Kenan Malik in The Observer, 21 April 2019 (Easter Sunday)

Self arrived in London several hours ago. So most of her quotes (for the next couple of weeks) will be from British or Irish papers, like The Observer.

“The problem is not fierce argument, but a rush to damn our opponents.”

Self wishes she could quote every sentence of this piece. Here’s the opening, including the header:

Robust debate is evidence of a healthy society.

But it is not debate America is having right now. Those who cite “freedom of speech” to bash others are not really open to freedom of speech, and they prove it by coming up with labels like “socialists” or “the extreme left” or “crazy liberals.”

And BTW, can self just say that Meghan McCain is almost unwatchable. Every episode of The View now, she has to say something like “those on the left” or “the extreme left.” Self would like to send her a link to the Kenan Malik piece. It is NOT helpful to bandy about labels like these, which sound altogether too neat (as if she really knows what “the extreme left” is. You know how self knows Meghan doesn’t know what an “extreme left liberal” is? Because self doesn’t know herself. It’s a label that was born with this White House. And she doesn’t trust it. Because it sounds like a label concocted purely for political purposes. Which means the very label itself is a lie.)

In contrast, self is 100% sure when she says “the GOP is no longer a credible political party.” You will never find self saying “The GOP is not a credible political party because they are made up of rightists.” No, she’ll say “the GOP is no longer a credible political party because they fronted us Donald Trump.” And even now they can’t admit it. Self knows they can’t admit it because they keep coming up with more ridiculous labels.

We in America (and self knows this, since she lives there) are driving ourselves crazy trying to parse stupid statements like “I’m not a robot” — endlessly.

Or, “rake the forest floor.” And when we defend ourselves, the White House will bring up “crazy liberals.” Which the base seems to accept as fact.

Self would just like to say that pairing “crazy” with anything is the surest way to kill debate. Something America so desperately needs.

Here’s some advice: When a person brings up “crazy liberals” in a conversation with you, you should stop speaking to that person. Immediately. Because you’re having a fake conversation. And those are the worst kinds. Absolutely the worst. Because the person’s just using you as an excuse to air a platform.

Which was the case with Sarah Sanders and George Stephanopoulos last week.

Also BTW (this post is so full of them, apologies), Sarah Sanders took a page right out of the Justin Bieber playbook: his “sorry I make mistakes but I’m not a robot.”

Yes, Sarah, you have just followed in the footsteps of a twenty-something pop star. High Fives!

 

Three

Self picking her favorite reads so far, 2019. All three happen to be novels. They’re arranged according to the month she read them.

  • November Road, by Louis Berney – read February

The Setting: America post-John F. Kennedy Assassination

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers – read March

Science Fiction

The Setting: Earth and Outer Space (The Future, of course)

  • Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday – read April

The Setting: America post 9/11 to the time of the First Gulf War

Bedford Place

The bioethics council operated out of the basement of a Georgian townhouse in Bloomsbury’s Bedford Square, a pretty oval garden popular at night with methadone addicts whose discarded syringes were a regular feature of my walk to work.

Asymmetry, p. 179

Self’s impression of Bedford Square (which she knows very, very well) is quite different. She hasn’t seen a single syringe.

Here’s the view from her room on Bedford Place, which overlooks the Duke of Bedford’s private garden.

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She has to pass Bedford Square every time she goes to the British Museum or the London Review Bookshop.

Stay tuned.

The Laughter of My Father, by Carlos Bulosan

One of our foremost Filipino writers was a migrant worker who died at 40 of tuberculosis, in a Seattle boarding house.

His name was Carlos Bulosan, and The Laughter of My Father was one of Dear Departed Dad’s favorite books (Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino found this copy for me, previously used naturally!)

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Reading it now, self can understand why. She’s reading the Bantam edition, published August 1946.

p. 2:

Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go into the living room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes with his fingers and making faces at himself; then he would rush into the kitchen, roaring with laughter.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Collage 2: Dearest Mum

She attended Curtis, won the New York Times International Piano Competition, and played at Carnegie Hall when she was just 14.

Self’s nephew, William, is getting married this September in New York City. Not sure if Dearest Mum, who lives in the Philippines, will be strong enough to attend, though.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, San Francisco 1958

Self stood beneath the wisteria on her front porch and thought of this poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

DSCN0072

Wisteria: Evening, 28 March 2019

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

— from I am Waiting, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The rest of the poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Can we all agree that 1958 sounds a lot like 2016.

Stay tuned.

SIGNS: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

It’s been a few weeks, at least, since self was able to join Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge.

Today, self is in London. She walked around her Bloomsbury neighborhood and took pictures, all with an eye to the current Fun Foto Challenge, SIGNS. Here are a few:

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Right outside the British Museum, which self visited yesterday.

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Directly across the street from the British Museum: This bubble tea place is always full.

DSCN0298

An Alley Off Bury Place

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

RISING, p. 50

It used to be that we thought earth’s climate and its underlying geology changed slowly and steadily over time, like the tortoise who beat the hare. But now we know the opposite to be mostly true. The earth’s geophysical make-up doesn’t tend to incrementally evolve; it jerks back and forth between different equilibriums. Ice age, then greenhouse. Glaciers covering the island of Manhattan in a thousand-foot-thick sheet of ice, then a city of eight million people in that same spot.

Five Years and Half a Dozen Gendrya Fan Fiction Later, GoT S8:E2

And I couldn’t even watch it, I was in London.

Thank God for Twitter.

All my Gendrya feelz!

got-22

1555918576_GOTARYA

This is a better ship than anything else on the show, and I will maintain that till the day I die, come @ me.

The corniest outcome ever would be Gendry to die and Arya be pregnant with his child, ala Terminator.

But the show is not corny, so don’t even go there.

 

RISING, DISPATCHES FROM THE NEW AMERICAN SHORE, p. 45

Lately my feeling is that I need time to just be here before I can decide whether to stay or not. My guess is that I will tap into so much gratitude for my life alongside this marsh that I may just become an old lady who drowns right here.

— Laura Sewell, resident of Small Point, Maine

Rising, p. 34

In the photo Chris shows me, his father stands surrounded by pastures. You can even make out a black cow in the upper right corner. In the sixty years since, the meadows where the cattle used to graze have all slipped beneath the surface of the sea.

“Maybe You Can Swim”

“Maybe you could swim,” the owner of the Pointe-aux-Chenes marina tells me when I ask if I can get to the Isles de Jean Charles without a car. “But I wouldn’t, on account of the gators.”

Rising: Dispatches from the New American shore, p. 20

 

Rising: Dispatches From the New American Shore, p. 4

I understood then that sea-level rise was not a problem for future generations. It was happening already, exacerbated by human interventions in the landscape. And perhaps even more importantly, I sensed that the slow-motion migration in, away from our disintegrating shorelines, had already begun.

 

Paris, December 2017

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