Saturday, February 25, 2017
In the cards and at the bend in the road
we never saw you
in the womb and in the crossfire
in the numbers
whatever you had your hand in
which was everything
we were told never to put
our faith in you
to bow to you humbly after all
because in the end there was nothing
else we could do
but not to believe in you
still we might coax you with pebbles
kept warm in the hand
or coins or the relics
of vanished animals
not binding upon you
who make no promises
we might do such things only
not to neglect you
and risk your disfavor
oh you who are never the same
who are secret as the day when it comes
you whom we explain
as often as we can
-W. S. Merwin
First to set forth a few facts: John Brant is a very good writer; Julius Achon is a very good human being; Uganda in the late 20th century was a dangerous and unpleasant place; Joseph Kony was evil.
Brant offers the compelling story of Achon, who rises from a poor Ugandan village but can never escape its gravitational pull. Achon's self-developed running ability, and will, take him on a journey from nowhere to college stardom in America to Olympic hopefulness.
The torment of the family, village, and history he left behind never ebbs. How Achon conquers that torment is the story behind the story.
A worthy read. Highly recommended.
Ed. Note: In the interest of full disclosure, Brant may be my longest term friend. We first met at Merion Elementary school in 1957.
This foolishness is best understood as an unreasoning panic attack. The liberal media hate Trump more than they have hated any American politician in a generation, and they do not understand his supporters or the sources of his appeal. They are frantically picking up every available stick to beat him, in the hopes that something, somehow, will Miloize him.
-Walter Russell Mead, as excerpted from this post suggesting that Trump's actions make him Russia's worst nightmare and that the MSM is getting it all horribly wrong (again).
Friday, February 24, 2017
Audited a history course, The Late Antiquity, at my alma mater last semester. The professor was interesting enough to get me to sign up for his follow-on course, Origins of Europe: Medieval Society, this semester. The former covered the years 200 C.E to 1000 C.E.. The latter covers 1000 C.E. to about 1400. Candidly, those are way too many centuries to cover in depth in just one semester. What one gets is a whetting of the appetite for a few of the particulars. So, as happens with the serendipitous nature of the Intertunnel, this blog post was discovered, and the links followed. Oh, my! Amazon has been consulted and the mailman put on alert.
There were Germans living next to Poles. The crabgrass invaded the neighbor's yard looking for lebensraum, but that was about it. There were Scots living next to people I thought were sorta German, but were really Swiss, I think. If they didn't care enough to explain to me what they were, why should I bother to figure it out?
In Uganda you could travel five miles and be in a different world, one whose tribe spoke an alien language and worshipped unfamiliar gods, where the people eyed you with a hostility and suspicion bordering on hatred. In the United States, by contrast, you could travel a thousand miles and go to the same convenience stores and watch the same TV shows. Not only did everyone speak the same language, they greeted you with the same bland smile and the same injunction to have a nice day.
-John Brant, The Boy Who Runs, The Odyssey of Julius Achon
"The right art," cried the Master, "is purposeless, aimless! The more obstinately you try to learn how to shoot the arrow for the sake of hitting the goal, the less you will succeed in the one and the further the other will recede. What stands in your way is that you have a much too willful will. You think that what you do not do yourself does not happen."
Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery
"If one treats the space where they work as sacred then, in kind, all of the items in that space should be there to support the purpose at hand. If one treats the space they dine in as sacred, it should be the same - to support and enhance the act of having or sharing a meal. And, if one treats the place they rest as sacred, one should remove and not allow anything that does not support that purpose (for instance, having a television or computer in the bedroom)."
"This is yet another way you could create healthy constraints that define and determine what constitutes enough for you. Determine those times and spaces that are sacred to you. Only allow items and tasks within to support the intentions and actions to be practices, and eschew anything that does not."
-Patrick Rhone, as culled from Enough
"There is nothing of which we are likely to be so wasteful of as time; and about which we ought to be more careful; since without it we can do nothing in this world. Time is what we want most, but unfortunately, what we use worst; and for which God will certainly most strictly hold us to account, when time shall be no more."
-William Penn, from his Preface to Some Fruits of Solitude in Reflections and Maxims 1682
Thursday, February 23, 2017
................................................................Daniel J. Boorstin:
“The hero reveals the possibilities of human nature; the celebrity reveals the possibilities of the media.”
“We have become so accustomed to our illusions that we mistake them for reality.”
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
“I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress.”
“In the first place you can be so absolutely honest and so absolutely wrong at the same time that I think it is better to be a combination of cautious and polite”
-attributed to Flannery O'Connor