Monday, December 14, 2009
at the end of the long day
only I know
the confident man’s confusion,
the nun’s desire,
the slight quiver in the tyrant’s eyelash,
the preacher’s obscenity,
the soul’s longing
for a warm body where flying sparks
become a glowing coal.
Only I know
the grandeur of unnoticed little things;
only I know the loser’s dignity,
the winner’s loneliness
and the stupid coldness one feels
when a wish has been granted.
by Mourid Barghouti
translation Radwa Ashour
from Midnight and Other Poems
Publisher: Arc Publications, Todmorden, Lancashire, 2009
or maybe a cloud. The years have piled
one atop the other in a great tower.
If we blink a month passes, if we yawn a year.
We rise from bed, wash our faces.
Sometimes sit together and read
the newspaper, sit and watch television,
sit and one of us is there and one isn’t.
Then the alarm goes off and you are far away
in California, visiting your mother, or I am
with you there and our daughter is on my shoulders.
We are so young in the photograph that I touch
a finger to your face.
In my dream we are sitting in lawn chairs
on a back porch, the years unspooling.
And our bodies are a field
of scrub, are desiccated weeds.
It is like coming up the front yard
of a great house where the lights are blazing,
but you are not certain
anyone is left inside.
The days so foreign now, like old men
whispering at a bus station,
each moment liminal.
And a kind of voluntary blindness,
in the same way that floaters in the eye
are soon forgotten by the brain, overlooked,
and yet exist.
by Doug Ramspeck
from Inertia Magazine, Inertia7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
of dreams, nor sagas, legends, or rites,
stringed instruments, we have no
need of enameling, stucco, porcelain,
distinct is the spiral motif
of our fingertips, the auditory
opening surmounted by a shell
of flesh, which, grazed by hands
or tip of tongue, irradiates
the fever everywhere, the trembling,
the plunge of the blood, transparent,
dazzling is the sense of our
organs, clear is the use of breath,
saliva, finger, the shadows
that darken the gaze, assured,
sedating is the depth of the passes,
the tunnels, the pleats, good
is the surface, the tip, the tint
of the cuffs, the fabric and the lining
of flesh. On this altar
the bible is our hoarse
words, escaping our lips, the demented
keening. Here the divinities, all of them,
are hushed, stunned they fall silent,
learn from us, spasm after spasm,
by Andrea Inglese
translation Gabriele Poole, 2005
publisher Editrice Zona, 2001
The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak
She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
like a sack of dry ice.
She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker's cigar,
silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.
by Yusef Komunyakaa
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Someone once asked me why I don't allow comments on my blog. The answer to this is a long one, though I am aware that it isn't socially "friendly".
For the record however, my work consists of some interaction with online communities. To make that long story short, it's a daunting task to be able to moderate (and respond) to all the comments that come in.
Some people generally love to comment on articles. Whether its a news article or some feature about love and relationships, people will always have something to say. But if you're observant, you would notice that there are also a lot of comments out there that are really passive-aggressive posts or mere rantings that sometimes miss the point.
Of course not everyone posts comments like this, but many do.
Out of the Crooked Timber came up with a list of 10 types of commenters that I'm sure you're familiar with.
The commenter who has not read the post properly, decides they know what it says anyway, and fires off a series of disgusted observations.
Commenter who applies the most uncharitable possible interpretation to the post, and goes straight into rant mode.
The commenter who takes the opportunity to make some sarcastic remarks highlighting his (99% of cases are male) own superior scholarship/intelligence and damning the CT author. “If only Chris has read the second treatise of Heinrich von Pumpkin in the original German, he’d be aware ….”
The commenter who uses every comment as a peg on which to hang his (yes, “his”) own obsessions about, e.g. analytical philosophy, populism, Palestine, etc
The commenter who simply wants to make nasty personal remarks about the CT author, often about female members of the collective, often using an alias.
The commenter with a sense of grievance against CT following their treatment in some comment thread back in 2004.
The commenter who notices that a CT author said P in 2005 and not-P in 2008, and who gives every impression of compiling an archive of such contradictions.
The commenter who has posted in the thread in error, and angrily denounces literary theory in a discussion of Irish cuisine.
The commenter who reads what we write, tries to have a conversation, is occasionally appreciative, points out mistakes helpfully rather than as “gotchas”, brings their own knowledge to the table.
You can also lose friends when you're lonely and depressed. So do lonely people get lonelier? Read on.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
For those who have no idea what that is about, 57 people were brutally murdered about two weeks ago -- among them were members of a politician's family, and several journalists.
The massacre is believed to be politically-motivated, allegedly ordered by a powerful political clan in the province.
I personally don't know any of the journalists killed, though I did hear from a former colleague that a wire stringer was one of the victims.
While no life is less valuable than another, this is also considered to be the worst assault on journalists in the world due to the number of media members killed.
The Philippines was once ranked the third most dangerous place to practice journalism, trumped only by war-stricken countries like Iraq. It still is third in rank, I believe, and this massacre has only put the country under closer scrutiny.
World press groups like Reporters without Borders continue to fight for journalistic freedom, but sometimes to no avail.
Before I continue however, allow me to clarify that what we are talking about here is real journalism -- not sensational tabloid reporting by people who have corrupted the profession for the love of money and power.
Journalists are often portrayed as nosy folks who meddle into personal business. But I would like to argue that freedom to follow celebrities and high-profile people paparazzi style is not really what most journalists are fighting for.
While journalism in the Philippines is considered to be free, there is no money in this profession.
Many journalists in the Philippines -- as in many developing countries -- make less than $500 dollars a month. And yet many of them are threatened, bribed and silenced by hired hit men on a regular basis.
I understand that the world has a love-hate relationship with the media, but believe me when I say there are those who despite all odds, remain in the profession out of principle.
Of course, there will always be bad apples in the bunch, just as there are good and bad doctors and teachers. One does not represent all.
It is difficult to imagine a world without the press, and perhaps for many, they would rather live in a world free of journalists. But the media is the watchdog of society. It is in general, a social barometer of what agitates the public.
When something bad happens, the media is there. Yes, bad news seems like good news to the press – but it is not as simple as it appears to be.
No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, not even the media. If we had our way, many of us would rather tell you about pleasant things. But that's why people hate the media so much. They are the bearers of bad news. It is a hazard of the profession.
Of course, the media is not always right. No one is. But when access to public information (note public, not classified information) is withheld or controlled, governments and people in power would have no one to answer to. It is because of the pressure of being accountable for their actions that some people hate the press.
In countries like the Philippines, plenty of journalists have already been killed -- execution-style -- over the decades. And yet justice has never been served.
Once or twice, such as in this massacre, there is a short show of how the government condemns and comes after the culprits. Investigations are held, and sometimes a fall guy takes the heat, just up to the time people forget.
It is usually just lip-service and a show. For once, I hope it won’t be so.