Sunday, December 31, 2006

Rite of passage

Rites of passage are an integral part of life. Usually they are celebrated at birth, at puberty, marking man- and womanhood and finding one's place and task in society, when marrying and at the end of one’s path. In communities where initiations are the rule (like Hopi or masonry) these rites are executed upon acceptance into the fold of the priesthood or brotherhood and when raised to a higher station. Often in these rites the past has to be revisited and some archeology of the soul has to be done, digging to the core of self. Having left the old behind, the new insight and knowledge opens new trails to explore.
So too on this New Years Eve, a secular rite of passage from old to new - from darkness to light one may hope - is organized world wide. With the change of calendars come the long lists of highpoints (mostly low points) of the last year on radio and TV. The world is still in bad shape. We need to clean up the mess we made, the dirty tracks we left after stepping in a puddle.
For that there is a hazy, hard transition time - four, five weeks. Having finished up the old chores, the empowering new light and horizons fill us with the plans to work on, enjoying the fact that we cleared the rubble of the past, so the road ahead is vibrant, free and unencumbered. That is my wish for every New Year’s Child. Love and light to all.

Small town

A mishap in a small community affects all members. The shock and fear felt by the victim, becomes the fear of a group. Gossip and theories sprout on porches and at night the doors are locked for a few days and the dogs called in. Suspicion circles and nobody talks to the sheriff.
Grief too affects all members. In town four people died since September. In a big and bustling city only family and friends, coworkers and neighbors would notice. These people would end up being statistics to the not involved. Not so here. I know all four, am aware of snippets of their lives, their dependencies, their sexual preference, their warmth or cold, the color of their hair and the color they changed to. They are not personal friends, but part of the woof and weft of what holds this group of people afloat, yet I too realize that the town has become poorer, lost character, lost togetherness, lost fun in the bar. Of course there are new people in town, who came for the special atmosphere, the specific sense of place. However, with each ‘old timer’ who disappears, the specific cohesion or discord that they created vanishes. So a part of the town dies with them. Strangely here where nothing ever changes, but where one cycle resolves the next, change is most noticeable. Looking around, I wonder who are the new characters, the new eccentrics, the new rich, the down and out. Is it the lady, who casts some of her spells at the graveyard and who noticed that six angels had been beheaded… Is it the Saturday noon actor whose pride and joy is his 1964 Harley… Is it a friend following a dream? The town will be maybe less quaint, cleaner, with just a few pockets of past but change may bring healing, a new sense of community and a new burst of creativity ad joy.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Travel holds its uncertainties and surprises. That is almost a reason to trade venues, to seek the road and learn what you are made of.
Then there is the arrival; meeting, loosing, missing people; kindness and people who’ll never know how to be kind; stories of breakups and break-ins.
Then there is the storm, internet but no electricity.

Stepping out the door, a coyote morning song greets the day. The sky is clad in grey, lead and blackish clouds. Two ravens silently perch up high and observe as a light morning veil hushes the world. The rest is earth in all her muted tones. The shrubs and trees are but line and form, etched it seems against the subtleties of light. A quietness lays over the land, the stillness, of the last breath before the storm.

Then it rattles and rages. The northern wind takes it’s time, plays on the roof, steals the heat from the house. The drapes move, the beams groan. The tin roof drums a beat of wild chaos. Doors are blown open. No lock can keep this breath of life from reaching you and then the storm breaks, plays out, plunges the town in a cold darkness. When the light breaks through, seeps through the clouds, I embrace the day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

On the road again

Nomads usually walk in groups following their flock and carrying their wealth upon their person, as seen in the beautiful Bedouin jewelry. A vertical trek is transhumance, the seasonal long walk begins when the weather turns and the grazing grounds are empty, near overgrazing, near desertification, but if left alone for a while these lands will grow back into the abundance of nourishment. This defines the moment when the place of departure is revisited.
So it is also for the lone nomad. After a while a place can no longer provide sustenance and for fear of never again feeling full and at ease in that place, the nomad moves to another transient home. There is no escapism in the seasonal or cyclical wandering which is no tourism. More time needs to be spend than just a short get away break. Nomadism is a way of being. Sometimes, sadly one isn’t there when needed for friends and family. People can’t keep track of where one is, so there is also some loneliness. But with the best part of your life, time and place doesn’t matter too much. All-important people become arrivals with embraces and always sad goodbyes.
I too shall be on the road again taking my flock of two dogs with me and carrying my wealth as a laptop. From a bustling city I am going to a monochromatic desert. I’ll post again when I have a connection.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

We live in violent times...

The first bombers flying their deadly charge over to Iraq for their presumed precision strikes passed over my garden. This is what I felt:


How many candles did I not burn for you
for peace
The engines on the flight path
of evil
in the corners of the room
cramp the heart
In the silence of the house
I learn the language
of a new general
with a word in mind
for death of every kind

Love and hope
are lost in smoke

I felt disempowered by the loss of so many lives. I felt horror at the dismembered children. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the soldiers allowed the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad, part of the earliest cultural heritage of mankind being carried away to be destroyed or sold to private collectors. The same feelings I have every time a species disappears, be it a plant short lived or 1600 years old or an insect, bird, fish or mammal… every time a part of our collective memory disappears. “Destroying species is like tearing pages out of an unread book, written in a language humans hardly know how to read, about the place where they live.” wrote Holmes Rolston III, professor of philosophy (1932- ). Landscapes and biodiversity are dying, being destroyed at an unprecedented rate, just as the cultures and livelihoods of indigenous peoples are being eradicated. Their fundamental human right to live as they choose or have to because of their tradition and the place they live, and our fundamental human right to try and live as far away as possible from the dollar economy is trampled. The unalienable rights of all are still just the rights of a few. Human rights are meant to empower, not the privileged often rich and heavily polluting but the voiceless who have to fight daily for the integrity of their body and mind and spirit.

What can I do, a woman, a daughter and mother, a sister, a friend? I can mourn. I can bear witness about the threat not only of one overheated loud heckler, but also to the violence done to all and all our relations. We must remember and remind, speak out, write. We can’t be standing at the sideline and be impartial. We must remember Wounded Knee, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, Dachau, Darfur, Chenchnya, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden. We can’t forget the The Rainbow Warrior destroyed in the harbor. We should honor the Old Growth trees and those who risked all to protect them, felled for profit and left to rot in the clearcut… Don’t forget all lives in all that is. You are the universe and the plants are our relations, the water our sister or brother, the animals and the earth are part of you, are you being part of the universe. So what you think, what your culture thinks, becomes universal and no religion or cosmology is better than another. They are all tales to show a way of living well within a given place and time. Our age requires rules to be caring and non-violent, giving each man and each women and child their dignity as citizens. You have all the right to ask questions. Do think and question. Ask hard and difficult questions and try to be aware of the perversions of the language of power, a language, which in itself constitutes a violation of our mind and is in itself violent. The state owns or pretends to own the right to violence. It are the United States of America who have and use Weapons of Mass Destruction, it are the United States of America who launched a preemptive strike against perceived enemies or fabricated enemies and violated the international laws invading Iraq. Violence is also imposing the death penalty on thirteen-year-old children, on men and women and pretending to be pro-life. Violence is also the market economy, with its superfluous ugly, shoddy plastic consumer goods. Violence is also materialism barely hidden under a veneer of religion in which a god speaks directly to the ‘leader’ at the exclusion of all others. Massculture and monoculture are both an overexploitation of human and natural resources, driven by the unholy opposition of nationalism versus universalism, imposing our values and obliging others to produce what we need.

We are a small group and we walk in the margins of the big news stories. Yet we are many small groups working, writing and walking in many margins. Daily we are in the now of life and connectedness, longing for a just world with freedom, health, education, a decent livelihood, respect and caring for all and sometimes we are touched by love and light.

May there be peace on earth.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Wishes, lies and dreams is a wonderful book helping children to love and write poetry. Poetic license can be a fine and appropriate tool to foster fantasy and creativity. The use of conscious lies gives the freedom to think and imagine just any wild or far fetched idea. The next step is storytelling. Factual, true stories are often embellished because 'an interesting lie is better than a boring truth'. These raconteurs do not really fable their own lives, do not necessarily aggrandize their feats, but they polish the telling for laugh or wonderment, to grab and hold your attention.
Life, however, would be a bit more problematic with a habitual Pinocchio, lying about minute details, about things they said they would do, did and then pretended not to have done, about money, about just anything. They often think themselves smart, streetwise or apt in the art of manipulation. Of course most people do realize the other is at it again. This may make them feel ill at ease, slightly annoyed. The one who lies, looses respect and incredibility.
Obviously the worst lies are state lies, presidential lies, ministerial lies. The world was lied into the war in Iraq by Bush and Cheney. The world was lied to by Putin about Chechnya. No freedom of coverage from Chechnya is possible to date. Anna Politkovskaya tried to expose the lies and got shot for writing. Many writers are imprisoned because they hold beliefs not in line with their government. Many journalist get killed for telling the truth. There will be a worldwide action on March 20, 2007: The Second Anniversary of the Political Lie.

Friday, December 22, 2006


35 years the ugly green carpet had gathered dust and dirt and grime. She hated it, just as the seven clocks he had put in the living room and the four TV’s blaring, glaring each a different game. A concession to her would be to turn off the noise. Guns and newspapers,stuff everywhere, not a nail, a bolt or a screw got ever thrown away. He had hoarded all his life till now he hoarded in his body the malignant cells of anger and overbearing harshness toward her. She was old and frail and her heart worn.

Never had she cooked what she liked,invited the children she preferred. He would buy and buy. 14 flyswatters lay around the house.

Of course she took care of him when the pain became excruciating. Gave him medication, fussed and wept for the impending loss. Was he afraid? He never spoke of it. The tyrant of years in him went on commanding, demanding, putting her down if she, with broken bones that were mending, was not fast enough. Four deep freezers he kept filled in every chamber of his heart. He was a hard and unattractive man. Since when. What had made him so.

When she could cope no longer with his care, the guilt teared her eyes, tore at her heart. Yet when it became evident he would not return home, she removed his chair from the dining table and drove her house wheelchair to that spot. “I should always have sat here. I can see the door, I can pick up the phone, I can look outside and watch the deer when they are drinking or feeding, or the quail with their covey of chicks.” It was indeed the best spot that had viciously been denied to her. She remembered some good times and forgave him. She remembered the bad times and removed the desk that had been in the way for her wheelchair for years now.

She spend almost all her time in the nursing home where he tried to run away, threw the food to the ground, shouted and screamed to go to his rightful place near her. He was angry for his pain, but signed the papers put before him. She planned what she would do after this was over, after the passing that was to come and the terrible immanence of freedom.

She buried him, tore out the carpet, put in clean, clear tile, sold the junkyard and three of the TV’s, got rid of two freezers,maybe three and of all the clocks. Nobody was going to bind her to his time again.

Hammers, tractors, drills, boats, saws, backhoes, years of newspapers and magazines, she made it go. The auction took a day and a half. Others like him buying, collecting, hoarding as a remedy against what? When she had purged herself from him, she painted the house slate gray with bright and cheery trim, shut of the wells and put in city water so that she need not pump and bend.

With courage Angela turned 77 and took her place as the mistress of her house and switched from Pepsi to Coca Cola.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


"Welche Niedrigkeit beginge ich nicht um die Niedrigkeit auszutilgen?" (What lowness wouldn't I commit to exterminate lowness?) was a question Ulrike Meinhof dealt with in one of her articles in the Magazin 'Konkret' in the sixties. I shared her analyses of society, but concerning the means to be used I was more in the line of Rudy Dutschke: 'Der lange March durch die Instituzionzen" (The long march through the institutions, which obviously can be rather frustrating and requires stamina) and peaceful protests. Ultimately in order to change society, the Baader-Meinhof group killed. They used the means of their perceived enemies. Being a child of the civil rights movement, the Anti-Vietnam war protest, I embraced non-violence and knew that the goal, however lofty, could never excuse violent means in words or deeds. Choice of words matters. It decides the frame of how you look at what is said, it veils your unspoken moral values. War and battle metaphors, allow certain actions and deeds that are despicable. Warlike scenarios like War on Terror, drugs, illegal migration... are the accepted, unperceived, sly way the powers that be use to introduce aggression into our society. A dissenting voice is silenced. A drug addict becomes a criminal. An illegal migrant is repatriated by force and seldom public opinion questions these actions and their results. Being 'chosen' makes the other unchosen and of lesser value, being legal makes the other illegal and unprotected. We need to remind ourselves that we are all related, that we need to be mindful and compassionate, in order to walk the difficult path of non-violence, of Ahimsa. Remember: Make Love, Not War.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Suddenly there is time.
Father Time fell off the shelf and limping will lavish me with a stretch of clocklessness. I cast off my corporate identity, a dog without a dog tag, an unringed bird and return to cyclical, natural living. There will be space for emptiness and wordless thoughts. So I enter the spiralling flow and gamble on eternal life in the quiet of night.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Languid silvergrey pushes me through to the purpose of the day. Looking for my voice, after the babble of Babylon. There should be more than facts and figures or emptied, shell-like words. Aren't words supposed to do what they say: bring light or despair, sublimate by having been turned into form, sublimated themselves by discipline, although the feelings are vibrant & raw. Truthfulness reflecting the sun in the raindrops hanging as heavy buds on the still winter trees, is that what I am looking for tonight? There is fog outside, windows become barriers, sounds seem muted by caution. But caution is only meant to be thrown in the restless wind. Across the street the Christmas tinsel and light promise lighthearted solitude.

Monday, December 18, 2006


It was a scraping the ice off the day.
A skein of geese in the morning sky. When I got my bearings, I saw them flying south.
Good choice. Go to warmth and light.
Unaware of my approval they go on and leave me superfluous, non-essential, aware of my futility.
The geese follow their path, don't need nor want my sympathy - they pass me by, never note my longing for love and light.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Last summer yoga practice was brought to me by my peace pal Rollean. He showed me some poses, later encouraged me to try them, we would have brief sessions and did meditate. I felt that the slowness of the process, or the slowness that the process gave me, was something I might need in my rather strangely hectic/peaceful life. So back in my other home, I looked on the internet, checking out what felt good, what classes would allow for my irregular attendance, what the schedules were and so on. I am at the end of my first season of yoga and feel the need to share with what I think I learned. I know the teacher with her trained eye maybe sees different things, this is just an inside view.

The first 4/5 weeks were extremely strenuous: I had to do battle with my self on two levels. First of all being the oldest, and heaviest, clumsiest, with least reading skills of my own body, I felt totally out of place, out of my depth. I heard my parents repeat, “do the baby elephant dance” as a kid. I couldn’t do what others could, felt ridiculous for even trying. After a few weeks, I understood finally, it didn’t matter. Slowly but surely, with up and downs, I learned self-acceptance, yet no longer accepting the baby elephant image of my self. The other battle to be waged was that I didn’t understand the instructions. Open the sole (the soul) of your foot, spread your toes. (Actually the last one still has me dumbfounded ☺). I couldn’t figure out how to give the order to my body to do one or the other thing. After an instruction, I would watch others, try to imitate them but had no roadmap to figure out how to get there. So when one day in the Warrior pose I was trying to figure out at home, I suddenly understood the difference of a bend knee and going forward versus going down, that was my first breakthrough in ‘getting it’, of course without being able to do it correctly.

I struggled on, went to Arizona last winter where there too were organized some yoga classes. The teacher was nice, less precise, and less aware of the bodily mechanics I would say… This taught me, to my surprise, that I enjoyed the discipline of my European teacher. Discipline made clearer, to me at least, what the goal was. So after self acceptance and beginning to learn, came the definition of my goal in Yoga: I want to become an mentally strong, formidable, caring and warm real old woman who can still travel the world, jumping on busses, catching trains and walk the long distances in airports, carrying her laptop at 84. I embraced taking care of my self as an abstraction…

Then, work related and going through the cycle of the period of the year in which my husband died, I gained weight whatever I did and was extremely tired… Thanks to the preparations for backward bends, which made me cry three times up to now, I learned something about my fears. I know I project them all into my, indeed vulnerable neck area. My fears have to do with losing control over my own body and life… After the second cry, I accepted that knowledge, acknowledge it and I am dealing with it. This also taught me to trust. When the teacher said I could do something, I was mortally afraid, like walking the tight rope over the Niagara when you have fear of heights. (Actually it was simply hanging in the rope with my neck). But she knew me well enough and had deserved my trust, so slowly, I am learning to accept trusting in general…

The next lesson is one that has been going on for the last 6/7 weeks. I had remarked before that often I would tense up so much, not soften, that I blocked myself totally from doing what my minds eye told me I could actually do. At work once in a while I would feel the tension in my neck or the rest of my body build up and would go out and stand as a rock… breathe, sometimes when nobody was looking becoming a tree… I had to learn ‘surrender’. Not to the teacher outside but to my teacher inside. I didn’t know that person, but in a three-day workshop, I learned that with flexing the foot the muscles harden in your thigh. So there is a point where you can do both without being hard, finally I understood, felt and reached my tows in the forward bend. I enjoyed the feeling and realize, thanks to the workshop that some of the very first steps have been made. Maybe I’ll never learn to be a rock or rustle my leaves in the wind like a tree, maybe I’ll always look like a seriously off kilter, unbalanced warrior, but at least my mind is beginning to see it: Not as an ambition but as a road with may help me become a more integrated person in body, mind and spirit.

Recently I have more energy, hold my tongue when there is no need to speak, don’t have to be the clown all the time, yet can be funny to help others. I feel as if a good possibility has been opened in my life.

Of course I’ll lapse and stumble and cry again, of course the road is long. I hope it is very long for me so that slowly, slowly but surely I can learn a thing or two, and of course I’ll forget all the fundamental lessons and have to relearn…

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reading notes

Having been on the road a bit the last week and thus waiting in airports, between assignments and sitting around in a hotel room, I did read a lot. First Dimitri Verhulst's 'Problemski Hotel'. He is one of the interesting voices in Flanders. He spent a brief period in an asylum seekers centre and wrote a bitter-sweet, funny series of short stories. His style is noteworthy, he deserves to be translated! I would quote from it to show you, but in my enthusiasm I passed on the book immediately.

'The Golden Compass' by Philip Pullman is a fantasy/adventure story. It moves along nicely. The premise is that all humans have their own daemon, visible to others; kind of our intuition, guardian angel, absolutely necessary for survival. An easy fast read with the rain lashing against the windows outside. Intriguing.
P. 152: "Oh, this was in the seventeenth century. Symbols and emblems were everywhere. Buildings and pictures were designed to be read like books. Everything stood for something else; if you had the right dictionary, you could read nature itself. it was hardly surprising to find philosophers using the symbolism of their time to interpret knowledge that cam from a mysterious source. But, you know, they haven't been used seriously for two centuries or so."
P. 164: "Witches have known of other worlds for thousands of years. You can see them sometimes in the Northern Lights. They aren't part of this universe at all; even the furthest stars are part of this universe, but the lights show us a different universe entirely. Not further away, but interpenetrating with tis one. Here on this deck, millions of other universes exist, unaware of one another...." (Doesn't this remind you of the revised string theory. No, no, I don't really understand that one, but it is kind of like this it seems.)
P. 271: " You speak of destiny", he said, "as if it is fixed. And I ain't sure I like that any more than a war I'm enlisted in without knowing about it. Where's my free will, if you please? And this child seems to me to have more free will than anyone I have ever met. Are you telling me that she's just a clockwork toy wound up and set on a course she can't change?"
"We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not," said the witch, "or die of despair."
P. 275: "Men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave,proud, beautiful, clever; and they die almost at once. They die so soon that our hearts are continuously racked with pain." (Witches live thousands of years... that is why, and some of us know the feeling of loss.)
P. 276: But you cannot change what you are, only what you do.
P. 290: There is a correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm! The stars are alive, child. Did you now that? Everything out there is alive, and there are grand purposes abroad! The universe is full of intentions (italics), you know. Everything happens for a purpose. Your purpose is to remind me of that.
P. 307: There were two kinds of beardom opposed here, two futures, two destinies.
P. 327: At last there was a physical proof that something happened when innocence changed into experience.

The third book is disconcerting: Martin Amis: 'Time's Arrow'. Here a man's life is told in reverse. From death one enters the world and grows younger and more vigourous until one disappears at birth. The most shocking element is not the absurdity of situations where you put everything back in the supermarket after you received the proper amount of money for your items, but that the moment of catastrophe makes it better afterwards since in the normal direction of time, that action hadn't happened yet. So Time's Arrow plays with our concepts of cause and consequence. It is a Nazi doctor's consciousness which tell us his life backwards, so that the reality of ugliness becomes bizarre. Thought provoking and disturbing. Also a must read.
P. 51: People are free, then, they are generally free, then, are they? Well they don't look free. Tipping, staggering, with croaked or choking voices, blundering backwards along lines seemingly already crossed, already mapped out. Oh, the disgusted look on women's faces as they step backwards through a doorway, out of the rain. Never watching where they are going, the people move through something prearranged, armed with lies. They're always looking forward to going places they've just come back from, or regretting doing things they haven't yet done. They say hello when they mean goodbye. Lords of lies and trash - all kinds of crap and trash. Signs say No Littering - but who to? We wouldn't dream of it. Government does that at night, with trucks; or uniformed men come sadly at morning with their trolleys, dispensing our rubbish, and shit for the dogs.
P. 57: With rapture and relief he elides with the larger unit, the glowing mass. He sheds the thing he often can't seem to bear: his identity, his quiddity, lost in the crowd's promiscuity.
P. 72: Everybody reams about being harmed. It's easy. Much tougher to recover from the dream of harming...
P. 80: It was an old people hotel. We had seen and sensed them on our way up, their tentative postures, their unanimity of hesitation.
P. 107: Also, happiness contains its own ferocity: the right to live and love, fiercely seized.

And much more worth thinking about.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Day & night

Friday mornings are my teaching time: Turkish and Moroccan women who want to learn the local language. The first hour is spend on 'what is done in following buildings': post office, hospital, train station, police station, job centres... I am working with a small group of 'advanced' students, so they can explain quite a lot. They freely share personal aspects of their lives, talking about visits to the hospitals, naming procedures, glossing over the, in my eyes, more than borderline harassment of the controlling doctors of the social services. Same background noise at the job centre where a seamstress is send for a job as computer programmer. Of course she has to physically go to the employer, who is as puzzled as she is about this job offer. The employer kindly signs the paper that she showed op where she had been sent to by whom? An incompetent dimwit or a power hungry aggressive passive borderline racist? Ladies, I doff my hat to you. The second hour the handbook wanted us to speak about food and traditions concerning food... Fatima gave me the recipe for Moroccan soup, Hediye favours Turkish pizza's over Italian ones and explained how to make a special sweet to end the period of mourning after a year. Ilham likes to eat out... I explain the difference in etiquette between US and Europe and they add the beauty of their culture to the mix...
The night offered Maurice Béjart. For his 80 st birthday a special program was made: the patricide, of the grandfather of modern dance by his students called 'L'Art d'étre Grand-père', followed by the exquisite Brel and Barbara with among others fun parts like 'Rosa, Rosae', 'Ne me quite pas' which brought tears to my eyes, the incredible, grand 'Valse à mille temps'. La Solitude, made one indeed feel lonely and 'Quand on a que l'amour', which as far as I am concerned, they can play at my funeral as a last message, maybe followed by 'Avec élégance, where despair should be pretty and at the end is even combative and hopeful. The movements at times where literal transpositions of the texts, other times the rhythm dictates the form. Then after the break followed the gentle, generous virility of the Bolero of Ravel, a monument of dance. I think it was the 1961 interpretation of the music that was performed. Then it was a scandal and a shock, now my parents, both also around 80, loved it. My father said: 'I have seen Béjart before, but I understand it now. I didn't then.' Working class became middle class and appropriated the avant-garde master... Well an early Christmas present turned out great. Thanks for beauty in the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Scrambling away from the sleepy provincial town that considers itself the navel of democracy, four days per month, I feel the heavy tiredness of the world. Some of the scramblers wonder whether the Institution of Democracy we work for is indeed a democratic institution. There is a lot of philosophising about power. The consensus in the accidental group of thinkers was that there is right wing and left thinking about power. Security is an interesting example. Some want to deploy more and more men and material in order to impress, shock and awe the possible opponent or trespasser into submission. Security services heavily armed, young boys, kid still, with uzi's supposed to make us feel safer in airports, riot police, mounted police, all are emanations of the power base. In the opposite way of thinking one would minimise the visual impact of security. Their task would be to defuse, to accept non-violent manifestations of disagreements, to protect the protesters right to free speech. I think this division is a good gauge for the democratic content of certain policies. China for instance has consistently cracked down on dissident writers and journalists, some of whom have been sentenced to up to 19 years. Sending an e-mail can be considered leaking state interests as happened to Shi Tao, serving a ten-year prison sentence. Since August this year, PEN has observed with some concern a steady rise in the number of new arrests. They include Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong), a prominent writer, arrested on 6 September 2006 and charged on 12 October with ‘inciting subversion’, and Yan Zhengxue, a dissident writer and member of Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), arrested on 18 October 2006 also on subversion charges. Both are held for their critical writings published online and dissident activities.
Former prisoners consistently report high levels of ill-treatment and medical neglect in Chinese prisons, which adds to PEN’s concerns for the welfare of those detained. Those held in pre-trial detention are particularly at risk, for example Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab, who reportedly contracted tuberculosis whilst in pre-trial detention at the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Centre. If you happen to be moved write to

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032

and inquire about the health and treatment of the prisoners.

Pen centres and Amnesty International can provide a list with names of people detained in prison for writing what they thought.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

First steps

Reflexivity was the first blog I started reading and have been reading for well over a year now. The scientific/personel mix pleases me. I learned about language, framing, thoughts about deaf/hearing issues and interpreting in such a setting. I like her outspoken advocacy about gay and lesbian issues and empowerment of the deaf. She also shares her thoughts about blogging, what can go in it, when people are proud or annoyed to find themselves in a blog. Obviously, once you write and publish that becomes an issue. Steph posts every day, an act I won't follow.
Redemption Blues by Chameleon became another travelcompanion. She posts whenever it works for her, sometimes long, well thought out social commentary, other times lyrical personal thoughts, sometimes scathing entrees about her semi-servitude as a civil servant. Mind you Chameleon is nobody's servant. Bits of translations and photo galleries are nice touches.
The third blog I read is The Sceptical Futuryst. Interest in futures? read his thoughtful blog.
Mine will be nothing like the three insightful blogs I cherish. But it is just another path to walk on and a way to share thoughts and visions. I wanted in this first post to pay homage to whom lured to this bend in the road. My intention is to post reading notes, travel writing, peace and environmental thoughts.