Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

El Salvador Connection by Martin Zaldivar

In our current class, I asked if anyone had a strong connection to El Salvador. Martin Zaldivar shared the following, and he gave me permission to post it. El Salvador is the home to half my family (father’s side). My grandmother spends most of her days in her dwelling, close to the noisy capital. She dozes on and off in the early mornings beneath a roof of corrugated metal, over a concrete floor laid by my deceased grandfather, and between walls which don’t do enough to muffle the sound of cats yowling their prowess or their other, undoubtedly sordid affairs. I have a cousin who is young enough to believe that running from the sounds of gunshots is completely normal, and an uncle who daydreams, incessantly and unreasonably- reasonably. My father spoke to my siblings and myself about the friends he lost during the Salvadoran civil war. He hid a book in his room which I found as a child on the civil war, which contained enough misery and anguish to open my eyes to the kind of truths which are hidden just under white lies. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Feat of Reading and Writing

1.

[T]he sheer enormity of what took place between 1933 and 1945 beggars our powers of description and understanding. The more one studies this period and its excesses, the more one must conclude that for any decent human being the slaughter of so many millions of innocents must, and indeed should, weigh heavily on subsequent generations, Jewish and non-Jewish…. there is no reason at all, in my opinion, not to submit oneself in horror and awe to the special tragedy besetting the Jewish people. As an Arab in particular I find it important to comprehend this collective experience in as much of its terrible concrete detail as one is capable: this act of comprehension guarantees one’s humanity and resolve that such a catastrophe should never be forgotten and never recur.
—Edward W. Said, Al-Ahram Weekly, 1997

2.

Charles Reznikoff immersed himself in more than 20 volumes of transcripts from World War II war crimes trials and the Eichmann trial. Out of that intense reading of thousands of pages came Holocaust, a book of poetry in 12 sections comprising 88 pages published in 1975. Read the rest of this entry »

Salvation, Cont. (Rob Trousdale)

Share the Wealth with Andrew Wimmer: Practicing Loving Kindness Meditation

I’m looking forward to talking with other meditators about my recent introduction to Loving Kindness Meditation as taught by Bahnte Vimalaramsi during a ten-day retreat at the Dhamma Sukah Meditation Center in southern Missouri. I began meditating in 1973 when I was introduced to Transcental Meditation and made what seemed like a natural transition to Centering Prayer (as taught by Basil Pennington and Thomas Keeting) during the twelve years I spent living as a Benedictine monk. I have continued with that form of meditation ever since, waxing and waning in my faithfulness to it over the years. On the first night of the retreat I was struck by two seemingly simple tweaks offered by Bahnte Vimalaramsi’s Loving Kindness method that led to a radical transformation for me. I’d like to share the merit of my experience with you. No background in Buddhism is needed, and the conversation will be quite practical.

Andrew Wimmer’s years as a Benedictine monk included time teaching seventh graders in St. Louis, working in a parish in Nicaragua, and pursuing doctoral studies in Boston. He taught courses in social justice and peacemaking at St. Louis University and has written about and organized nonviolent opposition to U.S. use of torture. He’s the father of two sons in their 20s and lives in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.

Join us!
Sunday 29 October
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Andrew begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Chris Wallach
5 E. Lake Road
Fenton, MO
63026

From Chris: Directions from Google will take you to the mailbox at the end of my gravel road. Follow the gravel. When you see a three car garage (my mother’s house) look to the right for a right turn. Follow that down to the bottom of the hill and you will arrive at my house.

A Response to Barghouti’s “I Saw Ramallah” by Liz Burkemper

Liz Burkemper shared this with me, and I am happy to share it here.  Liz is a sophomore at George Washington University.

“The Occupation has created generations of us that have to adore an unknown beloved: distant, difficult, surrounded by guards, by walls, by nuclear missiles, by sheer terror.”  Themes of land, identity, and displacement color I Saw Ramallah, a lyrical memoir of lament by Mourid Barghouti. A Palestinian poet and intellectual, Barghouti was born in the agrarian village of Deir Ghassanah outside of Ramallah four years before the birth of the State of Israel.  The memoir explores Barghouti’s identity as one of the naziheen, or “displaced ones” — during his undergraduate study at Cairo University, Barghouti witnesses the fall of Ramallah to Israeli forces as part of the Six-Day War in 1967, leading to thirty years of exile from his homeland.  When Mourid finally returns to Palestine in 1996, the complexities of his relationship with the land become discernible.  Though he spends “a lifetime…trying to get here,” Mourid discovers that “it is enough for a person to go through the first experience of uprooting, to become uprooted forever.”

Barghouti’s story is told as much through his identity as a Palestinian exiled from the homeland for thirty years as it is through his naturally poetic soul.  Even when writing in prose, Barghouti offers a unique lyricism that is made manifest in the text.  At the beginning of the book, Mourid describes his first experience back in Palestine: “This then is the ‘Occupied Territory’?…When the eye sees it, it has all the clarity of earth and pebbles and hills and rocks…It stretches before me, as touchable as a scorpion, a bird, a well; visible as a field of chalk, as the prints of shoes.”  This passage brings to the story’s center the disconnect between the land of Palestine and its people created through decades of Israeli occupation.  While Palestine is called many words — the West Bank and Gaza, occupied Palestine, Israel, Judea and Samaria, the Areas — the land itself remains at once the Palestinian homeland and a concept talked about by actors who think that they know, a reality never to be known by Palestinians themselves.  Mourid continues to poetically narrate his return to Palestine: Read the rest of this entry »

He’s a Work-in-Progress

Perry

You said I could share anything with you.

Here’s my attempt with Metta.

Joel

 

May Albert Schlie be full of Metta.
May he be well.
May he know Joy.
That hypocritical fuck.

–from work-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

The Audacity of Impunity

Dear Carla and Perry
Some thoughts for you
Cal

A few weeks before in took office
Barack Obama said
No one is above the law.

But once he was in office
Bush and Company
Were above the law

What the Oval Office means is
Whoever occupies it
Is able the law

Maybe the Ferguson youth
Realized the irony of going to DC
To share their experiences with President Obama

Darren Wilson got away with it
He was above the law
Like the nation’s Chief Assassin himself

Why Translation Matters

Translation not only plays its important traditional role as the means that allows us access to literature  originally written in one of the countless languages we cannot read, but it also represents a concrete literary presence with the crucial capacity to ease and make more meaningful our relationship to those with whom we may not have had a connection before.  Translation always helps us to know, to see from a  different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar. As nations and individuals, we have a critical need for that kind of understanding and insight. The alternative is unthinkable.

–Edith Grossman, translator of Don Quixote, author of Why Translation Matters

 

A Path with Pith

With the sangha a few years ago, I read many of the Buddhist sutras as well as Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentaries. It’s good to plunge in and read these classic texts in community. However, the Lotus Sutra was a bit too much for us and we didn’t finish. Perhaps I will resume it next year.

Nhat Hanh’s book The Path of Emancipation (Parallax Press, 2000) is based on talks and answers to questions from a 21-day retreat. While he addresses many themes in depth, what I find most useful are his short teachings, one-liners even, which, if I summon them at the right moment, are conducive to happiness, peace, and appreciation.

Here is a sample…

“The first element of the practice is to stop struggling.”

“Taking refuge in the Sangha is not a declaration of faith. It is a practice.”

“Everywhere is Plum Village.”

“The flower and the sunshine inter-are.”

“‘The here and now’ is the address of your true home, its zip code.” Read the rest of this entry »

On the New York Literary Establishment in the Fifties

“There’s no room for youth and vitality in New York. It is a city full of guilty academicians.”
–Gregory Corso

“Too big, too multiple, too jaded.”
–Jack Kerouac

“We want everyone to know that we had to leave the Village to find fulfillment and recognition.”
–Allen Ginsberg

— Interview in Village Voice; in Allen Ginsberg, Journals Mid-Fifties 1954-1958, edited by Gordon Ball