Quote for the Day

From George Santayana, as quoted by Bob Herbert in the Op-Ed page of the Aug. 14, 2006 New York Times:

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.

R.I.P, Uri Grossman

The son of author David Grossman, one of Israel’s most prominent writers and peace advocates, was killed Saturday in fierce fighting in Lebanon.

Below is a quote from the New York Times article of Monday, Aug. 14:

Throughout Israel’s first war in Lebanon, from 1982 to 2000, and during the first intifada in the late 1980s, Mr. Grossman and his wife were frequent participants in antiwar rallies and demonstrations. Often they were accompanied by their two young sons, Yonatan and Uri.

Last Thursday, David Grossman joined two other titans of Israeli letters, Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshuah, to proclaim their opposition to continuing the war in Lebanon.

David Grossman is the author of the novels Be My Knife amd The Smile of the Lamb, as well as a treatise about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, The Yellow Wind.

Quoting again from the New York Times article:

Menachem Brinker, a literary philosopher, described The Yellow Wind as “the worst indictment produced by an Israeli Zionist writer against the occupation, commensurate with Norman Mailer’s Armies of the Night in terms of its importance.”

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Lenox Hill, Revisited

This was me, 15 years ago:

I would have liked to say, I took the first plane to New York, but I did not. I am ashamed to say it, but I didn’t at first believe my brother-in-law when he called and said my sister was very sick. I remember listening to his foreign, English voice, and a host of memories came over me– memories of other times, other crises and emergencies, times that left me feeling helpless and angry. And he sounded so matter-of-fact, so English and above it all, and when he said she had strep I thought: Now you are really pulling my leg, you say all these awful things are happening and she has strep? I had wanted to hang up on him, but did not, and the rest of that day I busied myself with office work and did not think about my sister anymore.

–from “Lenox Hill, December 1991”, first published in Charlie Chan is Dead, vol. 1, edited by Jessica Hagedorn

This is me today:

I’m working on a computer in my brother-in-law’s apartment. He still lives in the same place, in the same apartment where my sister developed a form of streptococcal pneumonia which eventually killed her, 11 days after the phone call I wrote of above.

I wrote that story the week after she died. Don’t ask me where I got the strength.

Now my brother-in-law has re-married, he’s happy. It’s all I could have wished for him, this happiness. His hair has gone completely white, but he’s discovered a kindness in himself. Over the years, we sent our children back and forth, from coast to coast, to get to know each other. They’re grown now, my sister’s children and my own: my son’s in Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; my sister’s two older children are in Stanford and Johns Hopkins. The girl at Stanford, who I’ll call “G”, e-mailed me last year. She’d gotten offers from the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Pomona, Reed, Brown, and who knows what others. But she wrote: Tita, the reason I’m choosing Stanford is because of you. She’s sweet; she took my book, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, with her to Stanford and passed it around . “You have a following, Tita,” she laughs, “with the freshmen in my dorm.”

When my son graduated from high school, it was my brother-in-law who paid for our trip to Boracay. Now we’re here in New York, courtesy of my brother-in-law again, and we have a week to walk around, look at museums (though it’s a Monday and the two I most want to see–the Metropolitan and the Whitney– are closed). We’ll see plays if my money holds up.

My son and his cousins are close. 15 years later, this is what has happened to us. We’ve survived.

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