Hold It All

Month: August, 2019

One Thing Leads to Another

I shared the following on Facebook…
I would like to pass on one little bit of advice I give to every one. Relax. Just relax. Be nice to each other. As you go through your life, simply be kind to people. Try to help them rather than hurt them. Try to get along with them rather than hurt them. With that, I will leave you, and with all my very best wishes.
–Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche Read the rest of this entry »

Marxism Is Dead; Long Live Marx

Marxism is a curious notion like Freudianism. These are, in my opinion, forms of organized religion, which treat individuals as gods, or maybe idols. In disciplines that have passed beyond the most primitive stage, there is (or should be) nothing comparable. There is no “Einsteinism” in physics for good reasons…Sane people will learn from [Marx] what they can, discarding what is wrong or irrelevant. The fact that Marxism, as a form of idolatry, has lost its appeal is all to the good…. In my opinion, “Marxism” (though not Marx’s work) should disappear everywhere, but not to be replaced by new dogma and secular religion; rather, by independent thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Recipe for Happiness in Khabarovsk or Anyplace by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

One grand boulevard with trees
with one grand café in sun
with strong black coffee in very small cups

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you

One fine day

Mev Puleo, Au Bon Pain, Harvard Square, Cambridge, spring 1991

Note to a Friend alongside Copy of Ginsberg’s 1973 Poem “Yes and It’s Hopeless”

And so, if it’s (still) hopeless,
2019,
all the more reason
to cultivate garden,
play with Dominic,
work on yr Italian pronunciation,
sing aloud Carole King songs,
have CTSA reunions,
have STN skull sessions,
seek us first the Kingdom of Appreciation,
and another miraculous day may be given unto us,
so hallelujah,
om shanti shanti shanti,
make time to play Duke Ellington,
“Take the ‘A’ Train”

Take Your Pick

1.

Do not be angry, not even at a dog or an insect. Strive to give whatever actual help you can. If you cannot help, then think and say: May this sentient being or troublemaker quickly be rid of pain and enjoy happiness. May he or she come to attain Buddhahood.

–Jamgon Kongtrul, The Great Path of Awakening: A Commentary on the Mahayana Teaching of the Seven Points of Mind Training

______________________

2.

“Well” (sigh) “as for me, I’m just going to go on being Alvah Goldbook and to hell with all this Buddhist bullshit.”

–Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
[Alvah Goldbook approximates Allen Ginsberg]

 

The Way It Looked Fifty Years Ago

“The war is simply an obscenity, a depraved act by weak and miserable men, including all of us, who have allowed it to go on and on with endless fury and destruction — all of us who would have remained silent had stability and order been secured.”

–Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins: Historical & Political Essays

 

The Good Old Days before Trump (Peas in a Pod)

 

In November 2010 Ralph Nader wrote an imaginary letter penned by former president George W. Bush to his successor President Barack Obama. Here’s an excerpt…

The Leftists are always trying to have your policies show me up negatively. Hah—they’re having one hell of a tough time, aren’t they?

Me state secrets, you state secrets. Me executive privilege, you executive privilege. Me stop the release of torture videos, you backed me up. Me indefinite detention, you indefinite detention. Me extraordinary rendition; you extraordinary rendition. Me sending drones, you sending tons more, flying 24/7. Me just had to look the other way on collateral damage, you doing the same and protecting our boys doing it. Me approving night time assassination raids, you’re upping the ante especially since General Petraeus took over. Me beefing up Defense, you not skipping a beat. Me letting the CIA loose, you told them operate at large. Me demanding no pictures of our fallen troops, you doing the same, but allowing the families to go to Dover which I should have done.

Highly recommended:

Oath of Disloyalty by Irwin Keller

Today I received the following in an email from Rabbi Lerner.

I am a disloyal Jew.
I am not loyal to a political party.
Nor will I be loyal to dictators and mad kings.
I am not loyal to walls or cages.
I am not loyal to taunts or tweets.
I am not loyal to hatred, to Jew-baiting, to the gloating connivings of white supremacy.

I am a disloyal Jew.
I am not loyal to any foreign power.
Nor to abuse of power at home.
I am not loyal to a legacy of conquest, erasure and exploitation.
I am not loyal to stories that tell me who I should hate.

I am a loyal Jew.
I am loyal to the inconveniences of kindness.
I am loyal to the dream of justice.
I am loyal to this suffering Earth
And to all life.
I am not loyal to any founding fathers.
But I am loyal to the children who will come
And to the quality of world we leave them.
I am not loyal to what America has become.
But I am loyal to what America could be.
I am loyal to Emma Lazarus. To huddled masses.
To freedom and welcome,
Holiness, hope and love.

Irwin Keller — teacher, writer, reb, hope-monger

Thinking for Oneself (and Then There’s the “More Sophisticated”)

The audience I try to reach, and to some limited extent do reach, is a different one: partly, activists of a less doctrinaire sort than the mainstream liberal intelligentsia and sectarian Marxists, partly the kind of general interested audience that one finds everywhere: around universities (primarily students), church groups, and so on.

I’m not trying to convert, but to inform. I don’t want people to believe me, any more than they should believe the party line I’m criticizing—academic authority, the media, the overt state propagandists, or whatever. In talks and in print, I try to stress what I think is true: that with a little willingness to explore and use one’s mind, it is possible to discover a good deal about the social and political world that is generally hidden. I feel that I’ve achieved something if people are encouraged to take up this challenge and learn for themselves.

There are a vast number of people who are uninformed and heavily propagandized, but fundamentally decent. The propaganda that inundates them is effective when unchallenged, but much of it goes only skin deep. If they can be brought to raise questions and apply their decent instincts and basic intelligence, many people quickly escape the confines of the doctrinal system and are willing to do something to help others who are really suffering and oppressed.

This is naturally less true of better-educated and “more sophisticated” (that is, more effectively indoctrinated) groups who are both the agents and often the most deluded victims of the propaganda system.

—Noam Chomsky,”The Manufacture of Consent,” 1983, Language and Politics, 389

Ale Vázquez

It Can Be So Appealing

Or let me tell you another story I heard about twenty years ago from a black civil rights activist who came up to study at Harvard Law School-it kind of illustrates some of the other pressures that are around. This guy gave a talk in which he described how the kids starting off at Harvard Law School come in with long hair and backpacks and social ideals, they’re all going to go into public service law to change the world and so on–that’s the first year. Around springtime, the recruiters come for the cushy summer jobs in the Wall Street law firms, and these students figure, “What the heck, I can put on a tie and a jacket and shave for one day, just because I need that money and why shouldn’t I have it?” So they put on the tie and the jacket for that one day, and they get the job, and then they go off for the summer and when they come back in the fall, it’s ties, and jackets, and obedience, a shift of ideology. Sometimes it takes two years.

Well, obviously he was over-drawing the point-but those sorts of factors also are very influential. I mean, I’ve felt it all my life: it’s extremely easy to be sucked into the dominant culture, it can be very appealing. There are alot of rewards. And what’s more, the people you meet don’t look like bad people–you don’t want to sit there and insult them. Maybe they’re perfectly nice people. So you try to be friends, maybe you even are friends. Well, you begin to conform, you begin to adapt, you begin to smooth off the harsher edges–and pretty soon it’s just happened, it kind of seeps in. And education at a place like Harvard is largely geared to that, to a remarkable extent in fact.

And there are many other subtle mechanisms which contribute to ideological control as well, of course-including just the fact that the universities support and encourage people to occupy themselves with irrelevant and innocuous work.

–Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power, p. 239

Hong Kong, Harvard Square; photo by Mev