The Sneaky Whisper

In search of a deeper understanding of MLK’s thinking regarding the complex relationship between a philosophical commitment to non-violence and eruptions of riots as a language of the unheard, we have been re-reading theologian Walter Brueggemann’s Truth Speaks to Power. We strongly recommend the book for close reading; below, a few excerpts, interwoven with images from recent events in Baltimore.

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A RESILIENT REMINDER

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SOMETHING MAXIMAL

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THE SUMMONS TO ANSWER

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We also take note of an extraordinary statement from Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby as reported by Amy Goodman, a statement that resonates with the sneaky whisper and the subverting force of truth:

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Negative Capability

We are indebted to John Gray, writing in his beautifully provocative new book The Soul of the Marionette, for reminding us of an endlessly suggestive aside penned by John Keats, in a letter to his brothers.

The most frequently cited phrase is highlighted below. Yet there are other noteworthy ideas, even in this abbreviated version of the letter: his keen understanding of the intensity of art; the distinction between humor and wit, and the frequent collapse of the latter into snobbery; the subtle parsing of dispute and disquisition; and the heightening of overcome with obliterate. Ah, Keats, what more might you have given us, had you lived even to the age of thirty?

The image between the excerpts: Saturnia, Eastward Crossing, by Antonio Dias, whose work radiates the sort of achievement that Keats isolates; the ability to be at home among the mysteries and uncertainties, beyond the reach of fact and reason.

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We shall have more to say about John Gray’s Soul of the Marionette in weeks to come, though we leave soon on one of our periodic peregrinations along the Appalachian Trail, among Civil War ghosts. Until the next, then, we leave DP readers with an offering from DP corresponding poet Jon Swan, with a nod to another entity – Emily –  who was no stranger to the Penetralium of mystery:

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Language of the Unheard

Seeking deeper understanding of recent events in Baltimore and elsewhere, beyond the shallow and incompetent coverage pumped out like wastewater by the mainstream media, we turn to the extraordinarily prescient speech by Martin Luther King, delivered at Stanford University on April 14, 1967.

The entire speech, with useful commentary, is available here; excerpts below, with italics added by DP for emphasis. Images are by Kara Walker.

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The time to end the “appalling silence” is NOW.


Frequent Wind

In April of 1975, Saigon finally “fell” to the Viet Cong insurgency. Here at DP, we have spent the past several days reviewing eyewitness accounts of the final evacuation, code-named Operation Frequent Wind. From the large chorus of voices, one in particular stands out: that of the distinguished Australian journalist John Pilger.

To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of events that still haunt the political philosophy of American exceptionalism, we excerpt Pilger’s account below; we also include several of the many images taken from those events, images that float like debris from a maritime catastrophe through the oceans of the web:

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Those who promoted and profited from the Vietnam war predicted a blood bath following the US departure; yet the blood bath had already happened, at places like Chau Doe and My Lai.


An Order So Unwieldy

A shared interest in the narrative buoyancy of Queequeg’s coffin alerted us to the remarkable work of the poet, painter and boat designer Antonio Dias.

We shall be delving more thoroughly into Mr. Dias’ work in future DP explorations; for now, we excerpt from an essay (slightly edited by DP) written to commemorate the 100th year since the sinking of the Titanic. On this, the 103th anniversary (by this time of morning, she was at the bottom of the North Atlantic), every one of his insights still applies. The images are two paintings, also from the hand of Mr. Dias:

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CONTACT

CONTACT

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COMPRESSION

COMPRESSION

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The buoyancy of spirit and intellect that enlivens the varied creations emerging from the studio of Mr. Dias persuades us that even though we have already struck the iceberg, all shall not be lost when the waves wash over the bridge.

Meanwhile, on our own voyage of oblivion, several First Class passengers collect ice cubes for their drinks. In the bar, the well-heeled huddle together, fervently discussing bright prospects for their pending immortality. No matter what happens to the ship, surely they are invincible, unsinkable. It says so on their passports.

Perhaps later in the winter, they say, let us all travel en masse to that new eco-island, you know the one. Yet plans for such reunions are made in vain; in a few hours — measured in deep time — their epoch of luxe flotation will come to an end.

The iceberg says nothing. The iceberg does nothing. The iceberg simply exists, as an iceberg.

The band plays on. Somewhere, beneath the sound of engines dying out, the careful listener might discern the cadenced rhythms of a chaplain, praying. Soon enough, he will bob about like a cork for a few moments on the surface of the sea, and then be gone.

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MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME FOR ANOTHER COCKTAIL


Invitations To Flight

Today we pay homage to the extraordinary life and art of Eduardo Galeano, that peerless poet of recollection and retrieval; that lover of life in all its forms; that midnight footballer; that philosopher of Time in all her joys and agonies; that meticulous chronicler of resistance and defiance; that champion of diversity and polyphony; that peaceful revolutionary; that beautifully unrepentant Utopian; that gracious, wry and generous gentleman.

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EDUARDO GALEANO: 1940-2015

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In his masterful final book, Children of the Days, we find the following entry for April 14:

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Without waste of a single word, Galeano brings the past vividly into the present, since every day contains within it the mnemonic ripples of every past day. Constantly resisting the allures of an intoxicating amnesia, Galeano always sought to measure our brutal actions against the noble aspirations that give them cover. In a passage from Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, he follows our “peaceful” footsteps up to the surface of the moon:

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Throughout his writing, Galeano reminds us that for every act of atrocity and oppression, there are those who resist and reject, often emerging from the ranks of the most exploited. Returning to Children of the Days:

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In story after story, Galeano inspires his readers to imagine a different future from the one projected by the past. An unabashed dreamer of alternative futures, he invites us to fly into another away of being, with joy and desire. In a widely-circulated ode for a new millennium, he stubbornly imagines a world……

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Though born with a poet’s ears, Galeano also pursued training in journalism, and cultivated a masterful talent for capturing the telling detail at the edges of a larger story, such as a forlorn shoe left by the side of a Berlin canal following the murder of Rosa Luxembourg:

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Gone from this untidy and messed-up world, he lived every night as if it were the last, and every day as if it were the first; Eduardo Galeano, forever PRESENTE!


Island of the Monomanes

Now comes the actor Leo DiCaprio and his grandiose ambition to “restore” a fragile barrier caye off the eastern coast of Belize by creating a temple of narcissism beneath the guise of a wellness resort. In an article in the New York Times that reads like an infomercial, entirely free from skeptical counterpoint, Mr. DiCaprio asserts:

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After reading this sentence, we thought that perhaps the actor had put on the mask of the Trickster, toying gleefully with our consummate hypocrisies; alas, he is dead in earnest.

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POST-MAYAN TEMPLE FOR A CELEBRATION OF THE HUMAN SELF

More promotional blather from Mr. DiCaprio:

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The counter-thesis that we humans must refrain from “saving the world” and vastly reduce our sphere of actions and interventions receives nary a thought from the model-building actor, who then chimes in with the humble intention to “regenerate the entire ecosystem”.

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Oh my — what could possibly go wrong?

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THE FUTURE SHAPE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT?

The architect for the project, Jason McLennan, described on his website as “one of the most influential individuals in the green building movement” (sigh),  enumerates the laundry list of wellness amenities that will be made available to the target market of well-intentioned sleepwalkers:

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Lo and behold, the project also bears the stamp of approval from the “poet-prophet of alternative medicine”, who — quelle surprise! — serves on the board of Delos:

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All impulse towards satire is reduced to silence by the unedited reality; so to the world-healers and poet-prophets of Delos, we submit the following memo:

MEMO

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DELOS UNMASKED


Response From A Reader

First thing this morning, on this first day of April, we received a strange email. After reading the first two paragraphs, we paused to take a screenshot. Shortly thereafter, the email vanished.

We post that screenshot below; who knows how long it will last there.   Read fast, and pay attention:

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SEEN BY DP INSIDE THE HEART OF DC


Playthings of the Wind

In recent weeks, we have been rediscovering the poems of Carl Sandburg, a voice whose powers and depths we may not have fully appreciated in past readings. We are particularly moved by the below four preludes to his extraordinary Playthings of the Wind, that beat at the heart of his 1920 collection, Smoke and Steel.

Written in the wake of the First World War, the cycle anticipates many horrors still to come in the American Century. The poems also resonate deeply with many of the core preoccupations of our desperado philosophy; the past is a bucket of ashes, oh yes — and how do we read the scrambled footprints of the rats in the dust of our grand delusions? Nothing like us ever was.

Three studies for John Singer Sargeant’s 1919 “Gassed” are followed by an image of the finished painting.

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WELL, WHAT OF IT?

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TWISTED ON BROKEN HINGES

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AND THE GOLDEN GIRLS CAME SINGING

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GASSED


Reading the Ashes

We are pleased to spread the word about a new music compilation release from the Dark Mountain Project, guided by the finely-tuned and freely-roaming ears of Marmaduke Dando. The entire release is well worth download and careful listening; as we write this, we are humming along with Telling the Bees:

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The title for the release descends from Carl Sandburg, through a “panel” in his remarkable 1920 collection, Smoke and Steel. The first panel reads:

 

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In position six, we find ashes laughing at ashes:

 

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In the penultimate position 13, we find the scorched Fire Pages that caught the attention of the estimable Mr. Dando:

 

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Still cleansing our souls from the toxic brew of leveraged singularity, we are stopped cold by what follows:

 

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We look out at the snow on the meadows burning off into the storm drains, fire running as far as the sea, and shout all over God’s heaven; more Carl Sandburg next week.


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