Oct 30, 2010

Illustrations by Harry Clarke for a 1925 edition of Goethe's Faust -- Happy Halloween

From a Journey Round My Skull


clarke 2

clarke 3




Much More:  A Journey Round My Skull: Harry Clarke's Faust

The Trees are Down by Charlotte Mew


Shamefully overlooked -- One collection (The Farmer’s Bride) of 16 poems including this one is all that remains.  she was briefly institutionalized before she committed suicide by drinking Lysol in 1928.

The Trees Are Down

- and he cried with a loud voice: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees -

They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of
         the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of
         the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the 'Whoops' and the 'Whoa', the loud common talk,
         the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.

I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding
         a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a
         god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.

The week's work here is as good as done. There is just
         one bough
On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
         Green and high
         And lonely against the sky.
                    (Down now! -)
         And but for that,
         If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never
         have thought of him again.

It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the 'Whoops' and the 'Whoas' have carted
         the whole of the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.

It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the
         hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains,
         In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
         There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
         They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying -
         But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
          'Hurt not the trees.'

Oct 29, 2010

Arab Elections: Free, Sort of Fair... and Meaningless | The Middle East Channel



A certain Arab country recently held parliamentary elections. The vote was reasonably free and fair. Turnout was 67 percent, and the opposition won a near majority of the seats -- 45 percent to be exact. Sounds like a model democracy. Yet, rather than suggesting a bold, if unlikely, democratic experiment, Saturday's elections in Bahrain instead reflected a new and troubling trend in the Arab world: the free but unfair -- and rather meaningless -- election.

Something similar will happen on Nov. 9 in Jordan. The Hashemite Kingdom is a close U.S. ally that has grown increasingly proficient at predetermining election results without actually rigging them. It involves gerrymandering at a scale unknown in the West and odd electoral engineering (Jordan is one of only three countries in the world that uses something called Single Non Transferable Vote for national elections). Even when the opposition is allowed to win, the fundamentals do not necessarily change. Parliamentary legislation in countries like Jordan and Bahrain, after all, can be blocked by appointed "Upper Houses." And even if that were not the case, the King (or the President) and his ministers -- all appointed -- can also kill any threatening legislation.

If you go to Amman today, there are election tents and colorful posters everywhere. If you're lucky, you may stumble across an impassioned campaign speech. The government has launched a Western-style voter awareness campaign called "Let us Hear Your Voice." The U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) has been conducting voter registration drives and organizing a "Get-out-the-vote" effort to boost youth participation. For its part, the U.S. Congress may very well decide to pass a resolution, as it did in September 2007, commending Jordan for its "continued commitment to holding elections." The elections will likely be free. But, oddly enough, there is no opposition. Jordan's only real political party -- the Islamic Action Front, the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing -- has opted to boycott. For the first time ever, Jordan, long regarded as a bastion of progressive reform, may very well end up with a parliament where the opposition has 0 out of 110 seats.

Jordan and Bahrain are not alone. Egypt, too, will face parliamentary elections next month. Meanwhile, a growing number of Arab countries have opted to hold reasonably free elections, including Morocco, Kuwait, and Yemen. But rarely has the discrepancy between the appearance and substance of elections proven so vast. And rarely has so much been fought over so little.

It is somewhat surprising that things turned out this way…..

More:   Arab Elections: Free, Sort of Fair... and Meaningless | The Middle East Channel

Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe: Bright White Underground @ the Country Club

JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE, Bright White Underground, 2010
Mixed media on canvas
41 x 59
JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE, Bright White Underground
Installation view
JONAH FREEMAN & JUSTIN LOWE, Bright White Underground Archive #9, 2010
Framed silver gelatin photograph
18.5 x 22 inches



Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe: Bright White Underground | Country Club | Contemporary Art Gallery

Oct 26, 2010

Wong Kar Wai

2046 (2006)

Hong kong Express (1994)

Walter Schnackenberg at the Carnival

From A Journey Round My Skull



"Zeichnung zum Gedicht 'Russisches Ballett'"

A Journey Round My Skull: Walter Schnackenberg at the Carnival

Song of the Witches

For the occasion of All Saints Eve

Song of the Witches


Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the caldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.


Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Cool it with a baboon's blood,

Then the charm is firm and good


~ William Shakespeare

Oct 24, 2010

Susan Sontag: Notes On "Camp"

Published in 1964.

sontagMany things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility -- unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it -- that goes by the cult name of "Camp."

A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Camp, in particular, has never been discussed. It is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric -- something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques. Apart from a lazy two-page sketch in Christopher Isherwood's novel The World in the Evening (1954), it has hardly broken into print. To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it. If the betrayal can be defended, it will be for the edification it provides, or the dignity of the conflict it resolves. For myself, I plead the goal of self-edification, and the goad of a sharp conflict in my own sensibility. I am strongly drawn to Camp, and almost as strongly offended by it. That is why I want to talk about it, and why I can. For no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyze it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.

Though I am speaking about sensibility only -- and about a sensibility that, among other things, converts the serious into the frivolous -- these are grave matters. Most people think of sensibility or taste as the realm of purely subjective preferences, those mysterious attractions, mainly sensual, that have not been brought under the sovereignty of reason. They allow that considerations of taste play a part in their reactions to people and to works of art. But this attitude is naïve. And even worse. To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself. For taste governs every free -- as opposed to rote -- human response. Nothing is more decisive. There is taste in people, visual taste, taste in emotion - and there is taste in acts, taste in morality. Intelligence, as well, is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas. (One of the facts to be reckoned with is that taste tends to develop very unevenly. It's rare that the same person has good visual taste and good taste in people and taste in ideas.)

Taste has no system and no proofs. But there is something like a logic of taste: the consistent sensibility which underlies and gives rise to a certain taste. A sensibility is almost, but not quite, ineffable. Any sensibility which can be crammed into the mold of a system, or handled……………More Susan Sontag: Notes On "Camp"

Oct 23, 2010

Zionism: Two Deficits « P U L S E

M. Shahid Alamshahed alam

We do not fit the general pattern of humanity…”

David Ben-Gurion

…only God could have created a people so special as the Jewish people.

Gideon Levy

The fecundity of the Zionist project in producing claims of exceptionalism is not in doubt. Anyone who scans the voluminous Zionist literature will be suitably impressed by its repeated resort to claims of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism. There is scarcely any aspect of Israeli or Jewish history that has not been embellished with some claim to uniqueness.

Israeli exceptionalism has many uses. It defends, obscures, explains away the ‘abnormal’ character of the Zionist nationalist project. When the Irish sought national liberation, their goal was straightforward. They wanted to regain national control over their lives and their country from a foreign power. No one had to convince the Irish that they are descended from the gods; that they possessed a unique essence which set them apart from all other peoples; or that their history, religion, race, language, morality or culture set them above their colonial masters. Occasionally, driven by exuberance or hubris, nationalists have advanced exceptionalist claims, but the success of their movement has not depended on their acceptance. The Irish claimed sovereignty because they knew that they are a nation with their own territory. In order to create their own state, they did not have to establish that they are exceptional.

The Zionists confronted two handicaps that Irish nationalists did not face. The diverse and scattered Jewish communities of Europe – and even more so, the world – did not constitute a single people. Instead, the Jews of the world were loosely united by their religious heritage, but they shared their languages, cultures and genes with their neighboring communities. Moreover, no Jewish community had its own country, a substantial and contiguous territory where it formed a majority of the population. Despite these twin Jewish deficits – the absence of a nation and a national territory – the Zionists were determined to ‘liberate’ the Jews of Europe and endow them with their own state.

The Zionists would remedy the first deficit by denying its existence. They knew that the Jews were not a nation, but it would be unwise to begin their ‘nationalist’ movement with the admission that a Jewish nation did not yet exist. They also did not think that this deficit was a serious hindrance to their movement. With help from anti-Semites, whose attacks had been growing in recent decades, the Zionists were convinced that they could quickly convince enough frightened Jews that they are a nation. Instead of constructing a nationalism based on a common religion, however, the Zionists chose to cultivate a racial basis for Jewish nationalism. They embraced the anti-Semitic accusation that Jews of Europe are an alien race, not Germans or Russians, descended from the ancient Hebrews.

A racial identity offered the best hope of inculcating nationalism in culturally diverse Jewish communities. Only an identity, based on the myth of a common descent, could unite peoples who were as different ethnically and culturally as the Jews of Portugal, Britain, Germany, Greece and Russia. Only the myth of racial unity, only the conviction that they are a single family, descended from Abraham and Jacob, could unite orthodox, conservative and reform Jews into a nation. Once the Jews were convinced of their racial identity, preserved over hundreds of generations in exile, this would also endow them with pride in their ancient pedigree and their unique ability to survive and preserve their racial purity through difficult conditions. This was sure to engender a strong sense of their distinctiveness, superiority and destiny, rooted in Jewish traditions and the Jewish Bible. With confidence, the Jews could see themselves as a unique nation, both ancient and divinely blessed……….


Read more: Zionism: Two Deficits « P U L S E

Oct 20, 2010

twt.fm / lou donaldson -- "blues walk"

http://bassclef.air-nifty.com/monk/images/blues_walk.jpgLove This RT

twt.fm / lou donaldson -- "blues walk"  blueswalk

Download Song: Amazon | iTunes



hamid tekebaye

Headlines & Highlights | The Iran Primer

United States Institute of Peace

Since its 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic has been an ever-increasing challenge for the West to understand and to engage. But Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, disputed 2009 election, growing violations of basic human rights, and angry rhetoric have generated deeper hostilities with the outside world than at any time since the revolution’s early days. The stakes—and consequences—are greater than ever. Fifty experts—half Western, half from the Middle East—came together in “The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy” to explain what lies ahead.

U.S. – Iran relations

         Prospects for reconciliation with the United States are low while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei remains in power. At the same time, any engagement policy Iran that aims to ignore or bypass Khamenei is equally unlikely to succeed. In both the domestic and international context, Khamenei is averse to compromise under pressure, fearful of projecting weakness and inviting greater pressure. Karim Sadjadpour

         Some U.S.-Iran trade continues, especially in food. Iran is a large wheat importer; some years, it buys as much as $200 million in U.S. wheat… U.S. airlines pay several million dollars a year in fees to the Iranian government for air traffic control services while overflying Iran. Taking advantage of the peculiar U.S. classification of tobacco as a food for trade purposes, Iran bought large amounts of American cigarettes...While Iran has often complained that the United States does not allow Iran Air to buy spare parts for its aging Boeings, in fact, the Bush administration issued a license for such exports but Boeing has been unable to make a sale. Patrick Clawson

         The Algiers Accords ending the [1979-1981] hostage crisis returned only a fraction of Iran’s frozen assets…Iran received only $4 billion or one-third of its original assets. The cash loss to Iran amounted to about $150 million per hostage, or roughly $300,000 per day for each hostage. The cost, and the incalculable loss of international legitimacy that has dogged Iran ever since, suggest that the hostage episode is not a model that is likely to be attractive to other countries and is unlikely to be repeated. Gary Sick


          Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards have formed a symbiotic relationship that buttresses the supreme leader’s authority, and preserves the status quo…The Guards may be able to maintain the political status quo if they remain a unified force. However, they face internal divisions, which could potentially weaken Khamenei’s hand in a moment of crisis. Alireza Nader

         Khamenei initially supported President Ahmadinejad, but the distance between the two men has been growing…Ahmadinejad has been able to build a base of support among the very constituencies on which Khamenei depends: the Revolutionary Guards, the paramilitary forces, the security agencies and the judiciary. Shaul Bakhash

         Short-term, the opposition faces political purgatory. The regime has been willing to use unprecedented brutality to maintain power. Long-term, Iran’s many challenges are likely to be solved only in a democratic environment. These challenges include a dominant, Internet-savvy youth, an assertive women’s movement, structural economic difficulties (including double-digit unemployment and inflation), badly needed large investments in the oil and gas industries and a dying private sector. Abbas Milani

Headlines & Highlights | The Iran Primer

The Rumors of Multiculturalism’s death Are Exaggerated (Against Merkel) | Informed Comment

German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend declared “multiculturalism” dead in her country and demanded that labor immigrants be assimilated, through German language and German culture.

This sort of discourse has a long and ugly history in Germany and it derives from a set of mistaken premises. An important strand of modern German political philosophy has tended to see the state as weak and fragile, and as easily toppled by criticism, dissent, and difference. The opposite has tended to be true in the past two hundred years–governments most often are much stronger than society and are hard to challenge.

That the state must assert itself and must ensure a broad cultural consensus among its subjects lay behind the Kulturkampf or ‘cultural struggle’ of the 1870s, ……………

More: The Rumors of Multiculturalism’s death Are Exaggerated (Against Merkel) | Informed Comment

GOOD Voter Guide to California: Propositions - Politics - GOOD

 Good California

Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be publishing primers about the important items on the ballot in California as part of our GOOD Voter Guide.

GOOD Voter Guide to California: Propositions - Politics - GOOD

Oct 1, 2010

Christopher R. Al-Aswad Entered into life July 16th 1979 - Escaped into life July 27th 2010

Christopher R. Al-Aswad tribute
The following is an excerpt Chris wrote in his own handwriting, from Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth.

From all of us who follow and love Escape into Life, thank you Chris,  for everything.
hamid & company | Christopher R. Al-Aswad Entered into life July 16th 1979 - Escaped into life July 27th 2010

Terror Threats and Alerts in France



Related Special Topic Page

By Scott Stewart

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated Sept. 28 after an anonymous bomb threat against the symbolic Parisian tourist attraction was phoned in; no explosive device was found. The day before the Eiffel Tower threat, French authorities closed the Gare Saint-Lazare in central Paris after an abandoned package, later determined innocuous, was spotted in the train station.

These two incidents serve as the latest reminders of the current apprehension in France that a terrorist attack is imminent. This concern was expressed in a very public way Sept. 11, when Bernard Squarcini, the head of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (known by its French acronym, DCRI), told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the risk of an attack in France has never been higher. Never is a long time, and France has long faced terrorist threats, making this statement quite remarkable.

Squarcini has noted in recent interviews that the combination of France’s history as a colonial power, its military involvement in Afghanistan and the impending French ban on veils that cover the full face and body (niqabs and burqas) combined to influence this threat environment.

A Month of Threats

After the French Senate approved the burqa ban Sept. 14 — which will go into effect next March — a bomb threat against the Eiffel Tower was called in that evening, causing French authorities to evacuate the site and sweep it for explosive devices.

On Sept. 16, five French citizens were abducted from the Nigerien uranium-mining town of Arlit in an operation later claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a claim French Defense Minister Herve Morin later assessed as valid. In July, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon declared that France was at war with the North African al Qaeda franchise after the group killed a French hostage it had kidnapped in April. Fillon’s announcement came three days after the end of a four-day French-Mauritanian offensive against AQIM militants that resulted in the deaths of several militants. After the offensive, AQIM branded French President Nicolas Sarkozy an enemy of Allah and warned France that it would not rest until it had avenged the deaths of its fighters.

French officials have also received unsubstantiated reports from foreign liaison services of plans for suicide bombings in Paris. National Police Chief Frederic Pechenard told Europe 1 radio Sept. 22 that in addition to the threatening statements from AQIM, the French have received specific information that the group is working to target France.

On Sept. 6, Der Spiegel reported that authorities were investigating reports provided by the United States that a German-born Islamist extremist arrested in Afghanistan has warned of possible terrorist attacks in Germany and elsewhere in Europe — including France — planned by jihadists based in Pakistan. This story hit the English-language media Sept. 28, and included reports that the threat may have involved plans to launch Mumbai-like armed assaults in multiple targets in Europe.

In the words of Squarcini to the press, these combined incidents mean “all the blinkers are on red.” This statement is strikingly similar to one in the 9/11 Commission Report attributed to then-CIA Director George Tenet, who said that in July 2001 “the system was blinking red.”

While an examination of the current threat situation in France is interesting, it is equally interesting to observe the way that the French are handling their threat warnings in the media.

The Threat Environment in France

While its neighbors such as Spain and the United Kingdom have suffered bloody attacks since 9/11, the French so far apparently have been spared — although there are some who suspect the yet-unsolved June 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 may have resulted from foul play, along with the explosion at the AZF fertilizer plant in September 2001.

France has long been squarely in the crosshairs of jihadist groups such as AQIM. This is due not only to its former colonial involvement in North Africa but also to its continued support of governments in countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia deemed un-Islamic by jihadists. It is also due to France’s military commitment in Afghanistan. Moreover, on the domestic side, France has a significant Muslim minority largely segregated in slums known in French as “banlieues” outside France’s major cities. A significant proportion of the young Muslim men who live in these areas are unemployed and disaffected. This disaffection has been displayed periodically in the form of large-scale riots such as those in October 2005 and November 2007, both of which resulted in massive property destruction and produced the worst civil unrest in France since the late 1960s. While not all those involved in the riots were Muslims, Muslims did play a significant and visible role in them.

Moves by the French government such as the burqa ban have stoked these tensions and feelings of anger and alienation. The ban, like the 2004 ban against headscarves in French schools, angered not only jihadists but also some mainstream Muslims in France and beyond.

Still, other than a minor bombing outside the the Indonesian Embassy in Paris in October 2004, France has seemingly been spared the type of attacks seen in Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. And this is in spite of the fact that France has had to deal with Islamist militants for far….

Read more: Terror Threats and Alerts in France | STRATFOR