Friday, March 30, 2012

New Capitalisms and the Problem of Memory--What the People of Beijing Made Me Think About

I feel so much pressing on me, to write my small words about--racism in America, the new campaigns in Israel to make shared lives of Palestinians and Israelis possible and life here in Melbourne with my Professoressa far away in Washington, D.C. and then she will be in New York and I miss the woman and the city deeply--but still I find myself wanting to give you more of our Beijing time, the overwhelming challenges of this city of 28 million, where the memory is a tender thing as apartment blocks reach to the heavens and march from horizon to horizon. The people will be moved up and up, and I am sure the conditions will be better but other longings make themselves seen in the streets.
The Helpers to the Ming Dynasty
A Soldiers Barracks on the Great Wall, 60 k from the outer limits of Beijing and hundreds of years old

The Walk into History

Not of Walls but still an Ancient Hunger

Deena, our guide to the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, a thin Manchurian Chinese hard working and caring woman, said as she led us down the processional path to the tombs of the Ming Emperors, past the camels, horses, elephants, sitting and standing, all prepared to carry the sacred leader to the next world, larger then life, "tourists often ask me, where are all the birds?" and here she smiled, "I tell them," she said rubbing her nonexistent belly, "that they are in here. We have to eat every thing we can." Half a joke.

Smiling in anticipation of his service

Old Favorites of Beijing

I will stop here for now, with the candied sweets of Beijing, because I have received the news that Adrienne Rich has died and my heart is heavy, my own memories of the shared times, the streets we walked together and sometimes passed each other, of Michelle and Blanche, now push at me as so many begin coming to turns with Adrienne's death and once again turn to her words, her art.

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