Schminken, morgens

das sanfte rauschen des belüfters
der hall meines schritts im geschlossenen raum
mein unbelauschter atem

weißgewaschen
bessere ich mich aus

für eine stunde
herausgetreten aus der welt

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Perloff Schmerloff

Interview from 2006

But on the whole, poets-as-reviewers are too biased; they have their agenda. To assign Charles Bernstein’s poetry to Glyn Maxwell, as the Times Literary Supplement did, is to ask for a negative review, and a snide one at that. The converse is also true: when Robert Pinsky is asked to review, say, Czeslav Milocz, he is obviously going to treat the Polish Nobel Prize winner, with whom he worked at Berkeley, with veneration. So one hardly gets an objective view. But I wouldn’t mind the lack of objectivity so much, if the reviewer were well informed and that’s too often not the case.

The nadir of reviewing, these days, is the New York Times Book Review. A recent issue carried a review of Elias Canetti’s posthumous The Party In The Blitz, the fifth installment of his autobiography, partly in note and diary form. I reviewed it for Bookforum, and found it to be fascinating. The Times gave the book to the notoriously snide, clever British (originally Australian) Clive James, a “big name”. I found his review almost libelous. He called Canetti a “twerp” and made fun of him. It was a case of THE REVENGE OF THE BRITS against a book by a Central European who dared criticize some of them. What a choice for reviewer!

Because, you see, Perloff is right and if James, whom I don’t particularly like myself, although he can be somewhat amusing, doesn’t agree with that he’s wrong. As easy as that. Because, you know, literary critics don’t have an agenda, why else would it make sense mentioning the poets’ agenda. Because, you see, Perloff’s proliferate output doesn’t show a clear bias every step of the way. No, wait…

Perloff Schmerloff

Interview from 2006

But on the whole, poets-as-reviewers are too biased; they have their agenda. To assign Charles Bernstein’s poetry to Glyn Maxwell, as the Times Literary Supplement did, is to ask for a negative review, and a snide one at that. The converse is also true: when Robert Pinsky is asked to review, say, Czeslav Milocz, he is obviously going to treat the Polish Nobel Prize winner, with whom he worked at Berkeley, with veneration. So one hardly gets an objective view. But I wouldn’t mind the lack of objectivity so much, if the reviewer were well informed and that’s too often not the case.

The nadir of reviewing, these days, is the New York Times Book Review. A recent issue carried a review of Elias Canetti’s posthumous The Party In The Blitz, the fifth installment of his autobiography, partly in note and diary form. I reviewed it for Bookforum, and found it to be fascinating. The Times gave the book to the notoriously snide, clever British (originally Australian) Clive James, a “big name”. I found his review almost libelous. He called Canetti a “twerp” and made fun of him. It was a case of THE REVENGE OF THE BRITS against a book by a Central European who dared criticize some of them. What a choice for reviewer!

Because, you see, Perloff is right and if James, whom I don’t particularly like myself, although he can be somewhat amusing, doesn’t agree with that he’s wrong. As easy as that. Because, you know, literary critics don’t have an agenda, why else would it make sense mentioning the poets’ agenda. Because, you see, Perloff’s proliferate output doesn’t show a clear bias every step of the way. No, wait…

Alice Walker on Obama

Alice Walker offering her well-reasoned two cents on Obama, Clinton and Whiteness. I’m glad to’ve been able to read it.

I made my first white women friends in college; they were women who loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered. That, for instance, at Sarah Lawrence, where I was speedily inducted into the Board of Trustees practically as soon as I graduated, I made my way to the campus for meetings by train, subway and foot, while the other trustees, women and men, all white, made their way by limo. Because, in our country, with its painful history of unspeakable inequality, this is part of what whiteness means. I loved my school for trying to make me feel I mattered to it, but because of my relative poverty I knew I could not.

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown – choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves. […]

But most of all I want someone with the self-confidence to talk to anyone, “enemy” or “friend,” and this Obama has shown he can do. It is difficult to understand how one could vote for a person who is afraid to sit and talk to another human being. When you vote you are making someone a proxy for yourself; they are to speak when, and in places, you cannot. But if they find talking to someone else, who looks just like them, human, impossible, then what good is your vote?

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as “a woman” while Barack Obama is always referred to as “a black man.” One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others’ lives that has so marred our country’s contacts with the rest of the world.

And yes, I would adore having a woman president of the United States. My choice would be Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted in Congress five years ago not to make war on Iraq. That to me is leadership, morality, and courage; if she had been white I would have cheered just as hard. But she is not running for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton is. And because Mrs. Clinton is a woman and because she may be very good at what she does, many people, including some younger women in my own family, originally favored her over Obama. I understand this, almost. It is because, in my own nieces’ case, there is little memory, apparently, of the foundational inequities that still plague people of color and poor whites in this country. Why, even though our family has been here longer than most North American families – and only partly due to the fact that we have Native American genes – we very recently, in my lifetime, secured the right to vote, and only after numbers of people suffered and died for it.

When I offered the word “Womanism” many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. But neither are we inclined to follow a black person, man or woman, unless they demonstrate considerable courage, intelligence, compassion and substance. I am delighted that so many women of color support Barack Obama -and genuinely proud of the many young and old white women and men who do.

Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door. The bottom line for most of us is: With whom do we have a better chance of surviving the madness and fear we are presently enduring, and with whom do we wish to set off on a journey of new possibility?

Terrorist

Found this on openDemocracy

A comprehensive FBI report published recently has highlighted the threat from domestic, home-grown extremists from a variety of groups, including those on the “extreme fringes” of social movements such as the “Animal Liberation Front” (classified as “special-interest terrorism”) to far right groups which often take “racist and racial supremacy and embrace antigovernment, antiregulatory” platforms.

The toD verdict: Since 9/11 and the inception of the “war on terrorism”, the threat posed by “domestic terrorism” has been conflated with Muslims residing in the US. Yet, an astounding 23 out of 24 terorrist attacks domestic terrorist attacks that took place between 2002-2005 were carried out by ‘special interest’ terror groups. As the report points out, the greater threat arises from fascist, right wing groups.

Gettin’ yr morals on

Conversational Reading on William T. Vollmann’s new book, Riding Toward Everywhere

The problem is that he has a tendency to overdo it, as in, for instance, writing an entire book about hopping trains that has no real point to it and tries to play up the hobo life into some kind of American myth.

That’s not to say that someone out there couldn’t write a good book about hobos or whatever, but Vollmann isn’t the guy to do it. He has some kind of soft spot when it comes to whores/bums/etc and his sense of morals becomes way too facile

Pilgern

Der Pilger sollte ausreichend Geld für seine Familie hinterlassen, und keine Schulden; selbst wenn sein Nachbar Not leidet, sagt ein Hadith, muß er die Reise aufschieben. […] Am wichtigsten aber ist, daß der Gläubige sich vorab von seinen Lastern und Schwächen befreit. Die Hadsch wird ihn zwar von allen Sünden reinigen, aber sie wird nicht einen besseren Menschen aus ihm machen. Wer als Lügner oder Heuchler aufbricht, wird als Lügner oder Heuchler heimkehren. Die Hadsch ist kein Selbstzweck, sie wirkt nicht an sich.

aus Ilija Trojanows Büchlein “Zu den heiligen Quellen des Islam: Als Pilger nach Mekka und Medina” Malik, 2004.