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  • “Americans, who are you?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I left the following comment at zenpundit :

    Kabir says,

    “I don’t touch ink or paper
    This hand never grasped a pen
    The greatness of four ages
    Kabir tells with his mouth alone”

    Tom Tom Club (Wordy Rappinghood) says,

    “Words in paper, words in books
    Words on TV, words for crooks
    Words of comfort, words of peace
    Words to make the fighting cease”

    And Asia Times writes,

    The channel broadcasts in Pashto language from 12 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. The programs include jihadi taranay (jihadi motivational songs….

    And drones the size of bees, some day

    And mobiles crossing the Kush; they play

    Tribal songs for jihadi alms, a call-to-arms

    On 11/11 our cell phones say:

    And Americans can talk endlessly about the importance of democracy, but they never thought to explain to the chiefs why they came back to Afghanistan. They arrived with suitcases full of cash to buy help – but they never told the chiefs that they were there because the way al Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 meant that many Americans couldn’t find so much as a fingernail of their massacred relatives to bury because the bodies were ground to dust.
    .
    Not to be able to bury one’s dead or even a piece of one’s dead — knowing THAT would have meant a great deal to the chiefs and those in their tribes. But the Americans never explained, never even cried, never showed emotion. THEY NEVER ACTED HUMAN; they never interacted with the Afghans in ways that are the same for all — not only all humans but all mammalian creatures. In other words, they displayed not a whit of common sense.
    .
    What do you talk about when you first sit down with a man whose life has been circumscribed by war and who knows nothing about you and your tribe? The answer is you tell me of your battles, I’ll tell you of mine and in this way we establish a commonality of experience.
    .
    You transform the rug or patch of sand you’re sitting on into the terrain of the battle, and you use sticks and stones or teacups as place markers for the troops to show how the battle was fought. In this way, you demonstrate that the battle is truly in your heart, that it means enough to you that you can bring it alive for another.
    .
    If you don’t show what’s in your heart, then you haven’t established a basis for developing a mutual understanding, so then there is no way to move off the dime. Only when you’ve demonstrated by your stories of war that your tribe also shed much blood for independence, can you move on to explaining stuff about government. You can explain that you were losing too many of your sons in battle so you devised a type of government that would help defend your freedoms and with less bloodshed. And so on.

    Pundita, “Americans, who are you?

    Contra Pundita, I bet this has been done sporadically between some who are working together as NATO attempts to build an Afghan Army – one able to protect its borders and serve as an irritant to transnational groups in the region. Many stories have yet to be told….

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, Blogging, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Poetry, USA | 6 Comments »

    I don’t usually read poetry but….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 13th February 2011 (All posts by )

    One hundred years after her birth in Worcester, Mass., in 1911, Elizabeth Bishop stands as the most highly regarded American poet of the second-half of the 20th century. She is admired in every critical camp—from feminists to formalists—who agree on little else. Her work also attracts a wide general readership. Taught and studied in high schools and universities, Bishop is, for the time being at least, the most popular woman poet in American literature after Emily Dickinson.

    Wall Street Journal (via Arts and Letters Daily)

    Filling Station

    Oh, but it is dirty!
    –this little filling station,
    oil-soaked, oil-permeated
    to a disturbing, over-all
    black translucency.
    Be careful with that match!

    Father wears a dirty,
    oil-soaked monkey suit
    that cuts him under the arms,
    and several quick and saucy
    and greasy sons assist him
    (it’s a family filling station),
    all quite thoroughly dirty.

    Do they live in the station?
    It has a cement porch
    behind the pumps, and on it
    a set of crushed and grease-
    impregnated wickerwork;
    on the wicker sofa
    a dirty dog, quite comfy.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Poetry | 10 Comments »