Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: January, 2017

What One Veteran Said

Vietnam veteran Wayne Smith: We were broken. I had so much anger and pain. I was crushed. I left like I had blood on my hands. I resisted calling the Vietnamese gooks and dinks, but near the end of it I found those vulgar words would come out of my mouth several times; I had contempt for myself. How could I have been so stupid and foolish to believe this country? How could I have been so foolish to think that I could really save lives as a medic? How could I really make a difference in the face of so many catastrophic injuries? Read the rest of this entry »

Touching a Nerve

According to my FBI documents, [President Richard] Nixon was more obsessed with me than with the president of Russia. He was obsessed with this movie star that was working with the GIs.

–Jane Fonda, from the oral history by Clara Bingham, Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul Read the rest of this entry »

From Thirty Years Ago: Thich Nhat Hanh

Many of us worry about the world situation. We don’t know when the bombs will explode. We feel that we are on the edge of time. As individuals, we feel helpless, despairing. The situation is so dangerous, injustice is so widespread, the danger is so close. In this kind of situation, if we panic, things will only become worse. We need to remain calm, to see clearly. Meditation is to be aware, and to try to help. Read the rest of this entry »

Text Message Exchange with Dr. Nima Sheth Who Resides in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Sheth: We need to plan which weekend you can come to DC …
I want to book ur ticket to come here
We really want to see you

I:  Any time after third week of May

Dr. Sheth: OK

I: How long can I come for?

Dr. Sheth: Forever

Elie Wiesel and Worthy Remembrance

See, Wiesel has often made this claim quite explicit:  I am above politics, my message is so precious and pure it cannot afford to be sullied by compromise. Such is the transcendent dignity of the murdered Jews of whom I am their delegate and spokesman.  My task is to show, au contraire,  how and why he’s (unconsciously?) political, that is to say, not as independent as he thinks he is, not as distant and detached and free from the determinations of the “political” as he would like to think.  For to reap the symbolic profits that he has himself reaped, he has had to cover a lot of distance in the move from a space of  relative in cognito to one of major publicity and prestige.  And yet, I need to attend to the subtleties involved in his case, because he is often quite deliberately political in the case of Sanctuary for example, even if he in the same case contradicts himself.

Another issue worth investigating  is whether by his own efforts, Wiesel has assisted in the process of transforming the Holocaust from a perennial warning to a political fashion statement [which affords him plenty of symbolic profits, and which he himself already denied in his memoir about “capital”]. Read the rest of this entry »

Authors for Reading Alongside Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time

I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
—Franz Kafka, Letters 

Though for us it’s absurd to cut our brother’s head off only because he’s become our brother and grace has descended upon him, still, I repeat, we have our own ways, which are almost as good. We have our historical, direct, and intimate delight in the torture of beating. Nekrasov has a poem describing a peasant flogging a horse on its eyes with a knout, ‘on its meek eyes.’ We’ve all seen that; that is Russianism. He describes a weak nag, harnessed with too heavy a load, that gets stuck in the mud with her cart and is unable to pull it out. The peasant beats her, beats her savagely, beats her finally not knowing what he’s doing; drunk with beating, he flogs her painfully, repeatedly: ‘Pull, though you have no strength, pull, though you die! ‘ The little nag strains, and now he begins flogging her, flogging the defenseless creature on her weeping, her ‘meek eyes.’ Beside herself, she strains and pulls the cart out, trembling all over, not breathing, moving somehow sideways, with a sort of skipping motion, somehow unnaturally and shamefully—it’s horrible in Nekrasov. But that’s only a horse; God gave us horses so that we could flog them.
—Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

There [Communist bloc] nothing goes and everything matters; here [USA] everything goes and nothing matters.
—Philip Roth, Shop Talk Read the rest of this entry »

A Key to Understanding the Table of Contents to “Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine” from Our Friend Fellini

Do you like stories in which nothing happens, too?
Well, in my film everything happens … OK?
I’m putting everything in … Even the Sailor doing a tap dance.

–8 1/2

8-12-ending

On the Street Meditation

The swami told me to make japam while I walked and to give everybody I met on a street a mental blessing. You weren’t to think of yourself with a feeling of superiority, as a holy man blessing worldlings; you were simply saluting the Atman within each fellow human being.

— Christopher Isherwood, My Guru and His Disciple

homeless-man-please-help
NYC; photo by Mev Puleo

Japam=repetition of the mantra

Share the Wealth with Julia Brucks: What Happens after an Eat-Pray-Love-esque Trip?

There is something about the light and air in France. Matisse spoke of the “Silver clarity of the light in Nice.” Van Gogh said, “The air in France brightens the thoughts and is good for you. A refreshing wind blows here.” After an Eat-Pray-Love-esque trip to France this summer, I have come to the conclusion that the light and air is just not the same here in the Midwest. Our City of the Sun, Cahokia, is as close as it gets.

I’m not the first to fall in love with the sun; the Ancient Egyptians, Celtics, Hindus, Buddhists, and many more all adore(d) the sun. It should be no surprise that Dr C wants to interview me about my love of the sun and the journey that a two week trip to France has taken me on and is still taking me on, shifting how I relate to life and death and existentialism. Phew. Big words. Awfully deep. Should be an interesting enough of a discussion if you got time to join.

A little bit about me – My first name means youthful and last name means bridge. I am a big city girl and fluent in franglish. I hate trivia and love philosophy and politics. I have never craved a hamburger and could live off of cheese and wine and vegetables. I am a daughter, sister, friend, community organizer, and an interior-designer wannabe.

Join us!
Sunday 29 January
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Julia begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Celine Shallon
4315A Shaw Boulevard
(On the corner of Tower Grove and Shaw)
Saint Louis
63110

julia-b

Note from Claire

“To say ‘silence’
in Spanish, you
have to say, ‘yes’
twice. Accept
it. Just as it
sounds without
inquiring
into it.”

–see-lén-see-oh

Claire was recently on a five-day Silent Retreat.