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Medium 9781743603604

The First Time I Had So Many First Times

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

The beauty of any first time is that it leads to a thousand others: The first glance eases one towards the first meeting, and then, perhaps, the first kiss and the first love and so much else (the first divorce?). Every ‘first time’ opens a door upon a long corridor, down which you walk with the sensation, from experience now, that any other door might fly open at any moment, leading onto another corridor.

The first time I truly got to savor the world was when I was seventeen and, suddenly, almost free from high school, I began to put the different parts of my inheritance, as someone always a little bit abroad – a confirmed traveler for life – together. In the summer of 1974, my parents decided I should spend three months traveling around India, getting to know the cousins and uncles and grandparents, the ancestry, that I’d never had a chance to encounter before (except briefly, at the age of two).

I was as thrilled with the decision as any seventeen-year-old would be, and approached the trip with the sullen resignation of a prisoner dragged towards his last meal. But as the years went on, I began to realize how much that initial encounter with the world in all its chaos had formed me: The first time I’d tried to compose a love song on a guitar; the first time I’d ridden a train for two days and two nights; the first time I’d read the complete plays of Shakespeare – in a drafty library room in Elphinstone College in Bombay, birds flapping amidst the rafters; the first time I was lucky enough to visit the Dalai Lama in his home in Dharamsala. After that summer sojourn, suitcase heavy with barely readable books on Jung, hair falling down to my shoulders, worn cassette of Songs by Leonard Cohen clattering around in my guitar case, I returned to my school in rainy England for a final autumn to prepare for university examinations. That was the first time a teacher had us read Joni Mitchell next to ‘The Eve of St. Agnes,’ and the first time I was old enough to realize I was taking leave of a certain kind of innocence.

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Medium 9781927068304

How Not to Scare a Gopher

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

HOW NOT TO SCARE A GOPHER

Gay Balfour in Cortez, Colorado was hard up. He worked at a marina but was looking for ways to raise extra cash, when one night he had a dream. A huge yellow truck fitted with green hoses drove through a cornfield at five-hundred miles per hour, vacuuming prairie dogs from their holes. And when he woke up, he resolved to build such a machine. He went shopping for a street sweeper, modified its workings, and looked further for suitable hoses to attach. In a certain industrial supply shop a clerk pointed at some bright green flexible tubing, and a chill went through Gay Balfour: he had seen hoses just like that in the dream.

He dubbed his machine the “DogGone”, claiming it could vacuum twenty acres, or eight-hundred holes, on a good day. It sucked gophers from the ground and deposited them, alive but somewhat bewildered, in the back of the truck to be “relocated” — heavy artillery in farmers’ war against gophers, which promised to eliminate the need for the poisons that had been used to date. But how many of the confused animals had been relocated anywhere but to heaven, he didn’t say.

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Medium 9781847778772

Epilogue

Ford, Ford Madox Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

This intriguing essay was unknown until it turned up in the 1980s among Ezra Pound’s papers. It was written after February 1917, and before 7 January 1919 (when Ford was gazetted out of the army). The material was rewritten to form the ‘Rosalie Prudent’ chapter of No Enemy (see pp. 228–57), though some parts, especially the meditation on the war dead, do not appear elsewhere. The essay was almost certainly originally intended as the Epilogue to Women & Men, an impressionist study the rest of which Ford had written before the war, but did not publish until 1918.11 ‘Epilogue’ concerns two women whose courage and steadfastness had particularly impressed him in 1916.

I will now tell you about Rosalie Martin and Emil Vander-kerckhoven.

It was on a very wet evening of the 2d September 1916 in the dusky gleaming streets of Nieppe which lies between Ploegsteert and Armentières. Water fell in sheets; water fell in showers. One was wet to the skin; one had been wet to the skin for hours. One had, in imagination and in the Town Marshal’s books, planted A, B, and C, Companies in the long long irregular cobbled, factory street running towards the big town. Similarly one had planted D Company in the Rue de la Gare in dripping, red brick villas, and BHQ in the Château attached to the brewery in Pont de Nieppe. One had identified the field allotted to our First Line Transport, but one had been very dissatisfied with it because the ditches that drained it stank under the rain like cesspits ….. And the Battalion should have been in at four thirty. It might have been seven then.

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Medium 9781771870825

The Snake-Grass Hills

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub

THE SNAKE-GRASS HILLS

Patrick Lane

A dry dense heat lies upon the hills. It gathers in puddles around the flat paws of the prickly-pear cactus. They are lying flat on the crumbling soil, their spines a pale yellow tipped with black. The flesh of the cactus is shrivelled like the skin on the hands of old women. In the cactus palms are the withered shreds of flowers that bloomed and died in the heavy days of spring. Every few hundred yards a pine tree starts out of the earth. The trees are small and grow only a few inches a year. There is no rain in this valley now except for the rare thunderstorm that rises out of the west, battering the dry hills with a sudden flood of water and flame from its lightning. Some of the pine trees have shattered trunks and broken limbs caused by the great storms.

But there is no storm today. There is only the heavy heat: and a sky so thin with blue it is like a whisper above the yellow hills. It is late spring and the boy walks the hills with his brother’s .22. His brother doesn’t know the boy has taken the rifle. If he did he would kill him. It is his prize possession. The boy wears worn running shoes and patched jeans. He has no shirt and his skin shines like fine deer leather polished into gold. In his pocket are the two boxes of shells he stole from the rifle cabinet at a friend’s house. He carries the rifle across his chest like John Wayne does in the movies, the barrel resting back against his arm, the blue metal hot against his skin.

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Medium 9781938901249

3. Sunrise at Borobudur

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

3

SUNRISE AT BOROBUDUR

Four a.m. is a terrible time of day, too late for night owls, too early for early birds. The exception is 4 a.m. at Borobudur, waiting for the sun to rise with 504 figures of Buddha over the Kedu Plain in central Java.

The temple is one of Southeast Asia’s three great religious sites, but older and more esoteric than Bagan in Myanmar and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Construction began in the eighth-century AD by the Saliendras, a dynasty of Buddhist kings who ruled central Java for almost 200 years until their power waned and the temple was abandoned.

The massive, stepped pyramid rises in nine levels to a single bell-shaped stupa, or tower, surrounded by galleries around which pilgrims walk, meditating on stone reliefs that tell the life story of Siddhartha Guatama, an Indian prince who transcended life’s pain to become the Lord Buddha.

You can circle the monument with them or climb to the top, but only by looking at a diagram can you tell that the temple is shaped like a mandala, a mystical scheme of the Buddhist cosmos, with three levels demarking states of consciousness from suffering to enlightenment. Little is known beyond that, leaving the cosmos locked while the temple silently reigns over the volcano-ringed garden of Java.

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Medium 9780253356864

4. Baskets

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Early in “Economy,” Thoreau spins an anecdote into a parable:

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian, as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off,—that the lawyer only had to weave arguments, and by some magic wealth and standing followed,—he had said to himself; I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other’s while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy. I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one’s while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. (16)

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Medium 9780253001795

2. Queer “Tropics” of Night and the Caribe of “American” (Post) Modernism

DeGuzmán, María Indiana University Press ePub

We define nations tonight.

—Rane Arroyo, “Nights Without Dawns” for James Baldwin,
from The Portable Famine

I turn from night among Chicana/o cultural producers to an investigation of its uses among contemporary queer poets of Hispanic Caribbean descent who are living in the United States and are at least half Anglographic. What I mean by “Anglographic” is writing in English, hence “graphic” and not merely “Anglophone.” Why queer Anglographic poets of Caribbean descent? Why their deployments of tropes of night? What does an investigation of this cross section of variables—queer, Anglographic, poets, Caribbean descent, living in the United States—entail? A starting point for addressing these questions is the work on queer, transnational Caribbean and U.S. identity formations initiated in the mid to late 1990s. Scholars such as Manuel Guzmán have written about sexiles, “those who have had to leave their nation of origin on account of their sexual orientation.1 Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé,2 Rubén Ríos Ávila,3 Frances Negrón-Muntaner,4 José Quiroga,5 and Cruz-Malavé and Martin F. Manalansan6 have grappled with homosexuality and Caribbean displacements as forms of double sexual and geopolitical exile that intersect with each other in a history of colonialism. Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes synthesizes a great deal of this scholarship and contributes highly original and detailed readings of his own in his book Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora (2009).7

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Medium 9780253000958

The Mystique of Money

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Anyone who pays attention to the state of the planet realizes that all natural systems on which human life depends are deteriorating, and they are doing so largely because of human actions. By natural systems I mean the topsoil, forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, lakes, oceans, atmosphere, the host of other species, and the cycles that bind them together into a living whole. By human life I mean not merely the survival of our species, although in the long run that will surely be in question; rather I mean the quality of our existence, the prospects for adequate food, shelter, work, education, health care, conviviality, intellectual endeavor, and spiritual growth for our kind far into the future.

So the crucial question is, Why? Why are those of us in the richest countries acting in such a way, individually and collectively, as to undermine the conditions on which our own lives, the lives of other species, and the lives of future generations depend? And why are we so intent on coaxing or coercing the poorer countries to follow our example? There are many possible answers, of course. It may be that on average we humans are too short-sighted and dim-witted to take stock of our situation and change our behavior. It may be that evolution has ill-fitted us to restrain our appetites. It may be that selfish genes and tribal instincts prompt us to define our interests too narrowly, excluding regard for people whom we perceive as different from ourselves, not to mention other species and unborn generations. It may be that the otherworldly religion preached so fervently across our land has convinced many believers that Earth, indeed the whole universe, is merely a backdrop for the drama of human salvation, destined to evaporate once the rapture comes. It may be that we have been so stupefied by consumerism and around-the-clock entertainment that we have lost the ability to think clearly and take sensible actions. It may be that global corporations have achieved such a stranglehold over the mass media and the political system as to thwart all efforts at reforming our way of life. It may be that the logic of capitalism, based on perpetual growth, is incompatible with a finite planet. It may be that preachers, pundits, pitchmen, and politicians have deluded us into thinking that financial wealth represents real wealth.

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Medium 9780253001795

1. Dreaded Non-Identities of Night: Night and Shadows in Chicana/o Cultural Production

DeGuzmán, María Indiana University Press ePub

How do you make the invisible visible? You take it away.

—Lila Rodriguez in A Day Without a Mexican

The Nighttime of a Day without a Mexican

Of the more than fifty million Latina/os currently within the continental borders of the United States, Mexican Americans have had a long borderlands history—defined by military battles and treaties in the name of U.S. national expansion, by laws, and by daily discriminatory practices—of being treated as the other Americans, los otros americanos. They became aliens in their own land with the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that officially concluded the Mexican-American War and in the years subsequent to that treaty, which involved an Anglo landgrab of previously Mexican areas. In 1971, Chicano attorney, writer, and political activist Oscar “Zeta” Acosta pointedly summed up the situation:

The American government took our country away from us in 1848, when the government of Mexico sold us out. They sold not only the land, but they basically sold us as slaves in the sense that our labor and our land was [sic] being expropriated. The governments never gave us a choice about whether to be American citizens. One night we were Mexican and the next day we were American. This historical relationship is the most important part of the present day relationships, but it’s totally ignored or unknown or rejected by the Anglo society. [emphasis mine]1

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Medium 9781847772114

Aftertones

Blunden, Edmund Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

AFTERTONES

T

he summer of 1918 drifted past with its eddies of intrigue and dispute and rumour in the camp and the world beyond. It was a camp among ancestral trees, copses, meadows, cornfields bubbling with poppies, windmills on their little heights of goat-grazed turf; besides, the sky was blue and the air southern; yet I screen my eyes from that summer. The delight of being away from France after almost two years of ruins and ever-spreading terror was not itself wholly good; youth, now certain of a short time to live, through some magic dispensation of the War Office, did strange things in a world which it had never had the time to study. Moved by some instinct of spiritual pride, I no sooner arrived in the camp for my six months’ respite than I wrote – I ‘had the honour to submit’ – my application to be allowed to return to France, where such unpleasant German manœuvres were proceeding. The application received no answer, except amused comment from an old major before dinner. I waited a week, then repeated my appeal with more eloquence. This time the

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Medium 9780253018595

Legacies of Fear

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

from Rodney King’s beating to Trayvon Martin’s death

ON APRIL 29, 1992, the Los Angeles Riots began. Thousands of people stormed the streets following the verdict that acquitted four police officers who kicked, Tasered and beat black motorist, Rodney King, within an inch of his life. The incident, captured on a video recording lasting roughly ten minutes, was beamed out on television screens across the nation. In the intervening days, tensions ran high between Korean American shop owners and African American patrons. By the time the Riots (or the uprisings or rebellions, as some prefer to call the events) came to an end, property damages totaled nearly $1 billion, fifty-three people had died, and more than 2,000 people were injured. The National Guard was deployed to occupy L.A., and U.S. Marines patrolled the streets enforcing a curfew.

Twenty-one years later, on July 13, 2013, millions of Americans watched their TV screens with baited breath, awaiting another verdict—the fate of a man, George Zimmerman, who had killed an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin. The basic facts of the case were not so different from the circumstances that led to Rodney King’s beating, though Martin was nearly ten years younger than King was at the time of his accosting. And King survived his beating. Martin did not. Martin was on his way home when George Zimmerman began to follow him. Zimmerman told the police he had been following this “suspicious-looking” teenager. Martin knew he was being followed and told his friend, Rachel Jeantel, that the man might be some kind of sexual predator. Soon thereafter, Martin and Zimmerman confronted each other on the street. The confrontation ended when Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. This fact was not in dispute. During the trial, the critical question was whether or not there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Zimmerman acted in self-defense. The jury took the word of the confessed killer. Protests erupted across the country over the verdict. Activists, through banners, speeches, and song, pointed to a long history in the U.S. that has intertwined law-enforcement and race-based violence.

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Medium 9781552452585

Geraldine and Jerome

Heather Birrell Coach House Books ePub
A chance encounter in a waiting room tests the ties that bind us.
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Medium 9780253001818

Part 2 The Personal and the Political

William O'Rourke Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the mid-1980s, I was sitting in the living room of the first house I ever owned, watching the television show, This Old House, on PBS. Bob Vila was doing a rehab project on Cape Cod. As he would, on occasion, he took a side trip to view other real estate (Vila more often went to factories to see how house products, windows, etc., were made). He went to a home in Hyannis, on the Cape, with a view of the bay. In front of it was one of the last beach-front properties for sale in the town.

Vila pulled up behind the house, because there was no garage, and not much of a front “yard,” since the house was built on what was still dune, but a fairly beat-down one, where the land was becoming solid earth, not shifting sand.

There was bright, blinding light all around, the sun glancing off the water of Cape Cod bay and my black and white TV seemed luminous, dream-like, as Vila approached the home’s back door, which, more or less, functioned as a front door.

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20. Leaving Walden

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden’s celebration of Thoreau’s glorious twenty-six months in the woods leaves almost all of its readers with a stark question: why did he choose to leave? The book’s “Conclusion,” of course, offers one explanation, but its laconic offhandness has never proved very satisfying:

I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. (217)

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there”—what could that sentence mean? In “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” Thoreau had already spelled out his reason for going to the pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach” (65). With its senses of care, consideration, and unhurriedness, deliberately does a lot of work in that passage, endowing Thoreau’s move to the woods with the aura of an existential choice. As he set about finishing Walden, Thoreau had certainly come to recognize that choice as the decisive one of his life, the one that had given him the most immediate happiness and prompted the writing that would establish his reputation.

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Medium 9781743603604

The Paris Tattoo

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

A room with two beds usually meant a room with a bed and a cot. Marti Kavaler and I were very diplomatic about trading off – if I had the bed in Copenhagen, she got the bed in Strasbourg. I remember that she had the bed in Paris, but that was a small victory. It was a terrible bed, a terrible cot, a terrible fourth floor walk-up in the only pension we could afford. The bathroom was not just down the hall, but down the hall and down a flight of stairs. On the bright side, the location was good (the location was Paris), and we were nineteen, so our standards were still breathtakingly low. Marti and I scarcely had known one another before we embarked on our three-month summer adventure in 1983, but by the end of the first week we had become a single unit. We shared our toothpaste, our guidebooks, our croissants. We had one mass-market copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude, and when I finished a chapter I ripped it out and handed it to Marti, unless she was a chapter ahead and so ripped it out for me.

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