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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: February 9, 2020
Posted: February 9, 2020 at 8:45 am
the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.
exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
the power to determine action without restraint.
political or national independence.
personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from): freedom from fear.
the absence of or release from ties, obligations, etc.
ease or facility of movement or action: to enjoy the freedom of living in the country.
frankness of manner or speech.
general exemption or immunity: freedom from taxation.
the absence of ceremony or reserve.
a liberty taken.
a particular immunity or privilege enjoyed, as by a city or corporation: freedom to levy taxes.
civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.
the right to enjoy all the privileges or special rights of citizenship, membership, etc., in a community or the like.
the right to frequent, enjoy, or use at will: to have the freedom of a friend's library.
Posted: at 8:45 am
As an obstetrician with 20 years of experience, I have been trusted by more than 10,000 patients to care for them at critical moments in their pregnancies. I have witnessed the exhaustion, elation, pain, grief and relief of patients during natural childbirth, Cesarean sections, abortions and miscarriages. From these experiences I have learned two very important lessons about trust and freedom.
First, I have learned to trust people to make their best decisions when presented with an incredible array of pregnancy related challenges. Second, I have learned that freedom means respecting that other people make decisions that I may not make for myself.
These values are under imminent threat from the Utah Legislature, which is why more than 500 local health care providers have signed a statement urging lawmakers to avoid interfering with the patient-provider relationship, and why Im asking Utah providers to consider adding their names.
To better understand trust and freedom in medicine, consider the cases of two patients with planned pregnancies who, at 13 weeks, discovered that the pregnancy was affected by the same genetic disorder. The women were of the same age, both already had a child and had supportive spouses. The prognosis for each pregnancy was a shortened life with likely severe developmental delay. One person elected to end her pregnancy and one elected to continue. I cared for both.
The woman who decided to have an abortion underwent a five-minute procedure provided with compassion ending in relief mixed with grief. She asked for and kept her ultrasound pictures. For the other patient, we focused prenatal care visits on preparing for the ordeal of having a newborn in the intensive care unit. In both cases I was able to provide personalized, compassionate care so that each felt respected in their decision.
Physicians regularly encounter complex situations where people in similar circumstances make different decisions. Like the two people mentioned above, most people who have abortion care are already parents. Their decisions are informed by a desire to do the best for the children they already have.
The complexities around deciding whether to have an abortion means simultaneously acknowledging that abortion stops the development of a potential human being and respecting that a pregnant person has the agency to decide what is best for her and her family. For some, only one of those things matters. My patients have taught me that compassion means recognizing that both can be true.
As a physician, I build trust through understanding the unique situation of each patient. Members of the 2020 Utah Legislature, 96% of whom are not working as medical professionals, are poised to severely damage that trust.
According to bills circulating this session, I may be required to coerce a person having an abortion to view an ultrasound even when they say they dont want to. I may need to tell a person seven weeks into a pregnancy with an abusive partner that no one in Utah can provide their abortion care. I may even be forced to broach the subject of burial or cremation with someone immediately following the trauma of a miscarriage. In all of these clinical situations I would not be permitted to honor the individuals freedom to decide.
Abortion care is extremely safe, using exactly the same techniques employed for managing miscarriages. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly opposes political efforts to limit a womans ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women."
Utah politicians interference with the patient-provider relationship will worsen the current state of medical care and jeopardize the future provision of care here because medical providers do not want to practice in an such an environment.
The Utah Legislature can do better than replicate the shaming and blaming we see in state legislatures across the country. We can show dignity and respect for people who deserve our trust to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
David Turok, M.D., is an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Salt Lake City.
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Posted: at 8:45 am
TIFTON As part of the celebration of African American History Month at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Rutha Harris, legendary civil rights activist and Freedom Singer, will be on campus on Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. in Howard Auditorium. This event is open to the public at no charge.
A lifelong resident of Albany, Harris joined the Albany Movement and original Freedom Singers in 1961, traveling more than 50,000 miles, singing for the cause of freedom and raising funds for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
Harris professional career began in 1963 when the Freedom Singers signed a recording contract with Mercury Records. She has recorded with the Landmark Gospel Singers, Georgia Mass Choir, and Whitney Houston. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Civic Opera House in Chicago, the United Nations in New York, the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, The March on Washington in Washington, D.C., and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Harris said the highlight of her professional singing career was being selected to perform as a member of the Georgia Mass Choir in the movie, "The Preacher's Wife," starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. She attended Albany State College and graduated in 1970. She had further studies at Valdosta State University, Dillard University and Florida A&M University. In 1998 she organized The Albany Civil Rights Museum (now Institute) Freedom Singers.
In 2004, Harris recorded her first CD titled, Im On the Battlefield. In 2010, she performed at the White House in Performance at The White House: A Celebration of Music from The Civil Rights Movement. Harris was presented with a proclamation by the Atlanta City Council for her contributions to racial equality in 2011.
In 2013, Harris was presented the National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music Trailblazer Award for outstanding work preserving, promoting and advancing the tradition of African American music. She also sang at the inter-faith services for the March on Washington celebration held at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
Harris was inducted into the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education Inc. Womens Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Hero Award in History from the Albany Municipal Auditorium Centennial Celebration in 2016.
Posted: at 8:45 am
At the Oklahoma History Center, we share African American stories every day of the year, but in February we add an extra effort to connect the dots of history through topics such as the All-Black towns, the author of a groundbreaking textbook and the most violent racial event in American history.
When the federal government forced the Five Tribes to give up their communally owned lands in the 1890s and early 1900s, the freedmen of the tribes and their descendants typically selected fertile land allotments adjacent to family and clan members. Out of those farm communities grew more than 30 self-segregated All-Black towns such as Boley, Clearview and Taft.
One of those All-Black towns was Rentiesville, a small community on the KATY railroad tracks north of Checotah that attracted a young attorney who was the grandson of a former Chickasaw slave. His name was B.C. Franklin. In 1921 he left Rentiesville to establish a law practice in the boomtown of Tulsa, with his wife, daughter, and son to follow in 1925.
Tulsa had its own All-Black town, the segregated city-in-a-city called Greenwood. It was an island of hope for many African Americans a prosperous community of 9,000 people that Booker T. Washington called Black Wall Street.
Despite the promise that attracted African Americans such as B.C. Franklin, however, racial tension between the white and black communities was about to explode.
From the evening of May 31 to the mid-morning of June 1, 1921, Greenwood was destroyed by a mob of approximately 20,000 angry white people, including the city chief of police and a small army of his deputized mobsters told to get a gun, get a n-----.
When the smoke cleared, more than 35 square blocks were burned or looted, several schools and churches were ashes, and dozens of people were dead. The exact count will never be known.
B.C. Franklin survived and set up a tent to seek justice for his African American neighbors.
Posted: at 8:45 am
We walked into a hornets nest I didnt even know existed, Mr. Stephens said.
In response to the protests, the state commission recommended a much simpler setup based on software already used by the state courts. But even this algorithm is difficult for a layperson to understand. Asked to explain it, Mr. Stephens suggested speaking with another commissioner.
Nyssa Taylor, criminal justice policy counsel with the Philadelphia A.C.L.U., was among the protesters. She worries that algorithms will exacerbate rather than reduce racial bias. Even if governments share how the systems arrive at their decisions which happens in Philadelphia in some cases the math is sometimes too complex for most people to wrap their heads around.
Various algorithms embraced by the Philadelphia criminal justice system were designed by Richard Berk, a professor of criminology and statistics at Penn. These algorithms do not use ZIP codes or other location data that could be a proxy for race, he said. And though he acknowledged that a layperson couldnt easily understand the algorithms decisions, he said human judgment has the same problem.
All machine-learning algorithms are black boxes, but the human brain is also a black box, Dr. Berk said. If a judge decides they are going to put you away for 20 years, that is a black box.
Mark Houldin, a former public defender who was also among the protesters, said he was concerned that the algorithms were unfairly attaching labels to individuals as they moved through the criminal justice system.
In an affidavit included with a lawsuit recently filed by the defenders office, a former Philadelphia probation officer said the probation departments predictive algorithm also affected arraignment hearings. For years, she said, if someone was arrested and charged with a new crime while on probation and had been deemed high risk by the algorithm the probation office automatically instructed the jail not to release the person.
A spokesman for Philadelphia County denied that the system operated this way. Every detainer issued is reviewed by supervisory staff of the probation department, he said, and notice is sent to the appropriate judicial authority.
The rest is here:
Posted: at 8:45 am
RUSH: For those of you watching on the Dittocam, this will also be at RushLimbaugh.com. I want to show you a picture up close of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That is it right there. And I couldnt stop looking down at it the whole time that Im wearing it. The clasps in the back, its just beautiful.
Weve also got one more photo to show you that will also be at RushLimbaugh.com.
A black and white picture taken from below the second floor with the Medal of Freedom in color.
RUSH: This is Will in Rhinebeck, New York. Great to have you, sir, the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Rush, thank you so much. Its great to hear from you. Mega dittos, mega prayers. Ive been listening to you for about 15 years. I just want to thank you because during the Obama years, you were the beacon of hope for all of us.
RUSH: Thank you, sir. For me, too.
CALLER: My daughters and I are huge fans of the Rush Revere books. Were actually reading through the First Patriots right now. It was such an honor to see you receive the Medal of Freedom. It just couldnt have gone to a better person.
RUSH: Well, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Its so special and the president was not gonna let me miss it. He was not going to let me talk him or myself out of appearing at the House Chamber that night. Remember, folks, I knew I was gonna get the medal. The president had told me that it was gonna happen in a couple of weeks in the Oval Office and for those of you just tuning in, let me remind you of something else.
There are details here that I cant tell you that I so desperately want to because they describe and illustrate even further the kind of person Donald Trump is. But to do that I would have to go into details about my condition and my treatment, and Im just not gonna do that. Im not the only one thats ever gone through this. A lot of you have, a lot of you are, and I vowed when this whole thing started, Im not gonna bleed on anybody with this.
But someday, somehow, Im gonna be able to tell the entire story, because there are elements of it that youll just laugh yourself silly. Theyre all about Donald Trump refusing to hear no, no matter how polite, no matter how sincere, no matter how heartfelt, no way, not possible. As I say, its an aspect of his personality that these people, his political opponents havent the slightest idea. They have no way of understanding it.
He just will not be denied, and for all these times when you think people on his staff are getting away with sabotaging him like the whistleblower, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman? No. No. It may look like it in the moment, but they are going to I dont want to say pay a price. Theyre gonna be outed for what they did. Theyre not going to get away with it, is the point. Hes just indomitable and will not let anybody deny what he wants and I dont mean that as hes oppressive and insensitive and doesnt listen.
Its, in fact, the exact opposite.
Posted: at 8:45 am
But Robert is far from the sole object of Ednas desire. Their liaison eschews monogamy in more ways than the obvious infidelity, taking as lovers the moon, the gulf and its spirits. In the moonlit sea Edna walks for the first time alone, boldly and with overconfidence into the gulf, where swimming alone is as if some power of significant import had been given to control the working of her body and soul. Solitude is essential to Ednas realization that she has never truly had control of her body and soul. (The novels original title was A Solitary Soul.) Among Ednas more defiant moments is when she refuses to budge from her hammock, despite paternalistic reprimand from both Robert and Lonce, who each insist on chaperoning, as if in shifts. Ednas will blazes up even in this tiny, hanging room of her own, as Virginia Woolf would famously phrase it nearly 30 years later. Within the silent sanctuary of the hammock, gulf spirits whisper to Edna. By the next morning she has devised a way to be alone with Robert. Chopins novel of awakenings and unapologetic erotic trespass is in full swing.
Upon her return home to New Orleans, Edna trades the social minutiae expected of upper-crust Victorian white women receiving callers and returning their calls for painting, walking, gambling, dinner parties, brandy, anger, aloneness and sex. She shucks off tradition and patriarchal expectations in favor of art, music, nature and her bosom friends. These open her up, invite her to consider her self, her desires. One friend offers the tattoo-worthy wisdom that the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. Is Edna such a bird? This is the novels central question, one it refuses to answer definitively. Chopin gives Edna the freedom to feel and yet not know herself. The women in the novel draw forth Ednas intuition they take the sensual and braid it with the intellectual. Eventually, the body and the mind are one for Edna.
The Awakening is a book that reads you. Chopin does not tell her readers what to think. Unlike Flaubert, Chopin declines to explicitly condemn her heroine. Critics were especially unsettled by this. Many interpreted Chopins refusal to judge Edna as the authors oversight, and took it as an open invitation to do so themselves. This gendered knee-jerk critical stance that assumes less intentionality for works made by women is a phenomenon that persists today. Especially transgressive was Ednas candor about her maternal ambivalence, the acuity with which Chopin articulated the fearsome dynamism of the mothers bond with her children: She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart, she would sometimes forget them. This scandalized and continues to scandalize readers because the freedom of temporarily forgetting your children is to find free space in your mind, for yourself, for painting, stories, ideas or orgasm. To forget your children and remember yourself was a revolutionary act and still is.
Edna Pontellier does what she wants with her body she has good sex at least three times in the book. But the more revolutionary act is the desire that precedes the sex. Edna, awakened by the natural world, invited by art and sisterhood to be wholly alive, begins to notice what she wants, rather than what her male-dominated society wants her to want. Ednas desire is the mechanism of her deprogramming. The heroines sensual experience is also spiritual, and political. Political intuition begins not in a classroom but far before, with bodily sensation, as Sara Ahmed argues in her incendiary manifesto Living a Feminist Life: Feminism can begin with a body, a body in touch with a world. A body in touch with a world feels oppression like a flame, and recoils. For gaslit people women, nonbinary and queer people, people of color people who exist in the gaps Cauley describes between the accepted narrative of American normal and their own experience, pleasure and sensation are not frivolous or narcissistic but an essential reorientation. The epiphany follows the urge. Feeling her own feelings, thinking her own thoughts, Edna recalibrates her compass to point not to the torture of patriarchy but to her own pleasure, a new north.
Like Edna, Kate Chopin did what she wanted with her mind, whatever the cost, and it cost her almost everything. In 1899 The Awakening earned her a piddling $102 in royalties, about $3,000 in todays money. Shortly after its publication the now unequivocally classic novel fell out of print. Chopins next book contract was canceled. Chopin died at age 54 from a brain hemorrhage after a long, hot day spent at the St. Louis Worlds Fair with her son. Her publishing career lasted about 14 years. And yet she established herself among the foremothers of 20th-century literature and feminist thought. She showed us that patriarchys prison can kill you slow or kill you fast, and how to feel your way out of it. She admired Guy de Maupassant as a man who had escaped from tradition and authority, and we will forever argue whether Edna is allowed this escape, whether she shows us not the way but a way to get free. As for Chopin, there is no doubt that she was free on the page, free to let her mind unfurl. None of this is accident or folly, not caprice nor diary. She knew what she was doing. She was swimming farther than she had ever swum before.
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Posted: at 8:45 am
TAYLORSVILLE The Freedom boys basketball team became impossible to keep up with Friday night , shooting its way to an 83-65 victory at Alexander Central in front of a packed house in Northwestern 3A/4A Conference action.
Three nights after tying a career-high with 36 points, Patriots senior guard Bradley Davis lit up the scoreboard for 28 to go with eight rebounds, shooting 11 of 19 from the field including 6 of 11 from 3-point range. Classmate James Freeman joined Davis in double figures with 21 points to go with a game-high nine assists and made 3 of 5 long-range attempts.
Second-ranked Freedom (20-1, 9-1 NWC) made 15 treys in all as it clinched at least a share of a second straight regular-season title plus the NWCs No. 1 3A state playoff seed on the same night it reached 20 wins for a ninth time in 10 seasons.
We dont want to look at the end of the season yet, Pats first-year coach Clint Zimmerman said. That will take care of itself. We got to keep chipping away and try to get better. Clinching and having a shot is good, but we have to make sure we dont get complacent with that and we come in ready to go on Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
The Patriots were certainly ready to go Friday, starting off on fire with four out of five first-quarter baskets coming from long range en route to an early 14-10 lead.
Alexander managed to keep the contest tight in the second quarter, going into the half down just 33-28 after Freedom led by as much as 11 at one point.
Freedoms offense exploded in the third. Davis scored 18 of his 28 points in the period, helping the Patriots go off for 30 to finally put some distance between themselves and the hosts. Freeman scored 15 after halftime as Freedom never took its foot off the gas, playing with intensity until the final minute and grabbing the victory by a healthy margin.
Qualique Garner added nine points, Nick Johnson had seven and Ben Tolbert drained two 3s for his six points.
Zimmerman talked afterward of his teams willingness to play every possession as if the game is on the line, no matter the score.
Thats something Coach (Casey) Rogers started with this group a long time ago, he said. Its all about having great habits, and habits transcend what the scoreboard is. Habits go beyond the kind of play, its just doing your job all the time, and were trying to continue that.
The Patriots will look to wrap up the title in outright fashion Tuesday at home against Watauga.
Freedom's Josie Hise (right) battles with an Alexander Central player for position under the goal on Friday.
Freedom 77, Alexander Central 46
The Lady Patriots rode a stifling defensive effort to guarantee at least a share of a fifth straight NWC regular-season title Friday night, matching their second best start in program history (by the 2000-01 team) one game after sewing up a 12th consecutive 20-win campaign.
No. 1 Freedom (21-0, 10-0 NWC) scored 29 points off 31 forced turnovers while committing just nine turnovers and drilling 13 3s. Senior Guard Blaikley Crooks double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds to complement a stat line that also showed five assists and four steals.
Josie Hise (17 points, six assists, five steals), Christena Rhone (12 points, seven assists, four steals) and Jayda Glass (14 points, four rebounds, three steals) joined Crooks in double figures largely due to their efforts on defense as well.
I think to turn up the pressure and get some unforced errors, that helped us, Freedom coach Amber Reddick said. In the second half, we did a better job rebounding the ball. Thats something we talked about. Alexander has a lot of size and we knew we had to do a better job rebounding. We (also) cleaned up our defense in the second half and kept them off the free throw line.
Freedom won each period, never trailing after the opening minute and leading 17-10 after one and 40-25 at the half.
Reddick said shed appreciate what Friday meant for at least a moment before moving on to the next goal.
I really do have to stop and remind myself to enjoy it, she said. This is a great bunch of girls. They get along, theyre so much fun to coach. But sometimes its easy for me to get tunnel vision, so I do have to stop and tell myself to enjoy this because this is a fun group.
Freedom looks to extend a 38-game win streak on Tuesday vs. Watauga, the last NWC team to hand FHS a loss in January 2018 in Morganton. The Lady Pats have taken six straight from the Pioneers since, four of those by single digits. Freedom has only won by single digits twice this season.
Continue reading here:
Posted: at 8:45 am
On February 5, 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance (IRF Alliance), an Alliance of like-minded partners who treasure, and fight for, international religious freedom for every human being. The launch comes a few months after on July 18, 2019, at the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington DC, Secretary Pompeo announced new initiatives including the creation of the IRF Alliance. The Alliance is intended to bring together senior government representatives to discuss actions their nations can take together to promote respect for freedom of religion or belief and protect members of religious minority groups worldwide.
At the launch, Secretary Pompeo stressed the ever-growing need for such a combined effort listing some of the worst acts of violence based on religion or belief from recent years, including terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities, whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in northeast Nigeria, or Muslims in Burma and the Chinese Communist Partys hostility to all faiths. Indeed, such acts of violence based on religion or belief are at increase and need urgent and comprehensive response to stop the atrocities, assist the victims and survivors, prosecute the perpetrators and protect the communities from re-occurrence of such acts of violence in the future.
Shoes of victims are kept as evidence as security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian's ... [+] Church in Negombo on April 22, 2019, a day after the church was hit in series of bomb blasts targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka, the worst violence to hit the island since its devastating civil war ended a decade ago. (Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
26 countries joined the IRF Alliance, including, Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, The Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. The members of the IRF Alliance have pledged to uphold the Declaration of Principles, a constitution for the IRF Alliance solidifying their commitment to protect the right to freedom of religion or belief.
The Declaration of Principles incorporates several reactive and proactive measures that the members of the IRF Alliance are to adopt to promote and protect the rights to freedom of religion or belief for all. Furthermore, it incorporates a list of potential instruments of actions to aid their work, including regular monitoring, reporting, information-sharing and outreach to impacted individuals and faith communities, support for victims, such as through redress, resettlement, or other actions as appropriate, targeted sanctions against perpetrators, raining of law enforcement officials, building the capacity of national human rights institutions, and cooperating with civil society, investment in projects to protect space for civic engagement by assisting human rights defenders and victims of persecution, as well as to build societal resilience.
During the launch, Secretary Pompeo further announced that Poland will host the next Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Warsaw from July 14-16, 2020. The upcoming Ministerial will be organized in cooperation with the United States and will address several topics requiring urgent response including improving the lives of persecuted and discriminated communities, empowering individuals to affect change, and promoting inclusive dialogue to mobilize action and increase awareness regarding the scale of persecution against religion or belief worldwide.
The U.S. must be commended for the work it has carried out to lead the efforts to promote and protect the rights to freedom of religion or belief for all. The IRF Alliance is intended to provide a springboard towards action to address violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief globally. To be able to do so, the IRF Alliance must grow in numbers and in the common commitment. Other states must join and stand up for human rights of all people persecuted for their religion or belief.
Posted: at 8:45 am
There has been considerable anxiety, anger, angst and agonising about the role language plays in contemporary times, and in the dark times.
Language is under attack when used in certain ways in the university and academia, on the streets and in polemics. It is also under scrutiny when used in and as poetry. As though poetry which makes nothing happen (W.H. Auden) would overthrow regimes, incite people and shred nerves. But why are we afraid of a mere poem?
When poets sought to channelise public outrage or personal anguish into words, poetry was a genre that appealed to them, for various reasons. It was crisper, shorter.
It was not easy to decode and meanings in its compressed sentences, involved myths and convoluted syntax, and so hidden meanings about protest in the form of metaphors were not visible at first.
One had to work with the text and we all know the people in power, when they do read, rarely have the time for this. But the question for us readers is: how do we see meanings like dissent or freedom or resistance in poetry written for and within contexts as diverse as racism and civil rights in the USA, totalitarianism in the USSR, the freedom struggle, the French Revolution and 18th century British monarchys excesses?
The protagonists, when identifiable in poetry, are different, the victims and perpetrators different and the contexts, radically divergent. Ostensibly. Yet symbols of oppression or protest, freedom and aspirations in poetry seem to work across continents.
Literature is the hunger for Otherness, as diverse critics from Geoffrey Galt Harpham and Martha Nussbaum to, more recently Ranjan Ghosh and Hillis Miller have argued.
Also read: Amid Conflict, Young Kashmiri Writers Are Finding Solace in Literature
When we read, we seek to enter the lifeworlds of Others, other characters and their lives. The Other lifeworld is the exotic, which by definition is distanced and distant from ours and is best consumed detached from its original contexts. The literary as exotic enables us to encounter the Other world, but without the messiness of living in it. Thus hunger for the Other is not limited by geocultural boundaries: in fact, quite the opposite, it is a hunger for cross-cultural solidarity.
Cross-cultural solidarity that enables us to bridge different historical circumstances is possible, if we read ethically, as argued elsewhere. To read the suffering of the Other in literary texts, and in certain ways, is to be hungry not only for accounts of suffering but hungry for an end to that suffering.
Like the Ancient Mariners guest who wakes up sadder and wiser after the consumption, via listening, of the Mariners tale, the hunger for the outsider ought to engage with the Others suffering. Even aesthetic norms of specific cultural forms are ignored in our quest for Otherness, producing then an ethical aesthetics. For a cross-cultural solidarity to occur via aesthetics, the latter must be consumed as ethical aesthetics, unrestrained by its original context but infused by it.
Also read: No Longer the Other: How Holocaust Poetry Reclaims Identities
Thus, Holocaust texts, slavery narratives, and trauma texts from Rwanda may be read with a degree of fidelity to their origins but need not be restricted to them.
Reading literature is an act of deviance then, travelling away from originary aesthetic norms of the text, as Ghosh puts it: Becoming aesthetic owes to sahityas ability for deviancy, detouring competencies in the form of an imposed aesthetic or trained habits of aesthetic response.
Reading as deviation and detour enables us to slide across geocultural formations. Reorganising the reading of Otherness could possibly be transcultural when, for instance, we practise an aesthetic that maps, for example, forms of dehumanisation across contexts to see dehumanisation, as a global condition (what Michael Rothberg would pioneer as multidirectional memory studies. And yes, yes, this reinstates to a considerable measure the old universal nature of the literary.)
Even when we do not know of an-Other context, we are able to imagine that world. Like peace and poetry, we need to be able to imagine this. In the words of Denis Levertov:
But peace, like a poem,is not there ahead of itself,cant be imagined before it is made,cant be known exceptin the words of its making,grammar of justice,syntax of mutual aid.
With the above sense of literature-as-deviance-and-detour in mind, it was intriguing to see Poetry Foundations collection, Poetry of Protest, Resistance and Empowerment. The assortment of poems cut across numerous contexts and cultures, and yet, they made sense even though, in a few cases, one had to look up a historical reference or two.
Partially illustrating how tropes of oppression, protest, suffering and hope can emerge from very different spatio-temporal contexts we can skim through some of the poems here.
There was on the site, Langston Hughes who in I look at the World writes
I look at the worldFrom awakening eyes in a black faceAnd this is what I see:This fenced-off narrow spaceAssigned to me.
I look then at the silly wallsThrough dark eyes in a dark faceAnd this is what I know:That all these walls oppression buildsWill have to go!
If Hughes was speaking of walls of oppression, another text in the collection pointed to the walls that are blackened with the sorrows and blood of the oppressed. Here are William Blakes lines from his astonishing London, from the 18th century:
the hapless Soldiers sighRuns in blood down Palace walls
The radical poet of 18th century England speaks to us alongside Hughes from 20th century racially segregated America, employing the same trope of the wall.
Claude McKay in America would describe his country as feeding him the bread of bitterness, but admits he loves this cultured hell. And then proceeds to tell us how he stands with respect to this nation:
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,I stand within her walls with not a shredOf terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Within Americas walls, this is how a citizen stands.
James Baldwin in Staggerlee Wonders, deeply critical of the exclusionary policies that run his country, is caustic about how white America worries about China, Vietnam and planting a flag on the moon, but does not honour any treaty anywhere in the world:
They have hacked their children to pieces.They have never honoured a single treatymade with anyone, anywhere.The walls of their citiesare as foul as their children.
So much for walls across time and space. And, not on the website, a poem that resonates throughout India since the early 20th century, also gives us the oppressive wall, the metaphor of restricted freedoms and the prison, in the lines of Gurudev himself:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;Where knowledge is free;Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and actionInto that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
The freedom to transcend walls, to not be limited, is the aspiration of a nation, says Tagore.
Or, look at how Anna Akhmatovas justly famous Requiem ends, at a wall, imposing, unmoving, behind which many loved ones have disappeared forever :
I pray not for myself alone,but for everyone who stood with me,in the cruel cold, in the July heat,under the blind, red wall.
This is the wall at which people wait for their loved ones.
Shifting the trope slightly, but continuing with the image of a lock-down, a carceral and an immobility regime is Maya Angelous legendary Caged Bird:
a bird that stalksdown his narrow cagecan seldom see throughhis bars of ragehis wings are clipped andhis feet are tiedso he opens his throat to sing.
And Angelous bird sings of what else butfreedom :
The caged bird singswith a fearful trillof things unknownbut longed for stilland his tune is heardon the distant hillfor the caged birdsings of freedom.
So many walls, from America through London and Russia to Egypt and India. Capturing oppression, resistance, resilience and employed as a trope, the wall or the cage, is a potent transcultural sign: it tells us of Others whose lives are led (and end) within immobilising walls.
If Tagore and Angelou speak in their poetry of life beyond the walls that enfold, secure and limit them, Constantine Cavafy goes further, and wonders why we never protested when the walls were being put up. Here is Cavafy in Walls:
Without consideration, without pity, without shamethey have built great and high walls around me.And now I sit here and despair.I think of nothing else: this fate gnaws at my mind;for I had many things to do outside.Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls.But I never heard any noise or sound of builders.Imperceptibly they shut me from the outside world.
Like the German pastor Martin Niemllers famous lines Niemllers lines are engraved at the New England Holocaust Memorial Museum in Boston, USA, having deviated from its origins to energize the imagination of visitors elsewhere about the one who never protested when various people were being taken away (first they came for the socialists) so that when his turn came there was no one to protest, Cavafy alerts us to the risk of not resisting and with the metaphor of walls.
Each of the poets here was dealing with a specific cultural context, from civil rights to the anti-colonial struggle. They all found the image of walls, walling in, plastic enough strange, for inflexible walls to employ.
When we read Blake or Cavafy, we see in our minds eye, an abstract human, incarcerated, yearning for justice and freedom. The incarcerated are the exact opposite of us readers, who are free to read, to roam. The freedom to read Literature is the freedom to know about Others who are unfree, albeit in different conditions of immobility. The study of Literature and poetry has never been more urgent than now.
Just one poetic trope across centuries and contexts reminds us that people behind walls are not always secure: often they are immobilised with terror.
The language of poetry, when speaking of immobility regimes, breaks free.
Pramod K. Nayar teaches at the University of Hyderabad.
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