Friday, July 5, 2013

TED Talk: The doubt essential to faith (Lesley Hazleton)

When Lesley Hazleton was writing a biography of Muhammad, she was struck by something: The night he received the revelation of the Koran, according to early accounts, his first reaction was doubt, awe, even fear. And yet this experience became the bedrock of his belief. Hazleton calls for a new appreciation of doubt and questioning as the foundation of faith -- and an end to fundamentalism of all kinds.

For Rachel Jeantel

I've forsworn myself,
a thinning sin, a setting
sun, a skinning,
a skinning, an imprinting
punctated stigma,
the neutered past
participle of that
charismatic prick,
the concrete enigma
of pungere
from which we agree
to punctuate: we pause we delay we
stutter sinning we stutter in the juncture
we stutter we shudder with interruptions
and lines gone dead we end we
puncture we question we declame we
exclaim we cry we
die we delay we
structure the rupture
of the dominant language.
We disorient under
the thundering debris
of English.
(And Lo, the angel of the Lord,
yo, came on them and man,
were they sore afraid,
so afraid of the woe
of Lo, yo.)
There remains
no zen in me, my moi,
because there never
was any zen, just creole
patois for "english,"
that is, "angle,"
defrenchified anglais,
"mè" short for "mamè"
meaning nun, "chèsè,"
there never was any zen
just foreign din,
malevolent djinn:
"a welter of discordant sounds."
Djinn, tatted men
who send you 
-- not by brass-rubbed wish --
into a swirling tee,
that intersection 
of green and gravel,
sand, cement,
water and love,
no matter what,
teen love versus lawmen,
green love, gravel love,
sand love, cement love,
water love, no matter
what love, but not what
I cannot believe,
dead love, mean
love forcing me naked
before the world
of that swirling tee --
But he never said a mumblin' word
Not a word, not a word, not a word.
-- leaving just the running
mumbling stitch 
of her angry, abashed,
and afflicted trying,
astray and trying,
broken and trying,
bothered -- burdened -- beset -- and trying.
In most of the mixed-language
areas of this Babel world,
mixed by need, habit,
and daily use, no dictionary, no
linguists, no school, no
school marms' nun-knuckle-
rapping bruise to heed,
"English" can be
"an English,"
and came to be when serving,
scrubbing, raising children,
raising children of the mèt,
raising children of the chèf,
scraping, eking by, 
but needing to say
a thing or two
along the trodden way.
Words that come to be
in such a way
are fuses, short
and long, sluices
and dams.
"English" can be 
"an English"
-- and often is --
and it means:
not me.
Not us.
Non-me, non-us: 
"You got it?"
"You. Got. To. Un. Der. Stand."
You might have noticed
-- which is precisely
and concisely what
smut rut we need
to discuss:
that twitch
of knowing;
the obscenity
of pretending
not to know;
and the running
mumbling stitch 
of her angry, abashed,
and afflicted trying.
Let me tell you
of freeborn slaves
or the leeway
of tidal waves
of a girl
who cannot read
yet can, who cannot
speak, yet does:
"You got it?";
"You. Got. To. Un. Der. Stand."
She who knows
depravity when
she hears it
pull a gun,
in the din, 
in the greeny djinn glen
-- and the running,
mumbling stitch 
of angry embarrassed
trying, knowing a mumbling
word, and crying.
But he never said a mumblin' word
Not a word, not a word, not a word.
Leaving just the running,
mumbling stitch 
of her angry, abashed,
and afflicted trying.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

for dad

i keep coming back to this song, for all four of us. dad died a year ago tomorrow, though no one knows, really, if he did not maybe curl up on the couch and die late in the evening on july 2.  no one saw.  margaret found him, of course, curled up so cozy dead.  but this song is not for her.  this is for us four.  if dad can hear music.


okay, so this is for me and bobby and howie, and maybe the gist of it will howl around the old man.

I come from a long line
High and low and in between
Same as you
Hills of golden
Hails of poison
Time’s thrown me through
And I believe I’ve come to learn
That turnin’ round
Is to become confusion
And the gold’s no good for spending
And the poison’s hungry waiting

What can you leave behind
When you’re flyin’ lightning fast
And all alone?
Only a trace, my friend,
Spirit of motion born
And direction grown.
A trace that will not fade
In frozen skies
Your journey will be
And if her shadow doesn’t seem much company
Who said it would be?

There is the highway
And the homemade lovin’ kind
The highway’s mine
And us ramblers are getting the travelling down
You fathers build with stones
That stand and shine
Heaven’s where you find it
And you can’t
Take too much with you
But daddy, don’t you listen
It’s just this highway talkin’

All things that are alive
Are brothers in the soil
And in the sky
And I believe it
With my blood
If not my eyes
I don’t know why we can’t
Be brothers here
I know we should be
Answers don’t seem easy
And I’m wonderin’
If they could be

-- townes van zandt