Archive for the ‘Quote’ Category

Aimé Césaire, Martinique poet, has died
April 17, 2008

Aime Cesaire

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PARIS: The esteemed Martinique poet and politician Aimé Césaire, a leading figure in the movement for black consciousness, died Thursday, the French president’s office and a hospital said. He was 94.

Césaire was involved in the fight for French West Indian rights, and he also served as a lawmaker in the lower house of France’s parliament for nearly 50 years. French President Nicolas Sarkozy successfully led a campaign last year to change the name of Martinique’s airport in honor of Césaire.

Sarkozy on Thursday praised Césaire as “a great poet” and a “great humanist.”

“As a free and independent spirit, throughout his whole life he embodied the fight for the recognition of his identity and the richness of his African roots,” Sarkozy said. “Through his universal call for the respect of human dignity, consciousness and responsibility, he will remain a symbol of hope for all oppressed peoples.”

~~~

From The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

Aimé Césaire: I’ve always had the feeling that I was on a quest to reconquer something, my name, my country or myself.

That is why my approach has in essence always been poetic.

Because it seems to me that in a way that’s what poetry is.

The reconquest of the self by the self….

I think it was Heidegger who said that words are the abode of being. There are many such quotations. I believe it was Rene Char, in his surrealist days, who said that words know much more about us than we know about them.

I too believe that words have a revealing as well as a creative function…

The Abbe Gregoire(1), Victor Schoelcher(2) and all those who spoke out and still speak out, who campaigned for human rights without distinction of race and against discrimination, these were my guides in life. They stand forever as representatives of the West’s great outpouring of magnanimity and solidarity, an essential contribution to the advancement of the ideas of practical universality and human values, ideas without which the world of today would not be able to see its way forward. I am forever a brother to them, at one with them in their combat and in their hopes…

I really do believe in human beings. I find. something of myself in all cultures, in that extraordinary effort that all people, everywhere, have made – and for what purpose?

Quite simply to make life livable!

It is no easy matter to put up with life and face up to death.

And this is what is so moving.

We are all taking part in the same great adventure.

That is what is meant by cultures, cultures that come together at some meeting-point….

I think it was in a passage in Hegel emphasizing the master-slave dialectic that we found this idea about specificity. He points out that the particular and the universal are not to be seen as opposites, that the universal is not the negation of the particular but is reached by a deeper exploration of the particular.

The West told us that in order to be universal we had to start by denying that we were black. I, on the contrary, said to myself that the more we were black, the more universal we would be.

It was a totally different approach. It was not a choice between alternatives, but an effort at reconciliation.

Not a cold reconciliation, but reconciliation in the heat of the fire, an alchemical reconciliation if you like.

The identity in question was an identity reconciled with the universal. For me there can never be any imprisonment within an identity.

Identity means having roots, but it is also a transition, a transition to the universal….

We are far removed from that romantic idyll beneath the calm sea. These are angry, exasperated lands, lands that spit and spew, that vomit forth life.

That is what we must live up to. We must draw upon the creativity of this plot of land! We must keep it going and not sink into a slumber of acceptance and resignation. It is a kind of summons to us from history and from nature….

And so I have tried to reconcile those two worlds, because that was what had to be done. On the other hand, I feel just as relaxed about claiming kinship with the African griot and the African epic as about claiming kinship with Rimbaud and Lautreamont – and through them with Sophocles and Aeschylus! …

I have never harboured any illusions about the risks of history, be it in Africa, in Martinique, in the Americas or anywhere else. History is always dangerous, the world of history is a risky world; but it is up to us at any given moment to establish and readjust the hierarchy of dangers. …

At any rate, it is for me the fundamental mode of expression, and the world’s salvation depends on its ability to heed that voice. It is obvious that the voice of poetry has been less and less heeded during the century we have lived through, but it will come to be realized more and more that it is the only voice that can still be life-giving and that can provide a basis on which to build and reconstruct….

* And yet this century has not been one where ethics has triumphed, has it?

A.C.: Certainly not, but one must speak out, whether one is heeded or not; we hold certain things to be fundamental, things that we cling to. Even if it means swimming against the tide, they must be upheld.

In other words, poetry is for me a searching after truth and sincerity, sincerity outside of the world, outside of alien times. We seek it deep within ourselves, often despite ourselves, despite what we seem to be, within our innermost selves.

Poetry wells up from the depths, with explosive force.

The volcano again.

No doubt I have reached the moment of crossing the great divide but I face it imperturbably in the knowledge of having put forward what I see as essential, in the knowledge, if you like, of having called out ahead of me and proclaimed the future aloud.

That is what I believe I have done; somewhat disoriented though I am to find the seasons going backwards, as it were, that is how it is and that is what I believe to be my vocation.

No resentments, none at all, no ill feelings but the inescapable solitude of the human condition. That is the most important thing.

~

1. Henri Gregoire (1750-1831), French ecclesiastic and politician, a leader of the movement in the Convention for the abolition of slavery. Ed.

2. French politician (1804-1893), campaigner for the abolition of slavery in the colonies, Deputy for Guadeloupe and Martinique. Ed.

–The liberating power of words – interview with poet Aime Cesaire – Interview

~~~

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When Lightning Bolts From My Chest …
April 15, 2008

A Few Random Poets Speak on National Poetry Month –

And We Eat …

“God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.” —Anne Sexton

Jerome Rothenberg“As for poetry ‘belonging’ in the classroom, it’s like the way they taught us sex in those old hygiene classes: not performance but semiotics. If it I had taken Hygiene 71 seriously, I would have become a monk; & if I had taken college English seriously, I would have become an accountant.” —Jerome Rothenberg

On Clouds – “…what primitive tastes the ancients must have had if their poets were inspired by those absurd, untidy clumps of mist, idiotically jostling one another about…” —Yevgeny Zamyatin

“Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” —Carl Sandburg

“For each letter received from a creditor, write fifty lines on an extraterrestrial subject and you will be saved.” —Charles Baudelaire

“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.” —Zora Neale Hurston

“The purpose of art, including literature, is not to reflect life but to organize it, to build it.” —Yevgeny Zamyatin (The Goal, ca. 1926)

Elizabeth Bishop“One can smell it turning to gas; if one were Baudelaire one could probably hear it turning to marimba music.” —Elizabeth Bishop

“If the poet wants to be a poet, the poet must force the poet to revise. If the poet doesn’t wish to revise, let the poet abandon poetry and take up stamp-collecting or real estate.” —Donald Hall

Zora Neale Hurston “Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person. That is natural.” —Zora Neale Hurston

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” —Sylvia Plath

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.” —Paul Dirac

“Heaven is not like flying or swimming, but has something to do with blackness and a strong glare.” —Elizabeth Bishop

“Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, the sweet pea that has run wild, Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.” —Boris Pasternak

Anne Sexton“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” —Anne Sexton

“Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.” —Charles Simic

“The composition is the thing seen by everyone living in the living they are doing, they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living.” —Gertrude Stein

“Apparently, the most difficult feat for a Cambridge male is to accept a woman not merely as feeling, not merely as thinking, but as managing a complex, vital interweaving of both.” —Sylvia Plath

“There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, sees it from its own angle. So every man’s spice-box seasons his own food.” —Zora Neale Hurston

“She even had a kind of special position among men: she was an exception, she fitted none of the categories they commonly used when talking about girls; she wasn’t a cock-teaser, a cold fish, an easy lay or a snarky bitch; she was an honorary person. She had grown to share their contempt for most women.” —Margaret Atwood

“Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.” —Gustave Flaubert

Allen Ginsberg -- Nude“Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.” —Allen Ginsberg

“I did not believe political directives could be successfully applied to creative writing . . . not to poetry or fiction, which to be valid had to express as truthfully as possible the individual emotions and reactions of the writer.” —Langston Hughes

Gertrude Stein“A diary means yes indeed.” —Gertrude Stein

“I think one of poetry’s functions is not to give us what we want… [T]he poet isn’t always of use to the tribe. The tribe thrives on the consensual. The tribe is pulling together to face the intruder who threatens it. Meanwhile, the poet is sitting by himself in the graveyard talking to a skull.” —Heather McHugh

“Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” —Carl Sandburg

Virginia Woolf“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet. . . indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” —Virginia Woolf

“This cop told me, furthermore, that it had been difficult for him to follow me because I had signaled too soon. I told him that, because I didn’t know there was anyone else in the world, any signaling was an act of faith.” —Kathy Acker

“Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.” —Charles Baudelaire

Frank O Hara“I am ashamed of my century, but I have to smile” —Frank O’Hara

edward-steichen-portrait-of-carl-sandburg-and-his-wife1.jpg

~~~

Benjamin on Baudelaire
March 30, 2008

pissarro-boulevard-montmartre.jpg

 The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire

From the “INTRODUCTION” By Michael W. Jennings — THE WRITER OF MODERN LIFE: ESSAYS ON CHARLES BAUDELAIRE by Walter Benjamin:

Yes the ragpicker is also a figure for Baudelaire, for the poet who draws on the detritus of the society through which he moves, seizing that which seems useful in part because society has found it useless. And finally, the ragpicker is a figure for Baudelaire himself, for the critic who assembles his critical montage from inconspicuous images wrested forcefully from the seeming coherence of Baudelaire’s poems. Here and throughout Benjamin’s writings on Baudelaire, we find a powerful identification with the poet: with his social isolation, with the relative failure of his work, and in particular with the fathomless melancholy that suffuses every page.

Benjamin concludes this first constellation by contrasting Baudelaire with Pierre Dupont, an avowed social poet, whose work strives for a direct, indeed simple tendentious engagement with the political events of the day. In contrasting Baudelaire with Dupont, Benjamin reveals a “profound duplicity” at the heart of Baudelaire’s poetry–which, he contends, is less a statement of support for the cause of the oppressed, than a violent unveiling of their illusions. As Benjamin wrote in his notes to the essay, “It would be an almost complete waste of time to attempt to draw the position of a Baudelaire into the network of the most advanced positions in the struggle for human liberation. From the outset, it seems more promising to investigate his machinations where he was undoubtedly at home: in the enemy camp … Baudelaire was a secret agent–an agent of the secret discontent of his class with its own rule.” … By the late 1930s Benjamin was convinced that traditional historiography, with its reliance upon the kind of storytelling that suggests the inevitable process and outcome of historical change, “is meant to cover up the revolutionary moments in the occurrence of history … The places where tradition breaks off–hence its peaks and crags, which offer footing to one who would cross over them–it misses.” … Benjamin thus seeks to create a textual space in which a speculative, intuitive, and analytical intelligence can move, reading images and the relays between them in such a way that the present meaning of “what has been comes together in a flash.” This is what Benjamin calls the dialectical image.

In the central section of “Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire,” titled “The Flaneur,” Benjamin turns to an extended consideration of the reciprocally generative relations between certain artistic genres and societal forms. In the crowded streets of the urban metropolis, the individual is not merely absorbed into the masses: all traces of individual existence are in fact effaced. And popular literary and artistic forms such as physiologies (literary and artistic exemplifications of physiognomic types) and panoramas (representations of “typical” tableaux in Paris) arose, Benjamin argues, precisely in order to quell the deep-seated unease that characterized this situation: through their “harmlessness” they suggested a “perfect bonhomie” devoid of all resistance to the social order of the day, and in so doing contributed to the “phantasmagoria of Parisian life.”

…Physiologies are in this sense deeply complicit with phantasmagoria, in that they fraudulently suggest we are in possession of a knowledge that we do not in fact have. As Benjamin says, physiologies “assured people that everyone could — unencumbered by any factual knowledge — make out the profession, character, background, and lifestyle of passers-by.” …

If Baudelaire’s poetry is neither symptomatic of social conditions (as were the physiologies) nor capable of providing procedures for dealing with them (as did the detective story), what exactly is the relationship of that poetry to modernity? Benjamin champions Baudelaire precisely because his work claims a particular historical responsibility: in allowing itself to be marked by the ruptures and aporias of modern life, it reveals the brokenness and falseness of modern experience. At the heart of Benjamin’s reading is thus a theory of shock, developed on the basis of a now-famous reading of the poem “A une passante” (To a Passer-By). The speaker of the poem, moving through the “deafening” street amid the crowd, suddenly spies a woman walking along and “with imposing hand / Gathering up a scalloped hem.” The speaker is transfixed, his body twitches, wholly overcome by the power of the image. Yet, Benjamin argues, the spasms that run through the body are not caused by “the excitement of a man in whom an image has taken possession of every fiber of his being”; their cause is instead the powerful, isolated shock “with which an imperious desire suddenly overcomes a lonely man.”

This notion of a shock-driven poetic capability as a significant departure from the understanding of artistic creation prevalent in Benjamin’s day and in fact still powerfully present today. The poet is, in this view, not a genius who “rises above” his age and distills its essence for posterity. For Benjamin, the greatness of Baudelaire consists instead in his absolute susceptibility to the worst excrescences of modern life: Baudelaire was in possession not of genius, but of an extraordinarily “sensitive disposition” that enable him to perceive, through a painful empathy, the character of an age. And for Benjamin, the “character of the age” consisted in its thoroughgoing commodification. Baudelaire was not simply aware of the processes of commodification from which the phantasmagoria constructs itself; he in fact embodied those processes in an emphatic manner. When he takes his work to market, the poet surrenders himself as a commodity to the “intoxification of the commodity immersed in a surging stream of customers.” The poet’s role as a producer and purveyor of commodities opens him to a special “empathy with inorganic things.” And this, in turn, “was one of his sources of inspiration.” Baudelaire’s poetry is thus riven by its images o a history that is nothing less than a “permanent catastrophe.” This is the sense in which Baudelaire was the “secret agent” of the destruction of his own class.

…Baudelaire’s spleen–that is, his profound disgust at things as they were–is only the most evident emotional sign of this state of affairs.

–From the “INTRODUCTION” By Michael W. Jennings — THE WRITER OF MODERN LIFE: ESSAYS ON CHARLES BAUDELAIRE by Walter Benjamin

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How to Hate Hillary
March 29, 2008

“You can … discuss this avalanche of misogyny without endorsing her campaign …” –Bill Moyers in conversation with Kathleen Hall Jamieson

~~

Select excerpts from Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye To All That (#2)“:

—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.

—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 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.”

—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 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.”

—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).

–Select excerpts from Robin Morgan’s “Goodbye To All That (#2)

~~

From “All You Need is Hate” by Stanley Fish:

She is vilified for being a feminist and for not being one, for being an extreme leftist and for being a “warmongering hawk,” for being godless and for being “frighteningly fundamentalist,” for being the victim of her husband’s peccadilloes and for enabling them…

But the people and groups Horowitz surveys have brought criticism of Clinton to what sportswriters call “the next level,” in this case to the level of personal vituperation unconnected to, and often unconcerned with, the facts. These people are obsessed with things like her hair styles, the “strangeness” of her eyes — “Analysis of Clinton’s eyes is a favorite motif among her most rabid adversaries” — and they retail and recycle items from what Horowitz calls “The Crazy Files”: she’s Osama bin Laden’s candidate; she kills cats; she’s a witch (this is not meant metaphorically)…

The closest analogy is to anti-Semitism. But before you hit the comment button, I don’t mean that the two are alike either in their significance or in the damage they do. It’s just that they both feed on air and flourish independently of anything external to their obsessions. Anti-Semitism doesn’t need Jews and anti-Hillaryism doesn’t need Hillary, except as a figment of its collective imagination. However this campaign turns out, Hillary-hating, like rock ‘n’ roll, is here to stay.

–from “All You Need is Hate” by Stanley Fish

~~

And lest you buy into the notion that Clinton is “calculating” while the other campaigns are not, take a peek at “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington“:

That’s the key word in trying to figure out Obama: He seems like everything to everybody, which is not necessarily his fault. Much of the media coverage of Obama has been personality focused, as the story of the son of a Kenyan and a Kansan, the third African-American senator since Reconstruction. Because the media have not looked as closely at his political positions, Obama has taken on the quality of a blank screen on which people can project whatever they like. But he hasn’t discouraged this. A masterful politician, Obama has a Bill Clinton-esque talent for maximizing that screen and appearing comfortable in almost any setting. And, like Clinton, Obama has an impressive control of the issues and a mesmerizing ability to connect with people…

Obama has a remarkable ability to convince you that his positions are motivated purely by principles, not tactical considerations. This skill is so subtle and impressive, it resembles Luke Skywalker’s mastery of the Force. It’s a powerful tool for a Democratic Party that often emanates calculation rather than conviction….

–from “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington

~~

All campaigns and politicians are calculated, especially in terms of appealing to people on an emotional level. If they weren’t, they’d flop. So let’s call out and then ditch the ad hominem woman-hating attacks and start dealing with what really separates Clinton and Obama. Please.

~~

7 Responses to “How to Hate Hillary”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    February 7th, 2008 at 10:39 pm eaaauuuuugh! Evil lizard-brain bastards…
    they have no clue they are reverting to livestock.
    WTF century is this?
    Great interview…it really is a primitive
    fetishistic thing. Astonishing.
    To see a collection of sayings more
    cringing and primal than even Freudian
    theory is depressing. The animal still
    lurks.
  2. Jordan Says:
    February 9th, 2008 at 1:54 pm eShe makes little kids cry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW7s8TuvZ8U
  3. Amy King Says:
    February 9th, 2008 at 9:47 pm eOh no! Going for the stomach … how could they? How could she? Arggh!
  4. Greg Rappleye Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 12:39 am eAmen.

    Thank you for this post.

  5. Amy King Says:
    February 10th, 2008 at 3:02 am eMy pleasure. Thanks for stopping by!
  6. Paula Delaine Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 11:46 am eThe Misogyny of Hillary Hating

    What I have to say has nothing to do with which Democratic candidate would be a better president: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. It has to do with the contest between Hillary, a woman who seeks to be our next president, and the “Hillary Haters”, people who have been relentlessly poisoning the public imagination with negative personal attacks against her. They don’t attack her politics, policies, intelligence or capacity to be president – only her personality.

    Hillary’s personality is no different now than when she held a comfortable lead in public opinion polls a couple of months ago and was favored to win. Recently, though, you’d think that she’s morphed into evil itself the way Hillary Haters on the radio talk shows, for instance, relentlessly portray her as: “evil Hillary”, “witch”, “ball-busting”, “prostitute”, “that bitch”, “mean-looking”, “untrustworthy”, “doesn’t know how to run her own home”, “she stuck with Bill just so she could use him for her own political ambitions”. These attacks (made mostly by men and some self-deprecating women) are unfair, sexist, and hateful. None of the male candidates are being demonized in this way. For those of us who have worked for women’s equality for so long, it’s painful to watch a qualified female candidate being trashed in this way.

    Here are some other examples of what has been said about her, but not the other candidates:
    • “I don’t trust her. She’s calculating and manipulative.” – What candidate isn’t calculating and manipulative when they want to sway public opinion and gain support…even the ones who are perceived as “honest”. It’s the nature of politics. Why berate Hillary for doing the same thing the male politicians do?

    • “I don’t know why I don’t like her. I just don’t. I mean, she’d probably be a good president, but she just rubs me the wrong way.” We’re supposed to be seeking someone who’s capable of running the country – not a personal relationship. Hillary Haters are being rubbed the wrong way because she’s a woman seeking power, going out of bounds of her expected sex role.

    • “I don’t like the way she talks or looks.” This is a personal projection having nothing to do with her ability to be an effective president. “Like-ability” is not the best measure of leadership. After all, George Bush was well-liked, and look what we got…twice.

    • “She’s a Washington insider, part of the Establishment. We need a change in the way things are done in Washington.” As members of Congress, all three of the leading primary candidates are Washington insiders…Hillary, Obama, and McCain. But a candidate’s status as an “insider” or “outsider” doesn’t guarantee we’ll get what we want. Uh, didn’t the “outsider” George W. Bush run for president with a promise to change Washington politics? He did, but not the way we wanted.

    In another example: when Hillary showed a little emotion in public – moist eyes – the media grabbed hold as if here was a true sign of her weakness and inability to be a strong president. Yet when Bill Clinton and George W. Bush shed a few tears while in office, they were perceived as positively human. It is mostly men who are concerned about Hillary’s emotions. Most women do not believe the public expression of natural human emotion is a weakness – especially when it’s as self-controlled display as Hillary’s was. In fact, it’s perceived as a strength.

    One could easily assume that curtained Republicans and/or corporate media moguls are injecting the virus of Hillary Hating into the media for ulterior purposes. So much of American media is now owned by a few people, most of whom are white, male Republicans. But I think the success of such a tactic points to a deeper problem than dirty politics or how a media message is skillfully crafted to favor one candidate over the other. If fear of Feminine Power weren’t so rampant in our hyper-masculine culture, and if the American public weren’t so susceptible to media manipulation and idol-worship, the Hillary Haters would not have found their seeds of slander so quickly bear fruit in the public imagination.

    Hatred of the Feminine is not always easy to see when you’re swimming in it. But thanks to blatant media bias during this long primary season, the non-objective choice of words and images that were fed to the public about Hillary and Obama starkly reveal our resistance in being fair to women. Why do we still silently stand by and accept this? Will our media be able to silently get away with racial bias against Obama if he wins the Democratic primary and challenges John McCain for the presidency?

    I’m glad that both a woman and an African American finally have a good chance to become president of our country. But misogyny should not be any more acceptable to Americans than racism. Reflect on this: if nothing other than gender changed, would Obama be able to gain as many votes if he were a black woman (unless, of course, he is Oprah)? Could Hillary Haters skewer Hillary’s character in the media as successfully if she were a white man?

    Barack Obama may inspire us because he speaks to our frustrations and longing to be better than we are. But If Hillary is a polarizing figure – as Hillary Haters claim – it’s not because of her politics nor even her personality. She’s a pioneer, a woman who dares to take on the most powerful leadership position in America, the provence of men. Pioneers always encounter resistance from those most frightened at the prospect of real change.

  7. Amy King Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 6:12 pm eWell put, Paula. Thanks very much for this. The fact that only a handful of self-identified feminists are discussing this bursting, publicized misogyny is shameful for us as an “advanced” nation. We claim to be purging ourselves of such hatred, but the truth is that those who attempt to even point it out, or even not to play along, get called names in an attempt to shut us up. Damn shame our advanced society is so backwards.

The Politics of Ashok
March 29, 2008

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Or rather, Ashok Karra’s thoughts on my political side. I am most grateful for his ongoing engagement and interest in my work.

Today, Ashok was moved by a recent poem that appears in Jacket, “Two if by Land, I Do”:

…As always, Amy King is well-aware of what I, as a student of Leo Strauss, would call the ancient/modern distinction. The fundamental difference between us and the medievals/Romans/Greeks is that we base politics on the fact men are not angels…

~~

In the past, Ashok has explored “Everyone Has a Decision To Make“:

I want to meditate on the above poem in order to see the relation between speech and coming to a conclusion within one’s own thought. My own feeling is that this has broad implications for how we conceive of politics. If we cannot be sure of our own moral stances, how can we be so sure others are wrong?

Many, many thanks, Ashok for your thoughts on and with these poems!

~~

“The true critic is he who bears within himself the dreams and ideas and feelings of myriad generations, and to whom no form of thought is alien, no emotional impulse obscure.” –Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

~~

One Response to “The Politics of Ashok”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:00 pm e..wow, a Straussian (as in Leo, grandpop
    of the Neo-Cons), no less?!
    That’s a difference. But very
    thoughtfully analyzed…and the premises
    crisply laid out. Fascinating. And
    someone who follows the path back through
    the prisms to you… not like the reviewers
    who find mainly quirky lingo and mystery, eh?
    Another sees sense beneath shimmers..
    ..impressive. Some widely-studied codeword
    reader, maybe. To borrow a metaphor
    from Strauss, Ashok seems to work hard at
    seeing the shapes beyond the shadows!

    I’m a bit “open society”/Popper/Soros myself..
    ..heh..there’s a difference! But that makes Ashok
    all the more fascinating.

    I found you basically via phrase-tuning, Amy…
    ..I wonder if Ashok had some similar path.
    Or is it just the temptation of knowing there is
    something flashing at the bottom of your pools?

Not Thinking Alike
March 29, 2008

samuel-clemens-mark-twain.gif

“It is not best that we all should think alike, it is differences of opinion that make horse races.”

–Mark Twain

~~

A few new poems written by my non-pseudonym in Jacket Magazine:

* The Arm of Eden
* Where Bullfinches Go to Defy
* Two if by Land, I Do
* A Martyrdom Should Behave Us All

This is an early appearance as Jacket #35 is still under construction though you’ll find a little action there already.

Please enjoy!

~~

4 Responses to “Not Thinking Alike”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    January 31st, 2008 at 5:55 pm eLooks like Mark Twain has anxiety…
    …but wait, that’s correct.
    Love those, esp. the last two.
    The face is bold, looking in and out. -)
  2. Amy King Says:
    February 3rd, 2008 at 4:05 am eYay! I’m glad you liked them, Jim! It’s funny – Ana also said she liked the last two best too.
  3. ashok Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 8:12 am eAll your poems are amazing, but “Two if by Land, I Do” has me reading and rereading and wondering. It’s probably no stretch to say it is an important poem, where you’ve gotten at the cosmic through the personal, all by one little twist – changing “do you want” to “do you believe.”It is really astounding to me how nuanced your political views are, how they comprehend so many issues most of us would abstract from the realm of politics.I sound nuts, don’t I.
  4. Jim K. Says:
    February 4th, 2008 at 9:08 pm eheh…not at all, Ashok. There are political, personal, and
    philosophical nuances swimming in that ocean. Your
    language and cultural tuning is astute.

The Flâneur on Torture
March 29, 2008

charles-baudelaire.jpg

“The Question (torture), when considered as the art of discovering the truth, is a barbarous stupidity; it is the application of a material means to a spiritual end.”

– Charles Baudelaire, Intimate Journals

Analysis 101
March 27, 2008

Many of my students are required to watch the above youtube video, “A Girl Like Me”, among numerous others, as part of their supplemental assignments in my courses. Basically, I try to get them to begin analyzing by using the mediums they are most accustomed to, which include youtube and showing dvds of popular media in class. Some resist — these are the students who equate growing up in the “Information Age” with “knowing it all”. “Why do we have to ask so many questions?” And then there are the other students who suspect that they have inherited their belief systems from their parents and mainstream media and are longing for permission to question those values, especially as they become aware of the absence of a historical context for how those values came about. I aim to enable.

The video below, Ciara’s “Like a Boy”, is not assigned viewing; I expect they will have seen that one on their own. But the video did resonate with some recent comments Gloria Steinem made at Mill’s College last March. What follows are a few paragraphs I’ve excerpted from an article in the latest Curve Magazine, “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents”, about her visit there.

~~

–from “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents” in Curve Magazine

The 73-year-old former editor and founder of Ms. magazine joked about her undercover work as a Playboy Bunny for a labor expose in 1963, saying that she is still introduced as a former Bunny and would not do it again. She added that while it was not a great career move, it was a feminist step forward. Steinem said that a story she would try to get out today is of sexual and labor slavery, which is “more numerous in form in relation to the current population and the world than it was in the 1800s.” She says that these forms of slavery are much larger, more damaging and more profitable than the drugs and arms industries.

On the greater number of women who attend college today as an indication of living in “the best of times,” Steinem responded that the numbers partially reflect women who are now in college because they weren’t able to attend before. The audience responded with mumbles when Steinem added, “There are all these studies that show, like the famous valedictorian study, that women’s self-esteem goes down with every additional year of higher education–because we are essentially studying our absence. It took me over 20 years to get over my college education. I don’t think we can make easy assumptions.”

Steinem also took Mills to task for their own survey, in which its students (all female) revealed their regard for feminism as an “elitist movement, that it only represented white upper- and middle-class and largely heterosexual women.” Steinem argued the opposite: “The women’s movement is factually, actually, the most inclusive from every point of view– from race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, language –movement that this country has ever seen,” she stated, remembering the 1977 National Women’s Conference. “[It] was probably the only truly representative national political meeting the country has ever seen. In 1977.” Furthermore, Steinem argued that to label feminism a white, elitist and exclusive movement “wipes out the history of women of color who have been the pioneers of the women’s movement always.”

Dr. Candace Falk, director of the Emma Goldman Papers Project, about the radical first-wave feminist, at UC Berkeley, said, “What I think is very interesting about [Steinem] is her ability to listen and to change, and to become one with her political analysis, and her sexual analysis, and her understanding of the world, of hierarchies, of capitalism–of all the ways in which things converge to put women in the lesser place–but also have a larger view of a kind of world that would include all of us.”

–from “Gloria Steinem’s Two Cents” in Curve Magazine

5 Responses to “Analysis 101”

  1. Mr. Horton Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 2:03 am eThanks for “Girl Like Me.” Very powerful stuff.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 5:27 am eGreat to have just for looking.
    YouTube is getting to be a key resource!
    There really ought to be a YouTube//Lib. Of Congress
    project. Or someone. Buying up rights if necessary.
  3. Emmanuel Sigauke Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 4:16 pm eI started using YouTube in class this summer and what an amazing resource! Most of my students used it as a tool to present on their research projects, and that worked for a summer writing class.
  4. Nic Sebastian Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 9:09 pm eGot a great kick out of both videos — thanks!
  5. Amy King Says:
    August 10th, 2007 at 4:08 pm eWelcomes all around!

The Environmentalist?
March 27, 2008

gunter-grass.jpg

Does the poem below evidence Günter Grass’s predilection for the environmentalist movement?

Finnish librarian, Petri Liukkonen, has curated and written the Pegasos Authors’ Calendar (Kirjailijakalenteri) for many moons now, a spot I go to for succinct author, theorist, & philosopher introductions. The following was lifted from said spot:

[Günter Grass] has once said, that writers, by giving us ‘’mouth-to-ear artificial respiration,’’ help keep humanity alive.

“You can begin a story in the middle and create confusion by striking out boldly, backward and forward. You can be modern, put aside all mention of time and distance and, when the whole thing is done, proclaim, or let someone else proclaim, that you have finally, at the last moment, solved the space-time problem. Or you can declare at the very start that it’s impossible to write a novel nowadays, but then, behind your own back so to speak, give birth to a whopper, a novel to end all novels” (from The Tin Drum).

~~~

OUR LITTER WHICH

Looked for pebbles and found
the surviving glove
made of synthetic pulp.

Every finger spoke.
No, not those daft yachtman’s yarns
but of what will remain:

our litter
beaches long.
While we, mislaid,
will be nobody’s loss.

Günter Grass

~~~~

4 Responses to “The Environmentalist?”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 4:29 pm eHaving spent a lot of time beachcombing in the mid-70s,
    I can vouch for the abstract trash (then especially).
    Interesting…I actually read three things lit up by comparison..
    1) “our litter // beaches long”
    2) “while we, mislaid, will be nobody’s loss”

    (2) is especially interesting right now, both as our species perhaps going wrong,
    (time and evolution filling in the dents)
    and as the growing anonymity of the individual in the roar of the Web
    (making the speckness and lostness more plain to see now).

    Things and times have refrains and redecorated pasts under the Tao.

  2. Helen Losse Says:
    July 18th, 2007 at 11:30 pm eHi Amy, I’ve read this half a dozen times and still don’t know what to comment, except that I really like this poem. Every word seems necessary and in its right position. Grass does begin in the middle and create confusion while tying things up very well. Thanks for posting this.
  3. Gary Says:
    July 19th, 2007 at 4:33 pm eGreat poem, Amy. Thanks for posting.
  4. Amy King Says:
    July 19th, 2007 at 9:59 pm eMost welcome, All! Glad you enjoyed it~

The Great American Love Story
March 27, 2008

ernest-and-louis.jpg

After Thirty Years …

As the day of Independence draws near, I realize it’s high time to look closely at a truly egalitarian relationship that is symbiotic, nurturing, and successful in the face of the great American obstacles regularly and historically hurdled by Ernest & Louie Clay-Crew. The story these two share touches on the traditions this country still battles and thrives on. Regardless of your race, class, orientation, geographic locale, or gender, you’ll find that Ernest and Louie have something to teach us all about dependence and independence.

A few excerpts follow below from their story, though it really ought to be read in entirety, and additionally, Louie maintains an elaborate list of poetry publishers that accepts electronic submissions for all of you poets out there. Thanks Ernest and Louie — “Oh while I live, to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior to me will ever take command of me.” — Walt Whitman

And Happy July Fourth to every citizen — “I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” –Walt Whitman.

~~

“Our marriage [2/2/74], like our courtship, has been conventional. It was love at first sight when we met at the elevator just outside the sixth- floor tearoom of the Atlanta YMCA [9/2/73]. Ernest was a fashion coordinator for a local department store, I a state college professor from 100 miles way, deep in the peach and pecan orchards. One of us black, the other white; both native Southerners. We commuted every weekend for five months. Our friends were not surprised when we decided to marry.

One could be too quick to sentimentalize a few details, such as our bed, a two-hundred-year-old four-poster built by the slave ancestors of one of us for the free ancestors of the other. Perhaps we were fulfilling their dream? Or Dr. King’s dream…? We find day-to- day living too difficult for us to negotiate other people’s dreams: we work at living our own dream, a dream no different from the dream of many other couples, a dream of a home with much love to bridge our separateness.

Our friends here for a long time wondered why we do not at least keep a lower profile by not mentioning our relationship. It is important to Ernest and me that our relationship is public. We are not in merely a sexual union, but in a complex coupling that integrates all our life together. Whether we are entertaining or being entertained, even when we are just shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly, it is important for us to know that we know that they know. We can even sometimes get into enjoying their games with knowing, as when the employees all dash behind the butchers’ one-way mirror to watch us wink at them when we pass. As Ernest puts it, ‘Honey, you may gloat, but we’re the stars!’

One of the lowest points in our marriage was an occasion when I asked Ernest, ‘If you get that job with the cosmetics firm in NYC, can I live off your earnings so I won’t have to stay here in Georgia the rest of this year?’ He did not answer. I waited out the long silence almost half a day, and then he said, ‘Did I ask you could I `live off your earnings’ when I moved here from Atlanta without a job first?’ I had momentarily lapsed from the more pervasive economy that our marriage effects. Were we autonomous, at each trysting we would come at each other unequally. I would be the wealthier, Ernest the younger; I the more experienced, Ernest the more spontaneous…. In marriage everything is given once and for all. For us marriage ended trading and introduced sharing. The money is ours. The youth is ours. The spontaneity is ours. And whatever is exhausted or whatever is incremented is ours.

My own neurotic compulsions with these middleclass perceptions have frequently inhibited my full enjoyment of our marriage. While I enjoy cooking, sewing, and more limitedly, keeping house, more and more my writing and my organizing activities have preempted the major portions of my energy. Ernest is a better cook, a much more efficient housekeeper, and an expert shopper. Once I came home late on a rainy night to find all the washed wet clothes in the refrigerator. ‘What on earth!’ I exclaimed. ‘Lord, chile, you sure be white tonight,’ he laughed; ‘I can tell your mama never took in washing. It’s the way to avert the mildew.’

My learning to enjoy my man’s househusbandliness as much as I enjoy my own is in many ways parallel to our enjoying all parts of each other’s anatomy. The first question most gay friends ask us is, ‘Which of you is the husband? Which the wife?’ We honestly have no way to answer respecting this dichotomy. We are not thus differentiated. We both like gentle perfumes, and we both like poignant funkiness; we both enjoy our gracefulness as well as our toughness.

We are not mirror images, however. Our careers are different and we do not compete. We make no special demands about productivity, but we are both aware that a marriage is dead when either fails to want to contribute. Ernest respects the summers I spend not making a dime but writing away as if I’ll not have another such season. I respect his taking off a year to go to school or his taking off time to do hair of women in the state mental hospital.

At the risk of being still more invidious, I suspect that of the many nongay couples who break up, many break up because society’s alleged supports of heterosexual relationships are falsely advertised and hypocritical. After the honeymoon is over, once the careers pull at each other, once Jan and John realize that their parents might even expect them to divorce, that their priest has divorced, that their friends and neighbors are too busy with their own relationships to care (except possibly for the value of self-congratulation that attends efforts to seem to care), non-gays choose to walk away from each other in bewilderment, or to remain together only by law. Gay relationships may be paradoxically blessed by not having the chance even to expect such support systems.

Ernest and I wrote our divorce contract at the outset: each would take half. We made our wills to structure property guarantees. We both own together all that each makes. We have had to make our own structures, knowing that major efforts would be exerted to deny even those plans. We have instructions about funerals, burials, etc.

We have had some few but very significant resources in our community, namely, in our friends. We are both gregarious and affable, and we are invited to many parties. Often he is the only black person or I the only white present, so segregated are the others in our community. We are avid dancers, and always do courtesies of dancing with our hosts’ spouses. Maybe some index of our integration is the fact that only one couple has ever said that we should feel comfortable to dance together at their parties, and even there the other guests do not have an ambience about them that would make us feel comfortable doing so. Also, our gay friends would be much too vulnerable for us to invite to gay parties any of our nongay friends.

In many ways we did not even anticipate, our coupling is itself our career, so much does it alter our professional expectations, our job security, our work climate, etc. Everyone knows that gay folks are reasonably harmless if we remain at the baths, the bars, the adult movie houses, the tearooms, and other such restricted areas. Ernest could have met a new Louie and I a new Ernest every night at the Atlanta YMCA for decades, and no one much would have bothered. Possibly a Tennessee Williams might have celebrated our waste, or maybe even a Proust. Certainly my priest would not have shouted, as he did recently, that we are ‘making a mockery of Christian marriage and the home.’ Then my bishop would never have written, as he did this week, ‘I am weary of almost constant pressure applied on this office by a movement which I do not fully understand, but which I wish to grow in understanding’–this while virtually telling me, probably his only regular gay correspondent, that I persecute him merely by calling attention to my needs and the needs of my people. Were Ernest and I still just tricking furtively at the YMCA, my students would see me as they used to, as the linguist, the rhetorician, the literary critic, the poet, the jogger–and not, as so often now, merely as ‘that smart sissy.’ It is only when we couple openly that the heterosexist culture marshals its forces against us.”

–From Two Grooms by Louie Crew

–Photos of the Renewal of Vows, 1999.

~~

“The poet judges not as a judge judges but as the sun falling around a helpless thing.” — Walt Whitman

~~

11 Responses to “The Great American Love Story”

  1. Helen Losse Says:
    July 3rd, 2007 at 9:56 pm eThanks Amy. I read the entire story. I have several poetry publication credits, thanks to Louie Crew’s poetry list. Their story is truly about a loving relationship and how to make it work.
  2. Michael Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 12:44 am eExtremely moving in his discussion of how couplehood works and doesn’t work: Louie should be giving lessons to all who propose to live and love together. Calm, practical, and wise without showing off wisdom. May they prosper and be safe!
  3. Jim K. Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 3:48 am eNice excerpting. People are people. -)
  4. Jim K. Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 4:33 pm e
    ..that I persecute him merely by calling attention to my needs
    and the needs of my people.

    –This type of histrionic counter-argument is what I find most galling.
    That people asking for their own personal rights are oppressing
    other people by their mere asking. Maybe even by their
    mere presence. Not that you have or have
    not something within an institution….no: merely mentioning an
    issue is supposed to be an act of oppression against the majority.
    A rape-victim “oppresses” a Catholic ER because she wants
    a morning-after pill….this is cut of the same cloth. A cloth that
    hungers to make everyone the same, to control. Is the deal that
    you receive things by pawning your freedoms? Such a place
    cannot receive “public” support or patients if it truncates private
    life. This is not the big idea, on this, the day of our independence:
    The idea is that the the public trust was set up to assure private
    freedoms. Our Constitution is plain on this.
  5. Timothy Caldwell Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 9:46 pm eWow, nothing like making me cry. Thanks for sharing this touching tribute to love and friendship, and also for the Whitman quotes.
  6. Unwicked › Amy King: Recommended Reading Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 10:00 pm e[…] Amy King is a poet, teacher, and overall groovy person who I consider myself fortunate to have encountered in my travels. She has a post up today that dug right down into me and touched that heart of mine. Please take a moment out of your day or night to enjoy The Great American Love Story. […]
  7. yousef Says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 10:06 am eplz read my story . i am writer living iran. tanks

    http://yousefalikhani.blogspot.com/2007/07/gourchal.html

  8. Amy King Says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 7:32 pm eHelen, My sentiments exactly & I’m glad you read the whole account.

    Jim, Indeed, I despise the “you’re oppressing me” contention simply because others don’t “agree” with the way someone else is living or with the decisions that they wouldn’t make. I don’t even like the whole simplified notion of “tolerance” as such — I’ll tolerate you? Gee, thanks – does that only mean I don’t repel you enough to cause you to harm me? Thanks for the tolerance. Sorry to oppress you by not cloning or imitating you and your decisions, etc.

    Tim, You are one of the sweetest. I think you make NYC just a whole lot nicer for being in it!

  9. Jim K. Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 2:31 am eTolerance is an eery word that has its origin in
    a freedom of thought. That is to say, someone is allowed
    to despise me, or believe that I will be tortured in eternity
    for not having their brand of mental sunglasses on, but that’s
    OK as long as they don’t mess with my life. A cold standoff,
    but a truce of thinking, as it were. We can’t tell people what to
    think, per se. We can talk about how they writh in pointless torment
    for being allergic to some natural things in the world, though.
    How they oppress themselves.
    The lingering bitters of “tolerance” are why a UCC church, for example,
    votes to be “open and affirming”, not “tolerant”. It’s not fair or loving
    to “tolerate” a marriage in a church: you must love and wish the best
    for the couple….as they are.
    For society, education and normalization are the best way to assure
    belonging. Your neighbor is still “us”, not “them”.
    Your article is about how wonderful and human two people are.
    It makes it hard to deny us-ness. About impossible.
    I wanted to come back to that so I didn’t monopolize things with
    a critique of hate-think. It is a very important story.
  10. Amy King Says:
    July 6th, 2007 at 2:47 am eJim, I love that:

    “It makes it hard to deny us-ness. About impossible.” Wish we could all start thinking that way … there needs to be a bumper sticker and a blog banner and and …

    Thanks!

  11. Collin Says:
    July 10th, 2007 at 11:00 pm eA brilliant post. Thanks for excerpting this, Amy.