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« The Trouble Clef – Findings | 6 January 2010 [by Lera Auerbach] | Main | Remembering Rachel Wetzsteon [by Jason Schneiderman] »

January 07, 2010


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jason, a terrific piece...was reminded of some words by adrienne rich regarding this "tragic land" we occupy...and "...the extraordinary cruelty, greed and willful obliteration on which the land of the free was founded. Cruelty, greed, assassination of cultures are part of all history. But we, here, have been staggering under the weight of a national fantasy that the history of the conquest of the Americas, the 'westward movement' was different---was a history of bravery, enlightenment, righteous claiming, service to religious values and civilizing spirit.

That Dan Pagis poem packs a wallop. Great ending. Thank you, Jason.

Some more thoughts: If, for the sake of argument, Darwin's theory of natural selection holds true and the fittest survive, then by logical extension every nation is founded on a fight-to-the-death conquest of its rivals. Distinctions follow and then speedily come questions. How substantive are the differences between, on one extreme, the Nazi extermination campaigns and the "historical" disasters of the blinkered past? Americans, citizens of an immigrant nation that has embraced change as a virtue, have got to have a different gut feeling about their country's history than the grandchildren of Waffen-SS officers have about theirs. It wouldn't surprise me if statistics prove what anecdotes suggest: that to a majority of Americans, the founding of the nation and its first hundred years is a remote sequence of events that has little to do with who they think they are. I don't mean to be contentious, just to keep thickening the discourse.
Liked very much your reference to the Seder and God's view of the casualties of the miracle of the splitting of the sea.
Thanks again, Jason, for such a thoughtful, thought-filled piece.

first of all, my english isn't very good. i like this review. i'm one of those that go passionately for historical justice, but i never expected any true trial of making justice from a hollywood production. the characters of the movie (i mean, even the sensible blue people (and even the wild alien beasts!)) were full of 'americanized' behaviour, proud and arrogant attitude (at least seems like this to these foreign eyes). the overall message has been the same "something stinks but never mind, CUZ WE ARE SO COOL!"

america's resignation must come along with entertainment, on purpose, to keep acceptable/neglected in minds and hearts the misery-spreading imperialist politics.

"[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well- wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benign' sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit." - John Quincy Adams, US House, 7/4/1821

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I left it
on when I
left the house
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ten hours later
to the greatness
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"After You've Gone"
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in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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