Hold It All

Month: April, 2018

Three Views: Lévy, Golan, Chomsky


Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote a “Love Letter to Israel in Seventy Lines,” published in The Tablet  under 70 REASONS TO CELEBRATE ISRAEL.   He is a philosopher who lives in Paris, France.  Here are a few lines from his tribute…

The first multiethnic nation, in other words, that really works.

Democracy is hard? Slow? It takes time to build a democracy? In Israel, one night—14 May 1948—was all it took.

Terrorism has been in Israel not for 7 days (as it had in the United States when the Patriot Act was passed) and not for 7 years (as in the France when the liberticidal measures of 1961 were adopted), but for 70 years—and yet its institutions hold and liberty is not infringed.

Yes, 70 years during which Israel has lived, as the verse has it, beside its sword, and yet the spirit of liberty has never waned or wavered.

70 years without a single day of peace, and no Israeli, Jew or Arab, would leave the country for another.

Athens, not Sparta. Read the rest of this entry »

“Why Must the Poet’s Mouth Be Bloodied, His Teeth Caved in?”

More than a decade ago, octogenarian  Jesuit felon Daniel Berrigan  spoke at the local Jesuit university (in the auditorium of the business school, no less).  During the Q & A, a friend of mine asked him this question, “Dan, what have you been reading these days?”  His response:  “The Gospels and the poets.” Read the rest of this entry »

Received in Today’s Mail

1 paperback, Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium

1 check from S, for Improv Wisdom class tuition

1 graduation ticket for T’s May commencement ceremony, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

1 hand-written note of gratitude from C for Share the Wealth learning

Composed after Listening to NPR

I was just listening to an NPR story about 15th anniversary of the U.S. bringing down Saddam Hussein’s regime. An  Iraqi Kurdish journalist was interviewed.  He said he was happy to see the US troops come to end Saddam’s reign of terror. Later on, when he saw so much bloodshed, he felt sad.

Small point: The reason given throughout  the many months of relentless propaganda  was Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat to the U.S.

Afterward, I went back to a work I read many years ago, with the not so subtle title, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by famed  attorney, Vincent Bugliosi.  His book is a jeremiad, a classic prophetic slash and burn of the villain, the king, here, the president, whom he finds “monstrous,” and “despicable” and “this punk who hid out during the Vietnam War” and “How dare this wimpish punk invite the enemy to kill American soldiers” and “this morally small and characterless man” and “the arrogant son of  privilege.”

Bugliosi  adorns the inside covers with the photos and names of some of the murdered innocents under Bush’s reign of deceit, treachery, and dishonor. He writes about how happy Bush was during his presidency, and how much fun he was having, and how often he was working out, and how long he was hanging out in Crawford, Texas, while apocalypse now was unfolding in Iraq. Here’s an understatement:  “It is obvious that Bush’s knowledge of information and events is shockingly low.” [58]

He goes on at length about how Bush was blithe and bonny, so totally incommensurate with the horrors he unleashed.  Thus: “When we add to this the fact that not only was this not a righteous war, but that Bush took this nation to it under false pretenses, and over 100,000 people died directly because of it, for him to be happy and have plans to have ‘a perfect day’ goes so far beyond acceptable human conduct that no moral telescope can discern its shape, form, and nature.” [79]

Jesuit Dan Berrigan and  gadfly Gore Vidal used to refer to our nation as “the United States of Amnesia.”  If he lives long enough, Ken Burns may be able to do another documentary, this one about how it was a tragic mistake for the U.S. to go into Iraq.

Everything Is a Gift by Jennifer Vanbooven

Jennifer Vanbooven is in my Comparative Religion and Culture class, and wrote this response to the documentary, Walk with Me, about life at Plum Village.  I am happy to share it here.

Kaley and I watched a movie called Walk with Me on Netflix. Walk with Me is a religious documentary that was released in 2017, so fairly recent, that provides an insightful glimpse into a monastic community that practices the art of mindfulness alongside the Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. The Buddhists involved in this community have given up all of their possessions and wholesomely committed themselves to a life of celibacy; their ultimate goals in becoming members of this Buddhist circle are to transform their sufferings. The film captures the day to day routines of monastic life and mindfulness exercises while also demonstrating the influences such a life has on the individual monks. Overall, watching the movie gave me some fresh and positive outlooks on the Buddhist way of life and motivation to incorporate certain mindfulness practices into my own life. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pithy, the Necessary, the Clear, and the Plain

Charles Reznikoff: Man and Poet, edited by Milton Hindus
National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine at Orono, 1984

Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling.

— A.C. Graham quoting a Chinese poet from long ago


This thick volume is a collection of reminisces, literary analyses, and appreciations of Charles Reznikoff: Objectivist, American-Jew between two worlds, New Yorker, walker, miniaturist, transformer of documentary mass of data into free verse art, survivor of mean anti-Semitism growing up, self-published devotee to his own writing, lawyer who never practiced, maker of a preferential option (in writing, anyway) for the humblest, and chronicler of the Jewish history.

I first learned of Reznikoff from writings by Eliot Weinberger and Allen Ginsberg. In the summer of 2010 I plunged into his works and Hindus’s volume during the generation of what became Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine. Read the rest of this entry »