Saturday, September 5, 2015

More sneakers

    Aylan Kurdi, not expecting to
    become the most famous child
    in the world, if not the il-
    luminating messenger of link-
    age of populations uprising 
    across the entire Northern
    Hemisphere, has given Hermes
    unforgettable new shoes. Be-
    yond doubt, infants born to-
    day will grow into sneakers
    with a higher sense of life,
    the treasure they convey be-
    ing declared at every portal.

For those who suppose all things to be in motion conceive the greater part of nature to be a mere receptacle; and they say that there is a penetrating power which passes through all this, and is the instrument of creation in all, and is the subtlest and swiftest element; for if it were not the subtlest, and a power which none can keep out, and also the swiftest, passing by other things as if they were standing still, it could not penetrate through the moving universe ..
But I, being an enthusiastic disciple, have been told in a mystery that the justice of which I am speaking is also the cause of the world: now a cause is that because of which anything is created ..

            And some one comes and whispers in my ear 
            that justice is rightly so called because 
            partaking of the nature of the cause, and 
            I begin, after hearing what he has said, 
            to interrogate him gently: Well, my excel-
            lent friend, say I, if all this be true, 
            I still want to know what is justice. 

Thereupon they think that I ask tiresome questions, and am leaping over the barriers, and have been already answered, and they try to satisfy me with one derivation after another, and at length they quarrel. 

                 For one of them says that justice 
                 is the sun, and that he only is 
                 the piercing and burning element 
                 which is the guardian of nature. 
                 And when I joyfully repeat this 
                 beautiful notion, I am answered 
                 by the satirical remark, What,  
                 is there no justice in the world 
                 when the sun is down?

And when I earnestly beg my questioner to tell me his own honest opinion, he says, "Fire in the abstract"; but this is not very intelligible. Another says, "No, not fire in the abstract, but the abstraction of heat in the fire." Another man professes to laugh at all this, and says, justice is mind, for mind, as they say, has absolute power, and mixes with nothing, and orders all things, and passes through all things. At last, my friend, I find myself in far greater perplexity about the nature of justice than I was before I began to learn.

                          But still I am 
                          of opinion that 
                          the name, which 
                          has led me into 
                          this digression, 
                          was given to jus-
                          tice for the rea-
                          sons which I have 

Dialogue of Socrates
  with Hermogenes and
360 BC
Benjamin Jowett
Massachusetts In-
  stitute of Technology©

Photographs Reuters
September 4, 2015
Port of Piraeus
Rail hub Hungary
Macedonian border

Friday, September 4, 2015

"They won't let us talk about God"

   The tragic open secret of
   a political party's fabri-
   cation of religious perse-
   cution, on the basis of a
   failure of its bigotries,
   is not remotely only an A-
   merican dilemma. But it's
   also not a proud American
   tradition, unless we mean
   the term as Homer did, as
   the harbinger of contempt.

      If others in the same glass better see,
      'Tis for themselves they look, but not for me:
      For my salvation must its doom receive
      Not from what others, but what I believe.

   I'd go into the dock with
   Dryden, before all the Ju-
   lius Streichers ever call-
   ed to lead their movement.

John Dryden
Steven N. Zwicker and
  David Bywaters, editors
Selected Poems
  Religio Laici
Penguin Books, 2001©
op. cit.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

The peacewreckers gather

Word has spread that radical
Right Wing opposition to the
worldwide consensus embodied
in the arms accord with Iran,
just assured yesterday of su-
perfluous passage through a
gauntlet in the American Con-
gress, is regrouping predic-
tably in many murky corners,
to say nothing of the usual
by Republicans. 

What could be more uplifting
proof of this long-sought vin-
dication of worldwide hope,
than the company which renoun-
ces it? By all means, vigil-
ance against these ostenta-
tious patriots, of one place
or another, simply remains a
part of any gentler regime.
Something about the gift to
be simple.

and Washington flog the Ameri-
can people to betray this ac-
cord as fully and as fast as
endlessly behind their gaudy
arras, humanity's honest watch
requires its own escalations,
in earnest outreach to peace-
ful institutions everywhere.
If this means diverting phil-
anthropies and investments
from their decadent ruts, the
road itself rewards the trek.

Jennifer Steinhauer
Republicans Weigh New Ways
  to Upend Iran Nuclear Deal
September 2, 2015

Photograph Jack Alexander
Photograph Maurice Chalfin
Photograph Gustave Roud

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I did not get through Proust this Summer

This is even actually partly
a sort of honest confession,
so it would be best to stop,
while embarrassment might be
minimal. Again I didn't even
pursue Proust. Now it's time
to close up the cottage, and
be grateful for having spent
the season without having to
assess it, ever after. Maybe
I avoid Proust, to avoid the
sacrifice of associating any
span of time with more poig-
nancy than it already bears.

In Peru he had said, Johnny,
you have just graduated from
one of the finest universit-
ies in America, and you are

That, I did happen to read,
this Summer: one classmate,
chiding another, precisely
for not knowing Proust. Dur-
ing endless tramps through 
the slums of Lima, no less. 
Warned me off redundantly, 
that did. Better, I think,
a sting than a splinter as
the prize of Summer's end.

John Hopkins 
The White Nile Diaries
I.B. Tauris, 2014©

ii  Hervé Guibert

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Chopin

    Texture and structure,
    élan of the polonaise.

    Donegal tweed for the
    pocket T, for wit and
    bonhommie. A profile,
    for remembrance, just
    a thoughtful courtesy.

Patrik Podkonicky
Manfred Langer, photography