Diane di Prima on how change comes.
From “Revolutionary Letters” (City Lights Books)
"No one way works, it will take all of us shoving at the thing from all sides to bring it down."
You’ve never seen anything as dramatic as these American trees, dying their thousand deaths. The giant beech next door intends to shiver off every hair of its pelt. The world strips and goes naked, the full year of arboreal effort piling on the sidewalks in flat, damp strata. The earth smells of smoke and rainstorms, calling everything to come back, lie down, submit to a quiet, moldy return to the cradle of origins. This is how we celebrate the Day of the Dead in America: by turning up our collars against the scent of earthworms calling us home.
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
If we really love children as we say, if we really think mothering future generations is one of the most important contributions to society, one of its critical social labors, then what would a societal support system look like that truly embraces mothers, mothering, and child-raising? It would require acknowledging the real, back-breaking, heart-breaking, soul-crushing work that is parenting, to not erase these things when we celebrate the ways parenting is life-giving, breathtaking, meaningful, and transformative. It would require expanding parenting into a social concern, a social good, because one woman cannot and should not do it all. In this way, child-raising becomes a community responsibility — and mothers, parents, the leaders of community child-raising. It would require creating structures that enable mothering in all its forms, and, most of all, enable mothers to be full people. Being a full person is foundational to being a good mother; we need to see and nurture the full personhoods of mothers. We need to love mothers as much as we love children.
Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
We are all communists with our closest friends, and feudal lords when dealing with small children. It is very hard to imagine a society where people wouldn’t be both.
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
Solitary pleasures will always exist, but for most human beings, the most pleasurable activities almost always involve sharing something: music, food, liquor, drugs, gossip, drama, beds. There is a certain communism of the senses at the root of most things we consider fun.
David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years
In the Jain belief, there is a thing called ‘syadvada,’ which is roughly ‘the assertion of possibilities.’ There are seven statements that follow from syadvada:
‘in some ways it is’
’in some ways it is not’
‘in some ways it is and it is not’
‘in some ways it is and it is indescribable’
’in some ways it is not and it is indescribable’
’in some ways it is, it is not and it is indescribable’
’in some ways it is indescribable’
Marcilla Elizabeth Smith
The art of living is based on rhythm — on give and take, ebb and flow, light and dark, life and death. By acceptance of all aspects of life, good and bad, right and wrong, yours and mine, the static, defensive life, which is what most people are cursed with, is converted into a dance, ‘the dance of life,’ metamorphosis. One can dance to sorrow or to joy; one can even dance abstractly. … But the point is that, by the mere act of dancing, the elements which compose it are transformed; the dance is an end in itself, just like life. The acceptance of the situation, any situation, brings about a flow, a rhythmic impulse towards self-expression. To relax is, of course, the first thing a dancer has to learn. It is also the first thing a patient has to learn when he confronts the analyst. It is the first thing any one has to learn in order to live. It is extremely difficult, because it means surrender, full surrender.
Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart (via brainpickings.org)
responding to the shuttered heart. or this by Pablo Neruda.
from “The Essential Neruda, Selected Poems,” published by City Lights
When I felt I’d had enough fresh air and it was time to get back to the bar, as I was climbing the three steps up to the door (stone steps, single blocks of a stone that had a granite-like consistency and the sheen of a gem), I ran into a guy who was shorter than me and dressed like a fifties gangster, a guy who had something of the caricature about him, the classic affable killer, who got me mixed up with someone he knew and greeted me, and I replied to his greeting although from the start I was sure that I didn’t know him and that he was mistaken, but I behaved as if I knew him, as if I, too, had mixed him up with someone else, so the two of us greeted each other as we attempted ineffectively to climb those shining (yet lowly) stone steps, but the hit man’s confusion lasted no more than a few seconds, he soon realized that he was mistaken, and then he looked at me in a different way, as if he were asking himself if I was confused too or if, on the contrary, I had been pulling his leg from the start, and since he was thick and suspicious (though sharp in his own paradoxical way), he asked me who I was, I remember, he asked me with a malicious smile on his lips, and I said, Shit, Jara, it’s me, Bolaño, and it would have been clear to anyone from his smile that he wasn’t Jara, but he played the game, as if suddenly, struck by a lightening bolt (and no, I’m not quoting one of Lihn’s poems, much less one of mine), he fancied the idea of living the life of that unknown Jara for a minute or two, the Jara he would never be, except right there, stalled on the highest of those radiant steps, and he asked me about my life, he asked me (thick as a plank) who I was, admitting de facto that he was Jara, but a Jara who had forgotten the very existence of Bolaño, which is perfectly understandable after all, so I explained to him who I was, and, while I was at it, who he was too, thereby creating a Jara to suit me and him, that is, to suit that moment – an improbable, intelligent, courageous, rich, generous, daring Jara, in love with a beautiful woman and loved by her in return – and then the gangster smiled, more and more deeply convinced that I was making fun of him but unable to bring the episode to a close and proceed to teach me a lesson, as if he had suddenly fallen in love with the image I was constructing for him, encouraging me to go on telling him not just about Jara but also about Jara’s friends and finally the world, a world which seemed too wide even for Jara, a world in which even the great Jara was an ant whose death on a shining step would not have mattered at all to anyone, and then, at last, his friends appeared, two taller hit men wearing light-colored double-breasted suits, who looked at me and at the false Jara as if to ask him who I was, and he had no choice to say it’s Bolaño, and the two hit men greeted me, I shook their hands (rings, expensive watches, gold bracelets), and when they invited me to have a drink with them, I said, I can’t, I’m with a friend, and pushed past Jara through the door and disappeared inside.
Roberto Bolaño, from “Meeting with Enrique Lihn,” The Return
I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sector but simply to simultaneously make every e-mail and text ever sent universally public… . Civilization, which is held together by a fragile web of tactful phrasing, polite omissions and white lies, would collapse in an apocalypse of bitter recriminations and weeping, breakups and fistfights, divorces and bankruptcies, scandals and resignations, blood feuds, litigation, wholesale slaughter in the streets and lingering ill will.
Years ago a friend of mine had a dream about a strange invention; a staircase you could descend deep underground, in which you heard recordings of all the things anyone had ever said about you, both good and bad. The catch was, you had to pass through all the worst things people had said before you could get to the highest compliments at the very bottom. There is no way I would ever make it more than two and a half steps down such a staircase, but I understand its terrible logic: if we want the rewards of being loved we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known.
An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.