Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turning 72

Sending this virtual tart to those who celebrated my birthday with me:

I am certainly saturated with the loving kindness of my friends after a week-long series of celebrations of my birthday. Don't do it again. You will kill me with kindness. I hesitate to include the names and photos of people I know on the blog, never certain whether they will want that, but there was food, flowers, music, more attention than any one person can endure. Here are some of the results:

And at last I go to sleep under my birthday lei -- Yes, the kind that's spelled l-e-i

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Code Pink's Monthly Golden Gate Bridge Demonstration

Hurrah for Code Pink (who have the determination and vigor of the Suffragettes). In this photogaphy by Jess, friend Martha Hubert is in the lead!

Karen Emmerich at the Center for the Art of Translation

Click twice on the title above for a slide show of Ms. Emmerich speaking.

On 12 May 2009, friend Martha Hubert and I went to see Karen Emmerich at one of the Center for the Art of Translation's 12:30-1:30 events. She read from her translations of 20th century Greek writers, beginning with selections from I'D LIKE, described as "a collection of thirteen linked stories by Amanda Michalopoulou, in which the characters are brought together by the repetition of seemingly random details: blossoming almond trees, red berets, bleeding feet, and accidents both large and small." Then Ms. Emmerich read selections from translations in process -- a novel by "feminist writer Margarita Karapanou," and "short stories by Ersi Sotiropoulou, a controversial writer whose award-winning novel ZIG-ZAG THROUGH THE BITTER ORANGE TREES was recently removed from school libraries throughout Greece." She is also translating "nine short books by the experimental poet and art critic Eleni Vakalo, work for which she received a 2007 Translation Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts." She has received numerous other awards and teaches Greek and writing at Columbia University. Finally Ms. Emmerich she read from POEMS (1945-1971) by Miltos Sachtouris, for which she was "the first translator to receive a nomination for the National Book Critics' Circle Prize in Poetry." She described Sachtouris as never having recovered from the horrors of World War II so that his poetry has a searing and bloody imagery, reminiscent perhaps of Mayakovsky.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fortunate websites

Old friend E.J. in Idaho has advised me of some civilized and useful websites:
You can connect with newspapers all over the country.
You can check radio stations.
Well, I have not checked it thoroughly yet, but it seems a a great warehouse of news sources
Arts and Letters Daily

He also let me know of a good station for endless classical music: Otto's Opera House. 1.FM. I found it under "Classical" on the radio lists on iTunes, but you can also sign up at their website to get a better idea of the variety available there.

Sand Paintings at Bhutan Exhibit

Embarcadero Tents, Oakland Derricks

Monday, May 04, 2009

Energy: Original and Derivative

What's that creature climbing up that pole?

Potato Sack

Plastic Potato Sack Resting on Photos of Sun Storms:

Things That Need to Be Said

1. Make it clear at every opportunity: Both the so-called Pro-Life people and the so-called Pro-Choice people are pro-life people, one for the life of a fetus – a life that is still a notion, someone who does not exist yet, and the other for the life of a grown woman who has a history and is known and loved. Remind anyone who challenges this that both sides are pro-life, while the pro-life side behaves as if the pro-choice people are Satanic killers. There is the other irony that some of the Pro-Life people, besides verbally abusing women, don’t mind being pro-death, killing doctors and bombing clinics. But rather than be drawn into a them-versus-us game, it is sufficient to explain that both sides of the argument are pro-life.

2. Old age is not a disease. Old age is not the same as death. In fact, old age is the ripening and fulfillment of all a person has been for a lifetime. In fact, old age is the ripening and fulfillment of all a person has been for a lifetime. There are endless advertisements, however, where people with worried faces are watching older relatives and friends as if they were looking for an admission of communist party membership. They are shown almost to have a certain of relief or satisfaction when an elder relative finally develops Alzheimer’s disease. How relieved they are to give their seniors the drug being advertised, and perhaps there is an added pleasure for them that the drug will torture these burdensome elders who go on clinging to life with numerous side effects, such as diaharrea, depression, heart failure. The worried relatives are finally content, having established old age as an illness, meaning that they, the younger, are not marked yet as people who will get sick and die. The youngest family members are also happy to see that the old will no longer get in the way of their youthful obsessions, frankly using the words “old person” as a description for something bothersome, repugnant, no longer fully human. Of course, if the older were not, in their maturity, more compassionate, they might let the younger know the great obstacle the young represent for civilized life. There is a constant outpouring of these commercial dramas, miniature sentimental films, worthy of satire.

3. Regretting my own time in the military during these decades of empire-driven wars, I must remember to be more understanding of veterans than I am of myself. Buffy Ste.-Marie’s UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, reminding every human in the service that they have made an existential choice to be there, is a message forever suppressed. But when I read the intelligent and sorrowful accounts of veterans who are also excellent poets, I know I need a more tolerant attitude toward them – and myself. There is also the most important fact – that many young men may be able to find no other work where they are except to join the military. That said, let me vent:

I forget the full list of terms used for war trauma over successive wars (“battle fatigue,” “soldier’s heart,” etc.). In World War I, the reality of the trauma was somewhat conveyed in the term “shell shock.” With the Iraq War, in the same way that they would not allow photographs of the coffins of the dead soldiers, it is infuriating that they disguise the effect of war with an abstraction, a series of initials, PTSD. How many translate PTSD each time they hear it into Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Does PTSD convey the weight of human tragedy? No, war must be antiseptic. I think we should all find some other way to translate those initials in some other way, such as the Pissed-Off and Totally Screwed Syndrome.

We are expected to respect the parents who still refuse to believe that the death of their children in Iraq was a sick joke they voted for, still repeating the reasons long proven as lies. We are expected to go along with the young, apolitical men for whom war was living out a fantasy of knights on crusade or the heroes of war movies. And when they come home with the Pissed-Off Totally Screwed Syndrome, and hate themselves for falling out of the war, feeling they are betraying their warrior buddies, or failing to fulfill the fantasy of being a hero, it is terrible that we don’t interrupt the parents who allow their children to see themselves as failures, reinforcing that self-hatred when the true cure would be for everyone to say, “Thank you for getting sick of killing people! I see that you are among the first members of a better human race. We are proud that you have become sickened with torture and killing. F--k manhood – Welcome to your humanity. We have enrolled you in one of our Peace Academies. We will be sending you out to high schools to teach young people the difference between movie comic book violence and the murder of actual human beings. You will teach them that political leaders are in no way their friends; that wars are not games, but the political manipulations of leaders who themselves would never get near a war zone.” How many join up without illusions, but simply because they need work? We really must have a bail-out for the young and desperate, forced into street crime or world crime – not, as in Germany, given the ability to choose an alternative service.