Hold It All

Month: December, 2016

Dear Randa

6 September 2009

Dear Randa,

Given how busy you must be, I can’t imagine that you would have brought along with you Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East. I regret that we didn’t have nearly enough time to discuss this book while you were here in St. Louis, so I thought I would send you an occasional “rereading” of that heart-breaking, illuminating, and disturbing tome. Perhaps next summer we can resume such discussions in cafes around St. Louis.

Since his youth, Fisk had long aspired to be a foreign correspondent, and he mentions that when he was 29, he received a letter from one of the higher-ups at The Times, in which he was told: “Paul Martin has requested to be moved from the Middle East. His wife has had more than enough, and I don’t blame her. I am offering him the number two job in Paris, Richard Wigg Lisbon—and to you I offer the Middle East. Let me know if you want it… It would be a splendid opportunity for you, with good stories, lots of travel and sunshine…” [xix]

In Fisk’s preface, he quotes Israeli journalist Amira Hass as saying that the journalist’s role is to “to monitor the centers of power,” the power that invades other countries, the power that sends people to be tortured, the power that conceives of genocide and implements it, the power that draws borders of the lands of others in its interests, the power that is drunk with its own dizzying rhetoric of rectitude, the power that predictably invites “blowback,” the power that acts as if it is above the law, with a quasi-divine right to disturb the lives and worlds of others. Read the rest of this entry »

El Camino de Santiago by Dr. Brett Schrewe

A long while back, I put Dr. Brett Schrewe in touch with soon to be Dr. Amy (Nuismer) Afanasevich.  Brett had walked the Camino years ago, and Amy was soon headed there. Brett offered the following advice to Amy, and I am happy to share it with you.

Hi Amy,

Apologies for the delay in response.  Ive spent most of the weekend on call and trying to figure out Victoria a bit more.  Looks like you’re getting pretty close to the departure day.  I figured instead of me going on tangentially for eight paragraphs, I’d try to distill this into pithy aphorisms, as a nod to Mark who pointed me to Kerouac‘s.

So.  Here goes.

1) One of the best things you will ever do, easily remembered in all seasons, joyous, sorrowful, or glorious.

2) Thousand year old paths move much more slowly than iPhone instant gratification.

3) The first few days are always hard.  Everything is strange. Initial contraction into fear-self quickly blows one open to the kindness of strangers to never be seen again.

4) Three days in, your eyes will become attuned to yellow seashells on blue backgrounds and spray-painted yellow arrows.  They will never lead you wrong.

5) Orange arrows, on the other hand, are not yellow arrows.  And they might lead you away from where you want to go. Read the rest of this entry »

From Cheryl Sullivan in Santiago, Chile

la tumba de Víctor Jara
que alma más apasionada
que letra más bella

The tomb of Víctor Jara
What a passionate soul
What a beautiful letter



2,768 times down
2,769 times up

Supplication from the Founder of the Theater of Cruelty

We are your faithful servants
O Grand Lama

give us
grace us with your illuminations

in a language
our contaminated minds can understand

Antonin Artaud, to the Dalai Lama

–adapted from Eliot Weinberger, Outside Stories: Essays, p. 20

Up All Night, November 12, 2007 (Henry Nagler’s Journal)

Who is going to say the unsayable?
Who is going to press for the prosecution of George W. Bush and Company for murder?
Who is going to stand for law and order?
Who is going to dignify the truth by acting on it?
Who is going to pay practical tribute to Lady Justice?
Who is going to remember what we’ve done in Iraq?
Who is going to patiently recite the facts?
Who is going to tell the tales from the Iraq inferno?
Who is going to repeat these tales to their children?
Who is going to meditate on the photographs?
Who is going to keep alive the shame?
Who is going to bring up issues from Morality 101? Legality 101?
Who is going to count the tears?
Who is going to groan lamentations in the streets?
Who is going to hurl imprecations up at the stately buildings?
Who is going to imagine for even 30 seconds a day George Bush eating chow in a maximum security prison?
Who is going to resist the temptation of silence?
Who is going to risk a little derision, a few guffaws, some insults?
Who is going to haunt the criminals?
Who is going to monitor their comings and goings?
Who is going to envision a ten-year strategy?
Who is going to develop the contingency plans?
Who is going to remove one brick amid the billions of bricks that keep the system together?
Who is going to train citizens in going out of their way to make trouble?
Who is going to insist on follow-up?
Who is going to spend even one minute a day imagining one simple step to take?
Who is going to cultivate optimism of the will?
Who is going to be the courage they wish to see in the world?
Who is going to abandon the sidelines?
Who is going to disturb the cozy peace?
Who is going to stop waiting for someone else to say something first?
Who is going to do something inconsequential about it today and then tomorrow?
Who is going to talk to the guys at the firehouse?
Who is going to bring it up at the neighborhood bar?
Who is going to query the hair stylist?
Who is going to take inspiration from the little mosquito?
Who is going to dare make a scene, raise a ruckus?
Who is going to perform an act greater than Camilo Mejía?
Who is going to remove every single thread from the Emperor’s trembling limbs?


A big library really has the gift of tongues
and vast potencies of telepathic communication.
Northrop Frye


Sempre Avanti

Sempre avanti, Italian. “Always keep moving forward.”

I first learned this expression from Helena, a friend who typically signed off her letters with this expression, or else with Coraggio. A historian and a convert to Catholicism, she worked with me on peace and justice issues in the 1980s and kept in touch over the years. Several decades older than me, Helena took a lively interest in my academic work on Elie Wiesel.

In later years, she was afflicted with breast cancer and severe arthritis, but she remained lucid, gentle, and passionate. The year after Mev died, one day Helena came home to find a note from her husband, an immigrant “self-made” businessman millionaire. He had to leave her, he had written, because he had so much life he still wanted to live. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Thuy Khuu on Wednesday 28 December 2016

Have you noticed that toilet paper only comes in circular rolls? Has it occurred to you that it can be in other shapes, square for instance? What would happen then?

Every day, we interact with countless of products, literally! We see them, hear them, feel them, smell them, and even taste them in some cases! We are surrounded by design and living in a designed world. Yet, we usually don’t notice it until something goes wrong, then we question, “Who in their right mind would design this thing?! ”

My name is Thuy. I am a woman who has encountered her midlife crisis a decade or two early. At this Share the Wealth, please allow me to share with you the story of how I’ve found design, what design means to me, and what I would like to do with design.

Join us Wednesday 28 December 2016
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00
Thuy begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Mark  Chmiel and Joanie French
4514 Chouteau Avenue
Forest Park Southeast 63110
Please park on Taylor Avenue or the 4400 block of Chouteau.


Long Live Gandhiji

Dear Carla,

Tanya  and I are working our way through Gandhi’s Essential Writings (in the Oxford World’s Classics).  We read ten sections a week (there are 237 sections in the book).

Here are the passages I selected with a few comments  on the first ten sections. Perhaps some of these may be useful as we contemplate our upcoming resistance to the Behemoth.


Gandhi/The Essential Writings

Round One

What I want to achieve—what I have been striving and pining to achieve these thirty years—is self-realization, to see God face to face, to attain Moksha. I live and move and have my being in pursuit of this goal. 1

Perhaps this accounts for Gandhi’s seemingly boundless energy: He had an all-encompassing goal that could be pursued in the most minute of daily circumstances.

Read the rest of this entry »