Monday, August 15, 2011

"Selfish Opportunism"--Or Failed National Vision

Of course, the torrent of social anger outpaces my hands on the keys, but like many of you, I have been running from one virtual street to another, trying to touch in some way the human stuff that is refusing to stay put. On Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv, on streets whose names I do not know in the North of Syria, in Camden Town and down Tottenham Court Road, many different kinds of people are calling out failed nationalisms and failed economic systems. We label some of these disturbances, these refusals of business as usual, as more moral then others, reflecting our own yearnings for retribution. I have been listening now for two weeks to the words coming from the powers that be--a little less sure of that "be" now--in London. I think of America in the late 60s, of Watts and Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, class and race screaming in the streets of the cities while the money grows in the pockets of those who already have too much, who run their streets, Wall and otherwise, with a greed that has brought a good part of the Western world to its knees, I hear Cameron's words, evict, evict, evict as if the exile does not already exist. I think of the world of endless war that the young men wearing balaclavas have grown up into, of an entertainment world based on virtual high power guns and endless rounds of ammunition to be emptied into ghostly bodies, I think of consumerism madness, of brand names more important then vitamins--the rich boasting of the cars, watches, hand bags, shoes, houses that leap over the definitions of bigness, of high rise apartments or town house duplex's, vacations from power in other power places--the country homes in Tuscany, by beaches taken out of the public domain because wealth lives there, I think of the corruption of the Murdochs, so recently in that same London town, the streets he runs and how he does not care--that is the kindest thing I can say--if his so-called fair and balanced Fox Propaganda channel brings America to its knees, mired in fear and ignorance, as long as his son does not loose his inheritance. Let the football fans patrol the streets, I remember hearing in a street interview in London, one bleary -eyed night--yes now bring on the vigilantes and skin heads, the anti multiculturalists and the white supremacists--they'll make our streets safe. I see that chiseled face of the Muslim grieving father, calling for calm, for a return to some kind street we can all live on. Selfish opportunism the leader said, after he returned from his vacation. Selfish opportunism of the poor and the angry and the young--so easily led by their hungers for things beyond their reach like libraries and schools and sports centers and respect--not even counting the ipads, and iphones and Addidas sneakers--good for running away from the police in that oh so old silent movie farce--the coppers big and slow with arms raised and faces red, the robbers, swift and sassy, around and around they go. Lost souls all while the Others, too far above the ground, too deep into unquestioned legacies, too invested in another kind of mayhem, deliver their opinions which is the same thing as verdicts for the powerful--Evict! Evict! Evict!

La professoressa left Melbourne town at 2 this morning to meet with feminist human rights activists in Malaysia so now it is just Cello and me and friends who drop in. Cello sits patiently and waits for me to finish my so slow translation of  Collodi's  Le avventure di Pinocchio and if this is the last book I read in my life, I will not be sad. Here the story teller lets us know something about poverty: "E Pinocchio, che pure era un ragazzo allegro, divenne triste anche lui: perche la miseria, quando 'e miseria davvero, la capiscono tutti: anche i ragazzi." Forgive me all who know Italian: My version-- "And Pinocchio, who was usually a happy boy, even he became sad: because Misery--[here there is no real English translation but you will know this in your bones if you have ever been evicted]--, when it is truly Misery, all understand it, even the children."

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