U.S. Must Help Deal Directly With Hamas

Scott Atran in the New York Times:

AtranIsrael, with strong U.S. support, has long endeavored to defang and destroy Hamas. But Hamas has shown resilient political and military capacity, along with greater sensitivity to popular sentiment and international concerns.

Nevertheless, as the Hamas vice chairman Abu Musa Marzouk acknowledged to me in Cairo, Hamas believes the right of Palestinians to return to homes in Israel is sacred and it will never abandon hope of a sovereign Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Still, wars truly end when one side is obliterated or when enemies become nonenemies. For the latter, enemies first must talk. After spleens are vented, over years if necessary, as happened in Northern Ireland, enough grudging accommodation can emerge to stop the killing even if dreams of triumph endure. To succeed, such a process requires persistence, with strong international backing and policing.

More here.

mysticism and the first world war

LF_GOLBE_MYSTIC_AP_001Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set:

In the first few weeks of World War I, Evelyn Underhill published a little book about mysticism. Practical Mysticism: A Little Book for Normal People was written during the last months of peace. But was a book about mysticism for the common man really necessary when the whole world was collapsing? Underhill decided it was, more than ever.

The contemplative life, wrote Underhill, is not some dreamy, silly pursuit; “a game fit only for idle women and inferior poets.” Neither is it a pious “special career, involving abstraction from the world of things.” Mysticism is a call to arms. It is a challenge to engage with true reality, to see things are they really are. “The mystical consciousness,” Underhill wrote in her Preface, “has the power of lifting those who possess it to a plane of reality which no struggle, no cruelty, can disturb: of conferring a certitude which no catastrophe can wreck. Yet it does not wrap its initiates in a selfish and otherworldly calm, isolate them from the pain and effort of the common life. Rather, it gives them renewed vitality; administering to the human spirit not – as some suppose – a soothing draught, but the most powerful of stimulants.”

more here.

Confronting Reality By Reading Fantasy

Joe Fassler in The Atlantic:

Author Lev Grossman says C.S. Lewis taught him that in fiction, stepping into magical realms means encountering earthly concerns in transfigured form.

Book“If you were in a room full of books,” Lev Grossman writes in his latest novel, The Magicians Land, “you were at least halfway home.” For Grossman, no books feel more like home than C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, which provide the template for what he likes to read—and how he wants to write. In our conversation for this series, Grossman explained what The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe taught him about fiction, what makes Lewis’s work so radically inventive, and why his own stories must step through the looking glass into fantasy.

…Why is Lewis so important to me? In part, it’s because—technically, from the point of view of craft—he tells the story with truly exemplary economy. By the time we’re only six or seven pages into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we already know all four Pevensies, we know how each child feels about the other three, and he’s gotten Lucy through the wardrobe and into Narnia. With incredible speed, he acquaints us with the characters—just one or two well-placed details, and we’re able to know each one—and delves right away into the adventure. Even more than that, it’s the way he uses language—which is nothing like the way fantasists used language before him. There’s no sense of nostalgia. There’s no medieval floridness. There’s no fairy tale condescension to the child reader. It’s very straight, and very clean—there’s no Vaseline on the lens. You see everything clearly, not with sparkles or a flowery sense of wonderment, but with very specific physical details.

More here.

the life of Camilo Torres Restrepo

Torres_restrepo_3Garret Keizer at Lapham's Quarterly:

Nineteen hundred and sixty-six years after the birth of Jesus Christ and one year prior to the execution of Che Guevara, a thirty-seven-year-old Colombian Catholic priest and sociologist named Camilo Torres Restrepo was killed while taking part in a botched ambush of government troops. He had joined a band of guerrillas only a few months before. “I have taken off my cassock,” he said, “to be a truer priest.”

Born into an upper-class secular family—his mother was furious about his decision to be ordained—Torres served as a college chaplain, a parish priest, and a founding leader of the opposition United Front before conflict with his ecclesiastical superiors and a growing conviction that, in his country at least, “the Catholic who is not a revolutionary is living in mortal sin” led him to apply for release from his priesthood. Shortly after laicization was granted, he left for the jungle.

more here.

thoughts on iago

Iago-logoRichard Hornby at The Hudson Review:

Othello is clearly the protagonist of Shakespeare’s most problematic tragedy, yet it is Iago who incites the tragic action and pushes it through to conclusion. He has more lines than Othello, including more soliloquies. Othello’s murder of Desdemona is appalling, but his jealous motivation for it is clear enough; even though his jealousy has been triggered by Iago’s lies and innuendos, they do not mitigate Othello’s guilt, although they do raise the question as to why he is so gullible. (“This may be a lesson to Husbands, that before their Jealousie be Tragical, the proofs may be Mathematical,” wrote a late seventeenth-century wag.) It is Iago’s motivation that is troublesome. Even if he hates the Moor, why does he go to so much trouble to destroy him? Why not just kill him and be done with it? And why does Iago also have to wound Cassio, bring on the deaths of Roderigo and Desdemona, and kill his own wife? What have they ever done to him?

It is not that Iago gives no reasons for what he does. In fact, he gives several: he resents Othello promoting Cassio over him; he loves Desdemona himself; he fears that “the lusty Moor” (II.ii.292) has cuckolded him with his wife Emilia; he even fears that hapless Cassio has cuckolded him as well.

more here.

Wednesday Poem

The Chinese micro-carver Chen Zhongen
can inscribe poems on a single strand of hair

The Stylist

I asked for a headful of sonnets
(Petrarchan) from scalp to split end.
Short-haired one, said he,
the most I can do for you
is a crop of haiku.

A bit miffed, I looked round the room
at enormous close-ups of women
with sestinas twirled through their ringlets,
thousands of Möbius strips
curled round recidivist words.

A man with a brylled-black mullet
sported tercets over his ears,
and a thicket of octets ending in knots:
the days of the week in Old Norse.

Poems with upbeat conclusions
on the flick-ups of nymphet models.
Bawdy love-lyrics from the 1700s
hidden inside dense dark shag perms,
and rhyming couplets at the outer tips
of a blonde boy’s barely-there eyebrows.

No fair, I thought; oh, to be Rapunzel
with space for the lost Latin epics
of Valerius Flaccus cascading
down past my backside.

But no; I got Ezra Pound’s petals
above my wet and blackening brow.
Some highlights from Japanese wisdom.
And one of the stylist’s own:
What hard work this is,
blinded by flurries of snow:
your psoriasis.

by Mary O'Donoghue
from Among These Winters
publishe, Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2007

The New-Wave classic ‘Band of Outsiders’ turns 50

Band of outsiders running 1964Pauline Kael in a 1966 peice for The New Republic:

It’s as if a French poet took an ordinary banal American crime novel and told it to us in terms of the romance and beauty he read between the lines; that is to say, Godard gives it his imagination, recreating the gangsters and the moll with his world of associations—seeing them as people in a Paris cafe, mixing them with Rimbaud, Kafka, Alice in Wonderland. Silly? But we know how alien to our lives were those movies that fed our imaginations and have now become part of us. And don’t we—as children and perhaps even later—romanticize cheap movie stereotypes, endowing them with the attributes of those figures in the other arts who touch us imaginatively? Don’t all our experiences in the arts and popular arts that have more intensity than our ordinary lives, tend to merge in another imaginative world? And movies, because they are such an encompassing, eclectic art, are an ideal medium for combining our experiences and fantasies from life, from all the arts, and from our jumbled memories of both. The men who made the stereotypes drew them from their own scrambled experience of history and art—as Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht drew Scarfacefrom the Capone family “as if they were the Borgias set down in Chicago.”

more here.

The enduring appeal of “Weird Al” Yankovic

140811_r25321-320Sasha Frere-Jones at The New Yorker:

Do people enjoy “Weird Al” Yankovic because he’s funny or because he’s not that funny? The comedian, who specializes in song parodies, just released his fourteenth studio album, “Mandatory Fun,” which features his class-clown mangling of hits by Lorde, Iggy Azalea, and Pharrell Williams, among others. It débuted at No. 1, selling more than a hundred thousand copies in its first week. Considering the post-digital slump in music sales—a hit album a decade ago could sell as many as a million copies in a week; this year, Sia’s “1000 Forms of Fear” entered the charts at No. 1 by selling only fifty-two thousand copies—this might be the biggest first week for a comedy album ever. But what is it that Weird Al actually does? I don’t laugh at his songs, yet I’m delighted by his presence in the world of pop culture. With his parodic versions of hit songs, this somehow ageless fifty-four-year-old has become popular not because he is immensely clever—though he can be—but because he embodies how many people feel when confronted with pop music: slightly too old and slightly too square. That feeling never goes away, and neither has Al, who has sold more than twelve million albums since 1979.

more here.

Europe Has a Serious Anti-Semitism Problem, and It’s Not All About Israel

452473974-man-walks-on-july-21-in-sarcelles-a-northern-paris.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlarge (1)

Joshua Keating in Slate (photo: Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images):

When European government ministers talk about anti-Semitism, they tend to focus on the continent’s growing Muslim community—see French President Francois Hollande expressing concern about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict being “imported” to his country. This may accurately describe many of the incidents of the past few weeks—the Sarcelles riots, in particular, do appear to have been carried out by young Muslims—but the problem may be more widespread.

A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found that 24 percent of the French population and 21 percent of the German population harbor some anti-Semitic attitudes. A recent study of anti-Semitic letters received by Germany’s main Jewish organization found that 60 percent of the hate mail came from well-educated Germans. So this isn’t just a problem with young, disaffected Muslim men.

After all, the two worst recent incidents of violence against Jews in Europe—the killing of three children and a teacher in a 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse and the shooting of three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels in May—took place during times when there wasn’t much news coming out of Israel. Continentwide statistics on anti-Semitic incidents leading up to the most recent uptick don’t show much of an overall trendin Britain, anti-Semitic violence is becoming less common while online abuse is becoming more frequent—or a correlation with events in Israel and Palestine.

More here.

The 10 Greatest Documentaries of All Time According to 340 Filmmakers and Critics

Over at Open Culture:

Earlier this year we featured the aesthetically radical 1929 documentary A Man with a Movie Camera. In it, director Dziga Vertov and his editor-wifeElizaveta Svilova, as Jonathan Crow put it, gleefully use “jump cuts, superimpositions, split screens and every other trick in a filmmaker’s arsenal” to craft a “dizzying, impressionistic, propulsive portrait of the newly industrializing Soviet Union.” He mentioned then that no less authoritative a cinephilic institution than Sight and Sound named A Man with a Movie Camera, in their 2012 poll, “the 8th best movie ever made,” But now, in their new poll in search of the greatest documentary of all time, they gave Vertov’s film an even higher honor, naming it, well, the greatest documentary of all time. A Man with a Movie Camera, writes Brian Winston, “signposts nothing less than how documentary can survive the digital destruction of photographic image integrity and yet still, as Vertov wanted, ‘show us life.’ Vertov is, in fact, the key to documentary’s future.”

High praise indeed, though Sight and Sound‘s critics make strong claims (with supporting clips) for the other 55 documentaries on the list as well. In the top ten alone, we have the following:

1. A Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

2. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, France 1985). Lanzmann’s “550-minute examination of the Jewish Holocaust falls within the documentary tradition of investigative journalism, but what he does with that form is so confrontational and relentless that it demands to be described in philosophical/spiritual terms rather than simply cinematically.”

3. Sans soleil (Chris Marker, 1982). “It’s a cliché to say about a movie [ … ] that its true shape or texture is in the eye of the beholder – but it’s true of Sans soleil, which not only withstands multiple viewings, but never seems to be the same film twice. It addresses memory even as its different threads seem to forget themselves; it parses geopolitics without betraying any affiliation; it might be Marker’s most elaborately self-effacing film, or his most plangently personal.”

4. Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955). “In 1945 moviegoers worldwide became familiar through weekly newsreels in their local cinemas with the unspeakable conditions in the recently liberated Nazi extermination camps. [ … ] Not, however, until Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard), commissioned to mark the tenth anniversary of the Allied liberation of the most notorious camp, at Auschwitz, did film producers truly confront and define the moral and aesthetic parameters involved in treating such an intractable subject.”

More here.

Heaven is for neuroscience: How the brain creates visions of God


Sam Kean in Salon (image: Eugene Thirion's “Jeanne d’Arc” (1876)):

[S]ome physicians had always had a different perspective on where the mind came from. They’d simply seen too many patients get beaned in the head and lose some higher faculty to think it all a coincidence. Doctors therefore began to promote a brain-centric view of human nature. And despite some heated debates over the centuries—especially about whether the brain had specialized regions or not—by the 1600s most learned men had enthroned the mind within the brain. A few brave scientists even began to search for that anatomical El Dorado: the exact seat of the soul within the brain.

One such explorer was Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, one of the oddest ducks to ever waddle across the stage of history. Swedenborg’s family had made a fortune in mining in the late 1600s, and although he was raised in a pious household — his father wrote hymns for his daily bread and later became a bishop — Swedenborg devoted his life to physics, astronomy, and geology. He was the first person to suggest that the solar system formed when a giant cloud of space dust collapsed in upon itself, and much like Leonardo he sketched out plans for airplanes, submarines, and machine guns in his diaries. Contemporaries called him “the Swedish Aristotle.”

In the 1730s, just after turning forty, Swedenborg took up neuroanatomy. Instead of actually dissecting brains, though, he got himself a comfy armchair and began leafing through a mountain of books. Based solely on this inquiry, he developed some remarkably prescient ideas. His theory about the brain containing millions of small, independent bits connected by fibers anticipated the neuron doctrine; he correctly deduced that the corpus callosum allows the left and right hemispheres to communicate; and he determined that the pituitary gland serves as “a chymical laboratory.” In each case Swedenborg claimed that he’d merely drawn some obvious conclusions from other people’s research. In reality, he radically reinterpreted the neuroscience of the time, and most everyone he cited would have condemned him as a luna- and/or heretic.

More here.

Read the Letter at the Center of the New Reagan Book “Plagiarism” Controversy

Download (2)

David Weigel in Slate:

If you click around Slate, you will find a review of Rick Perlstein's long-awaited 1970s history, The Invisible Bridge, and you'll find a podcast interview with the author. Both of these items were finished before the New York Times published a storyabout author/political strategist Craig Shirley, who has insisted that Perlstein plagiarized his 2005 book about Ronald Reagan's near-miss presidential primary run against Gerald Ford.

The Times' story is not quite definitive; it takes a teach-the-controversy, he said/she said approach to the story. “Mr. Shirley said he has since tallied close to 50 instances where his work was used without credit,” reports Alexandra Alter, who quotes Perlstein describing the instances as paraphrases.

But how did it start? Shirley told me yesterday that Perlstein contacted him when he (Shirley) was at a meeting of Reagan scholars, and wanted to run 10 citations by him, stories that had appeared in Shirley's book that he was trying to confirm independently. By the time Shirley got back to him, Perlstein had found the sources.

“He apologized and asked me if I would review his book,” said Shirley. “I asked my research assistant to get a review copy. I get it, I sit down, I start looking, I see my own writing in his book, not cited or credited to me.”

It did not matter to Shirley that Perlstein had put citations online, or that at the end of the book Perlstein thanked the conservative for saving him “3.76 months” of research.

“My name is only mentioned in passing, and then almost dismissively,” said Shirley. “What does he mean by 3.76 months? I don’t even know what the fuck that means. He didn’t interview Dick Cheney. I did. He didn’t interview Jim Baker. I did.”

More here.

A New Report Argues Inequality Is Causing Slower Growth. Here’s Why It Matters.


Neil Irwin in the NYT's Upshot on the new report by 3QD friend and former writer Beth Ann Bovino (photo: Greg Gibson/Bipartisan Policy Center):

Is income inequality holding back the United States economy? A new report argues that it is, that an unequal distribution in incomes is making it harder for the nation to recover from the recession and achieve the kind of growth that was commonplace in decades past.

The report is interesting not because it offers some novel analytical approach or crunches previously unknown data. Rather, it has to do with who produced it, which says a lot about how the discussion over inequality is evolving.

Economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services are the authors of the straightforwardly titled “How Increasing Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide.” The fact that S&P, an apolitical organization that aims to produce reliable research for bond investors and others, is raising alarms about the risks that emerge from income inequality is a small but important sign of how a debate that has been largely confined to the academic world and left-of-center political circles is becoming more mainstream.

More here. From the report:

Though the share of income from labor and capital, excluding capital gains, has decreased, the share coming from capital gains and business income has increased over time. In particular, inherited wealth has increased since the World Wars and the Great Depression, as Thomas Piketty has shown (14), and with it the earnings from that wealth. This trend is important because labor income tends to be distributed across income levels more evenly than capital gains–so a shift in income composition can significantly affect inequality.

While labor income accounted for nearly three-fourths of market income from 1979-2007, that figure had dropped to two-thirds by 2007. Capital income (excluding capital gains) is the next largest source, but even at its 1981 peak, it represented only 14% of market income before falling to about 10% of total income in 2007. Conversely, income from capital gains rose, doubling to approximately 8% of market income in 2007 from about 4% in 1979. Business income and income from other sources (primarily private pensions) each accounted for about 7% of total income in 2007, up from about 4% each.

In addition, capital income has become increasingly concentrated since the early 1990s–and, despite declines in 2001 and 2002, concentration spiked from 2003 through 2007, with more than 80% of the capital gains realized by the top 5% of earners going to the top 1% alone (15). Capital gains also have become increasingly concentrated and are tied with business income as the most concentrated income source.

More here.

Humanity’s cultural history captured in 5-minute film

Alison Abbott:

StoryAll roads lead from Rome, according to a visual history of human culture built entirely from the birth and death places of notable people. The 5-minute animation provides a fresh view of the movements of humanity over the last 2,600 years.

Maximilian Schich, an art historian at the University of Texas at Dallas, and his colleagues used the Google-owned knowledge base, Freebase, to find 120,000 individuals who were notable enough in their life-times that the dates and locations of their births and deaths were recorded. The list includes people ranging from Solon, the Greek lawmaker and poet, who was born in 637 bc in Athens, and died in 557 bc in Cyprus, to Jett Travolta — son of the actor John Travolta — who was born in 1992 in Los Angeles, California, and died in 2009 in the Bahamas. The team used those data to create a movie that starts in 600 bc and ends in 2012. Each person’s birth place appears on a map of the world as a blue dot and their death as a red dot. The result is a way to visualize cultural history — as a city becomes more important, more notable people die there. The work that the animated map is basedon was reported on 31 July in Science1. The animation reflects some of what was known already. Rome gave way to Paris as a cultural centre, which was eventually overtaken by Los Angeles and New York. But it also puts figures and dates on these shifts — and allows for precise comparisons. For example, the data suggest that Paris overtook Rome as a cultural hub in 1789.

More here.

Working in the Medium of Science

Jascha Hoffman in The New York Times:

BookScientists are logical, making observations and running experiments, then building theories that explain the data. Artists are emotional, working in solitude and by intuition. Or so we are told. In “Colliding Worlds,” the historian and philosopher Arthur I. Miller argues that artists and scientists have always had the same mission: to “fathom the reality beyond appearances, the world invisible to our eyes.” And he argues that after drifting apart during the Enlightenment, the twin branches of understanding have been coming back together over the last century, a reunification that is accelerating in the digital age.

Dr. Miller’s encyclopedic survey begins at the dawn of the 20th century, when physicists as well as painters were testing radical new models of space and time. In the vein of his previous book “Einstein, Picasso,” Dr. Miller shows how the discovery of quantum mechanics inspired a generation of avant-garde artists, including Picasso, Kandinsky and Dalí, who said, “It is with pi-mesons and the most gelatinous and indeterminate neutrinos that I want to paint the beauty of the angels and of reality.” Starting in the 1980s, Dr. Miller began to spend time with artists who have found their muse in science, and has watched as the scene grew. He knows the field like few others, interviewing many of the artists for hours at a stretch and visiting museums, galleries, media labs, and corporate behemoths like Pixar and Google. Inventors and engineers make up a large share of his subjects, among them Neri Oxman, who is using her knowledge of bone formation to design better buildings from concrete, and David Edwards, the founder of Le Laboratoire in Paris, who has come up with methods for inhaling food and beverages and transmitting odors using cellphones.

More here.

Karl Marx’s Guiding Idea

by Emrys Westacott


“Nothing human is alien to me.” This was Karl Marx's favourite maxim, taken from the Roman writer, Terrence. But I think that if Marx had lived a century later, he might have added as a second choice the famous phrase sung by Sportin' Life in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess: “It ain't necessarily so.” For together these two sayings capture a good deal of what I think of as Marx's Guiding Idea, the idea at the heart of his philosophy that remains as valuable and as relevant today as in his own time. Let me explain.

Human beings have been around for a few million years, and for most of that time most people's material and social circumstances have been quite stable. The experiences of one generation were pretty much the same as the experiences of their forbears. In this respect the lives of humans were like those of other animals. Unlike other animals, however, human beings reflect on their lives and circumstances; moreover they communicate these reflections to one another. The result is religion, mythology, philosophy, history, literature, and the performing arts (all of which can arise within a purely oral culture), and eventually the natural sciences, and social studies of various kinds, such as psychology, sociology, economics, and political theory.

These diverse forms of reflection on the human condition perform various functions. One function is to explain why things are the way they are. For instance, the bible explains why the Israelites lived in Israel (God made a promise to Abraham, and kept it, enabling Joshua's army to conquer the land); the theory of the four humours purported to explain personality differences between individuals. Another function is to justify a certain order of things. Thus, the doctrine of the divine right of kings sought to justify the institution of a powerful executive who stands above the law. The doctrine that individuals have a right to freedom of thought and expression is often cited to justify a policy of religious tolerance.

These two functions are sometimes hard to disentangle. For example, the alleged cultural inferiority of a people might be taken both to explain why they have been conquered and to justify that conquest as legitimate or even desirable. The “laws” of market competition provide an explanation of why some individuals and businesses do better than others, and these same laws are appealed to by those inclined to endorse the the outcome of the competition.

Read more »

On PBS Nature Documentaries, and My Life as a Turkey

by Hari Balasubramanian

One late summer afternoon two years ago, I saw a monarch butterfly casually fly across my office window in Amherst, Massachusetts. If I had not known what monarchs do, I would have only admired its beauty and then forgotten all about it. But since I'd seen a documentary on these butterflies the previous year – how this little creature, barely a few inches long and wide, makes a 2000-mile journey from Canada and US to certain forests in Mexico all by itself, traveling as much as 50 miles each day, navigating its way based on some unknown compass, and then returning back to its northern haunts in the space of multiple generations – since I knew these facts, that moment when I glimpsed the butterfly was suddenly full of wonder and meaning.

I mention this because many nature documentaries, or even short videos, have had a similar effect on me. I like the PBS Nature series the most (full videos available here). The species, habitats and themes vary –and not all the episodes are consistent – but there is always something unusual to learn and contemplate. Just a few random examples: how the male stork, after having made a long journey from Africa to a rooftop nest in a German village, reunites with its late-arriving partner (Earthflight); how a relatively small creature such as the honey badger could be so powerful, intelligent, and – this was the most striking for me – be gifted with a fearless attitude, so much that even lions know to stay away; or, how some astonishing friendships can be formed across species, as in the sanctuary where a goat, unfailingly and without any obvious benefit to itself, helps lead a blind, old horse on its daily graze every single day (Animal Odd Couples).

My Life as a Turkey

Today, though, I'll focus on a Nature episode that won the Emmy award for outstanding nature programming. First aired in November 2011, My Life as a Turkey (full video) skillfully recreates the year that that naturalist and wildlife artist Joe Hutto spent raising 16 wild turkey chicks all by himself, in a forest in Florida. (The qualifier “wild” distinguishes wild turkeys from their domesticated cousins that are consumed as food.)


Hutto isn't simply a passive observer. He takes on the role of an emotionally invested mother from the moment the turkeys are born until they are independent. As he writes in Illumination in the Flatwoods, the book on which the film is based: “Had I known what was in store—the difficult nature of the study and the time I was about to invest—I would have been hard pressed to justify such an intense involvement. But, fortunately, I naively allowed myself to blunder into a two-year commitment that was at once exhausting, often overwhelming, enlightening, and one of the most inspiring and satisfying experiences of my life.”

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Monday Poem


before a beginning
is the end of a previous beginning

history’s a tangled skein
not a straight-laid thread

it’s full of knots of strands of varied weights
and counter-weights of light and lead

when teased apart we learn
who today has lost and who is winning

who is floating
who is falling

who is free, or who is hauling
someone else’s freight

who can move, or who is in the vice
of someone else’s sinning

Jim Culleny