Tag Archives: America

selections from In the Sierra: Mountain Writings by Kenneth Rexroth

The question is not
Does being have meaning,
But does meaning have being. Continue reading

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selections from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“She’ll come back and be a serious Americanah like Bisi,” Ranyinudo said.

They roared with laughter, at that word “Americanah,” wreathed in glee, the fourth syllable extended, and at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below them, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affectations, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke. (78) Continue reading

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how i voted in the June 7, 2016 election

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bernie Sanders
UNITED STATES SENATOR: Kamala Harris
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Nancy Pelosi
STATE SENATOR: Ken Loo
MEMBER OF THE STATE ASSEMBLY, DISTRICT 19: Phil Ting
JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT, OFFICE NO. 7: Victor Hwang

PROP 50: Yes
PROP A: Yes
PROP B: No
PROP C: No
PROP D: Yes
PROP E: Yes
PROP AA: Yes Continue reading

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selections from Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014)

“In life, as in mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Continue reading

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SAS 9

IMG_7531 Continue reading

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siesta

they fell in love in the early morning
the sea rippling golden red
the horizon green as their affection
radiant violet skies overhead.

robust and mighty, they stretched their wings
and took off for the west.
“wherever we’re together,” they sung,
“that wherever will be best.”

they left the sea and traced the rivers,
worshiping the water’s ways—
its springs produced a thousand greens,
dark mossy rocks and verdant glades.

vast forests gave way to vaster plains
and these, in turn, grew rocky.
until the land swelled up to heaven,
which the lovers flew over, cocky.

gliding down, at last, they gazed upon
the desert—endless, empty, eternal—
imagining it wide enough for their love
but ignorant of the sun, infernal.

“siesta!” she cried, as she landed
and down in the dirt she lay.
and there her lover hopes and weeps forever
of her rousing, even as stars fade away. Continue reading

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selections from The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville

‘True; but look, now, what my doubt is. I am one who thinks well of man. I love man. I have confidence in man. But what was told me not a half-hour since? I was told that I would find it written — “Believe not his many words — an enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips” — and also I was told that I would find a good deal more to the same effect, and all in this book. I could not think it; and, coming here to look for myself, what do I read? Not only just what was quoted, but also, as was engaged, more to the same purpose, such as this: “With much communication he will tempt thee; he will smile upon thee, and speak thee fair, and say What wantest thou? If thou be for his profit he will use thee; he will make thee bear, and will not be sorry for it. Observe and take good heed. When thou hearest these things, awake in thy sleep.”‘

‘Who’s that describing the confidence-man?’ here came from the berth again. (286) Continue reading

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Wasted Cinders

we’re just doing, not being. Continue reading

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walking birds in stereo

two channels of life’s transmission traveling
3000 miles across America in stereophonic sound—

two of hearts, one infinitesimal diamond
walking along the country’s deep black grooves

dreaming, “rhythm is rhythm—rhythm is life—
music is zen—systems, strife.” day

and night, sometimes skipping, sometimes
losing the beat but losing it together

and then finding it together on the b-side
of the same thought, not a measure too soon. Continue reading

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selections from Civil Disobedience

“That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. (385)

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. (386)

I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave’s government also. (389)

There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. (391)

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too. (393)

Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves,–the union between themselves and the State,–and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury? (394)

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? (395)

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth,–certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn. (396)

I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad. A man has not everything to do, but something; and because he cannot do everything, it is not necessary that he should do something wrong. (396)

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. (398)

Confucius said: “If a state is governed by the principles of reason, poverty and misery are subjects of shame; if a state is not governed by the principles of reason, riches and honors are the subjects of shame.” (401)

The progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual. Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire. Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly. I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose, if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellowmen. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen. (413) Continue reading

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