Sunday, August 27, 2017

Balm for the soul: A prayer in the Pentagon

I am truly disturbed by the state of affairs since Charlotteville. The world feels less safe, less predictable. I grew up during the Cold War, and under threat of 'terrorism'. And I truly thought we were beyond that. Apparently not. So I was reminded of this poem, which I read as a child at school. It is from the same anthology, New Inscapes, edited by Robin Malan, and published by Oxford University Press, 1986.


by Robert Dederick

NINE
planets, Sir, endlessly circle, Sir,
one yellow star among Sir's galaxies:
Pluto Neptune Venus Jupiter
Saturn Uranus Mercury Mars and this-
this watered and this aired this favoured one
where all that crawl and swim and fly and run
that drove and swarm and herd and flock are in
with tooth and leg and lung and claw and fin
created clothed and colored are by Sir

EIGHT
colors (counting white) Sir's rainbow makes
when whiteness on Sir's broken waters breaks
arched over tidal blue and branching grey
and grazing green and foaling brown down and away
with gorsing yellow glow and honeyed hay
and petalled blush and mottled winging whirr;
the limpid eyes each of Sir's colors wakes
dark-irised are and cleared and curved by Sir

SEVEN
tossing seas Sir's pent-up lands divide
where silver shoals in aching green-ness glide
turn suddenly and dart and flatly lie
break surface plunge and from each other hide
and stare as though by staring they aver
what sweet surprise had widened each wide eye
that once looked early on creating Sir

SIX
sensens there were then in us who were
salt-tasting all along salt-scented shore
who felt crust cool and looked on shrinking sea
and heard gull-cry on draining estuary
and found back of these five a something more:
a sense of self and back of self - Sir

FIVE
fingers (counting a thumb) were what
we mostly were aware of as we fought
Sir's elements and cleared Sir's forests and sought
creation-wise new metalled ways to go
by spinning wheel and wing off runway. So?-

FOUR
quarters of our world began to grow
too few and of Sir's yellow star we thought
equations scribbled bubbled in retort
distilled its hot explosive secrets. So? -

THREE
questions pose themselves now as we wait:
did Sir not know how to end what Sir began?
Or could we choose? Or did Sir always plan

TWO
hands of ours to bring us soon or late
bent to destroy what hands of Sir's had wrought

ONE
day when we and all our world are brought to

NOUGHT?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlotteville and confronting whiteness




I have come to the conclusion that this blog is a kind of therapy for me. A place to think aloud. Now, yes, you are probably right - I should just get a therapist and yes, does the world need yet another white voice? No. On the other hand, as a white person coming to grips with the inherent racism in Western society (my society) and not to mention white supremacy, not to mention because I am "stuck" here in Norway and so cannot go join a march somewhere in the US (nor am I engaged in such a manner as to be aware should someone here in Oslo be taking such an initiative, something I would be inclined to organise if I myself were an organiser, yes, yes, excuses, excuse).

Anyway, let me continue. My mind is, well percolating on the events in Charlottesville, Virginia and the USA at large (including their stooge-in-chief) and there is just so much which can and should be said (and a few thing which probably should not).

Inspired by Zizek, I am trying to not get distracted by leaves or even trees when there is a wicked forest we have to deal with. So, for example, blaming Trump is just stupid. Yes, he has emboldened the monster to come out of hiding, but truth is that Clinton would simply have chopped off the head of the hydra (presumably) and the beast would go back into hiding (and if you know about hydras, you will get that analogy without further explanation). Like Zizek implied, some beasts must be dealt with (see my previous post) in the open.

Secondly, it will be typical white supremacy if the death of a white woman actually contributes to the recognition that there is a problem. But at this point I am starting to feel that better that than the alternative if this actually does contribute to realising what we are in fact dealing with. The resilience of our ability to avoid and forget is however perhaps the only human quality comparable to our general stupidity (ref. Einstein attributed quote: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe").



I have now posted two tweets with pictures, which in conclusion I want to make some observations about, which I feel kind of sum up what we as whites need to chew on, but in particular whites in the USA.

With respect to the first picture, there are three things that strike me:
1. The Nazi salute(s) on the right of the picutre;
2. The red, so-called kleagle KKK robe being worn by the guy behind the policeman; and
3. the poster being held by the guy on the right, which is both Anti-Semitic and goes as far as to quote New Testament scriptures to justify this.

With respect to the second twitter, note that these participants consider it entirely acceptable and even appropriate to wield a Nazi Swastika and the Confederate flag in tandem.

Let all of this sink in.

I have a thousand problems with these two images, but the one which outrages me the most is the one where there is a clear and unmistakable part for Christianity in this situation. You who claim you love Jesus Christ of Nazareth and support the stooge-in-chief, take a good long hard look at yourselves, and preferably also your Bibles. Because something is, well, just a tad awry, and as you guys would claim: 'it ain't the Bible'. (Will leave it at that for now).

This must be roundly condemned by all who do not want to be associated with these unmistakable and egregious symbols. And we whites living in other parts of the world should not fall into the trap of seeking to merely 'other' the whites in the USA. Last time it was it's worst, it was us. The TV, entertainment and technology we enjoy are from this country. We need to be more considered in our response to it, because truth is, it is not as far removed from our white and Western lives as we would like it to be at this moment.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Home



by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought
of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to
understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
pitied

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,

because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the
go home blacks
refugees
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands
out
they smell strange
savage
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your
legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home
told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
drown
save
be hunger
beg
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
saying
leave,
run
away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

Photo: Facebook - "and when I leave, be sure I did my best to stay"
poem: https://www.amnesty.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/home-by-warsan-shire.pdf

Friday, August 4, 2017

Random musings



Remember this? I remember actually understanding and perhaps rather reluctantly, tending to agree with Zizek on this. As I understood it, his reasoning was that Trump is so bad that he might be just the shock treatment that the system needs to actually make the necessary steps to improve. It was radical and certainly somewhat counter-intuitive for many of us, but I begrudgingly have to admit it made sense. Now I find myself wondering if his view was not a bit optimistic (dare I say it?), perhaps even naive?

How do I come this conclusion? For the simple reason that it is simply too easy to demonise Trump, and so he has become the representation of the system, while he too is simply just a product and symptom of it. Kicking him out of the presidency is not going to solve the problem. It simply takes us back towards status quo, in all its manifold glory. From the religious right embodied in Mike Pence to the Democrats on the so-called left.

Trump has a sturdy group of supporters who will probably support him no matter what. Just as European countries have a small, but significant proportion who support their right wing parties. I suspect we will keep stumbling on for some time yet one way or another.

Having said which, a respite from Trump would be nice.