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Showing posts from September, 2007

My Country--Michigan

Robert E. Lee told Lincoln, when asked to take command of the army at the beginning of the Civil War, that he couldn't choose to fight against his country. He was talking about Virginia. Perhaps it's time to think that way again.

Oh, where to begin? So many natives trashing the state of our state. On an assignment for my creative writing class one of my students wrote that she hopes to leave Michigan for good. Now there could be some personal baggage she wants to get away from, but so many people talk about leaving because of the economy, the climate, the cultural life, whatever excuse they want to make. Many of those excuses are legitimate--I mean, you can't live where you can't work, unless you choose to be indigent or suck the state's teat.

OK, strip away the economic reasons. Why leave Michigan? Or turn it around: why stay? I don't know about you (the two people that visit this blog) but I've Lake Superior coursing the vascular tunnels in my body. I'v…

Tension in the Capitol

I'm only a few hours back from my first trip to Washington D.C.

While it was a working vacation, of sorts, I did have time to observe some of the more typical elements of that city that would be Rome. I won't bore anyone with all the touristy details, but I did want to discuss one point. The wife and I visited the National Archives yesterday ( an interesting, though perhaps less glamourous stop than others). What I found, rather what I felt, hard to take was the rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. In the inside of this basilica were the "scripture" of the U.S.--the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution (Happy Constituition Day, BTW), and the Bill of Rights. Now, I found the fact that those were the original, faded documents very cool. What I had problems with were the quasi-religious elements at work. First the light is dim, yes, I know, to aid in the preservation, but let's be honest it is also meant to add to the air of holiness present. You are su…

Resurrected, Living in a Lighthouse

I haven't written any album reviews on here, so why start now? Well, honestly, Arcade Fire's Neon Bible is just too good not to spread the word about. David Dark has a more extensive review in Books and Culture, but this will have to suffice. Starting with a carnivalesque organ the album churns out dark and yet contrarily hopeful songs. Two in particular to focus on are "The Well and the Lighthouse" and "AntiChrist Television Blues." The first concerns a story of sin and redemption with the end chorus slowly chanting "Resurrected living in a lighthouse, if you leave them ships are gonna wreck.
Resurrected, living in a lighthouse, the lions and the lambs ain't sleeping
yet."Oblique yet illuminating for those with ears to hear. The song immediately following is the antithesis. Some schmuck wants to use his daughter (who sings beautifully) vicariously to testify about the power of God. As the song progresses he turns on his daughter, continually qu…


School starts tomorrow. I don't feel ready, though I am looking forward to teaching high school students again. I think the longer one is off from work the harder it is to begin working again. Something like: inertial mass increases over time thus requiring more energy to break the grip of inertia and move. On the plus side, I did finish A Tale of Two Cities today. I found the first third somewhat slow, but that last third--whooo! Is Carton's scheme going to work?

. . . and St. Wendell too.

Local cultures and economies, forest communities, small shares of private land, and health--these are the themes explored by Wendell Berry in the latest book of his that I have devoured. Six relatively short essays only add to the imperative that Western culture has some serious problems with it. That fact is not news (nor even literature ala E. Pound) but Berry's solutions could be considered a new antithesis to the G.O.D. complex of our political masters (that's Grow Or Die).

I suppose one could say that Farmer Wendell says nothing here that he hasn't already said. But wisdom doesn't come in a vaccination i.e. one shot of it doesn't keep you for life, instead one needs a regular dosage of wisdom to truly be at home in our skins and on the earth. So, Berry will keep writing until enough of us get the message and do something about it.

A couple of excerpts (note I've posted a couple of different quotes from this book earlier in "What Hath Economics to Do wi…