Sunday, February 19, 2012

Announcing: The Language of Grief

"When we think about grief, it is this type of grief that usually comes to mind: the pain that follows the loss of a loved one to death. As these poems testify, however, feelings of loss and grief are much more mundane than that. They occur in all kinds of situations. We can feel grief when we abandon one living situation for another or when a longtime partner leaves us. We can even feel it when we begin a new relationship (grief for our loss of solitude). We can feel grief when we enter a new, clearly delineated life phase, such as when our career path changes or our values blatantly shift (thought in some cultures to occur every seven years, the frequency with which a snake changes its skin or the length of time it took to write this book). But we can also feel it more subtly, such as when our routines are disrupted or our ideals are undermined by the cruelties of experience. We can feel it when something happens in the collective political consciousness, such as after a presidential election, the declaration of a war, or the onset of a recession. On a smaller but no less powerful scale, we can feel it when we are humiliated at work (grief for own lost dignity), when we enter a shopping mall (grief for the commodification of our objects), or after we eat a cheap and nutritionless meal (grief for the poverty of our food). In the America I know, grief is omnipresent."

From the preface to The Language of Grief

Contribute to the Kickstarter here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Amazon is "Dangerous"

"For years, America's upper-middle classes--of all political leanings--have tended to gaze on our political economy with a certain smug self-confidence. Even as our new masters [corporate monopolies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and others] imposed their rule over the market once run by our farmers and small shopkeepers, and smashed the unions that empowered industrial workers and flight attendants to bargain as equals with their bosses, we turned away."

Read an excerpt of the article ["Killing the Competition: How the new monopolies are destroying open markets," by Barry C. Lynn] from Harper's magazine here. It is a fascinating and unflinching depiction of the farce that is economic life in America today. It gives one pause. As it should.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Poem for One Day

"Honor to those who in their lives
demarcate and guard a Thermopylae.
Never swerving from duty,
just and upright in all their acts,
but compassionate and sad nevertheless;
generous when they are rich, when poor 
generous again in small ways,
again rushing to help as much as they can;
always speaking truth
but with no hatred for liars."

From Thermopylae by the Greek poet C.P. Cavafy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valediction for Tony Judt

"The result [of three decades of uncomplicated market worship] is a politics of fear: fear of the stranger, fear of falling into the ranks of losers in a dog-eat-dog culture, fear of the future. Which in turn leads to the kind of paralysis that characterizes our national government today...It's decadent to embrace vast spending on the maintenance of a warfare state in order to, among other things, drain off resources that might otherwise be available to a welfare state."

an excellent article in the LA Review of Books on the late, postwar historian Tony Judt.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

This Morning, This Evening, So Soon

I came across this line in a James Baldwin short story the other day which helped me to make sense of some of the response to my article a few weeks ago:

"The habits of public rage and power would have also been our private compulsions, and would have blinded our eyes."

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Our Rancid Capitalist Hearts

"Strip away the circumstantial differences and The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, and Weeds are all about the acquisition of capital, territorial expansion, and the liquidation of assets and enemies.

Americans love this story. It's a kind of bootstrap fairytale that exalts the glories of the free market for those willing to unyoke ambition from conscience. We know, in our brains, that Tony Soprano is a gluttonous thug. But in our rancid capitalist hearts we root for him anyway."

Steve Almond writing about Mitt Romney in The Rumpus.

The man has a point.