks, it would not have triggered them by breaking the June 2008 cease-fire with Hamas. Israel also could have opted for renewing—and then honoring—the cease-fire.”   Israel is evidently “mad” not to pursue such a rational course for de-escalating tensions. Read the rest of this entry »

Please Bodhisattva

For All Allen Ginsbergs Everywhere

Oh Bodhisattva
I’m a slacker

Ach Bodhisattva
My mind sometimes is so many-pointed

Dear Bodhisattva
I’ve grown weary of always having an angle

Woe is me Bodhisattva
My middle name is “Scattered”

Gee Bodhisattva
It’s hard to cultivate loving-kindness for you know who

I know Bodhisattva
You won’t condemn me

Please Bodhisattva
May I approach you

Please Bodhisattva
May I bow and touch your feet

Please Bodhisattva
May I sit at your feet

Read the rest of this entry »

The Way It Is

“Those honey-coloured ramparts at your ear”
Anicca, anicca

The life of the party
Anicca, anicca

20/20 vision
Anicca, anicca

BFF
Anicca, anicca

BMW
Anicca, anicca

“Thy eternal summer”
Anicca, anicca
Read the rest of this entry »

Just Write

Harvey

Lessons

The lesson of the Holocaust is the facility with which most people, put into a situation that does not contain a good choice, or renders such a good choice very costly, argue themselves away from the issue of moral duty (or fail to argue themselves towards it), adopting instead the precepts of rational interest and self-preservation.  In a system where rationality and ethics point in opposite directions, humanity is the main loser.  Evil can do its dirty work, hoping that most people most of the time will refrain from doing rash, reckless things — and resisting evil is rash and reckless.  Evil needs neither enthusiastic followers nor an applauding audience — the instinct of self-preservation will do, encouraged by the comforting thought that it is not my turn yet, thank God:  by lying low, I can still escape.

The second lesson tells us that putting self-preservation above moral duty is in no way predetermined, inevitable and inescapable.  One can be pressed to do it, but one cannot be forced to do it, and thus one cannot really shift the responsibility for doing it on to those who exerted the pressure.  It does not matter how many people chose moral duty over the rationality of self-preservation — what does matter is that some did.  Evil is not all-powerful.  It can be resisted.  The testimony of the few who did resist shatters the authority of the logic of self-preservation.  It show it for what it is in the end — a choice.  One wonders how many people must defy that logic for evil to be incapacitated.  Is there a magic threshold of defiance beyond which the technology of evil grinds to a halt?

–Zygmunt Bauman

Share the Wealth with Sara Gajda: My Life as a Young Farmer

When she was 20, Sara began farming in north St. Louis city at New Roots Urban Farm. After obtaining her permaculture certification and working as a ranch hand in southern Oregon, she moved to Sandhill Farm in northeast Missouri, where she lived until 2013. Now nearing the end of her twenties, Sara would like to share some stories and reflections about farming, growth, identity, politics, and young adulthood.

Join us
Sunday 26 July
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Sara begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Rose McCarty
730 Leland Avenue
Apartment #3N
University City
63130