In the extraordinary moments following the historic verdict of guilty in the trial of former Guatemalan president Efraín Ríos Montt, a song broke out among those crowded inside the courthouse, with lyrics taken from a poem by Otto Rene Castillo:
“Here, no one cried / Here, we only want to be human / Eat, laugh, fall in love, live / Live life, not die.”
Though unable to find the mother text for these particular lines, we came across another poem (with translation below) while searching:
We also came across this stunning passage from the 1982 testimonial I, Rigoberta Menchú, written by the brave Mayan woman (and 1992 Nobel laureate) who suffered much during the time of the genocidal campaign executed by Ríos Montt and many others; a woman far ahead of her time, yet one who labored tirelessly against reprisals, cover-ups, redactions, distortions of official history and false reconciliation.
May those very same angels watch over all the witnesses who came forward to testify against the genocidal regime, in the months and years to come.
We are pleased to relay information regarding the most recent extraordinary project from one of our favorite artists here at DP: Charles Stankievech.
The catalogue includes an interview with curator Ola Wlusek:
Mr. Stankievech selects a quote from Clarice Lispector as an epigraph for the project:
I only had initially a lunar and lucid vision, and so I plucked for myself the instant before it died and perpetually dies.
We find the full context for the quoted passage useful, when contemplating voyages to the land beyond the land beyond:
I don’t know what I’m writing about: I am obscure to myself. I only had initially a lunar and lucid vision, and so I plucked for myself the instant before it died and perpetually dies. This is not a message of ideas that I am transmitting to you but an instinctive ecstasy of whatever is hidden in nature and that I foretell. And this is a feast of words. I write in signs that are more a gesture than a voice.
Now comes James Czywczynski, with his intention to sell two forty acre parcels on the Pine Ridge Reservation. One parcel includes the site of the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee; the second parcel, an area near Porcupine Butte that is also considered sacred by the Oglala Sioux, possibly includes the (unmarked) grave of Crazy Horse.
Mr. Czywczynski recalls the history of ownership in a recent interview:
“The land was put up for sale in the 1930s as an allotment so the Native people could sell their land. The Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation was sold off and there are many non-Indian ranchers, farmers, businessmen, cowboys and casinos that are owned and within the confines of that reservation. Our property was bought in the 1930s by Woodrow Wilson who signed the deed. Clive Gildersleeve’s father bought the land and store in 1935, which included 40 acres of the national historical site of Wounded Knee. In 1968, I bought the property from the Gildersleeve’s which included the Trading Post Museum, a home, four cabins and museum artifacts. The 40 acres we bought included the ravine and the area where the massacre took place in 1890.”
Having not succeeded in negotiating a sale with the Oglala by his deadline of May 1, Mr. Czywczynski placed the properties on public offer, for 4.9 million dollars:
“They had until today; the deadline was May 1 to come up with the money. Now we have put it on the open market nationally and internationally. It is just unfortunate. (…) I gave the tribe 30 years and five months to buy this property, and it isn’t as if they didn’t have the money, they could have done a bond issue—I have a friend who could have done a bond issue for them.”
“If they would just have taken $250,000 to copy million, they could have bought that property and owned it today. But, for some reason, they cannot see economic development and they cannot see tourism and they cannot relate. They want everything for free is what it amounts to I guess.”
“We are already getting a flock of calls from people including realtors… a local one in South Dakota that has a woman who wants to buy the land and give it to the Oglala Sioux. I would be glad to have that happen. Somebody from Al Jazeera might buy it too, or some foreign country. This is worldwide now. (…) It isn’t as though I didn’t give them enough time, the prior president served for six terms—I wrote him letters for 12 years and told him they should buy this. The price was even less than it is today.”
With a somewhat version of the story, we find Charles Trimble reporting contact with members of the Gildersleeve family:
We sense that the spirit of the shapeshifter Iktomi is in play, at play — pulling the strings that make the puppets twist and shout.
We are indebted to Chris Hedges for reminding us of Julien Benda’s book La Trahison des Clercs (translated into English somewhat clumsily as The Treason of the Intellectuals), first published in 1927. Benda identifies the fundamental betrayal as the subjugation of knowledge to power, or ”the desire to debase the values of knowledge before the values of action,” and then the equally as repellant exaltation in the result.
We note Benda’s reference to the sophist student Callicles, and his dismissive contempt for philosophers, as recorded in the Gorgias:
Like Benda in 1927, we are deeply disgusted in 2013 by the shameless cowardice of today’s consortium of clercs, for all their Calliclesian sophistication: cowardly silence regarding ongoing extralegal drone warfare; abuses inside Gitmo; the travails of Bradley Manning and other whistle blowers; and the long list of astonishingly corrupt and mendacious behaviors within the “busy centre and the market-place”. Such silence marks a crushing dominance of the morality of circumstance over more fundamental ethical imperatives. Violent mammals do not handle such unfettered relativism very well.
Yes, we know that such a perspective marks DP as ridiculous and unmanly— we patiently await our stripes.
It is easier to kill innocent civilians when they are reduced to nameless abstractions. Even if not completely dehumanized (the killer is aware he is killing human beings), the victims have been safely de-individuated, subsumed into a vague category such as “local militants”.
Hence the significance of the recently launched effort initiated by the indispensable Bureau for Investigative Journalism: to restore names and faces to all those killed by American drone strikes, primarily in Yemen and Pakistan, during the unending War on Terror.
We are reminded of the now iconic photo of a terrified little girl fleeing the inferno in Vietnam. How could this be? She does not look like a communist monster! Her vivid and vulnerable humanity cut through all the ideology and propaganda, and revealed in a moment of violent clarity the utter insanity of that earlier chapter in the ongoing saga of American atrocity.
Her name was Kim Phúc, and she now lives – peacefully – in Canada. In 2009, she said:
According to the news agency Interfax, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has set his eminently patriarchal gaze upon feminism as comprising a threat dangerous enough to destroy the motherland:
The Patriarch is a close ally of the motherland’s Big Daddy Putin, a mingling of patriarchal and oligarchical juices brilliantly exposed last year by the performance ensemble Pussy Riot. Incarcerated as a result of the convergence of power and religion around the issue of misbehaving (misbegazing?) young women, Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova recently gave her first interview since her show trial of last year.
Regarding her forthcoming parole hearing, Tolokonnikova said:
And regarding her life (and gaze) after prison?
Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer, who has already divulged plans for an exact replica of the Titanic, announced today that he also plans to create an exact replica of the iceberg that sank the fabled ocean liner.
“It comes down to understanding what this thing is all about,” said Mr. Palmer, adding that his survey results indicate that prospective passengers want the entire “tux to life vest” experience. “They want to know how it felt to make those key decisions, like who gets to escape from steerage, and who gets first dibs at the lifeboats, you know, that sort of thing,” explained the mining titan.
Mr. Palmer waived off skeptical comments regarding his ability to calve an iceberg. “Oh come now, my consultants tell me that an iceberg is either a snowball or an ice cube, so that means we’ll either roll it or chip it. Either way, compared to the logistics of a strip mine, it’s a piece of cake.”
Environmental organizations did not respond to phones calls seeking comment, but Mr. Palmer said he would address their concerns, as he has always done in his mining operations. “I intend to hire Sir Ranulph Fiennes as a sort of diplomat at large for the project, and he will assist in fundraising for anyone who has doubts or questions, and I am sure everyone will be happy in the end. We even had the idea that Sir Ranulph might take charge of a few lucky greenies who could bundle up all warm and fuzzy and ride the iceberg, you know, see the disaster from that perspective.”
When asked how he could justify spending a fortune to produce the replica simply to destroy it, Mr. Palmer replied, “Well, when I started this, I thought the point was to complete the maiden voyage that the iceberg sort of interrupted back in 1912. Then I read our own internal surveys, and I had this stunning epiphany — there is no way to compete with what really happened, so why not make it happen again? That way a whole new generation gets to experience the thrill of being carried down, deep inside what has become a tremendously powerful modern myth. No way can I let such an opportunity float by — so I figure let’s go whole hog.”
Yes, but will passengers who go whole hog be carried once again to their deaths? “My lawyers are still reviewing all that, but we’re thinking there will be different ticket classes — the more you pay, the more risk you accept. The highest price will be for those who want to go the full monty, and leave everything, you know, to fate. The main rescue boat was called the Carpathia, and we’re already about half done with a replica of her. I mean compared to the Titanic II, she is nought but an overblown tug boat.”
Once Titanic II disappears beneath the waves, what then? “Well, I’ve discovered I have a driving passion for building boats. I am prepared to keep building Titanics for as long as there are people who want to walk the walk and take a chilly swim past midnight. Some people may dream of taking a stroll on the moon, but on board the Titanic II you will get to look that iceberg dead in the eye, and then look your fellow passengers dead in the eye and find out who you really are at crunch time. You can’t slap a price tag on that.”
A wind farm of eleven industrial turbines off the coast of Aberdeenshire has been approved by the Scottish government. The project was opposed by Donald Trump, who claimed that the turbine “monstrosities” would interfere with the expansion of his golf paradise.
Mr. Trump recently disclosed plans for a 140 bedroom hotel that he claimed would be listed “among the finest hotels in Europe”, with one condition: “If plans for the ugly industrial wind turbines proceed, we would obviously not build this hotel.”
Here at DP, we are highly skeptical of wind farms at the scale now contemplated for coastal locations, not because of their impact on tourist vistas but because we question the projections for net energy generation from the costly turbines; we would even venture a prediction that the total cost of these “farms” across the full cycle of their operation (including as of yet unknown health and ecological impacts) will significantly exceed the value of the energy produced.
For now, though, let us focus on what Mr. Trump proposes as a more attractive visual spectacle for visitors to Aberdeenshire:
We are struck by the remarkable aesthetic similarity between the wind farm turbines and the “turbined” energy vents of this monstrous aggregation of rentable sleeping units.
The nautical reference for this particular mode of tourist accommodation is provided by the Carnival cruise turbine:
Stripping away all pretense and ornament, the deep aesthetic for both the Trump hotel and the Carnival cruiser derives from that ultimate expression of dense conveyance:
The more dense the concentration of energy and experience, the greater the profit, with all the trappings of power. Yet in the wind we hear a timeless prophecy, that all these hubristic monuments are destined for the same end:
If he were piloting the world’s rivers today, Twain (for whom we have a special affection here at DP) might find that reading the face of the water has become ever grimmer, and ever more dead-earnest:
Sometimes, the truth of the book is only divulged in the epilogue:
Very often, one must also pay special attention to editorial annotations scribbled along the edges of the text:
Among the plastic bits and bobs discovered inside the dead whale: a clothes hangar, an ice cream tub and two small flower pots. Such a diet makes for grim narrative flow.