Monday, December 19, 2011

The Inner-View. 5 Minutes. One Question.

Enchanted Hills
Camp for the Blind
Wayne Miller

The mysteries don't scare me anymore. Someone once said that all silence is the recognition of a mystery, but I don't believe that anymore and I'm not sure I ever did. I think silence is many things (a sort of reading room or academy of mysteries, maybe), and many of them fine, but I don't think it's a recognition of a mystery. That's much too general. You might recognize a mystery in the loudest room or the most crowded street or in the face of a passing stranger or the furtive smile of someone you love.
When you do recognize a mystery, though --when you really recognize a mystery-- I believe you're compelled to address it, to try to speak its name and describe its features, to give it a face so that you will recognize and remember it until the end of your days. Because it's no small thing, the recognition of a mystery, even though it happens all the time and we may not even be properly aware of it. Still, I believe such recognition calls for some banging of pots and pans, some fireworks, some exultant noise.

Hold Out Hope: An Old Pep Talk
Brad Zellar

A few months ago, IV sat down with seasoned poet, musician, critic, and mystery describe-er, Joe Nolan, to talk religion. What follows is another beautifully described mystery. All who have ears, what do you think? Describe it in your way. Keep it essential, in the footsteps of Joe.

IV: Annie Dillard worded the sigh, "Who knows what God loves?" It messed me up for years. Now I hear it as a helpfully cathartic/poetic cry that holds a confession of deep love mixed evenly with complete and utter unknowing. Is faith even possible?

JN: There is a broken empty space where Christianity exists.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Embodied Particularity: An Introduction

When Williams set down plainly his manifesto, "No ideas but in things," he was not being odd or silly or unintelligent, and what he said was not unprecedented. He was accepting a limit (for himself and his own work, first of all) that would protect things from the limitlessness of abstract ideas, abstract definitions, abstract rules and cases. Things--or, by implication, persons, places, and things--properly mark the limits of ideas. Things do not merely make manifest the general names and categories by which we describe them; they also impose a discipline on those generalities, so that the generalities do not become so general as to be unknown and unfelt in embodied particularity—so that they do not, so to speak, escape imagination and form. This is the divorce Williams speaks of early in Paterson: names and ideas becoming separate from the things they denote, so that “the language stutters." The tangible defines and disciplines the intangible. Concern for ideas in the absence of a concern for things, or at the expense of things, is capricious and dangerous both to things and to ideas.
--Wendell Berry, The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford

Outside the Common Run

If you got something outside the common run that's got to be done and cant wait, dont waste your time on the menfolk; they works on what your uncle calls the rules and the cases. Put the womens and the children at it; they works on the circumstances.
"old Ephraim" to Chick Mallison in William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Inner-View. 5 Minutes. One Question.

Tuesday Evening, IV staffers were challenged by professional game-ers Stephen and Jude Mason to participate in the meaning-making sport known as Apples To Apples. As aspiring followers of high-stake-surrealism, we were ready to make non-sense one bite at a time. Of course, all this ridiculousness begs the question:

IV: What happens when one plays Apples to Apples?

SM: The not obvious becomes the obvious.

The Inner-View. 5 Minutes. One Question.

In love we're all the same
We're walking down an empty street
Tonight and every night...
Let's go walking down this empty street
Let's walk in the cool evening light
Wrong or right
Be at my side

The Blue Nile, Downtown Lights

So tonight The Blue Nile is playing. Children are watching Eddie Murphy in some new movie that isn't as wonderful as Bowfinger. The cups are filled with box wine kicks. Author and stand-up wordsmith, David Dark, is washing dishes. The inner-view begins.

IV: Alright... as we are comically quotidian at the moment, let's talk about Romance. What do you make of it?

DD: I want everyone to have it. I think of Portia in The Merchant of Venice when she told Bassanio that his gaze divided her heart, giving one half to him and the other, if it's still hers, also his. I think too of the tale Dmitri told his brother Alyosha (in Brothers Karamazov) of the night Katerina Ivanovna came to him, thanking him for sparing her drunken father some form of debtor's indignity by offering him her body. He was so moved by her beauty and nobility that, contrary to his usual pattern, he refused her offer. After she left, he stood there amazed at himself, overwhelmed at their exchange and so doubtful that he would obtain such heights of ecstasy again that he drew his sword and, by his account, came close to impaling himself. I think of something like the desire to pour your own life into what you take to be the depths of another human being. This is what comes to my mind when I think of romance.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Live in The Along

Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward

Say to them,
Say to the down-keepers,
The sunslappers,
The self-soilers,
The harmony-hushers,
“even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.

Gwendolyn Brooks

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Inner-View. 5 Minutes. One Question.

It was only a matter of time before IV resident artists Sam and Peter Dark were called upon to participate in The Inner-View's whimmy blog sport. It happened today. It should be noted that, as artists do, Sam and Peter expanded the boundary-ed playing field of the current system... and begged a second question.

IV: If you could live in any place, with any kind of people, where would it be?

Sam: I would live with the Vikings because they eat a lot of meat. I really want to be a guy who hunts for animals. I love them.

IV: Can you love them and kill them?

Sam: Isn't it like thanking them?

Peter: Like the old man who made a fire and the rabbit saw him starvin' and stuff. The rabbit jumped himself into the fire so the man could eat him.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ah Forget It!

Ah Forget It! (A response to Ted Hoagland's "Big Grab")

Are you kidding?
I'm negotiating with surrealism,
Trying to take it into me,
Trying to cuddle it,
Make it lovely,
Make it love me.

--Sarah Masen

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Ritual of Play

This weekend concludes Sarah's tenure as Children's Education Director at DPC. You'll understand that the title conferred three years ago didn't mark the beginning of her devotion of energies in this direction anymore than handing it over to the wonderful and inspiring Lenae Chambers marks the end, but this is the conclusion of a season in which Sarah has worked tirelessly at showing, instructing, dreaming, and crying out loud within a certain gap ("Adults! Receive the poetic witness of our children! Hear and see and experience!" and "Children. Here's what we're trying to do around here. Or at least, here's what we think we're doing. What do you guys think?"). She has performed the work awesomely and intensely and will now doubtless have at it some more as she returns to other mediums and other spaces. Perhaps I can get her to reflect on it all on the blog at some point, but she's lately more committed to the recent innerview series. Typical.
I give you the description for Saturday's goings-on, and invite you to come on out:
Everyday Rituals, Everyday Materials, Everyday Play
The youth of Downtown Presbyterian Church are creating again for the sixth summer running. Directed by Sarah Dark and Lenae Chambers, and with the help of local artists –Beth Gilmore, Elizabeth Streight,and Todd Greene- this year the youth are exploring the rituals they practice at home and in church. They have explored the rituals Presbyterians practice, such as baptism and Eucharist, as well as the mundane ritual of teeth brushing and eating. The art show, dubbed The Ritual of Play, will display art based on repetition. Edward, 9, explained the process of ritual in these words: “you have to have the freedom to do it, and you have to do it to know it.” Interactive stations will allow all to participate in daily rituals such as washing, eating, and writing. All materials used to create this show are found, reclaimed, or reused items. Nothing was purchased this year. The show will open Saturday, September 3, 2011 in DPC’s fellowship hall at 6pm.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Inner-View. 5 minutes. One question.

Oh Mom, I wonder when I'll be waking
It's just that there's so much to do and
I'm tired of sleeping
Suzanne Vega, Tired of Sleeping

Suzanne Vega is played often in our house. "Tired of Sleeping" is a particular favorite of IV staff, Dorothy Dark, and on the surface fits her owl-like tendency to "get this party started" when the older staff are ready for "zzzz"s. Surface aside, I was moved to read that the song came from a dream Vega had in which "the kids are playing in pennies" line was actually "the kids are begging for God". Out of the mad jungle mass of music played in our house, "Tired of Sleeping" came to mind today when I found myself interviewed by new friend Maeve. Maeve is a 2 year old Socratic philosopher who has recently moved to Nashville from Chicago, IL. I think there is a connection between the song and her questions. Help me mine it out. Consider yourself interviewed.

Maeve: Are you, you? A grown up?

IV: Yes. Are you going to be a grown up?

Maeve: No. I am going to be a little girl.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Inner-View. 5 minutes. One question.

Today I interviewed David Dark, recent PhD graduate from Vanderbilt University. He also happens to be my husband. If you have an answer to this question, consider yourself interviewed and write in. Or better yet, ask someone nearby. Questions are the sunshine.

"...a creative listener is not someone who simply allows me to say what I already want to say, but someone whose listening actually makes it possible for me to say what I never could have said, and thus to be a new kind of person, one I have never been before and could not have been before this directed listening."
James Carse The Silence of God

IV: Can you think of a time when someone listened to you with the kind of expectancy that helped you to become, as Carse suggests, "a new person"?

DD: Steve Stockman comes to mind. In 1992 he got to asking me questions in Northern Ireland and eventually asked me to "speak" to his group. His finding me interesting helped me want to be interesting. He brought the possibility in his questions that my voice might change him and that changed me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Be Born Again

The biblical expression for such existence is "eternal life." We can be easily misled by this term into thinking that what is being offered is an unchanging status of some sort, a blissful terminus to all our journeying in which nothing new can ever happen again; indeed, in which nothing at all can happen. It is useful to recall that the great medieval mystic Meister Eckhart preferred the term "eternal birth" as a way of indicating the dynamic element in the life of prayer. Eternal birth is something of a contradiction, of course, for it is difficult to imagine being born over and over again through an eternity. One often suspects, however, that persons who enthusiastically claim to be "born again" mean to be born into a state in which they will hold out against all further change, as though to be born again is a specifiable condition in which one may remain forever. To be born again under these terms is more like dying than living. Eckhart instructs us that we are not to be born again, but to be born again, and again, and again, and...
James P. Carse, The Silence of God: Meditations on Prayer

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.
- And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?
- Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams.

Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lost Bodies

Hold your applause. It's...Well it's more of the different same. Todd Greene continues his journey under the tutelage of Bankei, and it's got him mashing up the 12 stations of the cross with Bankei's 12 stages of agitation; going all first-class animal being the first stage of being unborn. I find the above image helpfully reminiscent of any of the Seven Deadly Enemies one finds within the Rock of Eternity, the lair of the wizard Shazam of Captain Marvel fame.
The fortunate few who come out to the Twist this Saturday evening and onward will be privileged to behold the following:
Hungry Ghost, the Mealy-mouthed Swindler, Double Mind, Transmigrator, and Void of the Human. This last one draws from the collaborative volume b/w Aimé Césaire and Picasso called Lost Body which your reporter procured from a Detroit bookstore for Mr. Greene. There are elements that the terminology of warning would deem graphic.
"Why would I pass a Saturday evening exploring this sort of thing?" I can't answer this question for you, but I'll try. If the alternative to a weekend consisting of one soul-sucking vacuum after another vying for your attention, hijacking your equilibrium, disturbing your peace is an immersion in attempted mindfulness, what could be more worthwhile? It could enliven our relationships, make our hearts a little less manic. In any case, J. Todd Greene has another show going on exactly one room over from "First-Class Animal." Drawing upon James Carse's Finite and Infinite Games, there are two titles to choose from: "Unheard Silence" OR "Myths Are Like Magic Trees." Here's Carse: ”Myths are like magic trees in the garden of culture. They do not grow on but out of silent earth, of nature. The more we strip these trees of their fruit or prune them back to our favorite design, the more imposing and fecund they become.” I've only had it described to me so far, but I hope to have an image or two up for you today or tomorrow. I'm tempted to rattle on about Carse, but I should probably save it for another post. We've been reading him to one another around here all summer. Come on out and join the conversation. I leave you with more Carse. All evil might be an overstatement, but the line gives helpful pause as is:
“Evil is never intended as evil—Indeed the contradiction inherit in all evil is that it originates in the desire to eliminate evil.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

Love & Theft

When he claims to be solitary, the artist lulls himself in a perhaps fruitful illusion, but the privilege he grants himself is not real. When he thinks he is expressing himself spontaneously, creating an original work, he is answering other past or present, actual or potential creators. Whether he knows it or not, one never walks alone along the path of creativity.
Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Way of the Masks

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Soundcloud of Unknowing

Over the last few years, I've had the deep pleasure of stealing occasional time with Justin McRoberts, a lyrical wit with whom I have, in socialnetworkspeak, many a mutual. Alongside a shared fascination with Batman, Eugene Peterson, and David Bazan, we're both possessed by the conviction that raw, confessional candor (and the good humor that frequently follows) is often the greatest gift human beings can give each other.
With "C," the first installment of a project called CMY(K), it seems to me that Justin begins to blow the lid off something. The songs give voice to--without answering or solving--a meaning problem, a good number of them, and express a resolve to remain alive to contradictions, dwelling within them, instead of denying or sealing them over. If Paul Tillich has it right when he says that claiming to know with absolute certainty that God exists is even less appropriate to the Christian faith than claiming to know God doesn't, Justin clears a space for a sacred unknowing within which we say what we feel, not what we feel we ought to say. And as is especially evident in "Take One On the Chin," this work isn't a deal-breaker with (or an exit from) a meaningfully Christian life so much as it's a clear sign of its presence. Listen and be enriched.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Bank Eye or Dead Man's Breath

The creative powers of Todd Greene keep right on giving. At long last, a recent Bulb offering is thine for the taking right here. And then there's the matter of Todd's recent fascination with Bankei which informs his show at the Bank Gallery this weekend.
According to Bankei's Unborn (fu-sho) Zen teaching--which Todd interpolates with the phrase "Fo sho"--everyone's born with an unborn Buddha mind. Bankei would begin his talks by asserting that everyone within shouting distance is already enlightened. Rivalry, resentment, fear, and the urge to justify ourselves has us transmogrifying our given Buddha mind into a hungry ghost, a fighting spirit, a deluded existence of our own making. "Don't side with yourself," Bankei warns. Stop trying to hurry up and matter. Let it go.
And here we have something deeply in sync with Todd's democratic sensibility when it comes to images, lyricism, and teaching. With 16 or so Bulb albums which he's prone to give away with a word of thanks to anyone who asks and work that stuns anyone who pays it heed even as Todd urges his audience to have a go at it themselves, he seems to have found himself a contemporary in Bankei. "You don't need to ask forgiveness at the Bank Gallery," reads the website. It's all there.
Oh and Dead Man's Breath. I was talking Bankei with Sarah at a swimming pool when Peter explained an underwater technique he'd been perfecting nearby. "Dead man's breath," he said. "You just have to not care about being dead." This we will file away with his 'chother teaching. That is all.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Lion & The Baby

Most of what you need to know is on the poster. Bulb is essentially the soul of Nashville. You've seen them featured here before. There will be crafts and such. Sam will be manning a hotdog stand. We're encouraging folks to bring beverages to share. It's the SATURDAY of Memorial Weekend. If you need to think of it as a celebration of my recent entry into the cult of PhD-dom to get yourself out that evening, you are welcome to do so. My only demand for such a celebration is Bulb in performance mode. Y'all come.

"...a world...worlding"

"Celebration ... is self-restraint, is attentiveness, is questioning, is meditating, is awaiting, is the step over into the more wakeful glimpse of the wonder -- the wonder that a world is worlding around us at all, that there are beings rather than nothing, that things are and we ourselves are in their midst, that we ourselves are and yet barely know who we are, and barely know that we do not know this."
- Martin Heidegger

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Get these commercials outta here!" Sam Dark overheard in the car while listening to the radio

Maybe some North American ears have trouble with poetry because of the noise from an aggressively voiced ruling ethos—its terminology of war, success, national security, winning and losing, ownership, merchandising, canned information, canned laughter.
Adrienne Rich on Tonight No Poetry Will Serve

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Mind Is Its Own Place

"The mind is its own place, and in itself/Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n."
Satan attempting to make the best of a situation in John Milton's Paradise Lost

I'd like to register a degree of pleasure concerning the conversations I've personally witnessed as well as the ones I envision taking place as a direct result of the Rob Bell's new book, marketing campaign, and iPhone/iPad app (none of these easily extricated from one another). I spent about two seconds wondering if the text is well-served by having a hard copy at all, but quickly concluded that there has to be one if it's to go really viral. We like carrying these things around. Strangers in airports or coffeeshops might ask us a question or something.
I bring Tom Waits and Modest Mouse into the conversation (not that they weren't already there) with my own appreciative reading here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"It'll be there forever, you just won't be able to see it."

This is Todd Greene doing his thing at the airport. As I read/see/hear him, Todd is to Nashville what William Blake was to London. The image is the latest of those woefully infrequent moments a media outlet covers his doings. It, The Tennessean, does so here.
Attendees of our blog will recall the music he broadcasts via the Bulb moniker and the images he provides all manner of cool programming at Vanderbilt. The occasion for mentioning it all again is the fact that he's opening the vault on Saturday (that would be tomorrow) in a "Here's what I do. Would you like to purchase something?" free for all. It's 226 3rd Avenue North, Nashville. Also known as Won's Basement. "Stuff you didn't even know you didn't want," Todd asserts as he opens up his endlesly self-effacing, internal monologue. It's noon to six pm. E-mail me if you need another detail.
Oh. And the Robot Lifeguard prints (what few remain) are now available on Etsy. Right here.
That is all.
Actually it isn't. Spoiler alert for those who haven't yet reached the conclusion of The Wire. I wanted to transcribe the words Steve Earle's Justin carries around in his pocket. He shares them with Bubbles with a few minutes remaining. It's Kafka. And it's beautiful: "You can hold back from the suffering of the world. You have free permission to do so, and it is in accordance with your nature. But perhaps the holding back is the one suffering you could have avoided."
Peace out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Acts of Attention

In more ways than one, I kind of owe my weird thinking to the Image Journal. I picked up the very first issue for 50 pence in a "used books" crate at the Greenbelt Festival in 1992, and I read it over and over again while living in a pink hut in Northern Ireland. What got me in particular was a Frederick Buechner interview in which a casual reference (maybe a paraphrase or a mash-up) to John 1:3 and Colossians 1:17 made me stop worrying over and love the fact that Thomas Merton called Thich Nhat Hanh his brother. Slowly but surely, the film, the poem, the visual or the fact of history I couldn't yet get my head around became one more sign of sacred reality as opposed to a stumbling block. Having Image in mind and reading it like a madman whenever I procured a new copy kept me (and keeps me) rearranging my mental furniture (or having it rearranged) in view of who and what I'm hearing and seeing, redeeming transmissions I suspect I'm able to receive as redemptive thanks to Image. I think I saw Over the Rhine and Bruce Cockburn for the first time that weekend. Met Henri Nouwen too.
Anyway, the occasion that gives me an excuse to say all this is an event of which I'm deeply geeked to be a part.It's the Glen Workshop (Glen EAST to be specific). It runs from June 12-19 in South Hadley, MA, and I'll be there offering a seminar with a number of cooler people, most of whom I've come to follow via the journal. Art as "Acts of Attention" is the theme, and it looks to be wonderful. Registration details can be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Robot Lifeguard Electrocuted Everyone

Here's the deal. The above is a four-color, hand-carved, linoleum print. Todd made 25 of them for what we shall call the FIRST RUN (note the numbers in the corner). Limited edition and all that. We'll do more should demand supply it, but that would be what collectors call a SECOND run. As you see I've done with this first one, I will write out the entire story by hand...huff, puff...on each one.
If you would like one, that'll be $75 which includes shipping and handling.
We also have a few two-color artist proofs, and you can have one of those for $40.
You want a t-shirt? OK....$25.
Shipping and handling included in those last two.
E-mail me at david dot dark at vanderbilt dot edu and I'll give you the mailing address for your check or money order.
Thanks everyone.
UPDATE: My goodness, you kind people are quick on the draw. One specification on the t-shirt, it'll be a pre-loved/pre-washed shirt so as to better accommodate the iron-on. We'll also sign it w/ a sharpie (unless you don't want us to).
Thanks again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Write It Down!

I was talking to an older, cooler guy about Talk Talk one time. I was in my twenties. I knew the “It’s My Life” single from having held tightly to whatever MTV offered me in my early teens, but I didn’t know how to respond when he spoke of Spirit of Eden as a work anyone who knew anything about music would revere. Needless to say, I got on board at the first available opportunity (found it used) and felt relief when I discovered it was something I could listen to with pleasure. I’m really getting into it! I probably exclaimed the next time I saw him. There wasn’t much in the way of decipherable lyrics, but it got through to me, deepened my take on all sorts of things—however it is these things work—and opened me up to receiving all manner of weirdness even when, perhaps especially when, I couldn’t quite say what all I thought it was saying. It helped me to not have to actually.
I’m in Talk Talk territory again with Aaron Roche’s Plainspeak. Plenty of songs with lyrics though. Lyrics which deepen, rather than halt, the get-fresh flow. What we’re getting, Plainspeak says to me anyway, is what we’re seeing (and vice-versa). There’s a liturgical groove going on, but liturgical in the sense that it’s the work to be done by the people, the work the music does even as it urges us to keep doing it. “Write it down!” is the most ecstatic vocal moment (on “Fiction”) and it comes to us as a kind of poetic-prophetic summons. Take the raw data of your experience, what you’re seeing, and deploy it creatively, creatively and therefore redemptively. This is the work there is to do. Get busy.
And with this sensibility concerning the earthbound “What we have is who we are to each other right about now” fact of the matter, there’s also a sad lamentation that is nevertheless strangely sweet. No more big deals or big splashes. Just people. Unless what we mean by big is the very good news of a few people getting through to each other, taking the edge off, the rare event of someone listening to someone else. It’s “A Weaker Vision” I’m talking about: “Fell the tree of the punk poetic….Someone important isn’t listening/We’re all the same around here.” And I haven’t even said anything about Tim Hinck’s wind and string arrangements yet, because I don’t know how to. It enriches. All of it. And it signals a different way of looking at each other and thinking about ourselves. I suppose this is what I’m looking for whenever I tune in to anything at all.
There’s so much more to say, and I might have put it out of order. Aaron’s in New York City now with his genius partner Whitni, but they remain part of a Nashville-ish collective I’ll always associate with Nathan Phillips of the Winston Jazz Routine & Choir at Your Door, Julie Lee, Action!, and—if I can take a deep breath and feel this cool—Sarah and myself. I now direct everyone who still participates in musical culture by performing the cultivating work of buying music to do so with Aaron's. And for those nearer (but not necessarily dearer) in the driving distance sense, let it be known that Aaron’s bringing the Plainspeak to Downtown Pres. this Sunday night at 7 in the pm. It will mightily rock. We know it will. Insert souls there.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

It's Complicated

"We must break our dependency upon foreign turmoil," announces one S. Colbert (thank you, Adam Ellis).
Sometimes a joke is the only way to break into a conversation (thank you, Kurt Vonnegut).
It's complicated, so complicated, and I don't know exactly what I'd do right now if I was a famous gov't employee whose job appears to require what is sometimes referred to as diplomatic posture, the skill of awaiting the right moment to speak and act decisively as nonviolent witnesses to the hope of peace, love, and understanding are imprisoned, beaten, and killed. But because this job isn't my job and because my mind keeps going back to Peter Gabriel's 1982 song, "Wallflower" ("I will do what I can do"), I've undertaken a couple of embarrassingly uncostly efforts in bearing witness. I held a sign with a few dozen Egyptians and their children yesterday. And I hereby post the up-to-the-minute latest from a very articulate, on-location blogger called Sandmonkey. As I write this, his blog remains suspended following his arrest, but he's been tweeting again and promises to return to his interrupted story soon. A recent recorded interview with the man is available here. Presuming an interest in the civil rights of human beings animates us (That's Brand America, right?) and we're moved by the politics of nonviolent engagement undertaken most famously by Jesus of Nazareth, I reckon the least we can do is pay attention. Here's Sandmonkey...

I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"I would rather die than hate you."

To commemorate America's most explicitly--though not exclusively--Christian holiday, I'd like to share a few selections I couldn't fit into the space of a tweet. First, a little something from the always-magnificent Ray Waddle in yesterday's Tennessean.
This from the New York Review of Books. The most helpful account of life in China I've read in a long time.
And I Have No Enemies. Liu Xiaobo's witness strikes me as deeply in sync with King's, and his posture's been a very helpful point of contemplation in light of events (and talk about the events) in Tucson.
We are a beginning.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Boney King of Nowhere

"Nothing which is ready-to-hand or present-at-hand within the world functions as that in the face of which anxiety is anxious."
Martin Heidegger, Being and Time

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Redemption Songs

Here's the deal. We have an amazing and outrageously redemptive phenomenon happening in Nashville these days with The Contributor. And to my deep delight, the operation is housed at DPC. Anyway, the poster broadcasts the fact of a fundraising event this weekend, but it doesn't say diddly concerning the music on offer that evening. I'll fill you in. There's Julie Lee officiating and performing. Robby Hecht, Lex Price, Elizabeth Foster, Nathan Phillips of the Winston Jazz Routine and the Choir At Your Door, Odessa Jorgensen of Bearfoot, Angel Snow, Jason Goforth, SARAH MASEN, STEPHEN MASON of Jars of Clay, Harvey Gerard of HOBOTRON, DAVE PERKINS of Chagall Guevara and everything cool EVER, Anita Smith, and Sierra Hull.
All this and the monthly Art Crawl too. Come round and be enriched.
It now appears that TaRee J. Avery and ACTION! are also set to bring their powers to bear on the evening.
Too. Much. Love.