Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

miércoles, febrero 27, 2013

Justice Roberts, Meet Justice Henry Billings Brown

And Justice Roger B. Taney (above).

This will be very, very brief.

When history records the judicial career of Supreme Court Justice Henry Billings Brown, it remembers only that he wrote the majority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson. You remember Plessy. You may not remember Brown.

When history records the judicial career of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, it remembers only that he wrote the majority opinion in Dredd Scott v. Sandford. You remember Dredd Scott. You may not remember Taney.

And now, when history records the judicial career of Chief Justice John Roberts, will it remember his vote on the Affordable Care Act. Or will it focus instead on his concurrence in Citizens United. Or will it focus on today's case, Shelby County, challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?

I can only hope that before he makes a final decision on today's case, the Chief Justice will reflect on its significance, not just to the nation, but also to his legacy.

sábado, febrero 09, 2013

Love Letters, We Get Lotsa Love Letters. Not.

I’m not snowed in. Nemo has ended here. And I have electricity. And oil in the tank. And wood to burn. And there’s really no reason to go out. If I still did that, today might be a wonderful day to write letters. Not emails. Not phone calls. Not postcards. Not Facebook updates. Not Twits. Not blog entries. That’s right. Letters. But like most people I don’t do that any more. I haven’t done it in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last informal letter I wrote. Let alone the last actual love letter. Letters are so old school. And love letters? A genre badly in need of resuscitation.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the mail isn’t going to be delivered any more on Saturdays. Maybe that’s why there is constant talk of closing the tiny post office that is 12017. And the little post office that is 12165. And consolidating them with bigger 12037. And then absorbing 12037 into 12184. All of that would be an incremental loss for the quality of life in rural upstate New York. The loss of an already too infrequent opportunity to see and nod at and chat with the neighbors. One more step toward our civil isolation. One more step toward the loss of a civil commons. Dare we think about alienation? Dare we think about Max Frisch’s Man in the Holocene? But I wander.

Informal, friendly correspondence has largely disappeared. So, too, and more important in this season, love letters. While more immediate, spontaneous electronic communication abounds, letters that show reflection and thought and effort have dwindled. Honestly, I can’t remember the last informal letter I received. And a love letter? This is no one's personal fault. Really it's not. It's the culture. And we're impoverished by it. 140 characters doesn't allow for a lot of development. And email is as cold as a speculum.

But it’s worse. There's inertia. I no longer have decent paper to write informal letters. I can’t recall when I last had any. Xerox paper does not qualify. And I don’t have a working fountain pen. Or envelopes. I don’t even have cards. Or postcards. All of this is, of course, a huge obstacle to my ever again writing a proper letter. You will forgive me, I hope, if I do not accept that a letter composed on a computer and laser printed on a plain sheet of thin Xerox paper, no matter how clever, no matter how true qualifies as a proper letter. And anyway, when was the last time I sent or received such a missive? I can’t recall it. My recent letters complaining to car manufacturers and health insurers and heaven knows whom else do not qualify.

And let's remember that February 14 is Valentine's Day. Which will make a small fortune for Hallmark. And florists and chocolate purveyors and jewelers. But probably will not inspire many to craft love letters on a blank page. How very sad that is. Isn't it a well known fact that pen and paper are erogenous organs? Is their atrophy approaching? Oh how I wish I could inspire everyone to write love letters to your beloved. What a remarkable event that would be.

Which brings me to The Browning Letters, which were put on line last year:

The enduring jewel of the English Poetry Collection, largest of the Wellesley Special Collections, is the original love letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. Their exchange of 574 letters began on 10 January 1845, with a letter addressed to “dear Miss Barrett” and continued until a week after their marriage, ending with Elizabeth’s note to Robert as they arranged to leave England and travel to Italy [18 September 1846]. The love letters of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are among the most famous in literary history and provide significant insights into the lives, thoughts, and works of both poets.

What incredible letters these are. So very wonderful to read. May they inspire us.

And to this list of ten most famous love letters in Time.

And to this list of twelve love letters

And to this compendium of excerpts.

Oh may all of these inspire us to pick up pen and paper and to sing the body and heart and mind electric.

I know, I know. There are huge obstacles. But there is still plenty of time. There is still time to save the love letter as a legitimate genre. There is still time to let pen and paper bring romance. It's not, I hope, too late for a revival. It's not too late to right this loss.

Oh how I wish I could inspire the writing of an avalanche of actual love letters this Valentine's Day. Please join me.

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viernes, febrero 08, 2013

The Nemo Blues

Your Bloguero is in the kitchen (he aint got no shoes) with the Nemo Blues.

Nemo. What a diminutive name for a colossal northeaster. A name that's cute, like that small pixilated fish. You would think that the media fear mongers would come up with something like Stormzilla or Stormpocalypse, something that would excite and fit, but no, whoever is in the storm-naming department: Fail. And/But your Bloguero digresses. The short: there is a lot of snow outside. And it's cold. And everything is closed or closing: the trains, the airports, the restaurants, the saloons, the roads, the markets, the convenience stores. And the idea is that the snow will continue all night, and the wind will blow it around, and in the morning, there will be lots of snow on the ground and it will still be falling. Things will remain closed. Road crews will earn overtime. You can make French toast with the milk and eggs and bread you ran out for yesterday.

Your Bloguero says, "Let it snow."

This storm made worse because our local NPR station, WAMC in Albany, is on fund raising, and has been since Monday. They are trying to raise $1 million dollars. C'mon say it like Mini Me. In other words, there is no soothing regular programming. No. There is fundraising. There is asking for money. And a drawing now for a deluxe Miele vacuum cleaner. Your Bloguero did not make this up.

Your Bloguero suggests TCM movies, or Netflix streaming, or reading. Or CineMoi. Or Pay per view. And rum. Rum with lime in it and whatever else you might have. Look: you're not going anywhere. Not now, not tomorrow morning. You are home. You cannot leave. May as well make the best of it.

The only thing your Blogero lacks at the moment is El Bloombito's hablando en Espanol cerca el nieve y la tormenta y no estacionar en las calles. Your Bloguero knows this is coming, and he's waiting for it. Gleefully. The language is going again to be a casualty. Just wait.

Stay warm, stay tuned.

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