Thursday, July 30, 2009

Piety ought to be inseparable from critical thinking

Here's the teacher making plain:
We have to pay debt to the sources to the sources of our being. That includes mom and dad. That includes the community that shaped you. That includes the nation that both protects you as well as gives you some sense of possibility. And for religious folk, of course, it includes God. Now, the problem is there has to be some Socratic energy in one's piety. Piety ought to be inseparable from critical thinking.
--Cornel West in conversation with Eduardo Mendieta

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

People Have the Power

"The tactics are unorganized, largely leaderless and only just beginning," says Robin Wright.
And this just in from the BBC.

There was a muddy centre before we breathed.

There was a myth before the myth began,

Venerable and articulate and complete.


From this the poem springs: that we live in a place

That is not our own and, much more, not ourselves

And hard it is in spire of blazoned days.


We are the mimics.Clouds are pedagogues.

The air is not a mirror but bare board,

Coulisse bright-dark, tragic chiaroscuro


And comic color of the rose, in which

Abysmal instruments make sounds like pips

Of the sweeping meanings that we add to them.

from Wallace Stevens' "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Prophetic Alignments

This is the comprehensive wit of Hortense Spillers. One of my favorite people in the world. I'm not sure how to adequately recommend her beyond urging people to google away and pay heed to the care and subtlety and subversiveness with which she puts things.
I here paste one text she draws out and places along a certain continuum (a "prophetic alignment" she calls it). It's Thomas Jefferson on the slave economy in which he lived and moved and upon which he had his material being:
"Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of the situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference. The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest."
Think about it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

To begin, the image is the work of Jaap Scheeren, a recent fascination of mine. And what follows is something I wrote the morning after our relationship with Noisetrade had begun. Here tis:

“I made $10.95!” Sarah exclaimed from behind a laptop this morning. She went to bed, woke up, and witnessed the appearance of nearly eleven dollars worth of public affirmation of her song-craft which braved the oceans of Internet while she slept. All manner of things made well.

I wish I was more the lyrical wit, but I’m the one in this relationship who types out the largest number of straightforward sentences (My books, let me say it again, are footnotes for her lyrics). It befalls me to offer the following report.

A little over two years ago, Sarah had a couple of performance appointments closely aligned, Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Music (Emmylou, Neko, Sufjan) and the Greenbelt Festival (Billy Bragg, Over the Rhine), and she suspected it would be impolite to show up without what the young people call product. With the help of Todd Greene and Tony Doling of Bulb, Chris Leonard  and Brad Ritter of the Contemporary Music Center, and Brother Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, she’d long accumulated three EP’s worth of material and now saw fit to put together individual, everyone different, stenciled artworks (Like snowflakes I tell you!) to house the plastic. They sold, we might say, like hotcakes, but the demand, mail-order-paypal-wise, was a little more than we could comfortably manage. She ended the online dealio, but often sent them out for free (her anxious partner noticed) to e-mailers whose demands dribbled in via the mostly quiet but still glowing website.

So, just last night, we’re having dinner with Mark and Molly Nicholas at our home. Inquiries concerning one another’s projects leads to Mark’s casual mention of Noisetrade goings-on. We begin to suspect this is what ancient texts refer to as The Shape of Things to Come. So many of our friends and neighbors have climbed aboard. Why not? Joe Kirk and Derek Webb strike us as upstanding citizens. Wouldn’t it be cool it being a gift economy we’re in and all? Molly types away, images are shared, and after they’ve gone home we get an e-mail pronouncing it a done deal. We’ll have the other EP’s up over the next few months.

I think it’s an excellent fit. People who extol Sarah’s music have always been potential friends and co-conspirators rather than--what do they call them?—fans? Share away, my friendlies. Publicize as you see fit. Blog if you want to. Blog around the world. Consider yourselves deputized. Enjoy. 

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Blessed Interdependence Day To Everyone

So, as Kevin's response indicates, this entry initially contained something completely different image-wise: Pat Benatar video-performing that amazing song, "We Belong to the Light," which fit with something Rich King said to me ("Happy In(ter)dependence Day"). The embedding was regrettably disabled.
I now give you this wondrous image kindly lent to me by my friend, Derek, of the Most Everybody Loves Their Lives blog. You can imagine how agreeably geeked it leaves me.
I hope everyone's had a redemptive-feeling weekend.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I am not yours

You Whose Name

You whose name is aggressor and devourer.
Putrid and sultry, in fermentation.
You mash into pulp sages and prophets,
Criminals and heroes, indifferently.
My vocativus is useless.
You do not hear me, though I address you,
Yet I want to speak, for I am against you.
So what if you gulp me, I am not yours.
You overcome me with exhaustion and fever.
You blur my thought, which protests,
You roll over me, dull unconscious power.
The one who will overcome you is swift, armed:
Mind, spirit, maker, renewer.
He jousts with you in depths and on high,
Equestrian, winged, lofty, silver-scaled.
I have served him in the investiture of forms.
It’s not my concern what he will do with me.

A retinue advances in the sunlight by the lakes.
From white villages Easter bells resound.

--Czeslaw Milosz