My friends at the wonderful dvafoto pointed towards NPR Music’s wonderful Tiny Desk Concerts music series. They had recently featured the talented and evocative Jim White’s performance on the program. Details »
A Photographer Confronts His World
This was nothing if not embarrassing – the hypocrisy of State Department representative P.J. Crowley, and the administration and imperial system that he so mindlessly represents, may as well be tattooed across this forehead. The news anchor tears through Crowley like a hot knife through butter, leaving him grasping for more lies and even deeper obfuscations. The anchor’s laugh at the end of the interview pretty much says it all, and pretty much reveals what the common man in these ‘allied’ nations with their billion dollar US military aid programs knows and understands. Worth watching.
What has always impressed me about Fazal Sheikh is his intelligence and willingness to engage in the complete complexity of the human conditions he documents. There is no attempt to avoid the difficult, or to elide the embarassing. His eye is precise and spectacularly beautiful. His voice is balanced and calm, refusing to use hysteria or sensationalism to distract us. Details »
Once he hears to his heart’s content, sails on, a wiser man.
We know all the pains that the Greeks and Trojans once endured
on the spreading plain of Troy when the gods willed it so—
all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all!
Aaron Vincent Elkaim’s project on Morocco’s Jewish heritage immediately caught my attention not because of the photographs, but because of words that underpin the ideas and ideals of the project. These words immediately suggested a photographer of considerable intelligence and courage, and willing to accept and understand histories that today lie buried under propaganda, lies and sheer hypocrisy.
It is the centenary of a man who can be described as perhaps the single most important, influential and courageous poet South Asia has ever produced. Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s words have become the life and soul of millions, and given solace and determination to all who have, and continue to, fight for justice and humanity in South Asia. Details »
Every year at this time of the year my mind turns towards man’s creation of the calendar. Some months ago I came a fascinating discussion about the issue of measuring time in Jack Goody’s wonderful, if dense work, Theft Of History. I share with you here the paragraphs that I looked up last night as the clock struck midnight and signaled that finally 2010, a year that has tested me in ways I had never imagined, has passed and that I can look forward to new possibilities in 2011.
The very calculation of time in the past, and of the present to, as been appropriate by the west. The dates on which history depends are measured before and after the birth of Christ. The recognition of other eras, relating to the Hegira, to the Hebrew or to the Chinese New Year, is relegated to the margins of historical scholarship and of international usage…
…The monopolization of time takes place not only with the all-inclusive era, that defined by the birth of Christ, but also with the everyday reckoning of years, months, and weeks. The year itself is a partly arbitrary division. We use the sidereal cycle, others a sequence of twelve lunar periods. It is a choice of a more or less conventional kind. In both systems the beginning of the year, that is, the New Year, is quite arbitrary. There is, in fact, nothing more ‘logical’ about the sidereal year which Europeans use than about the lunar reckoning of Islamic and Buddhist countries. In is the same with the European division into months. The choice is between arbitrary years or arbitrary months. Our months have little to do with the moon, indeed the lunar months of Islam are definitely more ‘logical’. There is a problem for every calendrical system of integrating star or seasonal years with lunar months. In Islam the year is adjusted to the months; in Christianity the reverse holds. In oral cultural both the seasonable count and the moon count can operate independently, but writing forces a kind of compromise.
The week of seven days is the most arbitrary unit of them all. In Africa one finds the equivalent of a ‘week’ of three, four, five, or six days, with markets to correspond. In China it was ten days. Societies felt the need for some regular division smaller than a month for frequent cyclical activities such as local markets, as distinct from annual fairs. The duration of these units is completely conventional. The notion of a day and a night clearly corresponds to our everyday experience but once again the further subdivisions into hours and minutes exists only on our clicks and in our minds; they are quite arbitrary.
Have a wonderful New Year, where ever you may be, and when ever it may actually arrive in your life.
And for the conventional; A lovely 2011 to you all.
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