Monday, August 4, 2014

The fear of death is alive in the Middle East

In the early morning I take my old blind doggie downstairs to the Film Farm, where images of beauty are created.  I watch day break.

I think only English think of day as "breaking."  Daybreak.  The antonym is "nightfall."  I tested google's translator: other languages doesn't seem to have the same sense, and I can't find out why English does.  There is nothing about dawn that arouses in me the notion of breaking.

Daybreak is always glorious, frequently with a moon and the North Star, and unnoticed by doggies.  Birdies awaken; don't know what their feeling about it are, but they are singing, a good sound.

Then we go upstairs, feed the doggies bits of "crackers" that they like, freshen their water bowl, water the plants, and the computer beckons. Five welcomed emails from Kristina, Rik, Susan, Rhoda and Kalani greeted me this morning, and a good morning phone call from Jim..

I'm thinking, this morning, about how awful (in the archaic sense) the human animal is.

When we acquired self-awareness, at least partial, we crenated things glorious and terrible, and, of course, many mundane things.

Since English is my only language, I naturally think of "glorious" mainly in English, and I have a strong preference for sentences, embodying Pound's sense that poetry consists of gists and piths.

The earliest sentence I learned is the first long sentence of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. 
The sentence is one man's courageous response to the deadly and random plagues that were afflicting England.

Then I think of Shakespeare.  His sonnets, unequalled, are single sentences:
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 
The 20th Century produced good poems.  My favorite is:

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness
And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn
The majesty and burning of the child’s death.
This complex sentence is worth the time it take to unscramble its meaning.  It seeks to be heard:  

When I venture outside English, it is to the European Baroque period I generally go, to music --

and painting - for  one example out of many, the wonderfully ambiguous ""Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy"..:

The horrors we animals have created out of our self-awarness are most vividly illustrated by The Bomb:

In the 20th Century, not the most horrible of centuries, but the most horrible created by our own lust to kill, seems to have persuaded our Great Nations to refrain from competition by War, though intense competition continues by other means, which may cause suffering, as by a world-wide depression.  But we seem to have learned it is not prudent to kill with all the implements of destruction available to us.

Small nations and groups of folks are not so constrained, though the Great Nations take pains to discourage the use of Atomics, and so small wars continue; and even in some of the Great Nations, individuals demand as much weaponry as their governments will permit.

When we became aware of ourselves, we, alone amongst all creatures (so far as we know), became aware of our own inevitable death.  Elephants may know; we haven;t, yet,learnt to speak Elephant.  We will, if ww survive long enough.

That awareness of our inevitable Nothingness motivates many of us to lash out, to hurt others.

Israel, Gaza, and the king of he Saudi, are not unique and are illustrative. 

[I know how weak the evidence is for the assertions I make here.  I base them on the evidence available to me, who lives on a small speck of land surrounded by the World's Greatest Ocean, the island bristling with a host of the most ingenious and powerful weapons of destruction ever devises, and arrayed for my protection, presumably.  The internet provides a lot of conflicting information.  Here is my interpretation of that information, married to my 80 years of living.  I don't insist on its accuracy 
and am always open to contrary information']

The present and temporary rulers of  Israel want War with Iran.  Their professional military men warn against War with Iran, and the rulers are compelled by the terror of Nothingness, their inevitable fate -- to want War.  War is to be preferred to facing Nothingness. See, War with Iran, in this blog.

It takes a kind of courage and a kind of inner peace to face Nothingness with grace, and both are hard to come by for rulers beset by a fearful population.

he rulers of Israel have a fearful population.  The Hamas rockets, though they do little actual harm, make a terrifying whine, and the freequent air raid warnings that drive folks to shelters contributes to the fear. For details, see Wikipeddia, here.

About a fourth of the population as PTSD, and many others, especially children, have sleep and eating disorders.  It is no wonder that the rulers make war on Palestinians, who are the proximate cause of their fears.

A study, The Psychological effects of War on Gaza’s children reports on the damning effects of the 28-day 2009 War.  There is no reason to believe that the present War has fewer harmful effects. 

Our kind of animal, when brutally attacked, gathers around their leaders and will fight to the death, rage overcoming the fear of Nothingness.  

How will this War end?  Friend Rhoda kindly sent me a wis article by Thomas L. Friedman, a wise man who knows Israel and Palestine intimately.  He sees no good end to the War, but proposes one, in the hope that something good will happen.

The king of the Saudi wants Israel to destroy Hams, a Muslim Brotherhood organization that supports free elections -- anathema to the king -- and in the process, Israel would ruin its international reputation and become weakened.   Win-win for the king.

The king of  the Saudi hates them both.  Much of the world is anathema to the king.  He hates most folks in the world.  Maybe he hates you, too.  He surely would hate me, if he knew me.  As it is, he has to be content with hating theWest.  I would not wish to be he.

From The Kuwait News Agency, July 1, 2014, not picked up by the Western press:

JEDDAH, Aug 1 (KUNA) -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has slammed Israel's bloody assault on Gaza as "crimes against humanity" and "terrorism", and condemned the international community as "watching over quietly" and being "indifferent to what is going on as if it does not concern it." In an address to the international community quoted by the Saudi Press Agency, he launched a scathing attack on those who have failed to carry out "their historic responsibility" on the situation in Gaza for the sake of "temporary interests or suspicious schemes".
He added, "they have not made use of recent past experiences, which nobody has been spared from." Palestinians are being targeted in "mass killings that have not excluded anyone, and merciless and immoral crimes against humanity that have revealed that terrorism can assume numerous forms through groups, organisations or nations - which are the most dangerous due to their capabilities, intentions and schemes." King Abdullah went on to condemn terrorist groups, who have been particularly active in Gaza. . . .
At the same time the king made this statement, Saud individuals are funding radical Sunni Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq by funneling the money secretly through Kuwait..  The worst of the groups insist on an interpretation of the Quran that is like the repressive one the king enforces in Saudi Arabia, causing vastly more harm than Israel is causing.


Timor mortis conturbat me.. . .  And him, too.

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