May 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This is a war of movement, albeit one arrested at times on a static front, as in the case of the defense of a mountain pass or fort. A war in which territory per se is of no interest: the sole concern is with the tactical or strategic positions that are necessary to an army or deleterious to its adversary. On occasion victory may be achieved without a major battle, even almost without skirmishes, on the basis of manœuvre alone. Sometimes, too, everything may be decided by a single frontal clash without any manœuvring at all. These extreme cases aside, however, the typical chain of events involves a series of movements, engagements, a major battle, renewed manœuvring, and so on. Within the main battle, manœuvre almost always takes the form of envelopment, retreat, and actions against enemy communications. It behooves an army not to be too sparing of troops or movement, nor yet to squander them. A player who would keep all will lose all. But players who blithely allow themselves to lose more than their opponents will not be able to contain their opponent.
– Alice Becker-Ho & Guy Debord, A Game of War
May 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Every thing, every day suffers some eclipse, and nothing stands in a stay, but one Creature calls to another, “Let us leave the World.” Our fathers summoned us, and we shall summon our children to the grave. First we wax old, then we wax dry, then we wax weak, then we wax sick, and so we melt away by drops. At last as we carried, so others carry us unto the grave. This is the last bed which every man shall sleep in. We must return to our mother’s womb.
– Henry Smith, “The Godly Man’s Request”
May 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
CHIVERS: The United States finds itself in a pretty unenviable position. So did the Syrians. I mean, this war, when you look at it, could not have worse timing. It really couldn’t. It came sort of, if you will, into the public consciousness at the tail-end of the Arab Spring, after, you know, the intervention in Libya had gone not so well.
It came during, you know, it really rose in the, you know, in the public discourse and in terms of the application of violence, really accelerated in 2012, an election year in the United States where the electorate was exhausted by war financially. Emotionally exhausted by war. And had no interest in being involved in another one, or very little interest in being involved in another one.
It came, you know, later in the cycle, if you will, of the way the Arab Springs were playing out, and with very cunning savvy leadership in terms of calibrating the tactics of the war to what they thought that the West could tolerate. And by that I mean, you know, the Assad government did not do what the government or the Gadhafi family did in Libya, where it came out of the gates in Libya hard and fast with armored columns, you know, bearing down on Benghazi. You know, immediate use of attack jets, you know, dropping, you know, dumb bombs on the road outside of Benghazi right in front of the foreign reporters. Which kind of galvanized international will and gave it a sense of immediacy.
And, you know, what Gadhafi got for that was, you know, the U.N. Security Council resolution which authorized intervention. He got, you know, U.N. 1973. The Assad government seems to have looked at that and has realized that you don’t come out with everything at once. You spin this thing click by click or you move it like a dimmer on your wall. You brighten the lights a little bit at a time.
And so you start with arrests and batons and you move to bullets, and from bullets, you know, you move to the army being involved. And you get the mortars, you get the 107 millimeter rockets. And then you gradually move up to artillery. And then you escalate a little bit by rolling out your air force. But when you roll out your air force, you start with helicopters. You don’t go right to jets.
They didn’t go to – you know, they didn’t start using their attack jets against the towns until last summer. And then you go to, from there, to ballistic missiles. And now perhaps to chemical weapons, which would be the last piece, you know, the last arrow, if you will, left in the quiver. And if you follow this sort of boil the frog slowly policy, you sort of, you know, sensitize your political opponents outside of the country.
The West has watched this step by step and not really taken action beyond rhetorical action. And the Syrian government knows that. And they’ve sort of escalated the ante so slowly, so methodically, so smartly, that they’ve almost paralyzed the West. And so the West now finds itself in this position where it’s tolerated all of these things. There’s never been sort of a trigger moment.
And it’s got a population, you know, in our case in the United States, that seems to not want to be involved, that there aren’t a lot of good options. There aren’t a lot of clear paths. And even if there were, it’s not clear what you would do to solve this. I mean I don’t, you know, the West may be able to guide this conflict a little bit, certainly cannot control it.
May 1, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I am pretty well now, save for sundry bruises received in driving a certain fair maid over the country with one hand, sometimes, indeed, with no hand at all. But she did not seem to mind my method of driving, even when we went off banks and over hay stacks, and as for me — I drive with one hand all night in my sleep.
Willa Cather, letter to Mariel Gere (August 1, 1893)
April 23, 2013 § 4 Comments
I’ve posted several such readings in the past, but this is the first video I’ve attempted to make. It is rough & novice, but I enjoyed it. I hope you do, too.
* * *
CITIES, by. H.D.
Can we believe—by an effort
comfort our hearts:
it is not waste all this,
not placed here in disgust,
street after street,
each patterned alike,
no grace to lighten
a single house of the hundred
crowded into one garden-space.
Crowded—can we believe,
not in utter disgust,
in ironical play—
but the maker of cities grew faint
with the beauty of temple
and space before temple,
arch upon perfect arch,
of pillars and corridors that led out
to strange court-yards and porches
where sun-light stamped
black on the pavement.
That the maker of cities grew faint
with the splendour of palaces,
paused while the incense-flowers
from the incense-trees
dropped on the marble-walk,
thought anew, fashioned this—
street after street alike.
he had crowded the city so full
that men could not grasp beauty,
beauty was over them,
through them, about them,
no crevice unpacked with the honey,
So he built a new city,
ah can we believe, not ironically
but for new splendour
constructed new people
to lift through slow growth
to a beauty unrivaled yet—
and created new cells,
hideous first, hideous now—
spread larvae across them,
not honey but seething life.
And in these dark cells,
packed street after street,
souls live, hideous yet—
O disfigured, defaced,
with no trace of the beauty
men once held so light.
Can we think a few old cells
were left—we are left—
grains of honey,
old dust of stray pollen
dull on our torn wings,
we are left to recall the old streets?
Is our task the less sweet
that the larvae still sleep in their cells?
Or crawl out to attack our frail strength:
You are useless. We live.
We await great events.
We are spread through this earth.
We protect our strong race.
You are useless.
Your cell takes the place
of our young future strength.
Though they sleep or wake to torment
and wish to displace our old cells—
thin rare gold—
that their larvae grow fat—
is our task the less sweet?
Though we wander about,
find no honey of flowers in this waste,
is our task the less sweet—
who recall the old splendour,
await the new beauty of cities?
The city is peopled
with spirits, not ghosts, O my love:
Though they crowded between
and usurped the kiss of my mouth
their breath was your gift,
their beauty, your life.
April 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
R. never corrected any of them about the name. As was customary, especially in small churches like this, he had been asked by the board, probably Phil Elkin, if he was married. (“Two for the price of one,” was the cynical joke inside seminaries and requirement outside them.)
—Young, handsome man like yourself, you have to have a young lady on your arm, right?
—I suppose you’d say . . . it’s complicated.
—Oh, it always is, son, somebody said, to mostly faked laughs.
—Sure. Yeah, I know that. Boy, do I ever. I guess the short answer is, No, I’m not married.
—Don’t stop there on account of us. We got time for the long answer, too.
—Oh, yeah, sure. It’s just that, well, we grew up together. And, I suppose you’d say . . . time’s got a way of sedimenting . . .
—My gramma, bless her soul . . .
—Somebody’d need to bless that old coot’s soul, Wallace. The laughter shook the table like a small tremor, scattering further the words R. was looking for.
—No, but seriously, my gramma told me that when I was baby and I was crying, Katey Mae, who she also babysat, why she’d put her finger on my lips, like so, Wallace Jenner demonstrated, and why I’d stop crying then and there.
—And she still does that today, don’t she? The table shook again.
—Thirty years of marriage gives a man lots to cry ’bout, so what can I say, it’s good she’s around.
—Die Wunde schliesst der Speer nur, der sie schlug.
—Beg your pardon?
—Only the spear that struck it can cure the wound. Heard it in an opera once, and never forgot it.
—We don’t get too many operas down here. That’s not gonna be a problem, is it?
—Oh, no, of course . . .
—So what’s your complicated lady’s name, Reverend?
—not. Huh? Oh, it’s Mar . . . R. suddenly felt self-conscious about his sweaty forehead and dizzied by the peculiarly sweet smell of the room. In order to buy him some time, he faked a cough, which was followed by a real one, and then another. Concerned that they thought he was choking, he sputtered mid-cough, —Mary-Ann Porter.
—Miriam Porter, you say? Why, now that’s a pretty name, isn’t it?
—You okay, Reverend?
For her part, Mary-Ann took the misunderstanding in stride. From, —Why would you not correct them? she quickly transitioned to general acceptance, —Well, you certainly can’t correct them now, can you? and even quicker to enthusiastic embrace, —I like this new name of mine. This sort of progression typified much of what endeared her to R., as well as what set her at such a great distance. She regularly opened herself—to new experiences, yes, but more importantly to their descriptions, on the pages she wrote and from the lips she spoke—to the point of creating a gulf between her form, which always seemed to be kept waiting, tapping its fingers on the dining room table like an inconvenienced shadow, and her substance, always somehow late to the party, drinks and entree served before the first guest has even been good evening’d. The yawning expanse that divided Mary-Ann from Miriam, though, was neither formless nor empty. R. in fact, felt he had many times over suffered its teeth while in search for its tongue. —Her water never formed to mind or voice, he quoted to himself often when he puzzled over her correspondence, —whose mimic motion made constant cry, caused constantly a cry.