Links for the Week – June 17, 2006

Toronto Skyline shot by Sam Javanrouh at Daily Dose of Imagery. Wallpaper version available here.

Unrest in Oaxaca Produces More Police Violence: As Mexico gets closer to a July 2 election that could be won by an anti-imperialist, anti-free-trade candidate Lopez Obrador, there have been a series of violent confrontations in Mexico between protesters and out-of-control police gangs, that some believe have been deliberately orchestrated to engender a sense of fear and lawlessness favourable to the incumbent government’s right-wing law-and-order candidate. Media sympathetic to the protesters have been raided and shut down, women protesters have been reportedly gang-raped in prison, and in the latest protest by teachers in Oaxaca, several people including children have reportedly been gunned down by police.

Scripts for Lists on Your Blog/Website: Lots of ready-to-use scripts to incorporate vertical or horizontal lists, tabs and navigation bars on your site. Thanks to Dale Asberry for the link.

Opposing Animal Cruelty is Not About Faith: Kevin Cameron at Bastish deconstructs the phony argument that refusal to eat meat from animals raised in cruel and inhumane conditions is a ‘religious’ decision rather than a moral and rational one. “I wonder if it is only with the advent of our modern religions that people have come to believe that disrespect for other living beings is the norm, and that having respect for other living beings constitutes ‘religion’.”

Why Our Food Choices Matter: On a similar theme, Elizabeth at Half Changed World reviews The Way We Eat, Peter Singer’s new book, and links to a recent Salon interview with Singer. Some interesting insight into the thorny choices between locally-grown versus organic, and eating vegan versus eating meat from humanely-raised animals. There’s also some interesting insight on the savagery of kosher slaughter and the ‘disposition’ of hens who no longer lay eggs, on the energy savings of eating vegan versus driving a Prius, and, of course, on the evils of factory farms.

Are All Organized Religions in Decline?: Columnist David Warren argues that the rise of fundamentalism — whether in Christianity or in Islam — is the death-gasp of an organized religion in long-term and permanent decline. Thanks to Good and Happy for the link.

Ayahuasca as Depression Therapy: Cyndy at MouseMusings reviews a National Geographic report on the use of the Brazilian drug ayahuasca, used by some native tribes and attracting increasing attention for its greater effectiveness and lower side-effects than SSRIs in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Add it to the aÁai berry, stevia and hemp in the list of tropical plant products that the big multinational corporations don’t want you to know about.

Great Passages: Here are some of the passages that commenters to my March 1 article suggested as candidates for the Greatest Passage Ever Written:

The last paragraph of “The Dead”: A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. Also, the last graf of Gatsby is beautiful. [Scott Smith]

You know, mine is one line, by Lorca from a Poet in New York. Translated into English it goes like this: “There are spaces that ache in the uninhabited air.” Amazing image. [Chris Corrigan]

In the beginning, there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry. In the land of beginnings spirits mingled with the unborn. We could assume numerous forms. Many of us were birds. We knew no boundaries. There was much feasting, playing and sorrowing. We feasted much because of the beautiful terrors of eternity. We played much because we were free. And we sorrowed much because there were always those amongst us who had just returned from the world of the Living. They returned inconsolable for all the love they had left behind, all the suffering they hadnít redeemed, all that they hadnít understood, and for all they had barely begun to learn before they were drawn back to the land of origins. There was not one amongst us who looked forward to being born. We disliked the rigours of existence, the unfulfilled longings, the enshrined injustices of the world, the labyrinths of love, the ignorance of parents, the fact of dying, and the amazing indifference of the Living in the midst of the simple beauties of the universe. We feared the heartlessness of human being, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see. The Famished Road by Ben Okri, 1991 [Judith]

Ignoring many examples from The Snow Leopard, or Bruce Chatwin, or Barry Lopez, Iíll offer this, from Desert Divers, by Sven Lindqvist. ìThis morning I saw a marabout, the sepulchre of a holy man, its distant walls reflecting the light like a beacon. It takes about an hour to climb up to the stillness and solitude. There is nothing there. Nothing but a few lizard tracks in the sand. Nothing but a few unglazed, cracked and crumbling jars, the tombstones of the poor. Nothing but a few large split palm trunks, grey with age, their timber like pressed straw. And then the marabout door glowing acid-green and sulphur-yellow in the morning sun. Far down below, a man is hacking in the dry riverbed and some dark men are spreading out their dark, moist dates to dry beyond a low mud wall. I go down to them, where it is already hot in the sun. But when they greet you, the menís hands are still cool, almost cold ñ as if the night had remained behind in their bodies. The only language we had in common was our hands.î [pohanginapete]

My love of reading. From ‘My Fater’s Library ‘ by Finn-Olaf Jonese. Appeared on 2005. A lifetime of written wisdom has gently settled like silt on some distant ocean bed, and somewhere within, the long conversation between man and books continues, though ever quieter. Love disappears, wealth disappears, desire disappears. But good books stay absorbed in the soul, and a soul, if educated, endures. Or at least that’s what some pretty good books say. [Cindy]

El mar es un alma que tuvimos, que no sabemos donde esta y que apenas recordamos nuestra… El mar es un alma que siempre es otra, en cada uno de nuestros malecones … “La Casa de CartÛn” MartÌn Ad·n  (A translated approach: The sea is a soul we once had, that we know not where it is, that we slightly remember ours….The sea is a soul that is always another in each one of our sea shore walks.) [Mariella]

Every passage I read by Annie Dillard is the best I’ve read yet, as I read it. So, from her Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Chapter 14: Northing: “The woods were as restless as birds. I stood under tulips and ashes, maples, sourwood, sassafras, locusts, catalpas, and oaks. I let my eyes spread and unfix, screening out all that was not vertical motion, and I saw only leaves in the air—or rather, since my mind was also unfixed, vertical trails of yellow color-patches falling from nowhere to nowhere. Mysterious streamers of color unrolled silently all about me, distant and near. Some color chips made the descent violently; they wrenched from side to side in a series of diminishing swings, as if willfully fighting the fall with all the tricks of keel and glide they could muster. Others spun straight down in tight, suicidal circles. Tulips had cast their leaves on my path, flat and bright as doubloons. I passed under a sugar maple that stunned me by its elegant unself-consciousness: it was as if a man on fire were to continue calmly sipping tea. In the deepest part of the woods was a stand of ferns. I had just been reading in Donald Culross Peattie that the so-called “seed” of ferns was formerly thought to bestow the gift of invisibility on its bearer, and that Genghis Khan wore such a seed in his ring, “and by it understood the speech of birds.” If I were invisible, might I also be small, so that I could be borne by winds, spreading my body like a sail, like a vaulted leaf, to anyplace at all? Mushrooms erupted through the forest mold, the fly amanita in various stages of thrust and spread, some big brown mushrooms rounded and smooth as loaves, some eerie purple ones I’d never noticed before, the color of Portuguese men-of-war, murex, a deep-sea, pressurized color, as if the earth heavy with trees and rocks had pressed and leached all other hues away.” [Barbara W. Klaser]

The first and the last passage of the first two pages of “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme – and it¥s not a nomination but a recommendation, and I cannot even quote it because I don¥t have it in English – which suits me fine: I think the mountain’s peak is tied to its base. [Cristosova]

Thought provoking or social commentary? I can think of two short passages that have captured my attention for what they say. Both by Ernest K. Gann 1) They must never, for fear of official ridicule, admit other than to themselves that some totally unrecognizable genie has once again unbuttoned his pants and urinated on the pillar of science. 2) For loneliness, I thought, is an opportunity. Only in such a state may ordinary minds, spared comparison with superior minds, emerge victorious from thoughts that might prove perilous to explore in company. Loneliness is not deadening, even for dullards who contrive against the condition because it forces them to think. Unless men are transformed into true imbeciles and simply stare at nothing, or play with their physical toys, then loneliness can form a magic platform which may transport the meek to thoughts of courage, or even cause a scoundrel to examine the benefits of honesty. Yet to be lonely is to be pitied, which is an insult, since pity is most loudly offered by the patronizing and hypocritical. Pity for the lonely speaks of uncleanness and rejection; thoughts so often nursed by those terrified of separation from the masses. [Michael McNally]

Our generation of scanners might not appreciate poetry instead of prose, still my vote goes to the poets. One of my favorites Emily Dickinson:
“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners, to and fro
Kept treading–treading–till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through–
And when they all were seated,
A Service like a Drum–
Kept beating–beating– till I thought
My mind was going numb–
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space– began to toll,
As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being but an Ear,
And I and Silence some strange Race,
Wrecked, solitary, here.
And then a Plank in Reason broke,
And I fell down, and down–
And hit a World at every plunge
And Finished knowing then–
Too often I hear the treading, feel a plank break and the tumble.”
[Marty Avery]

The last passage from an essay in James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son. The author begins the essay in 1943 with an account of driving to his father’s funeral through what he calls a “wilderness of smashed plate glass”. He then deftly walks us through the history of Harlem race riots, while at the same time, attempts to come to grips with his own experience of being alienated from both his father and his country. By the end of the essay, he emerges victorious over both the bitterness that engulfed his father’s life and the racial hatred that threatens his own. “hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated…” He then concludes with this passage: “It began to seem that one would have to hold in mind two ideas which seemed to be in opposition. The first idea was acceptance, the acceptance totally without rancor, of life as it is, and men as they are: in the light of this idea, it goes without saying that injustice is a commonplace. But this did not mean that one could be complacent, for the second idea was of equal power: that one must never in one’s own life accept these injustices as commonplace but must fight them with all one’s strength. This fight begins however, in the heart and it had now been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair. This intimation made my heart heavy and, now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers that only the future would give me now.” The second idea that came to mind was an idea I came across while reading Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams. He puts forth the idea that “the wilderness is an antidote for the alienation experienced by urban people” it was more the idea that resonated with me than the prose. It reminds me that a wilderness is not a national park or a protected space but a place completely wild and hostile that has a healing effect. [Theresa]

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1 Response to Links for the Week – June 17, 2006

  1. Mariella says:

    Ayahuasca is a very serious and important ritual that should “ALWAYS” be done guided by a true Shaman. I know (here in Perú) about a couple of non modern hospitals that are working very effectively with adictions and emotional disorders using ayahuasca interacting shamans and doctors. This is a very strong psycoactive medicine, but I don´t think it could ever be industrialized…. (I was trying to figure out how to put in pills the wisdom of the shaman to guide you in the trip).

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