Friday, May 20, 2005

silence and seventeen

Check this out: John Francis decided after an oil spill that he would quit riding in cars, which he did for the next 17 years. As he was wandering the earth, he took a vow of silence...but still managed to earn his Ph.D., confront the racial divide in the environmental movement, and prove that being a wandering activist pilgrim is actually possible.

"Silence is not just not talking. It's a void. It's a place where all things come from. All voices, all creation comes out of this silence. So when you're standing on the edge of silence, you hear things you've never heard before, and you hear things in ways you've never heard them before. And what I would disagree with one time, I might now agree with in another way, with another understanding." -John Francis for Grist magazine

Thursday, May 19, 2005

stone soup

hmm, jeffrey sachs: economic prophet or "free-market evangelist"? self-aggrandizing Western charity or true redistribution of wealth? this guy, a harvard economist turned 'visionary,' is creating quite a stir with his book the end of poverty. as an anarchist (for today, anyway), i disagree with his macroeconomic paradigm (and could he sound any more arrogant?): "So it's a matter of helping them get started, whether to grow more food or to fight malaria or to handle recurring droughts. Then, once they're on the first rung of the ladder of development, they'll start climbing just like the rest of the world."

still, sachs' "ostensibly village-up rather than World Bank-down model" sounds like a viable option...if only there were no "up." and from what i can tell, he doesn't address domestic poverty at all. regardless, i think my friend lisa was right (as quoted in the first red milk): it's not that we don't have the know-how to solve the world's problems, it's that governments lack the political will to change.

read about the end of poverty on alternet.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

free peltier

I come to a riverbank and see squatting there at the water's edge an old Indian man with long shining silver hair bound tightly in braids that reach down to his hips. He's aimlessly tossing pebbles into the muddy gray water...

As I approach, I see dark tears forming in his vacant eyes, streaming down his face and slowly dripping into the water. Coming closer still, I'm shocked to see those tears are tears of blood!

"My son...My son..." he says in a voice of infinite sadness. And he puts his ghostly blue hand on my shoulder, peering deep into my soul.

He continues: "I'm an old man, weighted down by years and sorrow. I am the original seed of life, handed down to our people by the Great Spirit. Each of these pebbles I throw out is a lost dream of our people, a dream that sinks and is no more, yet leaves a ripple on the water for all time."

...On the riverbank where the Old Man stood lies a small pile of pebbles. Lost hopes. Lost dreams. I'm glad he hadn't thrown them all into the water.

I put them in my pocket, and to this day, whenever I take them out and rub them with my fingers, the hopes and dreams of my people come before my inner eye. I think if I could only rub them long and hard enough, that lost world would suddently come back. Who's to say that other reality isn't as real as this reality we human beings seem so bent on desecrating? I believe it is.

-leonard peltier, prison writings: my life is my sun dance

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

cabbages and kings

today smells like rain-soaked irises and river water. i realized that the title of my last post could also allude to amelie; a dreamer meets suicidal determination. skipping stones, i carry on...

Dear Mr. President,

Have you ever noticed that every place in the world has a different smell? I smelled decaying marigolds and ash in India, rose-scented miracles and dried blood in El Salvador, and clear water running over mossy gnomes in Austria. I am from Texas too, and our farm smells like hay bleached by August sun and pondwater scattered with pine needles.

This morning I opened my window at dawn and burned incense on the ledge. Now my apartment smells like India a little bit. Just a little bit.

I lied in something I said above. The suburbs all smell the same. And even worse than People Forgetting, is that people are Beginning Not to Notice.

What does the White House smell like? What does Baghdad smell like?

Sincerely,
Ann Crews

Friday, May 06, 2005

with stones in my pocket

today i told k that i am the poster child for low morale. we discussed how our jobs are like screaming into the infinite abyss--the glacial pace of systemic change and isolation of the office bureaucracy. i had to fill out this "position profile," and as usual became rather smartass and punchy. under "tools required," i wrote in "tea, scarves, and candles," stopping just short of "broomsticks and tarot cards." under occupational health hazards, i added "computer radiation, the stress of systemic advocacy and burden of saving the world."

speaking of not feeling heard, francesca just told me about a new mcsweeney's project, publishing letters to the president. i started to write in, but once again felt an insurmountable rage paralyze my carpal tunnel-prone fingers. in the meantime, i'll plagiarize some of my favourites below. i will contemplate what to write over the weekend, and if you compose something please share. speaking of, a shout out to zeth and the wandering hermit with your vast theological insight....i guess someone in the universe is listening, after all.

---
Dear Mr. President,

You can be walking down the street and suddenly bump your head into someone else's thought. Sex thoughts are the biggest. They come in the shape of toast, or falling leaves.

I used to skip along on a beautiful song called dirt. Once some big boys beat me up and kicked the song in my face.

Our tree house was the closest point to the moon.

Sincerely,
Eric Morgan

---
Dear Mr. President,

I am eating yet another chocolate chip cookie as I write this. I have been eating quite a lot of cookies lately, thus my need to ramp up my workout schedule. Luckily, the baby likes his baby jogger so I can run with him around.

There are some beautiful photographs of Iraq in the paper today. I have decided that I may start keeping a scrapbook of photos because many of them are astounding. But then I'm not sure. I don't think I could bear to look at some of them again: like the photo of the medic holding the child whose mother had just been shot. I see my son in the place of all these children.

I'm sure you know that Virginia Woolf put stones in her pocket to drown herself. Can you imagine that sort of determination?

Sincerely,
Jennifer Calkins

---
Dear Mr. President,

Nine days ago I thought I was in love with a boy, because that was an easy and clean feeling. Today I realized that I'm in love with the world, and it isn't you, it's me, and it's messy, messy.

Yesterday I read a travel guide and it made me cry.

Sincerely,
Katherine J. Lee

---
Dear Mr. President,

I forgive you.

Sincerely,
Edward Urmston

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

forty two

so i saw 'hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy' yesterday. i would recommend, particularly to the quirky-science-fiction-british-humor-meaning-of-the-universe disposed, but then what movie that begins with the end of the world wouldn't find its way into my heart?

okay, i can think of a few.

but speaking of, i am now officially in love with mos def, whose alien congeniality and rad presence (and attire) made the movie worth watching in itself. i was disappointed that the movie stuck to the gender stereotypes from the book, and still referred to species of the galaxy as 'races'--ironic that this human construction seemed to persist even after the earth was decimated. but then, maybe that's how it goes. perhaps even the end of the world will not bring about the beloved community, after all.

one final note, there is a scene parodying a religious service featuring john malkovich that is grrreat. made me further reflect on the absurdity of christianity, especially with our humanocentric construction of the deity. if jesus came to save humans, and indeed was human, but there are other beings in the universe (not to mention other beings on earth), then is he truly saviour of all? i rather think not.

then again, maybe humans are the evilest species yet, and most in need of enlightenment...but i'll opt for dolphins over crucifixes any day.