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Reflections on an oak tree

  If we go by the gospels, Jesus had unhappy encounters with trees. Not just the tree of Calvary, the wooden cross on which he was hung; there was also the fig tree that had no figs, which Jesus, like any hungry traveller, cursed. Later, the fig tree died, and the disciples, who were following the wonder-working rabbi, put down the casualty as another miracle. I don’t think Jesus thought it was a miracle, but he figured it was a good emblem to illustrate a sermon, and so he made it one. Why not? I have happier experiences with trees than Jesus, and I’m not talking about not having been nailed to a cross. Although I haven’t. Mine are more like those described in Marin Buber’s I – You: the tree is my other, my true you. I can contemplate a world without people and think that this would be very sad, at least for people. But when I imagine a world without trees, I am truly horrified – this would be a planetary injury, a real loss. Of course, I’m   wised up, taxonomy-wise, and know that
Recent posts

The platform review rides again! Stephen Marche at Lithub

  My old buddy Chris Hudson pointed out this article on Lithub by Stephen Marche , and I went and found that very 00s thing, the platform Review! The Platform review takes a tour d'horizon of, usually, fiction and tells you why the current scene sucks, It used to be the specialty of James Wood when he was at the unlamented TNR under Leon Wieseltier, the biggest poseur since Norman Podhoretz. You know, Leon? who also considered himself a chaser of women, usually the ones working at the TNR, which meant he was cancelled for a microsecond and then has come back with some well funded mag called Liberties, as in the liberty to chase your hot intern around your desk, or grope her at the bar after impressing her with who you know. Liberties will no doubt sponsor platform reviews, but I wonder if, this time around, the bait will find fishes. James Wood made way for Dale Peck, whose platform reviews turned up the volume and were way more reactionary than James Wood's - so appropriate fo

she reached out - a poem

    With her blood in the water short silk slip - her sleeping giant eyes - Isn’t she the cutest knock on your door Since you made it to the big girls club?   She’s knuckled down on the finish line -          This is a transition period – stuff happens! “ It was the wrong issue before the war, and it's the wrong issue now ,”   Sez the man with the plan. He cannot see her as he veers into oncoming - this daughter of Night - who from her rape Bore that scar Helen.   - Karen Chamisso

Interessant, na? cool thoughts in a cool shade

  Friedrich Schlegel as a young dude was adept at netting the words that were in the air – and a lot of them were in the 1790s. Thus, in his essay on Greek poetry, he netted the word “interessant” – interesting. In Kant’s critique of judgment, the aesthetic realm was distinguished from the practical realm by its dis-interest. It was not interested in money, science or ethics, in itself. Schlegel took this to be a description of art in its “objective” state. Being a German romantic, he connected German philosophy to Greek culture – an often repeated move – and contrasted the objective art of the Greeks, an art that was natural and close to pure aesthetics, with the interested art of the moderns. That we label Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sophocles Oedipus the King both tragedies is, for Schlegel, an error in the universal inventory – Sophocles being objective, and Shakespeare introducing the “interested” element. The interesting – and self-interest – are, for Schlegel, hallmarks of the mo

N: THE FIRE THAT CLINGS TO EVERYTHING - PART 3 THE END

  -          In 1966, a   campaign against the manufacture of N. began in Redwood, California, a harbor town on the San Francisco bay. Standard Oil Company, the enterprise that had built the test Japanese and Germany structures for the War department in 1942 applied to the town council for a permit to sublease their facility to United Technologies, which plans to produce 100 million pounds of N. there. Protestors gather together a number of professionals – engineers, English professors from Stanford – to block the permit. They fail. However, the protests against N. are widely reported. Ramparts magazine, a leftist Catholic periodical, published an article (January, 1967) about N. used in Vietnam by William F. Pepper,   with color photographs of children among the burn victims. -          In January 1967, in the Ladies Home Journal, Martha Gellhorn published a report about her visit to hospitals in Vietnam. There, unlike a number of physicians on the payroll of the military, who had b

N: THE FIRE THAT CLINGS TO EVERYTHING, PART 2

3. - 6.25 – the Korean war. Operation Snowball, named with typical Yankee humor. Going back here to Davy Crockett’s autobiography. Referencing chance of said product of cold weather and children’s hands of surviving in Hell. Snowball, as in. ‘During the early days in Korea it was delivered in 100 gallon plastic jugs that cost about 40 dollars each. During the war an average of 250,000 pounds of N. was dropped each day in support of United Nations troops...” N. proved its worth in Dugway, then in Tokyo, Dresden, Osaka, Hamburg, and other cities where there were tatami mats and/or children’s toys. It was to prove itself America’s hope and prime weapon in Korea, where it was thought the Asiatic had a particular fear of the thing, or as director John Ford put it, casting an affectionate eye on the airplanes dropping their loads: “Fry em, burn em out, cook em.” The folksiness of the phrase, its roots in American self-regard, the country’s legendary can do, the Indian fighting. N. had go

N: the fire that clings to everything - part 1

 I've finished the fifth  of my Cold War stories. They are: Crossed Lives; The Curious Case of the Missing Dogs; Double Cross; Almost a True Story; and my latest one, N: the fire that clings to everything.  I haven't found the illustrations yet for N., but I am going to publish it here in bits. This is part One. 1. -          “The people in these villages had been told to go to relocation camps, because this was all a free fire zone, and technically anyone there could be killed.” -          “The materials are excessively simple: 25 percent benzene, 25 percent gasoline, and 50 percent polystyrene, a plastic manufactured by Dow Chemical and others. The point of this mixture is to form a highly incendiary jelly that clings, and so causes deep and persistent burns.” – George Wald -          Everybody seems to have gotten used to the idea that war, if it comes, will be total, and the lamination of Korea has been received by the populace with fatalism. We have to destroy the en