Does the word “revolution” mean the same thing to the Kurdish liberation movement and to American leftists who supported Bernie Sanders? A little history…
The photo below belongs in the DNC’s image bank in Philly. In my dreams, Hillary Clinton’s effort to break the glass ceiling converges with Alfred Yaghobzadeh’s picture of Djila climbing up to a lookout post in the Sinjar region of Iraq where her all-female brigade participated in a successful campaign against ISIS last fall.
Charles O’Brien helps launch the new First Choice section focusing on our writers’ favorite things.
“Twenty-Something” is the third track on Pet Shop Boys’ latest cd, Super. You can find it on YouTube in a few different versions. The two most obvious go-to versions are the “official video” and one remix. The “official video” is a b&w short about a gangbanger in San Diego, fresh out of the joint and trying desperately to adjust to the world. It’s about as efficient a short narrative as you’re likely to see, and as an illustration of these lyrics, not what you’d be likely to expect.
This is the first post in our new First Choice section. Future posts under this heading will take in fiction, music and dance, but this one urges you to imagine the real work being done by Fr. Rick Frechette and his comrades in Haiti.
The following Q&A is an excerpt from an interview with filmmaker Agnieszka Holland originally published at Director Talk. In this section of the interview Holland talks about the Czechs’ response to the Soviet invasion in 1968, the subject of Burning Bush, a three-part HBO miniseries directed by Holland.
The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge–unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable. –Walter Benjamin
Paul Feyerabend—a half-forgotten Calibanal apostle straddling the right-wing Vienna side of European modernism and California anti/pseudo-science counterculture—was shot three times by the Red Army while retreating from the Eastern Front. His injuries left him neuralgic, prone to a particularly (in/post-)fertile depression, and impotent.
Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 by Adam Hochschild, Macmillan, 2016.
How is it that after so many years and so many wars and so many revolutions, counter-revolutions, assassinations, genocides, and betrayals, the Spanish Civil War continues to capture the imagination of idealists and romantics?
There are times when life converts us into the instrument of someone else’s disgrace. –a Diego Rivera doppelgänger in the 1943 film María Candelaria (Xochimilco)
Asa Zatz, who translated nearly 100 books from Spanish to English, was 100 years old when he died last month. Asa was a modest man. He once compared translating to dentistry and joked he was the guy publishers called once they found out Gregory Rabassa wasn’t available. But he was truly (and rightly) proud of his 1987 translation of José Luis Gonzalez’s classic novella of Puerto Rico, “Ballad of Another Time.” (You can find out more about “Ballad’s” undervalued author in this companion post by Irene Vilar—a slightly compacted version of the foreword to University of Wisconsin Press’s 2004 edition of the novella.) What follows is a chapter from “Ballad.” Take it as our public tribute to its (humble) translator who was a longtime supporter of “First of the Month” and a dear friend. B.D.
Originally published in the print version of “First of the Month” in the 60th Anniversary year of V-E Day.
The Mamayev Kurgan, the highest ground in the city now called Volgograd, is the site of the memorial to the battle still called Stalingrad.
I was out walking, sweaty and with hair plastered/to my face/when I saw Ernesto Cardenal approaching/from the opposite direction/and by way of greeting I said:/Father, in the Kingdom of Heaven/that is communism,/is there a place for homosexuals?/Yes, he said./And for impenitent masturbators?/For sex slaves?/For sex fools?/For sadomasochists, for whores, for those obsessed/with enemas,/for those who can’t take it anymore, those who really truly/can’t take it anymore?/And Cardenal said yes. –Bolaño
Just remember this. All agents defect, and all resisters sell out. That’s the sad truth, Bill. And a writer? A writer lives the sad truth like anyone else. The only difference is, he files a report on it. – William Burroughs
Bernard Avishai has been blogging more lately. Here are two recent sharp posts about the other Bernie and a brush with neo-Zionist extremists.
BINYAMIN NETANYAHU is our prime minister for life.
So it seems. So he evidently believes.
Not only believes. He acts accordingly. To make sure, he has done the two necessary things: (a) eliminate every possible competitor, and (b) surround himself with male and female nincompoops, no one of whom could be considered by anyone a plausible successor. Indeed, the idea that any of this lot could ever become prime minister sends shudders down our spines.
Part 2 of an essay that begins here.
5.1. Health and Its Discontents
Some of my best friends, and I’m talking about people in their twenties or early thirties, the ones with truly radical and self-sacrificing souls, have been so terminally unhealthy and non-athletic, or anti-athletic, that in the rare moments that we end up playing a sport, they invariably fall ill, they turn red or purple, they vomit and they take to bed for days.
The author is a physician and priest who has been working in Haiti for more than a generation, running hospitals and social programs in Port au Prince as well as a Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (NPH) orphanage on the outskirts of the capital. Fr. Frechette is the author of The God of Rough Places, the Lord of Burnt Men and First has often posted his stories from Haiti.
On September 11th, every year, it became a habit for certain melancholic leftists who consider themselves heretical thinkers to reflect, not on the Ouroboros of McEmpire and McJihad, or whatever, but on Allende shooting it out with fascist generals with Castro’s sub-machine gun.