Tuesday, February 01, 2005

In an act of lunacy, I stayed late at work today and decided to download one weekend's worth of articles from CounterPunch. This is a leftwing news compendium that irritates me to no end by not having printer-friendly versions of their stories available. Instead, there is an infuriatingly long left column that lists every link for a month plus various books and articles of value. I've taken to guesstimating the length of any particular article and outputting 10-12 pages in hopes of getting an entire story to print.

As an experiment, I cut and pasted every article from the past weekend and today into one text document. I ended up with 47 pages of 9 point type. I managed to get through 2/3 of it before giving up because, alas, I will have to sleep sometime tonight!

Despite the fact that it is simply impossible to read all this valuable information, it was astonishing how much I learned in three hours of concentrated reading. I fnished up with this remarkable post about Auschwitz and the political message this place plays in our lives today. Just open your mind and read it. Forget the myths and look at the reality:

when the image of evil is brewed within your cultural heritage as the discourse of the other, you may as well become blind to the fact that you yourself are already evil.

One thing I learned from being up close and personal to a noxious form of evil as I was growing up is that I can never assume that evil is something out there and foreign to me. It is a choice we make on a daily basis. Let us have the strength to choose good over evil today.

4 comments:

Lmcgdog said...

Really, I meant it when I said I wasn't going to post again. (I meant it when I swore absolutely as my #1 New Year's resolution that I wasn't going to post on the internet again). Really, I'm a lying liar even to myself. Someday, I WILL do the internet 12-step. Just, not today.

Because your post reminded me of a poem. And, I cannot turn my back on that.

(But, first, a short political rave. I didn't like the article at all.

"Sixty years after liberation, Auschwitz became an international political event. It is no coincidence, and I feel that we should spare a moment asking ourselves: why now, why Auschwitz?"

My first impulse was: "because of that Prince Harry, thing" ... like, DUH!

LOL

My real disagreement with this article was because he used facts well known to his readers to justify a viewpoint most likely shared with his readers.

I agree with his viewpoint.

I also believe that there are some events so stand alone terrible ... German WWII genocide, Hiroshima, Armenian genocide, any cultural slavery ... that are so terrible, you should never use them as a cheap short-hand way to make your own lazy-ass journalistic viewpoint. Don't use them to make a relatively small point. Because, if you do, YOU are a small, inarticulate, pointless asshole.

And, Rave, in my opinion, the guy who wrote this article because he used "Auschwitz" to make his point is both lazy and an asshole. There are a lot of other more well thought out ways to make his point).

But, now to the poem-thing. I don't know what it was. Maybe, the use of "smoke" as an adjective. But, it was incredibly evocative and sent me off on a fruitful search. It's probably been 30 years since I read this poem. Critically, speaking, I don't even think it's a great poem ... but, I remembered it 30 years down the line so I may need to reacess my definitions of greatness. I remembered it as being Phillip Larkin but intensive Google search reveals it as Geoffrey Hill:

Undesirable you may have been, untouchable
you were not. Not forgotten
or passed over at the proper time.

As estimated, you died. Things marched,
sufficient to that end.
Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented
terror, so many routine cries.

(I have made
an elegy for myself it
is true)

September fattens on vines. Roses
flake from the wall. The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.

This is plenty. This is more than enough.

Ravenmn said...

Hey, I enjoy being the cause of broken resolutions! Smash all resolutions, I say! Hedonists unite! Or I would be saying that if I didn't find hedonism to be incredibly exhausting.

I do enjoy comments because it helps me see articles that I respond to in one way in an entirely different light. To me, the author is saying that the idea of "Auschwitz" is misused by both the left and the right for political purposes. And yet you see the author as committing that exact sin!

I also believe that there are some events so stand alone terrible ... ... German WWII genocide, Hiroshima, Armenian genocide, any cultural slavery ... that are so terrible, .... Ah, but this is the main point on which we disagree. I'm pretty much convinced that evil happens quite regularly and each one of us is remarkably blind to the evil within ourselves while being ultra sensitive to the evil perpetrated by others.

And to come full circle, that is pretty much what Hill's poem says to me.

Lmcgdog said...

I totally disagree about your take on Hill's poem. I could be polite and say, I'm just disagreeing on your interpretation.

But, boing, you didn't get it at all.

The poem is not about the evil within us all ... it's about our willingness to coexist with evil and why.

Evil can be small, dodging, mind exhausting ... the natural impulse of us all is to ignore this and look for hope and the beautiful.

That being said, I still hate Bush, Jr. Because, I don't believe he has any philosophy at all.

Ravenmn said...

But, boing, you didn't get it at all.I agree. I don't get it. I do not understand what you are trying to say.

The poem is not about the evil within us all ... it's about our willingness to coexist with evil and why.All I can do is tell you how the words affect me:

The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.

This is plenty. This is more than enough.
There are times, when I am watching a fire burn, that I think about the fires of Auschwitz, or the Triangle Fire, or the fires of any number of outrages. All it takes is that whiff of smoke to remind me of the lives lost, the hopes smashed, the progress delayed. Just a small whiff of smoke is "more than enough" to help me understand that the fires of war and hatred can destroy so much so quickly. Can you show me how my interpretation is so wrong?