Sunday, April 30, 2006

ORWELL:ENROUTE BACK TO BARCELONA


They had put us into ordinary third-class carriages with wooden seats, and many of the men were badly wounded and had only got out of bed for the first time that morning. Before long, what with the heat and the jolting, half of them were in a state of collapse and several vomited on the floor. The hospital orderly threaded his way among the corpse--like forms that sprawled everywhere, carrying a large goatskin bottle full of water which he squirted into this mouth or that. It was beastly water; I remember the taste of it still. We got into Tarragona as the sun was getting low. The line runs along the shore a stone's throw from the sea. As our train drew into the station a troop-train full of men from the International Column was drawing out, and a knot of people on the bridge were waving to them. It was a very long train, packed to bursting-point with men, with field-guns lashed on the open trucks and more men clustering round the guns. I remember with peculiar vividness the spectacle of that train passing in the yellow evening light; window after window full of dark, smiling faces, the long tilted barrels of the guns, the scarlet scarves fluttering--all this gliding slowly past us against a turquoise-coloured sea. 'Extranjeros--foreigners,' said someone. 'They're Italians. 'Obviously they were Italians. No other people could have grouped themselves so picturesquely or returned the salutes of the crowd with so much grace--a grace that was none the less because about half the men on the train were drinking out of up-ended wine bottles. We heard afterwards that these were some of the troops who won the great victory at Guadalajara in March; they had been on leave and were being transferred to the Aragon front. Most of them, I am afraid, were killed at Huesca only a few weeks later. The men who were well enough to stand had moved across the carriage to cheer the Italians as they went past. A crutch waved out of the window; bandaged forearms made the Red Salute. It was like an allegorical picture of war; the trainload of fresh men gliding proudly up the line, the maimed men sliding slowly down, and all the while the guns on the open trucks making one's heart leap as guns always do, and reviving that pernicious feeling, so difficult to get rid of, that war is glorious after all. The hospital at Tarragona was a very big one and full of wounded from all fronts. What wounds one saw there! They had a way of treating certain wounds which I suppose was in accordance with the latest medical practice, but which was peculiarly horrible to look at. This was to leave the wound completely open and unbandaged, but protected from flies by a net of butter-muslin, stretched over wires. Under the muslin you would see the red jelly of a half-healed wound. There was one man wounded in the face and throat who had his head inside a sort of spherical helmet of butter-muslin; his mouth was closed up and he breathed through a little tube that was fixed between his lips. Poor devil, he looked so lonely, wandering to and fro, looking at you through his muslin cage and unable to speak. I was three or four days at Tarragona. My strength was coming back, and one day, by going slowly, I managed to walk down as far as the beach. It was queer to see the seaside life going on almost as usual; the smart cafes along the promenade and the plump local bourgeoisie bathing and sunning themselves in deck-chairs as though there had not been a war within a thousand miles. Nevertheless, as it happened, I saw a bather drowned, which one would have thought impossible in that shallow and tepid sea. Finally, eight or nine days after leaving the front, I had my wound examined. In the surgery where newly-arrived cases were examined, doctors with huge pairs of shears were hacking away the breast-plates of plaster in which men with smashed ribs, collar-bones, and so forth had been cased at the dressing-stations behind the line; out of the neck-hole of the huge clumsy breast-plate you would see protruding an anxious, dirty face, scrubby with a week's beard. The doctor, a brisk, handsome man of about thirty, sat me down in a chair, grasped my tongue with a piece of rough gauze, pulled it out as far as it would go, thrust a dentist's mirror down my throat, and told me to say 'Eh!' After doing this till my tongue was bleeding and my eyes running with water, he told me that one vocal cord was paralysed. 'When shall I get my voice back?' I said. 'Your voice? Oh, you'll never get your voice back,' he said cheerfully. However, he was wrong, as it turned out. For about two months I could not speak much above a whisper, but after that my voice became normal rather suddenly, the other vocal cord having 'compensated'. The pain in my arm was due to the bullet having pierced a bunch of nerves at the back of the neck. It was a shooting pain like neuralgia, and it went on hurting continuously for about a month, especially at night, so that I did not get much sleep. The fingers of my right hand were also semi-paralysed. Even now, five months afterwards, my forefinger is still numb--a queer effect for a neck wound to have. The wound was a curiosity in a small way and various doctors examined it with much clicking of tongues and 'Que suerte! Qye suerte!' One of them told me with an air of authority that the bullet had missed the artery by 'about a millimetre'. I don't know how he knew. No one I met at this time--doctors, nurses, practicantes, or fellow-patients--failed to assure me that a man who is hit through the neck and survives it is the luckiest creature alive. I could not help thinking that it would be even luckier not to be hit at all.

Friday, April 28, 2006

CORTEZ THE KILLER


Not to be outdone by the Kid, I give you another post in honor of Neil Young's "Impeach The President", but with a "Channeling" twist. Here are the lyrics to "Cortez the Killer" which was banned in Spain by the Generalissimo hisself - fascists hate the truth....

"Cortez The Killer"
He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.
On the shore lay Montezuma
With his coca leaves and pearls
In his halls he often wondered
With the secrets of the worlds.
And his subjects
gathered 'round him
Like the leaves around a tree
In their clothes of many colors
For the angry gods to see.
And the women all were beautiful
And the men stood
straight and strong
They offered life in sacrifice
So that others could go on.
Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.
They carried them
to the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
with their bare hands
What we still can't do today.
And I know she's living there
And she loves me to this day
I still can't remember when
Or how I lost my way.
He came dancing across the water
Cortez, Cortez
What a killer.

STRATEGERY


“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

CAN YOU SPOT THE FASCIST?

Benevolent, progressive Falange goons enroute to the Dade County vote counting.....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

JOSE ANTONIO PRIMO dE RIVERA


We met some good guys, now one of the bad. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera was born in 1903 scion to a minor aristocratic family. His father, Miguel Primo de Rivera was a general in the Spanish army who would, in 1923 establish himself dictator of Spain, suspend the constitution, establish martial law, imposed strict censorship, and ban all political parties. Father and son were both slippery characters, couching their philosophies in the dialectical terms of socialists, a favored tactic of the fascists. Once in power, however their preferred methodology was propping up the traditional rule in Spain of the Church and Aristocracy while persecuting leftist political parties and train unions. Though Jose Antonio was captured and put to death by the Republic for his part in his Organization’s (the Falange) part in the uprising of the generals, his party was merged with Franco’s Carlists to form the one party that would rule Spain for the next 40 years. In the following speech made by him one can fairly easily discern his attempt to seduce individuals of all political stripes to participate in their own demise by buying into his B.S. His prose style in this respect reminds me of a certain extremely unpopular American politician, what do you all think?

"The Nation is a complete unity, wherein all individuals and all classes are integrated. The Nation is a transcendent and individual synthesis with ends of its own to achieve; and the state which it brings forth, shall be the efficient, authoritarian instrument which serves that unchallengeable, permanent, irrevocable unity which is called the Nation."
"We want less liberal verbiage and more respect for the deep liberty of man. Man's liberty is respected only when he is regarded as the corporeal envelope of a soul capable of damnation or of salvation. Only when he is thus regarded can his liberty be said to be truly respected, and still more so if that liberty is combined, as we demand, in a system of authority, hierarchy and order."
"We want all to feel they are members of a serious, complete community. In other words, there are clearly many kinds of tasks to be performed: some manual, some mental, others in the educational or social or cultural fields; but in a community such as we seek, let it be stated there must be no passengers and no drones."
"We want no song about individual rights of the kind that can never be enforced in the homes of the hungry. Instead, let every man, every member of the political community, simply by being a member of it, be given the means of earning a just and decent human livelihood by his work."
"We want the religious spirit, which is the keystone in the finest arches of our history, to be respected and supported as it deserves; but that does not mean that the State should either interfere in functions which do not belong to it."
"The Falange regards man as a combination of a body and a soul; that is, as capable of an eternal destiny and as the bearer of eternal values. Thus the maximum respect is paid to human dignity, to man's integrity and his freedom. But that profound freedom entitles nobody to undermine the foundations of public social life."
"The Falange cannot regard life as a merely interplay of economic factors. It rejects the materialistic interpretation of history. The spiritual has been and is the mainspring in the life of men and peoples."
"All revolutions have hitherto been incomplete, in that none of them has served both the national idea of the Nation and the idea of Social Justice at once. We (the Falange) combine those two things: the Nation and Social Justice, and upon those two unshakable principles we are categorically resolved to make our revolution."
"We realize that a nation is not merely the attractive force of the soil on which we are born, it is not that direct sentimental emotion that we all feel in the presence of our own earth, but a nation is a unity of destiny in the world order, it is a plane to which a people has risen when it fulfils a universal mission in history."
"Work is the best claim to civil dignity. Nothing can deserve more attention from the State than the dignity and welfare of workers."
"The first purpose of wealth is to improve the living conditions of the many, not to sacrifice the many to the luxury and profit of the few."
"Socialism proclaims the monstrous dogma of class warfare. It proclaims the dogma that warfare between the classes is indispensable and occurs naturally in life, because there can never be any appeasing agent. Thus socialism, which started out as a just critique of economic liberalism, has brought us by a different route to the same pass as economic liberalism: disunity, hatred, separation, forgetfulness of every bond of brotherhood and solidarity between men."
"The Falange has certain coincidences with Fascism in essential points which are of universal validity; but it is daily acquiring a clearer outline of it's own, and is convinced that by following this path and no other it will find its most fruitful possibilities of development."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MIGUEL HERNANDEZ 1910-1942

Miguel Hernandez was one of the twentieth century’s most beloved Spanish Poets. Born in to an impoverished family in Orihuela ,Spain in 1910, Miguel herded goats for his father in the Alicante countryside he would later immortalize in his works. Pablo Neruda said of him “His face was the face of Spain”
Hernandez soldiered for the Republic for the entirety of the war and was captured trying to escape to Portugal after the fall of Barcelona. Captured by Franco’s minions he was imprisoned in Madrid in 1939. Admirers managed to secure his release, whereupon he returned to his beloved Orihuela, but was rearrested shortly thereafter and sentenced to death by Franco’s courts. The death sentence was commuted but nonetheless carried out, he contracted TB in the goal and died in 1942. Next to his prison cot his last poem was written, appropriately, on the wall….
“Farewell brothers, comrades, friends; Give my goodbyes to the sun and the wheatfields.”

Sitting upon the Dead


Sitting upon the dead
fallen silent these two months,
I kiss empty shoes
and make an angry fist
with the heart's hand
and the soul that drives it.
That my voice climb the mountains

and descend to earth as thunder:
this what my throat begs
now and forever.
Come close to my clamor,

people fed from the same breast,
tree whose roots
keep me in prison,
because I am here to love you
and I am here to defend you
with my blood and with my mouth
like two faithful rifles.
If I came out of the earth,

if I was born from a womb,
pitiful and poor,
it was only that I would become
the nightingale of the pitiful,
echo of bad luck,
to sing and to repeat
to those who must hear me
everything of pain,
everything of poverty,
everything of earth.
Yesterday the people woke

stripped and with nothing to cover themselves,
hungry and with nothing to eat,
and now today has dawned justly hateful
and justly bloody.
In their hands the rifles
long to become lions
to finish with ferocity those
who have been so many times ferocious.
Even if you have no weapons,

people of one hundred thousand strengths,
don't let your bones thin;
punish those who wound you
as long as you have fists,
fingernails, saliva, and you have
heart, entrails, guts,
testicles and teeth.
Wild as the wild wind,
gentle as the gentle air,
kill those who kill,
hate those who hate
the peace of your heart
and the womb of your women.
Don't let them stab you in the back,
live face to face and die
with your chest before the bullets,
large as a house.
I sing in grief's voice,

my people, for your heroes:
your desires like my own,
your misfortunes that have
the same metal and tears,
your suffering in the same grain
and of the same wood,
your thought and my mind,
your heart and my blood,
your pain and my laurels.
Life looks to me like
a barricade of nothingness.
I am here to live

while the soul permits,
and here to die,
when the hour arrives,
in the veins of the people
now and forever.
Life is a lot to swallow,
death is only a gulp.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

ORWELL IN SPAIN IV


They had just got me on to the stretcher when my paralysed right arm came to life and began hurting damnably. At the time I imagined that I must have broken it in falling; but the pain reassured me, for I knew that your sensations do not become more acute when you are dying. I began to feel more normal and to be sorry for the four poor devils who were sweating and slithering with the stretcher on their shoulders. It was a mile and a half to the ambulance, and vile going, over lumpy, slippery tracks. I knew what a sweat it was, having helped to carry a wounded man down a day or two earlier. The leaves of the silver poplars which, in places, fringed our trenches brushed against my face; I thought what a good thing it was to be alive in a world where silver poplars grow. But all the while the pain in my arm was diabolical, making me swear and then try not to swear, because every time I breathed too hard the blood bubbled out of my mouth. The doctor re-bandaged the wound, gave me a shot of morphia, and sent me off to Sietamo. The hospitals at Sietamo were hurriedly constructed wooden huts where the wounded were, as a rule, only kept for a few hours before being sent on to Barbastro or Lerida. I was dopey from morphia but still in great pain, practically unable to move and swallowing blood constantly. It was typical of Spanish hospital methods that while I was in this state the untrained nurse tried to force the regulation hospital meal--a huge meal of soup, eggs, greasy stew, and so forth--down my throat and seemed surprised when I would not take it. I asked for a cigarette, but this was one of the periods of tobacco famine and there was not a cigarette in the place. Presently two comrades who had got permission to leave the line for a few hours appeared at my bedside. 'Hullo! You're alive, are you? Good. We want your watch and your revolver and your electric torch. And your knife, if you've got one.' They made off with all my portable possessions. This always happened when a man was wounded--everything he possessed was promptly divided up; quite rightly, for watches, revolvers, and so forth were precious at the front and if they went down the line in a wounded man's kit they were certain to be stolen somewhere on the way. By the evening enough sick and wounded had trickled in to make up a few ambulance-loads, and they sent us on to Barbastro. What a journey! It used to be said that in this war you got well if you were wounded in the extremities, but always died of a wound in the abdomen. I now realized why. No one who was liable to bleed internally could have survived those miles of jolting over metal roads that had been smashed to pieces by heavy lorries and never repaired since the war began. Bang, bump, wallop! It took me back to my early childhood and a dreadful thing called the Wiggle-Woggle at the White City Exhibition. They had forgotten to tie us into the stretchers. I had enough strength in my left arm to hang on, but one poor wretch was spilt on to the floor and suffered God knows what agonies. Another, a walking case who was sitting in the corner of the ambulance, vomited all over the place. The hospital in Barbastro was very crowded, the beds so close together that they were almost touching. Next morning they loaded a number of us on to the hospital train and sent us down to Lerida. I was five or six days in Lerida. It was a big hospital, with sick, wounded, and ordinary civilian patients more or less jumbled up together. Some of the men in my ward had frightful wounds. In the next bed to me there was a youth with black hair who was suffering from some disease or other and was being given medicine that made his urine as green as emerald. His bed-bottle was one of the sights of the ward. An English-speaking Dutch Communist, having heard that there was an Englishman in the hospital, befriended me and brought me English newspapers. He had been ter-ribly wounded in the October fighting, and had somehow managed to settle down at Lerida hospital and had married one of the nurses. Thanks to his wound, one of his legs had shrivelled till it was no thicker than my arm. Two militiamen on leave, whom I had met my first week at the front, came in to see a wounded friend and recognized me. They were kids of about eighteen. They stood awkwardly beside my bed, trying to think of something to say, and then, as a way of demonstrating that they were sorry I was wounded, suddenly took all the tobacco out of their pockets, gave it to me, and fled before I could give it back. How typically Spanish! I discovered afterwards that you could not buy tobacco anywhere in the town and what they had given me was a week's ration.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

HELP WANTED


Let me preface this post by saying this weekend’s posts will not be all about me, Sunday I will post another segment of Orwell. And this poem does not speak so much of who I am, but rather where I was, at about 32 years of age…
HELP WANTED


What bitter and intransigent loves bind,
Us to our terrestrial trough,
Love of palate, of colon, hinds,
The getting on, the getting off.
Masticate, macerate, ejaculate how we will,
We add not one atom to our environs,
But rather forge, of our discordant fill,
Delicate chains and lovely irons.
Lest you think me drear lest me haste to state,
I find amusing our gyrations,
Our Rome and orgy, all things laid waste,
By our bodies’ recreations,
For dire as are man’s predilections,
Direr yet are all predictions,
If things are only to be worse,
We might as not fuck and swill and fill,
Our purse.

So prattled the poet drunken as we,
Slew together another soldier in the night.
He just juiced enough to loose his muses wildly,
Me, too drunk to type.
Were that he and I not one,
This tiresome struggle unnecessary,
Every schizoid anarchist poet bum,
Should come,
Equipped with secretary.

What petty and inconsequent hates blind,
Us to the celestial troth,
Hate of self, of others, kinds,
The pissing on, the pissing off.
Concentrate, segregate, annihilate whom we will,
We learn not a wit from our stupidities,
But rabble ‘round, murderous still,
Any despot who plucks our cupidities.
You I do not wear allow me to prate,
On of our desperate isolation,
Of the sadness of our present state,
Void of hope and inspiration,
For numerous as are man’s predicaments,
The most enduring and consequent,
His refusal to unhand and be free,
His maddening inability to see.

So muttered the wordman as I,
Contemplated turning down his bed.
He just sober enough to drag off his socks,
Me watching and shaking his head.
Were that he and I not one,
His anger makes life such a chore,
Every sotted pretender to Blake,
Should be,
Himself and no one more.
Durrati

Friday, April 21, 2006

Best of Durrati

Just a fun post, I wrote the damn things might as well have 'em in my archives too....

Most venerable and manly One, I hope you have enjoyed your downtime.

All this talk of mounted tapirs and LSD cults has this denizen of our less than fully celestialized planet's head spinning. There is so much under the fully populated Sun that I have heretofore been sorely ignorant. For example just where did the Prophet Brigham Young, a shining example of the benefits home schooling if I ever read one, locate the peyote cactus he obviously enjoyed as he employed his fair command of grammer and dearth of scientific knowledge to produce these writings? Did he perhaps use Joe Smith's "Seer Stone"?

"Joseph Smith, Jr.'s role in the quest for treasure was especially important since he had a seer stone. Joseph would place this small, special rock in his hat then pull the hat up to his face to block out all light. By doing this he claimed he could see supernaturally, and would help those who were digging by locating the place where the treasure was buried and observing the spirits that were guarding it. Joseph Jr., himself admitted to being a money digger, though he said it was never very profitable for him (History of the Church, V. 3, p. 29). He and his father's money digging continued until at least 1826. On March 20th of that year Joseph was arrested, brought before a judge, and charged with being a "glass-looker" and a disorderly person. The laws at that time had what was known as the "Vagrant Act." It defined a disorderly person as one who pretended to have skill in the areas of palmistry, telling fortunes or discovering where lost goods might be found. According to court records Justice Neely determined that Joseph was guilty, though no penalty was administered, quite possibly because this was a first offense (Inventing Mormonism, Marquardt and Walters, SLC: Signature Books, 1994, pp. 74-75).Shortly after this Joseph discontinued money digging but kept his seer stone. It was with the seer stone that he claimed to both find the plates and later produce the Book of Mormon. This was known by early converts but has since been replaced with later accounts of an angelic visitor. This transition was aided by downplaying the fact that Moroni was a dead Indian warrior, and by referring to him as an angel.'

Mounted tapirs now seem entirely plausable.

Friend demmocommie, I know of a rusted out two-toned '75 Torino on blocks you can have for the taking...

WhattheH, thanks for the missive which I will respond to shortly.ASV, your virginal powers are asset to the board but your avatar distracts the male visitors from their manly duties. Perhaps a likeness of "Major Tammy" might serve to guide our thoughts back to their preferred UberChristian paths...durrati Homepage 02.17.06 - 7:24 pm #

Thursday, April 20, 2006

CLAUDE SIMON


"If the reader find pleasure, let him continue. If not, let him throw the book away.The only criterion in the end is pleasure; all the other arguments are worthless."-Claude Simon
Claude Simon was born in Tananarive, on the island of Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. At that time Madagascar was a French colony. Simon's father, an army officer, was killed in 1914 in World War I. His childhood Simon spent in the city of Perpignan, near the Spanish border, where he was raised by his mother and her family.
Simon attended Collége Stanislas in Paris, and Lycée Saint-Louis for naval career, but was dismissed. He studied art with Andre Lhôte, and also studied at Oxford and Cambridge. In the 1930s he travelled in the Soviet Union. From 1934 to 1935 Simon served with the French army's Thirty-first Dragoons. During the Spanish Civil War, he became involved in gunrunning to the Republicans. With the outbreak of World War II, Simon rejoined the Dragoons, and took part in the Battle of Meuse in 1940. After being captured by the Germans, he was sent to a prison camp in Saxony. On the transition to a prison camp in France, he escaped and joined the Resistance. During the 1950's Simon energed as as a leader of the " nouveau roman" school of writing. His stream of concious meanderings, sparsely punctuated and defying all forms of grammatical oversight, were major influenceces on Kerouac and Vonnegut. In 1985 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature; the committee said of him - "who in his novel combines the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition"

From his 1985 Nobel Prize letter:

Simon's experiences during this war, like during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, have been of immense importance to him, constantly recurring in his writings. Cruelty and absurdity are the dominating things - unforeseeable. What is apparently well-planned ends in confusion and dissolution. Each one lives through his hardships and has to save himself as best he can. Simon's experiences from the Spanish Civil War were similar, depicted in Le Palace and his latest and most important novel, Les Géorgiques, 1981. For all the sympathies which he and others might have for those faithful to the government who fought against the fascists, it soon turned out that these government champions for their part could not follow any regular and intelligently planned strategies and operations. On the contrary, the fighters were split into factions and mutual strife, obstructions and hazardous enterprises. Simon's picture of the Spanish Civil War and of the intellectual idealists who wanted to find an ideologically clear reason in the fight against oppression, shapes itself into a version, at once grotesque and tragic, compassionate and ironic, of war's reality and of man's inability to guide his fate and correct his conditions. La Route des Flandres and Les Géorgiques are richly decorated compositions which, with sensuous perspicacity and linguistic invocation, conjure up an extremely complicated pattern of personal memories and family traditions, of experiences during modern war and of equivalents from bygone ages, to be exact the Napoleonic era. The parallels are the same. The violence and the absurdity are common to all, likewise the painful compassion and feeling that the author expresses in paradoxical contrast to the fascination that these phenomena obviously have for him. A similar feeling is characteristic of Simon's descriptions of erotic relationships. In these contexts too there is a fixation with violence and violation. The sexual contacts appear as conquests, the taking in possession, mountings which resemble what stallions and mares do, or outrages resembling what occurs in battle. A tragic feeling of life emerges also here - a picture of human loneliness and of how people are exposed to destructive passions and selfish impulses, disguised as vain striving for fellowship and intimacy.
Lots to chew on here, folks....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

LILLIAN HELLMAN AND DASHIELL HAMMETT

"There are people who eat earth and eat all the people on it like in the Bible with the locusts. And other people who stand around and watch them eat."

McCarthy’s assistant Roy Cohn questioned him about
a short story called “Night Shade,” which Hammett explained “had
to do with Negro-white relations...” “Did that story in any way re-
flect the Communist line?” asked Cohn. Hammett’s response: “That
is a difficult—on the word ‘reflect’I would say no, it didn’t reflect
it. It was against racism.”
"We met when I was twenty-four years old and he was thirty-six in a restaurant in Hollywood," Hellman recalled. "The five-day drunk had left the wonderful face looking rumpled, and the very tall thin figure was tired and sagged. We talked of T.S. Eliot, although I no longer remember what we said, and then went and sat in his car and talked at each other and over each other until it was daylight. We were to meet again a few days later, and, after that, on and sometimes off again for the rest of his life and thirty years of mine."
So began one of the great literary romances of the twentieth century, Dashiell Hammett, creator of the hard boiled detective series featuring Sam Spade and iconoclastic Southern playwright Lillian Hellman. Both did their duty for the Spanish Republic, visiting there during the war and speaking out in the U.S., and both, especially Hammett paying the price during the Red Scare. Dashiell would spend six months in jail for his sympathies although neither one ever actually joined the communist party. Hellman got off a bit easier, and for a reason she no doubt hated - “ In 1952 Hellman was called to appear before HUAC. She refused to reveal the names of associates and friends in the theater who might have Communist associations, but she wasn't charged with contempt of Congress. In a letter to the Committee she wrote: "But the hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group..." Hellman was excused by the committee with the remark: "Why cite her for contempt? After all, she is a woman..." ”
Hammett effectively stopped writing after the publication of his finest work “The Thin Man” in 1934 and despite their stormy relationship, was supported by Hellman for much of his life. He died virtually penniless in 1961 but as a veteran of the U.S. armed forces in both WW I and WW II was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Hellman, perhaps made of stronger stuff, overcame the political persecution to enjoy a long and colorful career which she capped with my personal favorite, her memoir, “Scoundrel Time”. Of her involvement with the hearings she said – “Truth made you a traitor as it often does in a time of scoundrels.”

Monday, April 17, 2006

PICASSO




What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who has only eyes, if he is a painter, or ears if he is a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he is a poet, or even, if he is a boxer, just his muscles? Far from it: at the same time, he is also a political being, constantly aware of the heartbreaking, passionate, or delightful things that happen in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How could it be possible to feel no interest in other people, and with a cool indifference to detach yourself from the very life which they bring to you so abundantly? No, painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.

PABLO PICASSO

Sunday, April 16, 2006

APOSTLES' SONG

Look at all my trials and tribulations
Sinking in a gentle pool of wine
What's that in the bread it's gone to my head
Till this evening is this morning life is fine
Always hoped that I'd be an apostle
Knew that I would make it if I tried
If I tried
Then when we retire we can write the gospels
So they'll still talk about us when we've died

Friday, April 14, 2006

EMMA GOLDMAN II


I am working hard this week, forgive me for cribbing, but I wanted to post some more about Emma, fine free spirit and anti-fascist that she was...

Emma Goldman was a legend in her own lifetime. Born in Lithuania on 27th June 1869, she emigrated to the United States with her sister Helena in 1885. Like so many other East European immigrants, she found work in a clothing factory. The following year four Chicago anarchists were executed.
They had been prominent trade union activists leading the struggle for an eight-hour day. Framed for a bombing, the authorities hoped that this would scare off the emerging trade union movement, especially its anarchist component. The international outcry which followed these executions on trumped up charges helped to shape Emma's radical and anarchist ideals, which lasted throughout her long life.
Emma Goldman was a formidable public speaker and a prolific writer. Her whole life was devoted to struggle and she was controversial even within the radical and anarchist movement itself. She was one of the first radicals to address the issue of homosexuality, she was a fighter for women's rights, and she advocated the virtues of free love. These ideas were viewed with suspicion by those who placed their faith in the cure-all solution of economic class warfare and they were denounced by many of her contemporaries as "bourgeois inspired" at best.
To mainstream Americans, Emma was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1.
A self proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 and this event unleashed a massive wave of anti-anarchist hysteria throughout the States. Emma was blamed for his action and was forced into hiding for a time. She was deported from the United States, Holland, France, and was denied entry to many other countries. None of this daunted her, she began publishing 'Mother Earth' magazine in 1906 and was very active in the No-Conscription League.
She shared a life long friendship with her political comrade Alexander Berkman. Both of them were deported from the USA to Russia in 1919. At first, Emma was excited to see at first hand the revolution she had fought to bring about all her life. However, it did not take long for her to realise that the Bolsheviks were not lovers of freedom nor partisans of workers' control. What had been created was a massive dictatorship. The suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion by the Bolsheviks In 1921 was too much for Emma and Berkman, and they left Russia in a state of disillusionment.
She spent the next number of years moving from country to country and writing a long series of articles and two books about her experiences and struggles. She eventually lived in Britain for many years where she wrote her autobiography and continued supporting workers' struggles in different parts of the world. Suffering from grave illness, Alexander Berkman committed suicide in 1936. Just a week later an anarchist inspired revolution erupted in Spain. Over the next three years Emma committed herself to the support of the anarchists and their fight against fascism and Stalinism.
Her long and incredible life came to an end in 1940. Only after her death was she admitted back into America where she was buried in Chicago near the Haymarket martyrs who had helped to shape her life.

A fine full biography...

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_archives/goldman/aando/bio.html

Thursday, April 13, 2006

GEORGE ORWELL IN SPAIN III


It was at the corner of the parapet, at five o'clock in the morning. This was always a dangerous time, because we had the dawn at our backs, and if you stuck your head above the parapet it was clearly outlined against the sky. I was talking to the sentries preparatory to changing the guard. Suddenly, in the very middle of saying something, I felt--it is very hard to describe what I felt, though I remember it with the utmost vividness. Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the centre of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all round me, and I felt a tremendous shock--no pain, only a violent shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shrivelled up to nothing. The sand-bags in front of me receded into immense distance. I fancy you would feel much the same if you were struck by lightning. I knew immediately that I was hit, but because of the seeming bang and flash I thought it was a rifle nearby that had gone off accidentally and shot me. All this happened in a space of time much less than a second. The next moment my knees crumpled up and I was falling, my head hitting the ground with a violent bang which, to my relief, did not hurt. I had a numb, dazed feeling, a consciousness of being very badly hurt, but no pain in the ordinary sense. The American sentry I had been talking to had started forward. 'Gosh! Are you hit?' People gathered round. There was the usual fuss--'Lift him up! Where's he hit? Get his shirt open!' etc., etc. The American called for a knife to cut my shirt open. I knew that there was one in my pocket and tried to get it out, but discovered that my right arm was paralysed. Not being in pain, I felt a vague satisfaction. This ought to please my wife, I thought; she had always wanted me to be wounded, which would save me from being killed when the great battle came. It was only now that it occurred to me to wonder where I was hit, and how badly; I could feel nothing, but I was conscious that the bullet had struck me somewhere in the front of the body. When I tried to speak I found that I had no voice, only a faint squeak, but at the second attempt I managed to ask where I was hit. In the throat, they said. Harry Webb, our stretcher-bearer, had brought a bandage and one of the little bottles of alcohol they gave us for field-dressings. As they lifted me up a lot of blood poured out of my mouth, and I heard a Spaniard behind me say that the bullet had gone clean through my neck. I felt the alcohol, which at ordinary times would sting like the devil, splash on to the wound as a pleasant coolness. They laid me down again while somebody fetched a stretcher. As soon as I knew that the bullet had gone clean through my neck I took it for granted that I was done for. I had never heard of a man or an animal getting a bullet through the middle of the neck and surviving it. The blood was dribbling out of the comer of my mouth. 'The artery's gone,' I thought. I wondered how long you last when your carotid artery is cut; not many minutes, presumably. Everything was very blurry. There must have been about two minutes during which I assumed that I was killed. And that too was interesting--I mean it is interesting to know what your thoughts would be at such a time. My first thought, conventionally enough, was for my wife. My second was a violent resentment at having to leave this world which, when all is said and done, suits me so well. I had time to feel this very vividly. The stupid mischance infuriated me. The meaninglessness of it! To be bumped off, not even in battle, but in this stale comer of the trenches, thanks to a moment's carelessness! I thought, too, of the man who had shot me-- wondered what he was like, whether he was a Spaniard or a foreigner, whether he knew he had got me, and so forth. I could not feel any resentment against him. I reflected that as he was a Fascist I would have killed him if I could, but that if he had been taken prisoner and brought before me at this moment I would merely have congratulated him on his good shooting. It may be, though, that if you were really dying your thoughts would be quite different.

THE SOUL ABSENT - GARCIA LORCA



The Soul Absent

Neither the bull nor the fig tree know you,
nor your horses, nor the ants under your floor.
Neither the child nor the evening know you,
because you have died forever.

The spine of rock does not know you,
nor the black satin where you are ruined,
Your mute remembrance does not know you,
because you have died forever.

Autumn will come with its snails,
grapes in mist, and clustered mountains,
but no one will want to gaze in your eyes,
because you have died forever.

Because you have died forever,
like all the dead of the Earth,
like all the dead forgotten
in a pile of lifeless curs.

No one knows you. No. But I sing of you.
I sing for others your profile and grace.
The famed ripeness of your understanding.
Your appetite for death, pleasure in its savour.
The sadness your valiant gaiety contained.

Not for a long time, if ever, will there be born,
an Andalusian so brilliant, so rich in adventure.
I sing his elegance in words that moan,
and remember a sad breeze through the olive-trees.
Garcia Lorca

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Emma



For the wiseasses a more flattering photo of Emma Goldman taken before she spent 50 years fighting for social justice...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

EMMA GOLDMAN


Now here was a dangerous mug. To mainstream Americans, Emma Goldman was known as a demonic "dynamite eating anarchist". She toured the States, agitating and lecturing everywhere she went. She was hounded for much of her life by FBI agents and was imprisoned in 1893, 1901, 1916, 1918, 1919, and 1921 on charges ranging from incitement to riot to advocating the use of birth control to opposition to World War 1. In 1937 she traveled to Spain to interview Buenaventura Durruti.


Durruti Is Dead, Yet Living By Emma Goldman


Durruti, whom I saw but a month ago, lost his life in the street-battles of Madrid. My previous knowledge of this stormy petrel of the Anarchist and revolutionary movement in Spain was merely from reading about him. On my arrival in Barcelona I learned many fascinating stories of Durruti and his column. They made me eager to go to the Aragon front, where he was the leading spirit of the brave and valiant militias, fighting against fascism.
I arrived at Durruti's headquarters towards evening, completely exhausted from the long drive over a rough road. A few moments with Durruti was like a strong tonic, refreshing and invigorating. Powerful of body as if hewn from the rocks of Montserrat, Durruti easily represented the most dominating figure among the Anarchists I had met since my arrival in Spain. His terrific energy electrified me as it seemed to effect everyone who came within its radius.
I found Durruti in a veritable beehive of activity. Men came and went, the telephone was constantly calling for Durruti. In addition was the deafening hammering of workers who were constructing a wooden shed for Durruti's staff. Through all the din and constant call on his time Durruti remained serene and patient. He received me as if he had known me all his life. The graciousness and warmth from a man engaged in a life and death struggle against fascism was something I had hardly expected.
I had heard much about Durruti's mastery over the column that went by his name. I was curious to learn by what means other than military drive he had succeeded in welding together 10,000 volunteers without previous military training and experience of any sort. Durruti seemed surprised that I, an old Anarchist should even ask such a question.
"I have been an Anarchist all my life," he replied, "I hope I have remained one. I should consider it very sad indeed, had I to turn into a general and rule the men with a military rod. They have come to me voluntarily, they are ready to stake their lives in our antifascist fight. I believe, as I always have, in freedom. The freedom which rests on the sense of responsibility. I consider discipline indispensable, but it must be inner discipline, motivated by a common purpose and a strong feeling of comradeship." He had gained the confidence of the men and their affection because he had never played the part of a superior. He was one of them. He ate and slept as simply as they did. Often even denying himself his own portion for one weak or sick, and needing more than he. And he shared their danger in every battle. That was no doubt the secret of Durruti's success with his column. The men adored him. They not only carried out all his instructions, they were ready to follow him in the most perilous venture to repulse the fascist position.
I had arrived on the eve of an attack Durruti had prepared for the following morning. At daybreak Durruti, like the rest of the militia with his rifle over his shoulder, led the way. Together with them he drove the enemy back four kilometers, and he also succeeded in capturing a considerable amount of arms the enemies had left behind in their flight.
The moral example of simple equality was by no means the only explanation of Durruti's influence. There was another, his capacity to make the militiamen realize the deeper meaning of the antifascist war--the meaning that had dominated his own life and that he had learned to articulate to the poorest and most undeveloped of the poor.
Durruti told me of his approach to the difficult problems of the men who come for leave of absence at moments when they were most needed at the front. The men evidently knew their leader--they knew his decisiveness--his iron will. But also they knew the sympathy and gentleness hidden behind his austere exterior. How could he resist when the men told him of illness at home--parents, wife or child?
Durruti hounded before the glorious days of July 1936, like a wild beast from country to country. Imprisoned time on end as a criminal. Even condemned to death. He, the hated Anarchist, hated by the sinister trinity, the bourgeoisie, the state and the church. This homeless vagabond incapable of feeling as the whole capitalistic puck proclaimed. How little they knew Durruti. How little they understood his loving heart. He had never remained indifferent to the needs of his fellows. Now however, he was engaged in a desperate struggle with fascism in the defense of the Revolution, and every man was needed at his place. Verily a difficult situation to meet. But Durruti's ingeniousness conquered all difficulties. He listened patiently to the story of woe and then held forth on the cause of illness among the poor. Overwork, malnutrition, lack of air, lack of joy in life.
"Don't you see comrade, the war you and I are waging is to safeguard our Revolution and the Revolution is to do away with the misery and suffering of the poor. We must conquer our fascist enemy. We must win the war. You are an essential part of it. Don't you see, comrade?" Durruti's comrades did see, they usually remained.
Sometimes one would prove abdurate, and insist on leaving the front. "All right," Durruti tells him, "but you will go on foot, and by the time you reach your village, everybody will know that your courage had failed you, that you have run away, that you have shirked your self-imposed task." That worked like magic. The man pleads to remain. No military brow-beating, no coercion, no disciplinary punishment to hold the Durruti column at the front. Only the vulcanic energy of the man carries everyone along and makes them feel as one with him.
A great man this Anarchist Durruti, a born leader and teacher of men, thoughtful and tender comrade all in one. And now Durruti is dead. His great heart beats no more. His powerful body felled down like a giant tree. And yet, and yet--Durruti is not dead. The hundreds of thousands that turned out Sunday, November 22nd, 1936, to pay Durruti their last tribute have testified to that.
No, Durruti is not dead. The fires of his flaming spirit lighted in all who knew and loved him, can never be extinguished. Already the masses have lifted high the torch that fell from Durruti's hand. Triumphantly they are carrying it before them on the path Durruti had blazoned for many years. The path that leads to the highest summit of Durruti's ideal. This ideal was Anarchism--the grand passion of Durruti's life. He had served it utterly. He remained faithful to it until his last breath.
If proof were needed of Durruti's tenderness his concern in my safety gave it to me. There was no place to house me for the night at the General-Staff quarters. And the nearest village was Pina. But it had been repeatedly bombarded by the fascists. Durruti was loathe to send me there. I insisted it was alright. One dies but once. I could see the pride in his face that his old comrade had no fear. He let me go under strong guard.
I was grateful to him because it gave me a rare chance to meet many of the comrades in arms of Durruti and also to speak with the people of the village. The spirit of these much-tried victims of fascism was most impressive.
The enemy was only a short distance from Pina on the other side of a creek. But there was no fear or weakness among the people. Heroically they fought on. "Rather dead, than fascist rule," they told me. "We stand and fall with Durruti in the antifascist fight to the last man."
In Pina I discovered a child of eight years old, an orphan who had already been harnessed to daily toil with a fascist family. Her tiny hands were red and swollen. Her eyes, full of horror from the dreadful shocks she had already suffered at the hands of Franco's hirelings. The people of Pina are pitifully poor. Yet everyone gave this ill-treated child care and love she had never known before.
The European Press has from the very beginning of the antifascist war competed with each other in calumny and vilification of the Spanish defenders of liberty. Not a day during the last four months but what these satraps of European fascism did not write the most sensational reports of atrocities committed by the revolutionary forces. Every day the readers of these yellow sheets were fed on the riots and disorders in Barcelona and other towns and villages, free from the fascist invasion.
Having travelled over the whole of Catalonia, Aragon, and the Levante, having visited every city and village on the way, I can testify that there is not one word of truth in any of the bloodcurdling accounts I had read in some of the British and Continental press.
A recent example of the utter unscrupulous news-fabrication was furnished by some of the papers in regard to the death of the Anarchist and heroic leader of the antifascist struggle, Buenaventura Durruti.
According to this perfectly absurd account, Durruti's death is supposed to have called forth violent dissension and outbreaks in Barcelona among the comrades of the dead revolutionary hero Durruti.
Whoever it was who wrote this preposterous invention he could not have been in Barcelona. Much less know the place of Buenaventura Durruti in the hearts of the members of the CNT and FAI. Indeed, in the hearts and estimation of all regardless of their divergence with Durruti's political and social ideas.
In point of truth, there never was such complete oneness in the ranks of the popular front in Catalonia, as from the moment when the news of Durruti's death became known until the last when he was laid to rest.
Every party of every political tendency fighting Spanish fascism turned out en masse to pay loving tribute to Buenaventura Durruti. But not only the direct comrades of Durruti, numbering hundreds of thousands and all the allies in the antifascist struggle, the largest part of the population of Barcelona represented an incessant stream of humanity. All had come to participate in the long and exhausting funeral procession. Never before had Barcelona witnessed such a human sea whose silent grief rose and fell in complete unison.
As to the comrades of Durruti--comrades closely knit by their ideal and the comrades of the gallant column he had created. Their admiration, their love, their devotion and respect left no place for discord and dissension. They were as one in their grief and in their determination to continue the battle against fascism and for the realization of the Revolution for which Durruti had lived, fought and had staked his all until his last breath.
No, Durruti is not dead! He is more alive than living. His glorious example will now be emulated by all the Catalan workers and peasants, by all the oppressed and disinherited. The memory of Durruti's courage and fortitude will spur them on to great deeds until fascism has been slain. Then the real work will begin--the work on the new social structure of human value, justice and freedom.
No, no! Durruti is not dead! He lives in us for ever and ever
.

Monday, April 10, 2006

REPOST: ILYA EHRENBURG



I hate to risk boring whattheheh, but as I have at least three new readers who probably haven't seen this, here goes. With a war raging in Iraq that threatens to spread to Iran, the fascists in our goverment against the fascists in theirs, I though this informative rant might just be timely...


Now here’s a guy who could lay down some serious smack against the fascists. Some thought, too serious. He is a controversial figure for his propaganda writings from Moscow during WWII when he exhorted soldiers of the Red Army to kill Nazi invaders in the strongest terms possible. Perhaps he did go too far as the Red Army desecrated Hitler’s fatherland encouraging the raping of German women as well. But then, they were wearing clothing and jewelry sacked from his country. Whatever your feelings about that there is no doubt that no one of his generation countered Hitler’s propaganda more forcefully. He reported on the Spanish War for several Russian Newspapers, drinking with Papa Hemmingway in Barcelona. A few words from the master:

“Unappeasable dark spite ignites the heart of fascism. This is the spite of the Ruhr magnates who in the twenties of this century became frightened of the morning dawn, of the maturity of nations, and of the idea of justice. This is the spite of Krupp, of Voegler, of the owners of Fiat and of Schneider who have called in a band of adventurers and unscrupulous killers for assistance. This is the spite of the Prussian barons, of the Andalusian earls, the Rumanian boyars and the Hungarian counts, the untalented and feeble-minded epigones of a once splendid world who look upon countries as hunting grounds with hounds, and at the peasants who collect acorns on the lord’s land as game. This is the spite of the little, ignorant, petty bourgeois, who is revolted by the complexity of culture, by the boldness of thought, and by progress. This is the spite of failures, of provincial Caesars, backwoods Napoleons who are thirsting to enter history, even if by the back door. This is the spite of the renegades who strive to defile everything that they once loved. This is the spite of old age, soullessness, and death.The Italian fascists, coming out onto the stage, dressing themselves up in black shirts, have established the cult of the she wolf and have adopted from the wolf pack the “Alala”. The Spanish Falangists have introduced the ritual of “betrothal and death”, carrying their banners to cemeteries, holding processions with naked hunchbacks, God’s fools, and gravediggers – processions resembling the nightmarish visions of Goya. The French Cagoulards put on blind capes taken from the Middle Ages born out of plague epidemics. The German SS men wear skull and crossbones on their sleeves. Goering has revived the executioner in a frock coat with an axe. Himmler has transferred into his torture chambers the torture instruments kept in the Nuremberg Museum. Even the Fascist window-dressing bears witness to black, desperate spite.Fascism is a monumental attempt to halt the course of history. It has resurrected certain rituals and delusions of the Middle Ages, but the peoples of the Middle Ages did not live only by these rituals and delusions; within them there burned a genuine faith; they created wonderful cathedrals, remarkable epic poems; with their labor, their ecstacy, even with their ignorance they prepared for the age of the Renaissance. The Fascists must not be compared with the peoples of the Middle Ages. They live in a different epoch. They attempted to abandon the concept of time; this explains their sterility. Of course Italy’s grapes still continued to yield wine even under Mussolini; of course Germany’s factories continued to function even under Hitler. But the Fascists did not create anything. They only mobilized contemporary technology for the struggle against the spirit of the time. They turned all achievements of civilization towards destruction.Italy was justly considered the land of the arts. Fascism did not give birth to any artists; Fascism killed artists. Can the Italian people be proud of the conquest of Ethiopia, which was subsequently lost, proud of the use of mustard gas against unarmed herdsmen, proud of the destruction of Malaga, of the shootings in Greece and the gallows in the Ukraine? Did the spirit of Da Vinci, Dante, Petrarch, Leopardi, Garibaldi express itself in these crimes? When reading the illiterate and dull books of Rosenberg , the articles of Goebbles and Streicher, can we find therein a shadow of German genius, the lucidity of Goethe, the complexity of Hengel, the love of freedom of the romantics? The destruction of hundreds of cities, Europe turned into a desert – such is the creative activity of Fascism. Countries cleared of people and the human head cleared of thought – this is Hitler’s ideal.It is not surprising that Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity, people with a slovenly biography, sadists, mental freaks, traitors. The untalented painter Hitler, the untalented novelist Goebbles, the untalented dramatist Mussolini - is it not striking that at the head of Fascists States there are people who dreamed of artistic laurels and were denounced as mountebanks? Fascism attracts all renegades. Judas hanged himself out of sorrow. The Fascist Judases prefer to hang others. Mussolini appeased his spite by the killing of two former comrades – socialists. In France Hitler found two followers, two apostates - Laval and Doriot. Sexual perversion and, in the first place, sadism have become a stronghold of Fascism. The morphine addict Goering, the lecher Goebbles, the sadist Himmler,”Doctor” Ley, the specialist in seducing those underage, degenerates about whose whereabouts directors of prisons and hospitals should be arguing, found themselves in ministerial positions."

There is more, it was a long rant, but you get the idea…

Saturday, April 08, 2006

POLITICAL SCIENCE



In honor of all the news reports breaking of Bush's intention to strike Iran, including the use of Nukes, I give you....

Political Science
Randy Newman
No one likes us-I don't know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let's drop the big one and see what happens
We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they're spiteful and they're hateful
They don't respect us-so let's surprise them
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them
Asia's crowded and Europe's too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada's too cold
And South America stole our name
Let's drop the big one
There'll be no one left to blame us
We'll save Australia
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo
We'll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin', too
Boom goes London and boom Paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We'll set everybody free
You'll wear a Japanese kimono
And there'll be Italian shoes for me
They all hate us anyhow
So let's drop the big one now
Let's drop the big one now

Friday, April 07, 2006

MEET THE ADMIRAL II



Just to change gears a bit, more of the admiral's doings...

When I first wnet to Santa Eulalia, I hired a house for a friend who was coming and asked Plat‚ if he would make a garden in front of it. He refused, politely but firmly, and later that day Cosmi told me why. The land had formerly been Plat‚'s own. In fact, Plat‚ had been one of the largest landowners in the town, years back. It seemed that he had had a wife of whome he was very fond, and the wife ha developed some ailment that had baffled not only the island doctor's (of whom the least said the better) but doctors on the mainland as well. Plat‚ had worried until he was ill, too, and had spent a fortune trying to cure her. After she died, Plat‚ started drinking and gambling until he had lost everything he had left. He was unhappy and morose to the point of madness until the remains of his property and money were gone. Then suddenly he became aloof and merry. He moved into a little shack not larger than eight feet by four, on the top of the hill beside the church, slept on straww, fished for his meals and worked only when he needed wine, maybe six hours a week. One of the jobs he would consent to do now and then was to fetch bundles of rosemary for kindling fires, and each morning the fragrant smoke of rosemary would pervade the town.

Old friends! Beloved island of Ibiza! My chosen town! How can I believe that you are of the past, cut off from me as irrevocably as the legendary days of the Moors, the camps of the Romans, the settlements of Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Iberians, all lost in the mirrors of history? You are not all dead, my former comrades. There are dawns in unending series to come, and the rising moon will lift the identical shape of Ibiza from the darkened sea. Shall I ever find your equal or your equivalent? Can I survive another transplantation? Shall I be always saying, "Those were the good old days. They have been destroyed." Or can I keep those scenes a while by re-enacting them, with a pin on the discs of my brain, until they are worn and emit false tones and eventually are discarded?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"Sacred Cows make the best hamburger." - Twain

ERICA JONG - AUTHENTIC FEMINIST


Off topic but to the point...

Flying high Her erotic, taboo-busting bestseller, Fear of Flying, was a sensation 30 years ago. But what does Erica Jong think of it now? Sharon KrumThursday July 17, 2003The Guardian
The woman who gave us the Zipless Fuck is going to be a grandmother. "A friend of mine said, when the baby arrives, he's going to start calling me the Zipless Granny." Erica Jong doubles over with laughter, and frankly, she is right to. Anyone harbouring visions of Jong sitting in a rocking chair, knitting baby booties, should get over it. At 61, she is still as lusty and provocative as the woman who penned the phrase three decades ago. Only today she doesn't regard the resultant notoriety as a millstone.

"I used to worry they would put zipless fuck on my tombstone," confesses Jong, who still has that thick, blonde mane, throaty laugh and throws four-letter words around like confetti. "I don't any more though. I know it's rare for a book to touch so many lives, and I am really humbled by it."
The book, of course, was Fear of Flying, and it has just been reissued to celebrate its 30th anniversary. For those too young in 1973 to either read it or remember the frenzy, just know it was the Harry Potter of its time. Except, Fear of Flying's obsessive readers were not children, but women stuck in mundane marriages, having lacklustre sex, shocked that their lives had become reduced to the sink and the see-saw.
Fear of Flying, with its talk-dirty-to-me dialogue and sexually unsatisfied wife as protagonist, was their salvation. "I know that psychiatrists were recommending the book to female patients. There were so many women then who couldn't fantasise or masturbate because they were so uptight, and here was a book that said, go ahead," says Jong.
Fear Of Flying tells the story of Isadora Wing, a 29-year-old writer five years into her second marriage to psychiatrist Dr Bennett Wing. Like all women who came of age in the 50s, Isadora was raised to believe that marriage was just like a Doris Day movie. "Nobody bothered to tell you what marriage was really about," says Isadora when she discovers the American fantasy of marriage is a crock. "You weren't even provided, like European girls, with a philosophy of cynicism and practicality.
"Even if you loved your husband, there came that inevitable year when fucking him turned as bland as Velveeta cheese: filling, fattening even, but no thrill to the tastebuds, no bittersweet edge, no danger."
As Isadora's marriage unravels, she escapes into the arms of a British psychoanalyst and, as they travel through Europe, she mentally revisits past relationships, lovers and the sexual fantasies that sustained her when the aforementioned bombed in bed. Her ultimate was the now infamous Zipless Fuck, a phrase Jong had no idea would enter the popular lexicon. "The fantasy was to have sex that was just totally wild and dreamlike. Nothing real or messy, " she says.
As Jong wrote in Fear of Flying: "The zipless fuck was more than a fuck. It was a platonic ideal. Zipless because when you came together zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff. Tongues intertwined and turned liquid. Your whole soul flowed out through your tongue and into the mouth of your lover." Jong's honesty about the tedium of marriage, coupled with her frank dialogue, turned the book into a phenomenon. "To women who grew up in the 50s and had an uneasy relationship to sexual revolution in the 60s," says feminist author Phyllis Chesler, "Erica brought them to a personal reckoning with identity, including their sexuality. For them this was life altering."
Jong was born in New York City into a neurotic Jewish family straight from central casting. She began writing as a child, studied 18th-century literature, and published her first book of poetry, the erotic Fruits and Vegetables, in 1971. Though she claims she has been a feminist since her teens - "I watched my mother, a great painter, sidelined because she was a woman. Her anger powered my feminism" - she began her first novel in the male voice. "I didn't think anyone would be interested in a woman's point of view."
When her publisher read her male novel, he kindly suggested she shelve it. "He said, 'Why don't you write a book in that fierce female voice of your poems?' And that freed me." Jong had read John Updike's Couples, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, and wondered why women weren't writing about their emotional and sexual lives with the same candour. Jong resolved to march readers into a woman's brain and her bedroom, then give them a front-row seat. Listen to Isadora on her husband: "He soared and glided when he screwed. He made marvellous dipping and corkscrewing motions. He stayed hard forever."
No surprise then when Fear of Flying was published, reaction was volcanic. Despite inroads made by the women's movement, in 1973, nice girls still didn't write about sex, let alone call it fucking. Social commentators blamed the blonde, mini-skirted Jong for encouraging promiscuity. But for mainstream feminists this was Christmas; a book that celebrated the sexually liberated female. And ordinary women from every social class, "many of whom never read novels", says Jong, clamoured for a copy. "They would say to me, this is my life. How did you get inside my head?"
But some critics got their knickers in an almighty twist. "Erica paid a terrible price when the book came out," says feminist Chesler. "She was a woman writing about sex and admitting she enjoyed it. She had to be punished. You can bet Roth was not treated this way." In America, though the New York Times called it a whiny, feminist novel, Updike raved - "[Chaucer's] Wife of Bath, were she young and gorgeous, neurotic and Jewish, urban and contemporary, might have written like this." And Miller gushed: "This book will make literary history... because of it, women are going to find their own voice and give us great sagas of sex, life, joy and adventure."
"But when it came out in London, I got hateful reviews," Jong says, proceeding to recite one by Paul Theroux. "Erica Jong's witless heroine looms like a mammoth pudenda." Martin Amis dismissed Isadora's journey as "horrible and embarrassing", adding "for all her laborious sensitivity to experience, Miss Jong's skin is light years thick when it comes to creativity."
"When I read that shit from Amis oh," she screams. "Reviews used to get to me, but they don't bother me any more. To hell with them. I'm still here." Indeed she is, and 30 years after turning the culture on its head, Jong is still annoying people, which she loves. "I took it as my life's work to write about the inner lives of women, and to do it properly that means the emotional and sexual. And when you do that in a culture that is still so puritanical, people are going to give you shit. I don't mind."
What she does mind are young women today who refuse to call themselves feminists and insist the women's movement is obsolete. "They think equal pay and women talking dirty on Sex and the City means we've won, we don't need to fight any more," says Jong, rolling her eyes. A committed feminist, she lectures widely on women's rights, and yet has been branded a traitor to the cause by militants because she supports pornography. Her avowed love and need for men hasn't helped her feminist cred either, not that she cares. Jong has married four times, and calls current husband, lawyer Ken Burrows, "my soulmate".
But Jong knows the feminist revolution is hardly over. "I understand a woman writing about sex 30 years ago was shocking. What bothers me is that nothing seems to have changed." People are still unhappy with their sex lives. As she wrote recently: "Perhaps the problem is not in our marriages but in our expectations. Everything we see on television, in the movies, tells us that passion is the norm in life so we feel deprived when we don't get it. How come Sarah Jessica Parker gets it and we don't? How come Demi Moore gets it and we don't? And our glossy mags would do well to stop teasing us with the impossible while pretending to be helping us."
"The truth is that ziplessness has always been a platonic ideal rather than a daily reality. Yes, wild passionate sex exists. It can even exist in marriage. But it is occasional, not daily."
Jong says feminists can only pack up and go home when women can write erotica and our culture will consider it literary, not dirty. And that hasn't happened yet. "I was amazed when Sappho's Leap came out [Jong's book which was published in the US earlier this year] and I am still getting bullshit about writing about sex."
Recently Jong spoke to a female English literature class studying Fear of Flying. It upset her that the students identified with Isadora so much. "They told me they still feel the conflict between motherhood and a career, and that women in touch with their sexuality are still sluts. I was devastated. How can anyone think the women's movement is irrelevant when you hear that?" she shrieks tearing at her hair. "It just tells me we still have a lot of work to do creating a society where women's sexuality can be powerful and we aren't afraid of it."

FELICIA BROWNE


Felicia Browne was the first British subject to die in the Spanish Civil War. An accomplished sculptress and artist she was active in the communist party. On vacation in Barcelona in July,1936 when the General's rose in opposition to the Republic, she, without hesitation, and fending off considerable discouragement from friends and party officials, joined a communist militia. On the 25th of August, 1936 Felicia was killed in action on the Aragon Front, part of a band of raiders that attempted to dynamite a Facist munitions train. She was 32 years old. Unfortunately very little other than these facts are available on the web. I cannot even find a photo. Above left is one of her sketches; above right we have a photo of her mother British stage actress Edith Johnston. From Felicia's obit:

The newspapers can be relied upon to make capital out of the fact that she was a woman, and she was the last person to wish to lay any undue stress upon the significance of this fact. But it has significance. She had it in her to represent the very best type of the new woman, but the kind of upbringing to which she was automatically subjected and and the forces with which she had to compete in a society where commercial values are preeminent, seriously and unnecessarily delayed her in harmonising all the remarkable powers within her.
She had most of the best human characteristics, but she conceived her own variety more as a source of opposition than of enjoyment. She was without guile, duplicity or vanity; painfully truthful and honest, immensely kind and generous, completely humane, loving any aspect of livingness, and as capable of enormous humour as she was deeply serious. She was gifted at every craft that she tried, a witty letter-writer, an amusing cartoonist, a vital and interesting companion, and socially much too gracious to belong credibly to the twentieth century. She was enormously well read, with a literary visual capacity which would have made her an excellent illustrator, particularly of Dante and Kafka, by whose strange and elaborate cosmogonies she became fascinated in the last year. She loved and appreciated good music and poetry, and whenever she got it, good food and drink - though materially she was remarkably careless and hopelessly generous.
But if her fighting was the expression of her deeply conscientious but less happy side, at least she had intellectual faith in the future. And she found happiness at the end, as far as one can judge from her letters, in a real sense of comradeship with her fellow militiamen. Intellectually she was quite clear about what was necessary for the next few years other life. In a letter to a friend written just before she went to Spain she said, 'You say I am escaping and evading things by not painting or making sculpture. If there is no painting or sculpture to be made, I cannot make it. I can only make out of what is valid and urgent to me. If painting or sculpture were more valid or urgent to me than the earthquake which is happening in the revolution, or if these two were reconciled so that the demands of the one didn't conflict (in time, even, or concentration) with the demands of the other, I should paint or make sculpture.'