The Mother of All Debates: Bernard-Henri Levy v. Slavoj Zizek

Bernard Slavoj_zizekThe audio is available over at NYPL Live.

Bernard-Henri Lévy, France’s “rock-star philosopher,” and Slavoj Žižek, the Slovanian “Elvis of cultural theory,” will scrutinize the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those of the future, as they argue for a new political and moral vision for our times and investigate the limits of tolerance.

Does the advent of capitalism cause more violence than it prevents? Is there violence in the simple idea of the neighbor? asks Zizek in Violence: Six Sideways Reflections.

Are human rights Western or Universal? How is it that progressives themselves-those who in the past defended individual rights and fought fascism-have now become the breeding ground for new kinds of dangerous attitudes? asks Lévy in Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against New Barbarism.

Tuesday Poem


Vikram Seth

Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.

You’re twenty-six, and still have some of life ahead.

No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I’ll

Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.


The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.

This twenty minutes’ rendezvous will make my day:

To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,

Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away.


Art and Science, Virtual and Real, Under One Big Roof

From The New York Times:

Rit_2 TROY, N.Y. — On a hillside overlooking this college town on the banks of the Hudson, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has erected a technological pleasure dome for the mind and senses. Eight years and $200 million in the making, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or Empac, resembles an enormous 1950s-era television set. But inside are not old-fashioned vacuum tubes but the stuff of 21st-century high-tech dreams dedicated to the marriage of art and science as it has never been done before, its creators say — 220,000 square feet of theaters, studios and work spaces hooked to supercomputers.

Within its walls, the designers say, scientists can immerse themselves in data and fly through a breaking wave or inspect the kinks in a DNA molecule, artists can participate in virtual concerts with colleagues in different parts of the world or send spectators on trips through imaginary landscapes, and architects can ponder their creations from the inside before a single brick or two-by-four has been put in place. It opens for business on Oct. 3 with a three-week gala of performances including classical music, virtual reality rides, symposiums and celebrations. Some scientists dream of eventually using the new center to create a version of the “Star Trek” holodeck where humans can interact with life-size “synthetic creatures” who live only in a computer. Others plan to teach surgery by doing virtual procedures or taking doctors on tours through models of actual hearts and circulatory systems.

“What you do is a function of what you want to do,” said Shirley Ann Jackson, a physicist and president of Rensselaer since 1999. In terms of scale and the combination of performance and research at a university, “Nothing can be compared to this,” she said. “To our knowledge, there is nothing else like it.”

More here.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia: Notes from the Inside

“Moscow waited for almost 24 hours, during which Georgian artillery and planes were sending the capital of South Ossetia to ruins. Almost 1600 people were killed in the shelling. Now it is being presented by the mainstream media exclusively as Russia’s intervention and expansionist policy.” –Centre for Humanitarian Programmes, Republic of Abkhazia

American news coverage of the US-Georgia-Russia conflict continues to be appalling–blindingly biased and simplistic, and yet my knowledge of the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is scant.
On August 12, I received an e-mail from a humanitarian organization in Abkhazia describing events as they had unfolded on the ground in South Ossetia. I wrote directly to them. What is below is the e-mail response I received from Liana Kvarchelia. She has kindly given me permission to post it on 3quarksdaily.

September 2, 2008

Dear Laray,

I am glad that there are people who are interested to hear the other side of the story. Indeed I was told by friends in the US that the coverage there is extremely one-sided. I do not know if you read Russian. If so, I can recommend you a website Apart from that you can find some information on our country and the situation in There are some articles there including mine. I have also written about the conflict for the Accord series published by “Conciliation Resources”, based in London.
On the whole I must say that we have found ourselves (not without some doze of surprise) in the epicenter of global conflict. It is clear to many people that there is power struggle going on between the US and Russia, with EU trying to accommodate their own interests, that not always compliment each member states’ vision. However our conflict with Georgia has a much longer history that the EU, and definitely longer than Georgia’s plans for NATO accession.
When at the end of the 19th century many Abkhazians having lost to the Russian Empire fled to Turkey and further, other ethnic groups were competing in resettling the vacated territories. Later when the Bolsheviks came, Abkhazia as well as Georgia became union states with an equal status within the USSR. But Jozef Stalin, Georgian by origin, reduced the status of Abkhazia to an autonomy within Georgia in 1931.
The Abkhazian language was banned, it was substituted by Georgian. Since the ’30-40s the second wave of Georgian settlers came to Abkhazia. This process continued throughout our existence in the USSR as a Georgian autonomy. That’s how we ended up a minority on our land. The 1990s was the time when Georgian nationalism was at its peak. “Georgia for Georgians” was a popular slogan. All non-Georgians were announced to be “hosts on Georgian land.” Not many people even in the USSR knew that Abkhazians protested against being within Georgia even in the Soviet times, every decade. But in the ’90s these protests became known to the world.
On 14 August 1992 when the Abkhazian Parliament was discussing a draft proposal for a Federation with Georgia, the Georgian bombs started falling on our heads, and the Georgian tanks attacked our towns and villages. It was a bloody war, with crimes committed first by Georgians and then by Abkhazians. The Georgians purposefully burnt down our State Archives and our Institute of Literature, History and Culture. It was quite symbolic. You can read about all this in the UNPO report that organized a fact finding mission to Abkhazia in 1992.
You can also read about it in Tom de Waal’s article specifically devoted to the State Archives. Georgia lost the war, but tried to use its anti-Russian position to mobilize (quite successfully) Western support for its so-called “territorial integrity.”
I respect the people of Georgia, and I respect their desire to be independent, but I also want them to respect my people’s desire to be independent too. Not long ago I was interviewed by a US public TV company. You can find the interview on their website “>“NATO rapid-response unit proposed to address fears about Russia,” LA Times, 19 September 2008

Noam Chomsky,

“>“The Militarisation of the Eastern Mediterranean: Israel’s Stake in the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline,”
Global Research, 23 May 2006

Laray Polk lives in Dallas, Texas. She can be contacted at

Sunday Poem

Yusef Komunyakaa

Fast breaks. Lay ups. With Mercury’s Image_basketball_2
Insignia on our sneakers,
We outmaneuvered the footwork
Of bad angels. Nothing but a hot
Swish of strings like silk
Ten feet out. In the roundhouse
Labyrinth our bodies
Created, we could almost
Last forever, poised in midair
Like storybook sea monsters.
A high note hung there
A long second. Off
The rim. We’d corkscrew
Up & dunk balls that exploded
The skullcap of hope & good
Intention. Bug-eyed, lanky,
All hands & feet . . . sprung rhythm.
We were metaphysical when girls
Cheered on the sidelines.
Tangled up in a falling,
Muscles were a bright motor
Double-flashing to the metal hoop
Nailed to our oak.
When Sonny Boy’s mama died
He played nonstop all day, so hard
Our backboard splintered.
Glistening with sweat, we jibed
& rolled the ball off our
Fingertips. Trouble
Was there slapping a blackjack
Against an open palm.
Dribble, drive to the inside, feint,
& glide like a sparrow hawk.
Lay ups. Fast breaks.
We had moves we didn’t know
We had. Our bodies spun
On swivels of bone & faith,
Through a lyric slipknot
Of joy, & we knew we were
Beautiful & dangerous.


The story of my lives

From The Guardian:

From Portnoy’s Complaint to American Pastoral, Philip Roth’s jostling alter egos have provided the literary world with some of the great masterpieces of the past half-century. Here, as he celebrates his 75th birthday, the novelist talks to Robert McCrum about losing friends, living alone and why the next book will be his last.

Roth It was the last weekend of summer – the Democratic convention looming; a late heatwave baffling the chills of fall – when I drove upstate from New York City to meet Philip Roth at home in northwest Connecticut. It’s like Switzerland round here – sparkling streams; plush, manicured properties; perfect meadows – with countless American flags advertising an air of patriotic entitlement. Roth’s remote grey clapboard house, dating to the revolution, is high on a hill down a quiet country road, not hard to find, but some miles from the nearest village, which is really a nothing place with two antique stores.

The tall figure who emerges from among the apple trees in greeting wears grey tracksuit bottoms and a long-sleeved grey sweatshirt that makes me think of prison garb in some progressive correctional regime. Before I find the composure to take in the burning intensity of his expression, the smooth grey features and interrogative tilt of the head, reminiscent of an American eagle, my first impression is that Philip Roth looks as much like a Supreme Court judge on furlough as one of his country’s most admired writers. In his own words, from the opening of The Ghost Writer, you could ‘begin to understand why hiding out twelve hundred feet up in the mountains with just the birds and the trees might not be a bad idea for a writer, Jewish or not… Purity. Serenity. Simplicity. Seclusion. All one’s concentration and flamboyance and originality reserved for the gruelling, exalted, transcendent calling.’ Like his hero Zuckerman, Roth seems to have thought, ‘This is how I will live.’

More here.

Searching for Intelligence in Our Genes

From Scientific American:

Intel In some ways, intelligence is very simple. “It’s something that everybody observes in others,” says Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia. “Everybody knows that some people are smarter than others, whatever it means technically. It’s something you sense in people when you talk to them.” Yet that kind of gut instinct does not translate easily into a scientific definition. In 1996 the American Psychological Association issued a report on intelligence, which stated only that “individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought.”

To measure these differences, psychologists in the early 1900s invented tests of various kinds of thought, such as math, spatial reasoning and verbal skills. To compare scores on one type of test to those on another, some psychologists developed standard scales of intelligence. The most familiar of them is the intelligence quotient, which is produced by setting the average score at 100. IQ scores are not arbitrary numbers, however. Psychologists can use them to make strong predictions about other features of people’s lives. It is possible to make reasonably good predictions, based on IQ scores in childhood, about how well people will fare in school and in the workplace. People with high IQs even tend to live longer than average. “If you have an IQ score, does that tell you everything about a person’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses? No,” says Richard J. Haier of the University of California, Irvine. But even a simple number has the potential to say a lot about a person. “When you go see your doctor, what’s the first thing that happens? Somebody takes your blood pressure and temperature. So you get two numbers. No one would say blood pressure and temperature summarize everything about your health, but they are key numbers.”

More here.

Entirely Up to You, Darling

From The Telegraph:

Dickie_att_300 “Luvvie” is a tired old word yet it conjures a stereotype that most of us recognise, one that Lord Attenborough fits to perfection. There was a time when no showbusiness award ceremony was complete without the climactic appearance of “Dickie”, envelope in hand, eyes glistening behind his spectacles, declaiming a speech that commemorated the achievements of Larry Olivier or little Johnny Mills.

To an extent, this autobiography upholds the public image. Its title is a pure exhalation of luvviedom – so much so that one suspects irony – and within its pages are eulogies to the “new dawn” heralded by Tony Blair (like all luvvies, “Dickie” is a lifelong Labour supporter who believes that true passion for the arts cannot thrive within a Tory breast); to Princess Diana, whom Attenborough coached in public speaking and adored for her gift of “empathy”; to Nelson Mandela and, in muted form, to Mandela’s disgraced ex-wife Winnie (her “violent and sadistic streak”, he writes, was “triggered” by time spent in solitary confinement).

There are also several references to being “reduced to tears” by the generosity of colleagues.

Yet Entirely Up to You, Darling ought really to lay the luvvie joke to rest. For one thing, Attenborough loathes being called “Dickie”.

More here.

The Student of Desire

From The New York Times:

Roth2 In his new novel, “Indignation,” Philip Roth withholds a crucial piece of information — and that’s an understatement — until about a quarter of the way through. This placement seems to me right on the borderline of fair game for reviewers, and not to tell it would misrepresent the book. (A more alert reader than I was might figure it out simply by looking at the table of contents.) Still, it seems mean to spoil a strategic surprise for folks who like that kind of thing. So in case you want to head for the exit now, I’m going to vamp for a couple of paragraphs of harmless generalities and evasive plot summary before getting specific. Roth has a couple more surprises, too (which you might see coming but probably won’t), and I promise not to get anywhere near those. Anyhow, isn’t it surprising enough that Roth, now 75, has just published his third novel in three years?

Well, at this point, maybe not. Since “Sabbath’s Theater” in 1995, Roth has written eight novels, including two general-consensus masterworks — “American Pastoral” (1997) and “Everyman” (2006) — the conclusion of his long Zuckerman saga (last year’s “Exit Ghost”) and a half-dozen other exceptionally strong books. And in “Indignation,” his power and intensity seem undiminished. I generally prefer Roth’s short, devastating sex-and-mortality novels — “Every­man,” “Exit Ghost,” “The Dying Animal” (2001) — to his larger social/political/historical excursions — “American Pastoral,” “The Human Stain” (2000), “The Plot Against America” (2004) — although I admit the big books are more fun to read, since they offer a richer menu of topical distractions from what’s ultimately in store for each of us. “Indignation,” set during the Korean War in a small, conservative Ohio college — hat-tippingly named Winesburg — has something in common with both Rothian modes. It evokes a nasty period of America’s social history (you know, as opposed to all those idyllic ones), but like Roth’s two previous novels, it’s also ruthlessly economical and relentlessly deathbound.

More here.

no laughing greeks


We have all heard at school about the archaic smile and we have seen it in museums on Kouroi and Korai. Yet, we very rarely see laughter depicted in ancient Greek sculpture, while in other cultures we come across laughing representations of gods (for instance, the laughing Buddha). This is an observation made by Yannis Tsividis, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University in New York, who addressed it as a question to distinguished archaeologists, art historians, classical philologists, curators, and historians of ideas. Their answers, which were immediately and very kindly given, are published here. (Unfortunately we did not have an equally forthcoming response from Greek scholars).

more from Eurozine here.

latte liberal


Two weeks before the 2004 Democratic caucuses in Iowa, a political advertisement aired on Des Moines television stations, paid for by the Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee. The television spot featured a white-haired couple demanding Howard Dean “take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs.” Fun fact: The Club for Growth’s president, Jonathan Baron, served previously as Communications Director for former U.S. House Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-Texas) and as Communications Director for former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle. Though short-lived, the ad garnered a considerable amount of attention on blogs and in politically minded books.

But that’s not why the ad intrigued me in those lonesome, tension-fraught days following the election. I was despondent about the outcome, but the ad caught my interest for a single, highly personal reason: My feelings were hurt. Why? I drink lattes. A lot of them.

more from The Morning News here.

The Pale Cast of Thought


The toxic yet vacuous phrase “self-indulgent” was often used by the detractors of David Foster Wallace (as if it isn’t self-indulgent to write anything at all). Another accusation, that Wallace was overly cerebral, misses the point completely. As a writer, the guy was as large-hearted as he was big-brained. Don Gately, the recovering narcotics addict in Infinite Jest, is one of the most compassionately drawn and convincingly real characters in contemporary fiction, close in intention, conception, and articulation to a latter-day Leopold Bloom.

I don’t think an essay more hilarious than “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” — Wallace’s account of a botched vacation on a cruise ship — has been written. It ranks with Twain and will endure as long as people want to laugh. His essays often brought forth a sense of exuberant joy, with their meanderings and addictive, often imitated footnotes and mock-scholarly sensibility. Yet Wallace’s fiction also portrays terrible mental darkness, especially what doctors call “major depression.” Wallace’s father told The New York Times that his son suffered from this disease for years, leading to two recent hospitalizations before his apparent suicide.

more from The Smart Set here.

Friday Poem

Workingman’s Blues #2
Bob Dylan

There’s an evenin’ haze settlin’ over the town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin’ power of the proletariat’s gone down
Money’s gettin’ shallow and weak
The place I love best is a sweet memory
It’s a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf
Come sit down on my knee
You are dearer to me than myself
As you yourself can see
I’m listenin’ to the steel rails hum
Got both eyes tight shut
Just sitting here trying to keep the hunger from
Creeping it’s way into my gut

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues

Now, I’m sailin’ on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I’ll drag ‘em all down to hell and I’ll stand ‘em at the wall
I’ll sell ‘em to their enemies
I’m tryin’ to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can’t give it away

Now the place is ringed with countless foes
Some of them may be deaf and dumb
No man, no woman knows
The hour that sorrow will come
In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover’s breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues

Well, they burned my barn, they stole my horse
I can’t save a dime
I got to be careful, I don’t want to be forced
Into a life of continual crime
I can see for myself that the sun is sinking
How I wish you were here to see
Tell me now, am I wrong in thinking
That you have forgotten me?

Now they worry and they hurry and they fuss and they fret
They waste your nights and days
Them I will forget
But you I’ll remember always
Old memories of you to me have clung
You’ve wounded me with words
Gonna have to straighten out your tongue
It’s all true, everything you have heard

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues

In you, my friend, I find no blame
Wanna look in my eyes, please do
No one can ever claim
That I took up arms against you
All across the peaceful sacred fields
They will lay you low
They’ll break your horns and slash you with steel
I say it so it must be so

Now I’m down on my luck and I’m black and blue
Gonna give you another chance
I’m all alone and I’m expecting you
To lead me off in a cheerful dance
Got a brand new suit and a brand new wife
I can live on rice and beans
Some people never worked a day in their life
Don’t know what work even means

Meet me at the bottom, don’t lag behind
Bring me my boots and shoes
You can hang back or fight your best on the front line
Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues


Missing link: creationist campaigner has Richard Dawkins’ official website banned in Turkey

From The Guardian:

Richard_dawkins A Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous. Adnan Oktar, who writes under the pen name of Harun Yahya, complained that Dawkins, a fierce critic of creationism and intelligent design, had insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs. According to Oktar’s office, Istanbul’s second criminal court of peace banned the site earlier this month on the grounds that it “violated” Oktar’s personality. His press assistant, Seda Aral, said: “We are not against freedom of speech or expression but you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not.”

Oktar, a household name in Turkey, has used hundreds of books, pamphlets and DVDs to contest Darwin’s theory of evolution. In 2006 his publishers sent out 10,000 copies of the Atlas of Creation, a lavish book rejecting evolution on every one of its 800 pages. Dawkins, one of the recipients, described the book as “preposterous”. On his website the British biologist and popular science writer said he was at “a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content”. It is the third time Oktar and his associates have succeeded in blocking sites in Turkey. In August 2007 Oktar persuaded a court to block access to His lawyers argued that blogs on the site contained libellous material that it was unwilling to remove. Last April he made a libel complaint about Google Groups, which was subsequently blocked.

He failed to ban Dawkins’ book The God Delusion in Turkey after a court rejected his claims that it insulted religion. The God Delusion has provoked strong criticism from believers for insisting on the hypocrisy and unreliability of scripture and for lampooning creationists.

More here.

Big Bang or Big Bounce?: New Theory on the Universe’s Birth

From Scientific American:

  • Bang Einstein’s general theory of relativity says that the universe began with the big bang singularity, a moment when all the matter we see was concentrated at a single point of infinite density. But the theory does not capture the fine, quantum structure of spacetime, which limits how tightly matter can be concentrated and how strong gravity can become. To figure out what really happened, physicists need a quantum theory of gravity.
  • According to one candidate for such a theory, loop quantum gravity, space is subdivided into “atoms” of volume and has a finite capacity to store matter and energy, thereby preventing true singularities from existing.
  • If so, time may have extended before the bang. The prebang universe may have undergone a catastrophic implosion that reached a point of maximum density and then reversed. In short, a big crunch may have led to a big bounce and then to the big bang.

More here.

the Frenchified elephant


A chain of elephants, trunks and tails linked, wanders, with a mixture of upbeat energy and complacent pride, along the endpapers of a children’s book. So begins one of the stories that most please the imagination of the modern child and his distant relation the modern adult—Jean de Brunhoff’s “The Story of Babar,” published in 1931. The Babar books are among those half-dozen picture books that seem to fix not just a character but a whole way of being, even a civilization. An elephant, lost in the city, does not trumpet with rage but rides a department-store elevator up and down, until gently discouraged by the elevator boy. A Haussmann-style city rises in the middle of the barbarian jungle. Once seen, Babar the Frenchified elephant is not forgotten. With Bemelmans’s “Madeline” and Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” the Babar books have become part of the common language of childhood, the library of the early mind. There are few parents who haven’t tried them and few small children who don’t like them. They also remain one of the few enterprises begun by a father and continued by his son in more or less the same style. Laurent de Brunhoff, who was twelve when his father died, at the age of just thirty-seven, picked up the elephant brush after the Second World War and has gone on producing Babar books, with the same panache, almost to this day. (Audubon’s sons’ continuation of their father’s “Quadrupeds” is another instance, but in that case the father was alive when the sons began to carry on the work.)

more from The New Yorker here.

orania: afrikanertuiste


Perched on a hill overlooking a dusty town stands a three-foot statue of Prime Minister Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd. Acknowledged by all but the most die-hard of supporters as an unrivaled villain in South African history, Verwoerd is known as the architect of “grand apartheid.” While “petty apartheid” had ensured that restaurants and other public places would be subject to the same sort of segregation found in Jim Crow America, it was Verwoerd who, with the mad zeal of the social scientist, implemented a policy of forced removal by which the government razed homes, loaded blacks onto trucks, and deposited them in remote Bantustans. A statue of Verwoerd (who was knifed to death by a parliamentary messenger in September 1966), however diminutive, seems totally out of place in the new South Africa, that country born in 1994 and constantly touted as a land transformed. Over the past fourteen years, symbols of South Africa’s apartheid history have been removed and painted over, from the national anthem to Afrikaans street signs to the name of the Johannesburg airport. But this town, Orania, is like none other in South Africa. Like the “black spots” of the apartheid era—small pockets of black-inhabited land in designated white areas—Orania is an island unto itself. A large sign beside an (always open) entrance gate that abuts the highway reads: orania: afrikanertuiste—the Afrikaner homeland.

more from VQR here.

e. m. forster, radio man


Behind most published writings lie hinterlands of notes, drafts, corrected proofs, forgotten prose pieces, diary entries and letters – relics and records of lives and works in progress, which often offer valuable leads to biographers exploring creative processes and scholars searching for figures in carpets. The Creator As Critic contains some 350 pages of previously uncollected Forster material (some hitherto unpublished), and 400 pages of editorial notes, attempting thereby to satisfy both scholar and general reader. The Forster pages are a mixture of lecture notes, essays, radio broadcasts, and memoirs (including a fine one of Cavafy), spanning most of his adult life, and encompassing literary interests from Dryden to Hemingway. The notes afford an illuminating subtext to this absorbing if heterogeneous assemblage.

The volume of BBC Talks includes a selection of Forster’s contributions as the Corporation’s chief book reviewer between 1930 and 1960. As a pioneer broadcaster and advocate of high culture, he was influential in the creation of the Third Programme (which expired just two months before his own death in 1970).

more from the TLS here.

Thursday Poem


Time Does Not Pass
Rajendra Bhandari

Baje has become incapable of going down to the fields
Last year, using a stick, he could reach the yard
This time he only made it to the porch
After a three-day confinement, Baje passed away.
Boju passed away
Then mother began to pass away
At first she passed from the yard to the porch
At the porch she became a scarecrow to the grain
drying in the yard
The light passed from her eyes,
from her legs, the strength to stand
even as her desires were passing,
she passed away herself.
One day, a wild young thing flirted with me
But like a calm lake, I pooled by her side
Youth was passing from me
In the yellow autumn, in the fields
the paddy was passing into haystacks
the grain had passed and become manure
The world itself is passing every day
The atmosphere is passing into the ozone hole
With the passing of seedling, and of plant
the passing of flower and dead leaves
the passing of leaf and shoot
the passing of bud and flower
with these passages
the venerable lotus passed from the face of the earth
But time has not passed
Time is just not there
Time would pass, if at all it existed.