the 60s

The 60s were about making a better world, for all people, NOT a world of corporations.

In the 60s all across the globe people erupted in movements calling for a change from the hierarchical status quos, for freedom from conformity, for a world where people could be themselves, and equals with each other, individuals open to difference, and able to work toward living together in harmony with our environment.  The 60s were a time when people rose up to claim their rights to be self-determined.

But the 60s were swallowed up by the 80s, and spit back out at us in the form of marketed goods.  And now you can buy the 60s for $9.99 online; you can wear the 60s, you can listen to the 60s, you can have 60s parties, and do 60s drugs, and the 60s becomes just another Hallowe’en costume, a fad, another fashion to exploit.

Yet the 60s just won’t go away.

Because it’s unfinished business.

Because we lost.

Because we got broken.

Because we forgot.

Because we’ve been bought

and sold.

Because

Because

Because.


Where oh where

did the fresh air go?

I smelled it, on the hillside,

holding hands that day.

I heard it in the music floating by.

We caught it,

like a flame,

it spread across

Nations.


A few good deaths,

and now

we’re quiet,

so quiet…

we know how to obey,

stay on the sidewalk,

apply for permits,

say yes sir

yes,

I’m just shopping,

on sale now,

quick before it’s all gone.


The mad rush down

the aisles

and miles

of goods and

not so goods…


Democracy means

Wal-Mart is free

to do its own thing.

Mr. Knightley

It’s very bad to go to sleep in love with Mr. Knightley.

Of course everyone loves Darcy, but for me there is no comparison.  Mr. Knightley is it.  And what a silly, but perfect name, for he is so chivalrous and virtuous, all the highest and noblest things a man, a gentleman might be.  And he loves a woman with an open temperament.

It was bad enough loving him after reading the book.  Then, over the last few days, I watched the BBC version online, in which Mr. Knightley is played to near perfection by Jonny Lee Miller.  Of course I dreamed of some world with Mr. Knightley in it.  And I awoke with Mr. Knightley in my aura.

On the website, I’d taken the silly little “which bachelor for you?” quiz, and as I knew I would, got Mr. Knightley by a huge proportion.  Yes, indeed, he’s the man for me.

But, there is no such person as Mr. Knightley.  He is a fiction, created by a woman.  He is a character well refined by hours with a pen, so that he speaks as he would speak, and always says the absolutely perfect thing, succinctly and with grace, as do so many Austen characters.

A fiction.

Hence, I’ve given up on love.  I’d already come to that, but I see quite clearly now that it is because the man for me doesn’t actually exist.

Well, I actually did know one man once who had very Knightley qualities, but he had to go off and do the right thing somewhere else, and we were separated.  But he did love me, so at least I know that Mr. Knightley might.

I am in no way Emma.  I have neither money nor “station”. I am the child of actor parents, left penniless.  I did not grow up in the calm and safety of an English manor in the countryside.  I also am not interested in arranging the love lives of others.  I suppose if Mr. Knightley had a flaw, it might be that he loves Emma.  But in truth, I can see that he has a longer vision, and he knows her deeper worth, and holds her to it.

I have never known that kind of love, never been the person someone’s day just wouldn’t be right without.  My life has been a series of moves, from one state to another, to and from another country, from one neighborhood to another…Stability is what is required for long-term commitments.

Mr. Knightley knows Emma inside and out.  He also has the benefit of being somewhat older than she.  His poise, his insight, his strength, even his willingness to have a temper, and to upbraid Emma when he thinks she’s gone wrong, make him a man of depth that a woman can equal, and grow from.  And his tenderness and loyalty…

Ah, Mr. Knightley…

Is it better to dream of a fictional character than no one at all?  To love a poem than no one at all?

As much fun as Jane Austen is to read, I do not take her men as examples of what is found in life.  I did not grow up reading Jane Austen, so I do not think that spoiled me.  My heroes were Sherlock Holmes and the Scarlet Pimpernel.  And John Steinbeck.  And I romanticized every boy I knew.  And had some very unpleasant lessons to learn.  Most boys do not like girls with open temperaments.  This was wishful thinking on Jane’s part.  Though I’ve had my share of lovers and friends, there was no Mr. Knightley for me.  And I’m sure that to marry, it would’ve had to have been Mr. Knightley, for I believe in being virtuous – as in, good hearted, empathetic, loyal, honest, and strong.  And I require openness and strength, for I am open and strong.  And as I am not always sure, or right, I would want someone loving and loyal to meet me with honesty and hold me to a higher standard.

How can you not love the man when, after a lifetime of devotion and friendship he says to the very woman he loves, in private “Badly done” after she is publicly rude and unfeeling to another.

Oh Mr. Knightley, you are so fair

of face and of judgement.

No one compares

these days.  I fear

I shall never

know the likes

of you.

Howard Zinn

Last week at Evergreen State College, at the exact time he was scheduled to speak, we held a Celebration of Life Memorial for Howard Zinn.

It was a small ritual.

ZinnPosterCover

We listened to him; we listened to each other read from him, and reminisce about small moments with him; and we watched a video of him giving a short lecture given in these last months before his death.

I spoke briefly of the time I saw him, when he was in his 70s at New York Public Library, and how it struck me that for a man who wrote such essentially confrontational books, he was so gentle and humble.  I then read excerpts from Artists in Times of War, including his statement that it is the job of artists to say what no one else will say.

I made the program, the flyer, and I supplied the candle – a white one in a glass jar, which I bought at the only thing close to a bodega that we have in this town.  A people’s candle.  I thought Howard would like it.

I rubbed the outside of it clean, thinking of him, this tribute to him, the light he brought, and gave to all of us.

Afterwards, I spent time with a friend of mine from France.  He soared through a brilliant, animated one could say People’s History of Europe, from the 1870s to about 1919, with a bit of the 1990s thrown in.  Most of those were bloody decades, full of wars. He focused on movements of people trying to live more freely, the interests surrounding them, the powers against them, and the ways these movements were put down.

For years I’ve had some knowledge of doings in Europe in World War II.  More recently I got interested in some World War I writings, and I began to see how World War II was sitting there, just waiting to happen, becoming inevitable because of behaviors and choices being enacted by all parties involved during and after World War I.

Everything my French friend told me made it clear how what happened before led right up to World War I.

And this is why History is so important to know, to look at, to bring into our conversation: We must see these patterns, see that what we are doing now will lead to our misery, or to our health.

Take, for instance, the recent financial meltdown: This is nothing new for industrial capitalism; and the 1930s was not the only other, and certainly not the first time.  It should not have come as such a shock, and in some ways we could say it should not have happened at all.

Howard Zinn’s work has contributed to a different way of teaching history, and expecting history to be taught, by historians, teachers, students, and artists as well.  It is history as affects us all, not just the so-called big players strutting across a stage.  It is history of people’s experiences at the hands of the so-called big players, and history of people’s movements, people’s desires for fair and free societies.  It is the common ground of these, our stories that might one day help us to remember the fire the last time, to choose another path, and not get burned again.

Howard Zinn’s work has already become part of our changing vision, and will reverberate onward, from us and our children. Work well done.


“Don’t look for a moment of total trumph. See
it as an ongoing struggle, with victories and
defeats, but in the long run the consciousness of
people growing. So you need patience, persistence,
and need to understand that even when you don’t
“win,” there is fun and fulfillment
in the fact that you have been involved,
with other good people,
in something worthwhile.”
~ Howard Zinn

Marjah

I huddle in my room, amidst my stacks of books, near my little bed, piled high with warm blankets.

There is nothing urgent in the air around me; people drive their cars to work, to restaurants and movies, shopping, or further out to nature trails.  It is calm here.

I am not waiting for NATO forces to decimate my town.

How can I wake myself up?  On this vast island, which seems so far from invasion, bombs, war.

War.

That daily, nightly condition, tremors through ground and body, fear, incipient, constant, in your veins, waiting, packing, securing, scurrying, wringing, panicking, not hungry, having to eat, wondering what’s the use, where can you go, how, how…how to Live…

It’s inconceivable.  The radio goes on, the talking goes on, the laughing goes on: Hey, are you coming over for dinner? Hey, are we going dancing?

And I don’t even want to leave my room, in this safe little town.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/02/08/Taliban-say-they-will-defend-Marjah/UPI-19181265612345/

for Spring:

Bright sturdy green shoots spiking up through the damp ground like proud little children sprouting up, lifting their arms small selves to the sun…

Here it comes again, that season that always comes around;

Maybe someday it won’t; maybe some spring will be the last spring; we won’t know it while we’re in it, but it might turn out later to have been the last spring this earth would ever know – after that, darkness, maybe obliteration?

But for now:

Here it is again:

Look, see: things will change, life will flower again, sooner or later…

But I remember:

People wrote about/talked about how spring came and the skies were blue, even at Auschwitz…

Yet my heart delights nonetheless at the sight of snowdrops…

Someone will make it; some sense of possibility, of the magick of life unfolding, of existence, of beauty, of creation, is still there, just beneath the soil…

http://olympiaflowers.wordpress.com/