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Nadine Gordimer: After the Revolution [19 Jul 2014|08:57am]
I just heard the news this morning, on my way to the Farmer's Market. I just started reading her this year after hearing this interview on the BBC and reading several other articles related to the release of No Time Like the Present:

http://panmacmillan.bookslive.co.za/blog/2012/04/05/podcast-nadine-gordimer-speaks-to-bbc-radios-anne-mcelvoy/

The topic of the interview is 'what happens after the revolution' and it seemed an appropriate topic for her work and the time of her life.

She says, "We have been free for only 18 years. Not even a generation," and says that even the free world still struggles with the problems that plague South Africa.

NPR broadcast a short tribute this morning, cherry-picking extensively from her 1991 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Nadine Gordimer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, and in her Nobel address she said human beings devised writing to explore why we are here,

"Since humans became self-regarding they have sought, as well, explanations for the common phenomena of procreation, death, the cycle of seasons, the earth, sea, wind and stars, sun and moon, plenty and disaster," said Gordimer. "The oral story-tellers," she said, "began to feel out and formulate these mysteries, using the elements of daily life ... to make stories."

"Writers themselves don't analyze what they do," she said, "to analyze would be to look down while crossing a canyon on a tightrope."

Gordimer noted that, "Some of us have seen our books lie for years unread in our own countries, banned, and we have gone on writing." But she cited Flaubert, Strindberg, Chinua Achebe and Salman Rushdie more than herself.

"There is a paradox," she added. "In retaining this integrity, the writer sometimes must risk both the state's indictment of treason, and the liberation forces' complaint of lack of blind commitment. The writer is of service to humankind only insofar as the writer uses the word even against his or her own loyalties."


http://www.npr.org/2014/07/19/332634847/in-writing-nadine-gordimer-explored-why-were-all-here

To get the full impact of the speech, her fierce intelligence, complex style, and zealous devotion to the Word you should read it, in its original, here:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1991/gordimer-lecture.html

The writer is of service to humankind only insofar as the writer uses the word even against his or her own loyalties, trusts the state of being, as it is revealed, to hold somewhere in its complexity filaments of the cord of truth, able to be bound together, here and there, in art: trusts the state of being to yield somewhere fragmentary phrases of truth, which is the final word of words, never changed by our stumbling efforts to spell it out and write it down, never changed by lies, by semantic sophistry, by the dirtying of the word for the purposes of racism, sexism, prejudice, domination, the glorification of destruction, the curses and the praise-songs.
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Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi 1924-2014 [03 Jul 2014|08:02pm]
Reb Zalman died today. I met him earlier this year, quite by chance. To see him --- to hear him teach and sing --- was to feel the heart opening. I thought the moment was important enough to note here. How strange to login and find my last post (private) was about him. I feel like I've been trying to find the words for the experience all year.

Here is a link to his obituary:
http://www.yesodfoundation.org/Yesod-RZLP/Renewalist_Blog/Entries/2014/7/3_Rabbi_Zalman_Schachter-Shalomi%2C_Father_of_Jewish_Renewal%2C_Dies_at_89.html

Here is a link to my last post, which I have now unlocked:
http://zalena.livejournal.com/1416968.html
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[26 Nov 2013|07:23am]
This kind of satire is getting less relevant to me as I get older, but it's still funny. What do people get as second marriage gifts, I wonder?

http://thehairpin.com/2013/11/now-that-im-married-i-only-use-crystal#more
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Doris Lessing, Dies at Age 94 [17 Nov 2013|10:08am]
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/18/books/doris-lessing-novelist-who-won-2007-nobel-is-dead-at-94.html?_r=0

I can barely begin to articulate what her work has meant to me, suffice to say I think of her as a close relative in my family tree of influence. I wrote this in response to The Golden Notebook and I think it is as true today as the day I wrote it:

One of the themes she repeats is that sense, not just of destiny, or service, but sacred trust as an artist... in her case a writer who wants to give up writing, (as I have since last autumn) because she is too sad about the state of the world, is suffering from the breakdown of meaning as language is abused to the ends of violence and oppression, (even within the party she once believed in), and the knowledge that it cannot win her the love she craves.

She has her own tag if you want to see any more:

http://zalena.livejournal.com/tag/lessing
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Banksy NYC [20 Oct 2013|08:50am]
I'm loving the coverage of Banksy in NYC. It almost makes me miss living there. This has probably been my favorite story, a tagger attacked one of the paintings, he was quickly subdued and the neighborhood restored the painting and posted a guard:

http://hyperallergic.com/88947/banksy-goes-japonaiserie-in-brooklyn/
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Consumer protections & class action law suits. [28 Jul 2013|06:21am]
Consumer protections & class action law suits.

I wonder if this shift is related to tobacco.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/07/whirpool_s_moldy_washing_machines_america_s_most_important_class_action.html
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Either Too Young or Too Old [01 Jun 2013|09:48pm]
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Over it [01 Jun 2013|06:39am]
http://thehairpin.com/2013/05/the-over-it-pie

All of the above and then some.
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Isao Hashimoto's visualization of the nuclear detonations between 1945-1998 [18 May 2013|04:18pm]
Today the BP posted Isao Hashimoto's visualization of the nuclear detonations between 1945-1998 with the caption, "The World Has Already Ended." It actually illustrates one of his pet points, that we are already living in what is essentially a post-apocalyptic landscape. Certainly one that has been irrevocably altered by the presence of humans.

It actually dovetails nicely with several things I've already got going on right now:

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Anyway, you've probably noticed I haven't been posting much. I'm toying with the idea of giving up LJ altogether. But before I go, in honor of the time I've spent here, and in honor of those who have read, or are still reading, I'd like to clear out my 'notes' file where I've squirreled away unwritten posts, unposted comments, or tidbits that felt they needed an extra bit of imagination. By the time I get to the end of those files, I should have a better idea of where this grand adventure is taking me next.

Join me.
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Food & Politics [05 May 2013|08:34pm]
Review of Smart Casual: The Transformation of Gourmet Restaurant Style in America by Alison Pearlman:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2013/05/against_foodies_alison_pearlman_s_smart_casual_reviewed.html

I'm just mad I didn't write it first. Likewise, there was an essay earlier this week on femivores that almost but not quite goes where this needs to go:

http://www.salon.com/2013/04/28/is_michael_pollan_a_sexist_pig/

One of the things that deeply concerns me about our food (and/or green) movements, is that it's become so much about consumer lifestyles that it cannot get the broad base support needed to enact genuine social & political change.
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Adam Mickiewicz to Margaret Fuller [13 Apr 2013|02:00pm]
"...give all for love... but this love must not be that of ... schoolboys and German ladies....

[in Paris] I saw you, with all your knowledge and your imagination and all your literary reputation, living in bondage worse than a servant. You have persuaded yourself that all you need is to express your feelings and ideas in books. You existed like a ghost that whispers to the living its plans and desires, no longer able to realize them itself....

I tried to make you understand that you should not confine your life to books and reveries. You have pleaded the liberty of woman in a masculine and frank style. Live and act, as you write."

- Polish dissident & poet Adam Mickiewicz to Margaret Fuller, Spring, 1847.
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Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher [10 Apr 2013|08:29pm]
with thanks to sakuratea

Roll over Hitchens, Russell Brand can write:

When John Lennon was told of Elvis Presley's death, he famously responded: "Elvis died when he joined the army," meaning of course, that his combat clothing and clipped hair signalled the demise of the thrusting, Dionysian revolution of which he was the immaculate emblem....

Perhaps, though, Thatcher "the monster" didn't die yesterday from a stroke, perhaps that Thatcher died as she sobbed self-pitying tears as she was driven, defeated, from Downing Street, ousted by her own party. By then, 1990, I was 15, adolescent and instinctively anti-establishment enough to regard her disdainfully. I'd unthinkingly imbibed enough doctrine to know that, troubled as I was, there was little point looking elsewhere for support. I was on my own. We are all on our own. Norman Tebbit, one of Thatcher's acolytes and fellow "Munsters evacuee", said when the National Union of Mineworkers eventually succumbed to the military onslaught and starvation over which she presided: "We didn't just break the strike, we broke the spell." The spell he was referring to is the unseen bond that connects us all and prevents us from being subjugated by tyranny. The spell of community.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/09/russell-brand-margaret-thatcher

At the end of article who ponders, "I do not yet know what effect Margaret Thatcher has had on me as an individual or on the character of our country," but he answered that question in the paragraph cited above.

It strikes me as indicative of the Gen X ethos... and what it says that our communities are now 'virtual' certainly bears some thought. What else broke with that spell?
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[05 Apr 2013|06:43am]
A very nice essay about Jane Austen as a didactic moralist FTW -

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_completist/2013/04/jane_austen_books_ranked_and_reconsidered_from_emma_to_persuasion.html

It's been a very long time since I've written an Austen essay (I am especially fond of my defense of Mansfield Park, a novel that I actually dislike). I still love Persuasion the most, though I think Waldman is correct in her criticisms. And I suspect Emma is her "best" novel, though I can never get over my dislike of the protagonist.

My theory on Austen is that her moralism is actually what makes her great. She is expression, for the first time, in novel format, the way young women were adopting philosophy into their lives.

Waldman comes perilously close to another essay I would like to write, 'In Praise of Didacticism' in which I'd like to take apart the fact that in spite of saying that we hate it, this is expected and novels that lack it (say Dangerous Liaisons) are frequently those that come up for censure.

Also, one of these days I have got to write something about Madame Bovary. In fact, I frequently feel Madame Bovary as well as House of Mirth are due for an update. They strike me as very NOW kind of books in their discussion of moral, social & economic bankruptcy.
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The Knife [03 Apr 2013|06:14am]
The Knife has a new album out. I discovered them via way of vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson, when I could not get enough of her collaboration with Röyksopp.

Here's the new album streaming via soundcloud:

http://theknife.net/

Here's the Röyksopp single:

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The Oxherding Tale by Charles Johnson [05 Mar 2013|06:41am]
Several years ago I read a book called Turning the Wheel: Essays on Buddhism and Writing by Charles Richard Johnson. I have no idea where this book came from, but it hit when the time was right. It was about what I did know (writing) and what I didn't know (Buddhism.) I remember thinking, "In a few years this will probably mean more."

At that time I put one of his books on my bookmooch wishlist. It was only a few weeks ago that it came available and turned up in the mail.

I LOVED the beginning of The Oxherding Tale. It is set in the antebellum south and is about the mixed-race son of a plantation owner's wife and a black butler. The origin tale is bawdy and funny... and the whole book is kind of a tragicomic meditation on on eastern spirituality via western philosophy. Which means my peeps the Transcendentalists are referenced, but so are a million other things.

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A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy [24 Feb 2013|01:28pm]
I don't know how Maeve Binchy became one of my favorite authors. I ignored her books for years, read a few, ignored them more, and then somehow found myself reading them all, recommending them to others and having favorites. Her last book Minding Frankie I wept over, even long after I'd finished reading it. For me, it seemed an appropriate last title, as a beloved character in it dies, and the central problem relates to a new mother with terminal cancer looking for a home for her baby.

When Maeve died, Minding Frankie became even more prescient... it seemed right that it was a last book. And how it deals with a community coming together to fill the various holes left behind... Even as we all grieved that there wouldn't be anymore cozy titles coming from the beloved author.

Anyway, last week a new title turned up A Week in Winter. I just finished it. Classic Binchy, though not as good as Minding Frankie, it's solid and complete (though one suspects there was a sequel in the works.)

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Adam and Dog [13 Feb 2013|10:19pm]
Some nice animation, especially if you like dogs, but the ending packs a punch. Oscar nominated this year.



Genesis 3:11
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Werner Herzog's latest "Happy People" [16 Jan 2013|08:50pm]
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Don't call it a comeback... [09 Jan 2013|08:13pm]
This year will see not only a film adaptation of On the Road, but also one about Big Sur my favorite Kerouac title:



Also, Bowie isn't the only one with a new album out, after 14 years, Dead Can Dance's new offering can be streamed from their website. Haven't listened to it, yet:

http://www.deadcandance.com/main/
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Hugo Distler's Die Weihnachtsgeschichte [15 Dec 2012|07:39am]
I went to St. Martin's rose-themed Christmas concert last night. It's saying something that the music I would really like to share with you is of limited availability online. The real center piece of the evening, though, was Hugo Distler's Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (1933) a 40 minute piece that tells the Christmas Story as a choral piece with solos and tied together with 6 variations of 'Es ist ein Ros entsprungen' ('Lo how a Rose').

The experience was lovely, but a little weird, as Distler's music often is for me. (Fans of German church music often put him in the tradition of Henrich Schütz (1600s) ... another one of my favorites.) Listening in the cathedral with the music washing over me... I can't describe it really, except to say, I have been able to really sit with the Christmas Story this year in a way I would not have been able to do in years past.

There are probably a very limited number of persons interested in listening to the whole thing, but the clips aren't as good as this full presentation on youtube. So if you want to sit with it, here it is:

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