From the rooftops of Iran to the world, 3 July 2009.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Posted by Ann at 12:58 PM
Posted by Ann at 12:33 PM
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
If you haven't heard...
the Best American Poetry Blog brings poems, commentary, responses and all manner of poetry conversation to the internet. I've only briefly scanned a page to find Maxine Kumin' poem and Jenny Factor's comment on the Antioch Residency... notes and a poem resulting from Richard Garcia's lecture in particular, which I missed.
Find the blog by clicking this link.
Posted by Ann at 4:05 PM
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I celebrate all the creatures that have come under my care, filled me with their joyful spirit and then passed on. In the last two years, the list has increased to an unfortunate number.
Haiku is the most recent loss. He was my birthday gift seven years ago, purchased at Jim's Pet Depot and hand-selected because of his ebullient, sociable nature.
A week before Haiku died, I found the seven perfectly-evolved bodies of the three-week young dwarf hamsters. Sport, their momma, was in the nest with four of her litter, either denying their death or hoping to revive them. Three others were found at various spots in their cage. The eighth, a runt, had died and was cannibalized by his siblings a week before.
During my first Antioch residency two summers ago, I lost Orange Kittie. As events later proved, the man in the house behind me was trapping all cats in the area and having them picked up and disposed of by Animal Control. Beautiful, placid, yellow-eyed Orange Kittie made the mistake of wandering into his yard and pursuing the scent of the bait. She was a wonderful companion, who loved luxuriant naps from the roof overhang and who learned to look-not touch her new friends, Tanka and Haiku. She was a kind listener and a soft mold of warmness in my arms.
The next summer, I lost Manx. This was heartbreak multiplied into infinitum.Once again, the neighbor appears as the culprit. Though the knowledge came much too late for me to recover my darling Manx.
Manx was a Winn Dixie giveaway cat. The moment I held her, she was mine. A true calico and a true short-tailed manx, she was my delight, upstaging all the other animals in my devotion. She melted in my arms, graced me with exuberance and curiosity and hypnotized me with her perfect beauty.
Manx was a flurry of play, a boldness of color with eyes brighter than glass and a face that simply twanged my heart strings. I loved Manx. I still love her and believe her spirit remains alive. I wish to believe her little body is romping in a wide-open, sun-filled play ground.
So many more...
I realize that accepting the care of animals is a responsibility of life-sized proportion. All these lives require more than supplying the basics of food, shelter, warmth. There's seeing the slight change in coat or a lassitude or just a difference in temperament that may imply illness. That's a responsibility that relies on intuition and awareness. And although my animals do speak to me, I have to be listening. And every critter that comes into my shelter also nests in my heart. There's no way to measure the aftermath when that love is gone. But it is there.
Posted by Ann at 10:54 AM
My darling yellow-faced parakeet Haiku, died on May 30, a week after first taking him to the vet.
His death came after weeks of struggling for breath, and on the same morning he awoke drenched in some wetness, and called feebly to his partner, Tanka. It came after a series of gran mal seizures, while I held his twisting form. It came from the liquid injected into his chest by that same vet, cracking his chest plate in a final cruel crushing before he died.
Haiku was a bright, beautiful, cheery character of a budgie. Although the smaller of the two, he was the protector of Tanka and did his job faithfully. He endured her peevishness and her greediness at the feeder. He answered her frantic calls when she was lost in the night or when my cat sneaked into their room ready for a little pouncing and play.
Haiku was a sweet sweet little bird and I miss him.
Posted by Ann at 10:36 AM
30 The Clinging, Fire
Guiding, Directing (an Ideology)
From guidance comes direction
Today's I Ching fling swing with added interpretation: "LI : glowing light, spreading in all directions; light-giving, discriminating, articulating; divide and arrange in order; the power of consciousness. The ideogram: bird and weird, the magical fire-bird with brilliant plumage."
From guidance comes direction
This is what one looks for in a mentoring relationship - "guidance" - the sage advice from a veteran, a fillip of insider info, a dash of mystery so that the mentee can proceed with her own decision, just enough withheld to make the mentee's own knowledge, experience, gut the motivating cause.
Guidance is soaked in an alchemy of the subjective and objective. It's that "glowing light." It proceeds from the mentor's wealth, her possession of data and circumference, the holistic eye that is both shrewd and compassionate. It cancels out self interest and focuses on the mentee's best interest. It is "discriminating." It acts to arrange, to suggest best arrangements in light of the mentee's capacity, drive and most importantly, desires.
A relationship means reciprocity. So what obligations fall on the mentee?
The mentee is charged with claiming a need, asking for guidance, billeting her deficits, showing her strengths. She presents herself to the mentor in a revelatory series of moments, tears away facade and lets go of dissembling. This kind of exposure reveals more than the cold stuff: intellect and achievement and bluster. It slips away from hierarchal taboos. This revelation defeats shame and can only occur when the mentor accepts the whole person.
The mentor cannot guide without first having an inclusive understanding of her mentee. She can't guide without a goodwill investment. She can't guide without a load of accurately targeted insight. She can't guide without the mentee's revelatory information. She can't divine a direction if the mentee does not paint a map of her ambition.
The mentee's responsibility is akin to taking the first step off a cliff and hoping the next step or the one after or the one after, will land her on fertile ground. She takes that first step when she chooses to trust her mentor. As a mentee, she is obligated to peel away the blemishes and embarrassment, and to shine a light on her accomplishments.
Is this an inherently one-sided relationship while presenting itself as mutual? Both parties give and receive. And yet, in her delivery, the mentee becomes an open chest - all the soiled and sacred, the queasy and the quests - are presented to the mentor in a gift of unilateral proportion. Does the mentor deliver the same to her mentee? Of course not! To be human is to be fallible. And to be a mentor requires a persona of infallibility, a quantity and quality of wealth that the mentee presumably does not possess. Or has not actuated. To be a mentor also demands a certain aloofness. That separation is what sustains the mentee's trust in her mentor's aura of superiority: a superiority in skills and wisdom rather than in any other human trait.
But that trust is where the mentoring relationship exhibits one-sidedness.
Here are a few definitions for "trust":
Notice how trust, whether a noun or verb, is predicated on such absolutes. The mentee must have "complete confidence" in the mentor. "Honesty" is essential. Again, in extending trust, the mentee takes the precarious step into the void. That step will find either solid ground or a steep fall. One step is not enough though. Trust derives from a succession of steps, a repeatable experience in the honesty and reliability of the mentor.
The mentor doesn't engage in trust so much as in presenting herself as trustworthy.
Yet, how is that proven? Especially how is that demonstrated to a mentee whose nature turns on the opposite edges of faith and doubt? There has to be a composition, a tangible piece of craftwork that turns visions into substance. It could be as simple as a plan, an outline of objectives, something that demonstrates continuity and progression. This is not about assuaging the fear of the mentee - well yes it is - but by using practical tools. The visible beats out the assumed. Monsters are put to sleep not with prayers but by the conclusive fable, with the finality of the nursery rhyme. Prayers are another form of trust. They do not prove reliability.
At what point does this mentoring relationship conclude?
It can last for years, building and evolving into transformations. It can last up to the moment of an achieved objective. It can disintegrate when reciprocity disappears. It goes away when the mentor loses faith or the mentee loses trust.
A mentoring relationship with vitality is a protracted blend of the amorphous and the perceivable.
Posted by Ann at 7:41 AM
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
So here I am heading into the final semester of the MFA program, accomplishment in sight, and wondering: what of it?
Sour and disenchanted and discouraged are all the immediate sensations that arise. My student loan debt will be well over $50,000, nearing $60,000. That's more than the price of my home when purchased 22 years ago.
Flying, boarding, eating, and fueling costs affiliated with a low residency program make up another percentage of that debt apart from the student loans. Twice yearly trips from Florida to California on an income that will not support those costs means that the charge card phenomenon is in motion. Interest rates as high as 22% extended over many years add to the debt-load.
Then there's the toll in human resources - me! The lack of a vacation in over two years when what I need more than anything is a respite. I haven't figured out how to calculate that debt. But I imagine it manifests in the "sour" reaction mentioned - a lack of patience for trivial things and trivial people with their trivial remarks, the lost capacity for graciousness and compassion; forgetting how to empathize with the troubles of others while imagining mine to be megalithic in size. There is the lost sleep, the missed opportunities, the rejected dates, the friends who can't understand the dimensions of time involved in reading and analyzing a book of poetry or conceiving and crafting a poem.
But I haven't arrived at the sorest spot in this MFA anomaly. I'm talking about the future. What do I get with this gold-crusted degree? Common wages for part-time faculty at a community college average about $5,000 a year more than my current salary. And that's without the benefit companions of a full-time position. The Ph D trumps the MFA when eyeing the plum jobs. What remains are the raisins - those "rapid-hire, there-you-are, teach English Comp" positions that are a dime a dozen because there's no competition.
What's a 55-year old woman to do? I'm vested. A state job is the place to go and in this state the education structure is about as valued as an MFA grad.What? Publish a book? Add mine to the pile? I'm inspiration-drained, future-foreclosed
Mary Oliver had the right idea all along. Just write.
Posted by Ann at 10:40 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2008
This is the day that forbids reproduction. Mother's Day, May 11, 1991, I arrived at my mother's home with a card and Crimson Glory, a vibrant bush of red roses. She had the hand, the one that touches those temperamental flowers - violets and roses - and brings them to bloom.
Then the hollow, the dread, the emptiness of silence, the open door, the tools on the table, the machine still running, the sight. I can't say what but something went out of me in those moments. There she was, humbled on the floor of the bathroom. There was her neatly folded polo shirt, pink-striped with the scent of Tide still clinging to its weave. There was a single tissue in the empty waste basket, a blotch of rusted blood. There was her flip flop, bent. There was her toe against the tile, broken.
My brother saw her face. He told me about the purple stain. But I felt death. I touched the utter cold of skin without spirit on a balmy May morning. Mother's Day. Seventeen years and it's still unfinished. The something that escaped that day is more than haunting. The something that escaped was replaced by something like skin, something without volume or sheen. Something ungraspable.
Posted by Ann at 11:19 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2008
This morning my dwarf hamster, about the size of an engorged tulip, gave birth to a litter of pups! A fascinating voyeurship for me, gazing thru the glass of her aquarium home to see three pinkies with their bulbous, lidded eyes, their nub tails and their veiled viscera.
A day later, I count five maybe six little squirming pups. When she leaves her tissue paper and cotton nest, they squeak like frail kittens, tumble over each other, mouths still open, and are not content until she returns.
This is Sport's first litter and her tenacity is amazing. For hours and hours, her body gives to what it produced. The spectacle of their miniature life just makes me grin and hum.
Posted by Ann at 11:10 AM
Friday, March 7, 2008
Letters to the World, the long-awaited poetry anthology published by Red Hen Press is now available.
The anthology is a collection of poems and short essays from members of the WomPo (The Discussion of Women's Poetry) listserv, founded by Annie Finch. Members of the listserv, and anthology contributors, include over 500 hundred poets living in the U.S., Paris, Australia, Great Britain and other parts of the world. The membership is a mix of well known names (Alicia Ostriker, Marilyn French, Eloise Klein Healy) as well as those without such lustre such as myself. Anthology contributors have organized readings throughout the U.S. and elsewhere to promote the book.
Letters to the World was edited by a cadre from the WomPo listserv: Moira Richards, Rosemary Starace and Lesley Wheeler. Its origin and organization occurred online in a most congenial and efficient process, thanks to its editors.
Buy your copy today. Buy another for a friend. Recommend it to your college library, English department, local bookstore, area poetry groups, literary associations.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
BLOSSOMBONES - "If you have a knockout piece about any topic you think relates to women's lives and experiences, by all means, send it!"
LINE BREAK - a single poem by a single author for one week; audio version included.
GOBLIN FRUIT - invites the fantastical
WILLOW - not new but notable; fiction, poetry, interviews, translations
RIGHT HAND POINTING - looks for economy of language - poems under 20 lines
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The third issue of the Sylvan Echo, an online publication of several MFA grad students at Antioch University LA is now up.
The Echo is maturing with content and by the looks of this issue should be around for as long as its editors maintain it.
Hooray and keep it up!
Posted by Ann at 7:55 AM
Surprising Juxtapositions and Surrealism Abound
Koncel, Mary. You Can Tell the Horse Anything. 1st paperback ed. Dorset, VT: Tupelo Press, 2004.
Appreciating Mary Koncel’s You Can Tell the Horse Anything needs a reader who is appreciative of the surreal.
A first reading of the collection of 66 prose poems gives the reader a vague clue as to underlying motifs but leaves her adrift in attempts at “making sense.” There seems to be a non-relational air to the poems. They exist as separate entities, fed by Koncel’s liberated imagination, effectively barring the reader from a lucid understanding and emotional response. Titles act as explanation; give the reader a sense of direction. But when the content is reexamined, the elements of surrealism emerge.
Hirsch in How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry summed up surrealism with a quote from Andre Breton, when he said that the surrealists “were apostles of what Breton called ‘beloved imagination’.” This group of revolutionary poets “believed in the possibilities of chance,” he continued, “of emotion induced by free association and surprising juxtapositions.”
Koncel’s opening poem, “After the Weather,” encapsulates the movement of free association in a stolid, impersonal voice which narrates the unbelievable event of an airline passenger being sucked out of a plane while passengers “agreed. This was real life, better / than the movie or chicken salad.” They envy the man’s freakish release and descent, an adventure into “raw air and the breath of migrating angels.” His is a death that is a freedom from the humdrum and artificial, from the usual journey, the metaphorical living of everyday citizens. The image of “raw air” reinforces this separation from overlaid reality. The “migrating angels” speak to a heaven, an other-worldly life, where the usual is replaced with limitless possibility. The passenger doesn’t fall out of the airplane, he is lifted. He lets “the wind gather him inch by inch.” The inherent symbolism of the wind is a vehicle for release and works for Koncel as the motif of freedom, for the breath of human life as well as the transport of the gods (angels), and thus a link to divinity.
Yet this disengagement from the quotidian, this uncontained free flight so envied by his fellow travelers is ultimately denied. Given liberty, the man clings instead to the bonds and boundaries of reality, the explicable.
He didn’t understand. His
head began to ache. He
understood Buicks, red hair,
the smell of day-old beer.
In “After the Weather,” Koncel introduces a primary motif: the possibility for release, the potential for the limitless and the ecstatic, those flights with “migrating angels.” And when the path to transcendence is rejected, she shows the result: a fall into victimhood, death, “severed wings.”
In “The Big Deep Voice of God” Koncel depicts that separation from reality through another register. Here a man responds to “a voice” and packs his family in the family car. He orders them to remove their clothing and they obey. They are spurred to this act in response to an ultimate authority, “the big deep voice of God.” There is no individual determination. It is collective hysteria.
Tommy is the driver, the channel for the voice and the one in control. He and his passengers travel blindly, mindlessly, unconsciously. There is movement but no transport. They agree to remove their clothing, to bare their souls, a vulnerability of the highest order and reminiscent of those metaphorical characters in that metaphorical garden. In doing so, they transcend common moral and social codes. Stripped to the skin, these people are arching toward the angels, toward immortality. Yet their performance is a passive one, plunging toward some unknown destination, traveling faster for some unknown reason, blithely obedient. The poem’s action might as well be depicting the response to a schizophrenic auditory hallucination.
There is one exception: Tommy’s wife. She escapes the hysteria and is released into a passionate, pagan creature.
heard the voice but thought if she did it would call her
“Sugar.” “Sugar,” it would say, “your thighs are hives of
honey, and I am the Bumble Bee of Love.” Quivering, she
pressed her left cheek against warm blue vinyl.
Allowed the freedom of nudity, she responds with hedonistic pleasure. Her reverie is transported by an ancient matriarchal symbol: the Bumble Bee of Love. She quivers in answer, presses her cheek against blue vinyl, the only warmth in the vehicle. This is Eve incarnate, possessed of her nature, the one who questions. “At home, she often wondered too.” The doubting is a solo performance that has already moved against the finiteness of earth, the chores of the housewife. Leaning across her kitchen sink, the wife finds transport across the “still white clouds of steam,” an ether akin to the expanse of air. She listens. “Opening her mouth, she always took in more than air and water.”With this inhalation, she imbues more than the primary elements. She is actively pursuing something other than her limited position. Koncel bestows potential on this woman. She opens herself to the “possibilities of chance.” She follows the quiet path of reflection in contrast to Tommy’s senseless drive toward salvation.
“Lake and Michigan” brings forward another image of nakedness. Here we have statues of “metallic and bare boned” horses in a city park being defiled by a youngster. The intimate first person voice decides that the exposure of these inanimate objects is a vulnerability that needs protection. “The horses need some hair.” The danger of public exposure is too risky. It is not inclement weather that will cause destruction but the perverted prank of a kid shoving an ice cream cone in the horse’s rear while his mother sits in passive audience.
This simple scene with its desecration, its errant child and detached mother, messily eating ice cream, typifies the surrealist’s complaint against society. Hirsch explains: “The surrealists were scandalized by the repressiveness of society and thus scandalized society in return.”
Koncel’s hit on society is mild, somewhat elusive yet present nonetheless. This vignette peers at the origin of scandal – the non-instructive parent and the clueless child who begins his journey toward scandal with evil acts committed against nonhumans. That the recipients of his incipient cruelty are horses is not random. Koncel returns to pre-Christian symbology with the horse, sacred to Celtic goddesses, signifying energy, power and freedom. The little boy’s defilement is an attack against those symbols. And he shows an emerging distaste for the corporeal body, its ends and outs and common functions. His mother’s inactivity is a passive acceptance of the boy’s assault. She is complicit in the shaping of a torturer, one who has no recognition of the sacred in everyday life. In her complicity, she is also denying the traditionally female alignment with wildness. She is contemporary woman - ignorant, inactive and divorced from an awareness of and respect for nature. She is the obverse of Tommy’s wife, acting as a direct juxtaposition.
The speaker is trapped in senseless society in “Blackflies,” a weird container of juxtaposed images introduced by the eternal question, “a flutter of Why’s.”The speaker encounters traffic, a man dressed in a chicken costume complete “with a sign that says Why?” A runaway hot dog cart snaps a flagpole in two, Americana destroying America. Blackflies chase the speaker, the dark gadflies of absurdity. Salvation comes when the speaker blows her horn for no reason other than “a moment of calm.”
This is a picture of the slow passage of surreal images, enmeshed in an elongated moment. Time goes forward and backward. Reverie is nonsensical, fraught with inner dread. The traveler is swept along in an amalgam of everyday craziness. It intrudes upon her sensibilities, her reason. Release must be claimed. It must be loud and harsh enough to break the spell and grant silence.
I Could Tell the Horse Anything continually reaches into the morass of the quotidian, showing doors of release, showing the gates of restriction, showing the danger of flight. It is populated by spark plugs and hub caps, balanced against rural scenes and farm implements, alive with domesticated, wild and immobile animals, housewives, evil babies, earth goddesses. Koncel takes them all, shakes them up and empties them into a container of prose verse that works as narratives of the absurd, a channeling akin to the automatic writing of the first Surrealists. The reader gets tossed in this crazy salad, the bowl of everyday living to make sense of the senseless, to see beyond the elements of confinement, to look within for meaning. Ultimately, this is where Koncel will succeed in her modern surrealism. If she can convince her readers that there is no interiority in outward scenery, that retrospection, independent of the circumscribed lives of society, is where one can discover what lies within. This inward look can sprout wings – not those of angels or demigods – but the kind of free flight that breathes life into living.
“Blank” – the unnamable, the unnamed, the secret, the absence, the fill-in-the-blank invitation and acknowledgement, the empty and the deliberately obscured; a refusal to name, literally and figuratively, personally and tangentially.
“Blank” as substitute; enigma for meaning.
“Blank” as the unformed, emerging conclusion.
“Blank” as censure.
“Blank” as the stopping point and the gateway; the mysterious, elusive, unfulfilled knowledge; truth unknown, hidden or waiting for interpretation.
“Blank” as the empty page, as total absence, as representation of all absence, the black hole, Plato’s cave. Lack of certitude about Truth, Love, Faith, moral and religious absolutes.
In contrast, Dickinson is sure of the predictable, recurring stages of nature, the exterior, nonhuman world. This is her firmament. This is her faith substitute. This is certainty, regularity, an unstoppable force, unsympathetic. It is the known. It requires no struggle for meaning. It is independent of emotion. It contains its own scientifically provable logic and intelligence.
There is no mystery. No enigma. All is transparent, meaningful, reliable, beautiful.
Nature is the one force that transcends all unknowns. It is a faith. Independent of human involvement, it achieves itself in self-sufficiency, continues its rhythms without regard for the intrusions, control and interpretation of the human. If nature holds this finality of reason, then all else is subject to interpretation. All else is permeable, open to suggestion. All else is malleable, is human-made, human-empowered and subject to various definitions and interpretation.
By this logic, Dickinson is free. Free of any circumvention and thus, her business is “circumference” both the eyeing of all-that-is and the naming and renaming of all that stands as “truth.” She assaults the synthetic truth – dogma, doctrine, the assumption of moral code and social order, of ordained “right” and “wrong” that is central to humanity, to her narrow neighbors and their determination of “truth.”
The liberty to define gives Dickinson godlike power. In her role as deity, she asserts her own world, assigns her own importance, and defines her own legend.
In her legend-making, Dickinson upturns the legends created by others, most notably, the religiously instituted concepts of right and wrong, the foundational myths of paradise and sin. She creates a mirror universe with her own Eden, site of transgression, of the awareness of self-knowledge, the same biblical scenario damned by Christendom. Her Eden is not only transgressive, it is transformational. It not only represents self awareness, it is the font of creativity, creativity being both the propulsion and product of self awareness, of free thought and independent conclusion.
Dickinson does similar somersaults with the concept of Calvary, another central scenario of Christian dogma, in which the savior is crucified for the sins of others. And yet, the crucifixion results in a resurrection, a new birth, a purity and separation from humankind. Calvary alone is misery, is martyrdom, is a stopping point in Christian logic. Calvary alone evokes only a temporal enactment of the excruciating death of the body. Calvary alone has no glory.
But in Dickinson’s Calvary, what is essential is result: rebirth as a separate entity, like the birth of knowledge, the capacity for unique thought. Calvary turned upside down is a celebration. It symbolizes yet another portal toward emancipation and total emergence as a being that exists beyond the cruelty and limitations of circumscribed life. Calvary is another view of “circumference.”
The cross is not only the structure which kills the human; it is the crossing, the passageway to new birth. It is an essential point of departure, almost, it is the logical outcome. To simply die, succumb to mortality, that is circumspect. It is limited, only one half of the transaction. For the transaction to be complete, for the formula to make sense, rebirth is required.
This unavoidable pattern of death and rebirth, of the advance, denouement and ascension is nothing less than a repetition of natural cycles.
Thus, Dickinson’s early study of botany, her horticultural avocation, her attention to the denizens and actions of the natural world, act as the levers of enlightenment, as the means to recognize the innate rhythms of life, and as a basis for her own theology.
Such a theology encompasses all-that-is. It is self-defining and as its deity, it involves evolving creation. Its tenets are reflections of the natural order. As a mirror, not only does her new faith represent, it acts as the inverse presentation of previously created doctrine. The dogma manufactured by humans who also assumed the omnipotent power of definition and interpretation, and who pronounced items such as “universal truth.” Thus, Dickinson’s heretical perspectives on Eden, Calvary, the Savior and savior, Salvation. She reinvents meaning, a clear act of creativity, of godship. She explodes parameters.
Dickinson recognizes the essential patterns of these synthetic concepts. But she overthrows the interpretations; she bursts through and beyond. She advances, crafting her own doctrine, using the same symbology and yet attacking. Her observations of nature provide a more natural meaning.
That many of her verses are voiced enigmatically is the stuff of myth-making.
Readership: Sue as her primary reader. Sue as faithful to conventional religious thought. Sue’s faithfulness blocking Dickinson’s fervent love, desire and yearning for union.
Sue’s attention to her writing becomes Dickinson’s sounding board. But it is also Dickinson’s opportunity for conversion. And through that conversion, Dickinson would obtain Sue, completely.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
In comparing Obama to Clinton, much has been made of his principled exhortations as opposed to Clinton's "calculating" strategy to gain the Presidency. This interview, conducted in 2006 before Obama announced his candidacy, takes a look at his deliberate strategizing to remain tight with the Congressional status quo.
The Nation columnist David Sirota wasn't convinced of Obama's "progressive" label, perceiving his legislative activity as a firm attempt to maintain safe standing with the good ole boys in DC. here's a taste of the interview:
Obama is telling the truth--he's not opposed to structural changes at all. However, he appears to be interested in fighting only for those changes that fit within the existing boundaries of what's considered mainstream in Washington, instead of using his platform to redefine those boundaries. This posture comes even as polls consistently show that Washington's definition of mainstream is divorced from the rest of the country's (for example, politicians' refusal to debate the war even as polls show that Americans want the troops home).Obama's strategy worked. He got Ted Kennedy's backing, proving that he's much more the mainstream candidate than the progressive, and though his liberal politics mimic Clinton's, the difference is that his lack the courage required to climb out on that outstretched limb and breathe the rarified air of independence. He's more comfortable huddling in the nest, where boundaries are defined by others.
To me, this is an ominous tendency, especially for someone casting himself as a voice for "change." More than that, it is disingenuous, and we don't need a smoother, smarter one of those in the White House!
Click to the full interview.
To read Robin Morgan's 1970 essay "Goodbye to All That," click here.
Goodbye To All That (#2)
by Robin Morgan
Goodbye to the phrase “polarizing figure” to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one.
February 2, 2008
“Goodbye To All That” was my (in)famous 1970 essay breaking free from a politics of accommodation especially affecting women (for an online version, see http://blog.fair-use.org/category/chicago/).
During my decades in civil-rights, anti-war, and contemporary women’s movements, I’ve avoided writing another specific “Goodbye . . .” But not since the suffrage struggle have two communities—joint conscience-keepers of this country—been so set in competition, as the contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) and Barack Obama (BO) unfurls. So.
Goodbye to the double standard . . .
—Hillary is too ballsy but too womanly, a Snow Maiden who’s emotional, and so much a politician as to be unfit for politics.
—She’s “ambitious” but he shows “fire in the belly.” (Ever had labor pains?)
—When a sexist idiot screamed “Iron my shirt!” at HRC, it was considered amusing; if a racist idiot shouted “Shine my shoes!” at BO, it would’ve inspired hours of airtime and pages of newsprint analyzing our national dishonor.
—Young political Kennedys—Kathleen, Kerry, and Bobby Jr.—all endorsed Hillary. Senator Ted, age 76, endorsed Obama. If the situation were reversed, pundits would snort “See? Ted and establishment types back her, but the forward-looking generation backs him.” (Personally, I’m unimpressed with Caroline’s longing for the Return of the Fathers. Unlike the rest of the world, Americans have short memories. Me, I still recall Marilyn Monroe’s suicide, and a dead girl named Mary Jo Kopechne in Chappaquiddick.)
Goodbye to the toxic viciousness . . .
Carl Bernstein's disgust at Hillary’s “thick ankles.” Nixon-trickster Roger Stone’s new Hillary-hating 527 group, “Citizens United Not Timid” (check the capital letters). John McCain answering “How do we beat the bitch?" with “Excellent question!” Would he have dared reply similarly to “How do we beat the black bastard?” For shame.
Goodbye to the HRC nutcracker with metal spikes between splayed thighs. If it was a tap-dancing blackface doll, we would be righteously outraged—and they would not be selling it in airports. Shame.
Goodbye to the most intimately violent T-shirts in election history, including one with the murderous slogan “If Only Hillary had married O.J. Instead!” Shame.
Goodbye to Comedy Central’s “Southpark” featuring a storyline in which terrorists secrete a bomb in HRC’s vagina. I refuse to wrench my brain down into the gutter far enough to find a race-based comparison. For shame.
Goodbye to the sick, malicious idea that this is funny. This is not “Clinton hating,” not “Hillary hating.” This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?
Goodbye to the news-coverage target-practice . . .
The women’s movement and Media Matters wrung an apology from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews for relentless misogynistic comments (www.womensmediacenter.com). But what about NBC’s Tim Russert’s continual sexist asides and his all-white-male panels pontificating on race and gender? Or CNN’s Tony Harris chuckling at “the chromosome thing” while interviewing a woman from The White House Project? And that’s not even mentioning Fox News.
Goodbye to pretending the black community is entirely male and all women are white . . .
Surprise! Women exist in all opinions, pigmentations, ethnicities, abilities, sexual preferences, and ages—not only African American and European American but Latina and Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Arab American and—hey, every group, because a group wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t given birth to it. A few non-racist countries may exist—but sexism is everywhere. No matter how many ways a woman breaks free from other discriminations, she remains a female human being in a world still so patriarchal that it’s the “norm.”
So why should all women not be as justly proud of our womanhood and the centuries, even millennia, of struggle that got us this far, as black Americans, women and men, are justly proud of their struggles?
Goodbye to a campaign where he has to pass as white (which whites—especially wealthy ones—adore), while she has to pass as male (which both men and women demanded of her, and then found unforgivable). If she were blackor he were female we wouldn’t be having such problems, and I for one would be in heaven. But at present such a candidate wouldn’t stand a chance—even if she shared Condi Rice’s Bush-defending politics.
I was celebrating the pivotal power at last focused on African American women deciding on which of two candidates to bestow their vote—until a number of Hillary-supporting black feminists told me they’re being called “race traitors.”
So goodbye to conversations about this nation’s deepest scar—slavery—which fail to acknowledge that labor- and sexual-slavery exist today in the U.S. and elsewhere on this planet, and the majority of those enslaved are women.
Women have endured sex/race/ethnic/religious hatred, rape and battery, invasion of spirit and flesh, forced pregnancy; being the majority of the poor, the illiterate, the disabled, of refugees, caregivers, the HIV/AIDS afflicted, the powerless. We have survived invisibility, ridicule, religious fundamentalisms, polygamy, teargas, forced feedings, jails, asylums, sati, purdah, female genital mutilation, witch burnings, stonings, and attempted gynocides. We have tried reason, persuasion, reassurances, and being extra-qualified, only to learn it never was about qualifications after all. We know that at this historical moment women experience the world differently from men—though not all the same as one another—and can govern differently, from Elizabeth Tudor to Michele Bachelet and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
We remember when Shirley Chisholm and Patricia Schroeder ran for this high office and barely got past the gate—they showed too much passion, raised too little cash, were joke fodder. Goodbye to all that. (And goodbye to some feminists so famished for a female president they were even willing to abandon women’s rights in backing Elizabeth Dole.)
Goodbye, goodbye to . . .
—blaming anything Bill Clinton does on Hillary (even including his womanizing like the Kennedy guys—though unlike them, he got reported on). Let’s get real. If he hadn’t campaigned strongly for her everyone would cluck over what that meant. Enough of Bill and Teddy Kennedy locking their alpha male horns while Hillary pays for it.
—an era when parts of the populace feel so disaffected by politics that a comparative lack of knowledge, experience, and skill is actually seen as attractive, when celebrity-culture mania now infects our elections so that it’s “cooler” to glow with marquee charisma than to understand the vast global complexities of power on a nuclear, wounded planet.
—the notion that it’s fun to elect a handsome, cocky president who feels he can learn on the job, goodbye to George W. Bush and the destruction brought by his inexperience, ignorance, and arrogance.
Goodbye to the accusation that HRC acts “entitled” when she’s worked intensely at everything she’s done—including being a nose-to-the-grindstone, first-rate senator from my state.
Goodbye to her being exploited as a Rorschach test by women who reduce her to a blank screen on which they project their own fears, failures, fantasies.
Goodbye to the phrase “polarizing figure” to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one. It was the women’s movement that quipped, “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry.” She heard us, and she has.
Goodbye to some women letting history pass by while wringing their hands, because Hillary isn’t as “likeable” as they’ve been warned they must be, or because she didn’t leave him, couldn’t “control” him, kept her family together and raised a smart, sane daughter. (Think of the blame if Chelsea had ever acted in the alcoholic, neurotic manner of the Bush twins!) Goodbye to some women pouting because she didn’t bake cookies or she did, sniping because she learned the rules and then bent or broke them. Grow the hell up. She is not running for Ms.-perfect-pure-queen-icon of the feminist movement. She’s running to be president of the United States.
Goodbye to the shocking American ignorance of our own and other countries’ history. Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir rose through party ranks and war, positioning themselves as proto-male leaders. Almost all other female heads of government so far have been related to men of power—granddaughters, daughters, sisters, wives, widows: Gandhi, Bandaranike, Bhutto, Aquino, Chamorro, Wazed, Macapagal-Arroyo, Johnson Sirleaf, Bachelet, Kirchner, and more. Even in our “land of opportunity,” it’s mostly the first pathway “in” permitted to women: Representatives Doris Matsui and Mary Bono and Sala Burton; Senator Jean Carnahan . . . far too many to list here.
Goodbye to a misrepresented generational divide . . .
Goodbye to the so-called spontaneous “Obama Girl” flaunting her bikini-clad ass online—then confessing Oh yeah it wasn’t her idea after all, some guys got her to do it and dictated the clothes, which she said “made me feel like a dork.”
Goodbye to some young women eager to win male approval by showing they’re not feminists (at least not the kind who actually threaten thestatus quo), who can’t identify with a woman candidate because she is unafraid of eeueweeeu yucky power, who fear their boyfriends might look at them funny if they say something good about her. Goodbye to women of any age again feeling unworthy, sulking “what if she’s not electable?” or “maybe it’s post-feminism and whoooosh we’re already free.” Let a statement by the magnificent Harriet Tubman stand as reply. When asked how she managed to save hundreds of enslaved African Americans via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, she replied bitterly, “I could have saved thousands—if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves.”
I’d rather say a joyful Hello to all the glorious young women who do identifywith Hillary, and all the brave, smart men—of all ethnicities and any age—who get that it’s in their self-interest, too. She’s better qualified. (D’uh.) She’s a high-profile candidate with an enormous grasp of foreign- and domestic-policy nuance, dedication to detail, ability to absorb staggering insult and personal pain while retaining dignity, resolve, even humor, and keep on keeping on. (Also, yes, dammit, let’s hear it for her connections and funding and party-building background, too. Obama was awfully glad about those when she raised dough and campaigned for him to get to the Senate in the first place.)
I’d rather look forward to what a good president he might make in eight years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned by practical know-how—and he’ll be all of 54. Meanwhile, goodbye to turning him into a shining knight when actually he’s an astute, smooth pol with speechwriters who’ve worked with the Kennedys’ own speechwriter-courtier Ted Sorenson. If it’s only about ringing rhetoric, let speechwriters run. But isn’t it about getting the policies we want enacted?
And goodbye to the ageism . . .
How dare anyone unilaterally decide when to turn the page on history, papering over real inequities and suffering constituencies in the promise of a feel-good campaign? How dare anyone claim to unify while dividing, or think that to rouse U.S. youth from torpor it’s useful to triage the single largest demographic in this country’s history: the boomer generation—the majority of which is female?
Old woman are the one group that doesn’t grow more conservative with age—and we are the generation of radicals who said “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Goodbye to going gently into any goodnight any man prescribes for us. We are the women who changed the reality of the United States. And though we never went away, brace yourselves: we’re back!
We are the women who brought this country equal credit, better pay, affirmative action, the concept of a family-focused workplace; the women who established rape-crisis centers and battery shelters, marital-rape and date-rape laws; the women who defended lesbian custody rights, who fought for prison reform, founded the peace and environmental movements; who insisted that medical research include female anatomy; who inspired men to become more nurturing parents; who created women’s studies and Title IX so we all could cheer the WNBA stars and Mia Hamm. We are the women who reclaimed sexuality from violent pornography, who put childcare on the national agenda, who transformed demographics, artistic expression, language itself. We are the women who forged a worldwide movement. We are the proud successors of women who, though it took more than 50 years, won us the vote.
We are the women who now comprise the majority of U.S. voters.
Hillary said she found her own voice in New Hampshire. There’s not a woman alive who, if she’s honest, doesn’t recognize what she means. Then HRC got drowned out by campaign experts, Bill, and media’s obsession with everything Bill.
So listen to her voice:
“For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence. Even today, there are those who are trying to silence our words.
“It is a violation of human rights when babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls. It is a violation of human rights when woman and girls are sold into the slavery of prostitution. It is a violation of human rights when women are doused with gasoline, set on fire and burned to death because their marriage dowries are deemed too small. It is a violation of human rights when individual women are raped in their own communities and when thousands of women are subjected to rape as a tactic or prize of war. It is a violation of human rights when a leading cause of death worldwide along women ages 14 to 44 is the violence they are subjected to in their own homes. It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.
“Women’s rights are human rights. Among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard.”
That was Hillary Rodham Clinton defying the U.S. State Department and the Chinese Government at the 1995 UN World Conference on Women in Beijing (look here for the full, stunning speech).
And this voice, age 21, in “Commencement Remarks of Hillary D. Rodham, President of Wellesley College Government Association, Class of 1969.”
“We are, all of us, exploring a world none of us understands. . . . searching for a more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating mode of living. . . . [for the] integrity, the courage to be whole, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. . . . Fear is always with us, but we just don't have time for it.”
She ended with the commitment “to practice, with all the skill of our being: the art of making possible.”
And for decades, she’s been learning how.
So goodbye to Hillary’s second-guessing herself. The real question is deeper than her re-finding her voice. Can we women find ours? Can we do this for ourselves?
“Our President, Ourselves!”
Time is short and the contest tightening. We need to rise in furious energy—as we did when Anita Hill was so vilely treated in the U.S. Senate, as we did when Rosie Jiminez was butchered by an illegal abortion, as we did and do for women globally who are condemned for trying to break through. We need to win, this time. Goodbye to supporting HRC tepidly, with ambivalent caveats and apologetic smiles. Time to volunteer, make phone calls, send emails, donate money, argue, rally, march, shout, vote.
Me? I support Hillary Rodham because she’s the best qualified of all candidates running in both parties. I support her because her progressive politics are as strong as her proven ability to withstand what will be a massive right-wing assault in the general election. I support her because she knows how to get us out of Iraq. I support her because she’s refreshingly thoughtful, and I’m bloodied from eight years of a jolly “uniter” with ejaculatory politics. I needn’t agree with her on every point. I agree with the 97 percent of her positions that are identical with Obama’s—and the few where hers are both more practical and to the left of his (like health care). I support her because she’s already smashed the first-lady stereotype and made history as a fine senator, because I believe she will continue to make history not only as the first US woman president, but as a great US president.
As for the “woman thing”?
Me, I’m voting for Hillary not because she’s a woman—but because I am.
An award-winning writer, feminist leader, political analyst, journalist, editor, and co-founder of the Women's Media Center, Robin Morgan has published 21 books, including six of poetry, four of fiction, and the now-classic anthologies Sisterhood Is Powerful, Sisterhood Is Global, and Sisterhood Is Forever.
Her work has been translated into 13 languages. A founder of contemporary U.S. feminism, she has also been a leader in the international women's movement for 25 years. Recent books include A Hot January: Poems 1996-1999; Saturday's Child: A Memoir; her best-selling The Demon Lover: The Roots of Terrorism, updated and reissued in 2001; and her novel, The Burning Time. Her nonfiction work, Fighting Words: A Took Kit for Combating the Religious Right, came out in September 2006.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
The editors of the NY Times have come out in strong support of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for President.
In its Opinion, the Times danced between Clinton and Obama, preferring her record, her "powerful intellect" and her capacity for leadership over Obama's shallow promises of change and inexperience. In its preference, Clinton was urged to change the climate of the race and muffle the hostile outbreaks of her spouse, the former President Clinton, guiding her toward a less divisive campaign trail.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The NY Times reports that Iraq is asking for more time (U.S there for up to another 13 years) and more equipment (the laundry list included helicopters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and people).
The Iraqi Defense Minister's timetable far exceeds the more optimistic projections. More importantly, his timeline lets us recognize just what horrible morass Bush has engendered. It's alarming. It's infuriating. But it's not surprising. This is what happens when you make a government impotent.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
That's what the results claim. here's the poop: Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis. Postmodernist Idealist Materialist Cultural Creative Existentialist Romanticist Modernist Fundamentalist
What is Your World View?
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You scored as Postmodernist
Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.