Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski


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American Sniper

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I wrote 2 long and demoralizing posts today that made me loopy. I’m arguing with another commenter at Amanda’s blog and can’t make heads or tails of what’s going on.

I see some folks are here today, I tell you what, I’ll just download the chat function so we can talk in real time when things go topside. Meanwhile, here’s the thread, the WAPO story it links to is riveting, hits all the notes. Now me and another member are in a pissing match over the etiology of PTSD. This is where it goes. I feel like I’m talking to a scientist who believes in a supreme being. “In the beginning God created evolution…” Well, see what you think. I don’t need anything special, just feel I’m neglecting this blog, my head all wrapped up over there.

The Iraq War Mental Health Crises.

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Life is beautiful

I own a few films, if you know what I mean. Wings of Desire, Hurlyburly, The Deer Hunter, Dead Man Walking, and at the top nothing beats The 400 Blows as a vehicle for parenthood as the wanton destruction of childhood innocence. That Truffaut’s finest film neatly dovetails with all I’ve seen of parenting makes it my lifelong favorite, since I first saw it 20 years ago and sat stunned in the seat for a half hour afterwards, til I was half-carried out by the hapless and uncomprehending theatre manager.

Last night I saw 1997’s brave and controversial WWII farce Life is Beautiful, about the lengths a father went to preserve his child’s innocence in a concentration camp, which he did by convincing the boy they were playing a game. The dad clowns and pratfalls his way through the horror with jokes and fibs and does it all for love of his boy. He knew exactly what he was defending and that it was worth preserving. And that is news to me.

Some Dialogue:

Child Giosué: [reading the sign at a bakery]”No Jews or Dogs Allowed.” Why do all the shops say, “No Jews Allowed”?
Father Guido: Oh, that. “Not Allowed” signs are the latest trend! The other day, I was in a shop with my friend the kangaroo, but their sign said, “No Kangaroos Allowed,” and I said to my friend, “Well, what can I do? They don’t allow kangaroos.”
Giosué: Why doesn’t our shop have a “Not Allowed” sign?
Guido: Well, tomorrow, we’ll put one up. We won’t let in anything we don’t like. What don’t you like?
Giosué: Spiders.
Guido: Good. I don’t like Visigoths. Tomorrow, we’ll get sign: “No Spiders or Visigoths Allowed.”

Guido: [being shipped to a concentration camp] You’ve never ridden on a train, have you? They’re fantastic! Everybody stands up, close together, and there are no seats!
Giosué: There aren’t any seats?
Guido: Seats? On a train? It’s obvious you’ve never ridden one before! No, everybody’s packed in, standing up. Look at this line to get on! Hey, we’ve got tickets, save room for us!

Giosué: I didn’t like the train.
Guido: [to his son] Me, neither. We’ll take the bus back, okay?
Guido: [to the Nazis] Did you hear that? We’re taking the bus back!

When he volunteers to translate a Nazi officer’s commands into Italian, Guido hollers out: “We play the part of the real mean guys who yell.” And, “Don’t ask for lollipops. You won’t get any. We eat them all.”

A brilliant strategy, but he was also clearly out of his mind, laughing in the face of evil. What else can you do? Score another one for mad pride and a new favorite to add to the list.


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The church says:

the body is a sin.

Science says:

the body is a machine.

Advertising says:

the body is a business.

The body says:

I am a fiesta.

~ Eduardo Galeano

Q: Is this for real?
A: Yes.

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Psychiatry for All

I’m charmed by this blog I found by a resident doctor of psychiatry in Baghdad Iraq, he really likes psychiatry and wants everyone to know it —

My interest in psychiatry backs to when I was in secondary school. I was enjoying reading whatever book I find. In those years, the 90s, Iraq was under embargo and poverty and ignorance was living with us, so it was very difficult to find a book that you want, instead you must find your way with the available books in the market. AL MUTANABBIE streat, named after the famous poet, was offering used old books. It was there where I found about many novels and books about diffirent sciences accedently. Many times I buy one book or two then found my self got no enough money to go back home, so I walk…..I was very thin!

.. and it was when I was 16 years old when I first bought a mini book in arabic discussing psychiatry and I read it in just few hours , may be minutes!

Of a similarly minded friend he says

the minute his father knew about his choice of studying psychiatry, his father told him: if you chose this branch of specialization, I will no more be your father!

So they’re cheerfully rebelling against cultural mores because

in Iraq, the picture of psychiatry is still not clear to people and many think that the psychiatrists themselves got some kind of mental illness.

It’s not a war blog, and that makes reading it such a sobering indictment of the war. He’s talking about his life. People live, they have lives. He’s in love with his work and musing on everything from evidence-based medicine to behaviorism v. phenomenology to reading by candlelight and this, while making rounds:

In the psychiatric ward a beautiful teenager girl lies silently in her bed. While me and Dr. Abbas were entering her room, she stayed still without motion, only her big beautiful eyes followed our entering. Her mother seems depressed and also did not move when we entered the room. The girl did not answer our greeting. We asked the mother about the problem. She told us that her daughter, who is mentally retarded had become mute again before few days. …We asked the mother about the last words said by her daughter. She told us that when they were coming to the hospital, a mini-bus had exploded just few meters beyond them and no shell had hit them. At that moment the girl said —

“mommy, if we were just few minutes late we would have been lucky to be dead both of us and get rid of our lives”

The blog hasn’t been updated since November. And I’ve got Throwing Muses on the stereo…

There’s always something to pray for
Ham-fisted good will
There’s always someone to pray for
And believe me I will
And believe me I will

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Letting the plan work

Enough about Iraq he says, let’s turn to the domestic agenda.

“With the money going to the Iraq war, the United States could set up a universal health care system, provide universal preschool, carry out the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, double cancer research funding, increase funding to Gulf Coast reconstruction, and enact a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.”


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