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living in politics

Henning Mankell spoke last night at The Herbst Auditorium on Van Ness.

I attended somewhat reluctantly, having read only one of his Kurt Wallender books and one of his other novels,
"The Depths", a good read but somewhat professional for my tastes.

Made clear at the beginning is that Mankell is pronounced 'Monkul', not unlike 'monocle'.

Also made clear is what a decent, hardworking man and writer Mankell is. A Swede, he splits his time between Sweden and Africa (Mozambique). He's sold millions of books, been translated into umpteen languages, and Herbst, not a small place, was filled with his readers.

Mankell said that we should remember that 'we all come from Africa', and that Sweden for all its problems and social 'anxiety' was a decent society that valued education and took care of those not able to take care of themselves, though he was worried that the young there 'do not care about politics.' Holding one of his wildly popular paperback books aloft, he proposed a 5 cent fee be tacked on to the sale of every book and that publishers donate the money to 'literacy.' He closed with an African proverb that god gave man two ears and only one mouth so that he could do twice as much listening as talking.

After the talk, walking out into the night, I remembered being in northern Spain several years ago and realizing that everything, everything is political.


News, and the past

Today's NY Times reports that Americans are spending 'about 20 percent more time consuming radio, television and the Internet they were a decade ago' (Monday April 11, 2011, p.B2)

(Note the capitalization of 'Internet').

The average daily time spent with the above mentioned media was 6 hours and 50 mintues in 2001; by January 2011 the average daily time was 8 hours, 11 minutes. Tv viewers skewed older, Internet users younger. The report also noted the 'increasing ubiquity of smartphones, which have brought media into what were once silent spaces.'

Some of us now spend more time consuming media than we sleep.

The report brought to mind the avant-garde artist--whose name I've forgotten and who practiced at a time when there was an avant-garde, there being no avant-garde now--who kept his newspapers at least a year before reading them.

Of course there can be no avant-garde--and excuse the use of the phrase 'avant-garde'--when the present is so avidly consumed that it obliterates the necessity of a future.

Thank heavens then for the past and for observations such as Pound's, that 'literature is news that stays news'.




Someone left a small tomato on top of a city trash receptacle at the corner of Jackson & Presidio, on which a message had been posted.



Yesterday, walking through Golden Gate Park, I came unbidden to an abandoned park bench with an empty beer bottle sitting beside it, and was saddened, conjuring the condition of the person who consumed the beer and abandoned the bottle. Finding the image striking, I took a picture of the bench and the bottle. 

I am saddened also by my inability to share the image, as I am not able to upload it on the blog for some unknown reason.

Re-reading "Middlemarch" I read it as a criticism of the 'high mind', that quintessential christian notion to which much too much of human conduct aspires and fails.


the screwball

 You place the thumb of your throwing hand on the lower seam of the ball and your index and middle fingers on the upper seam and release the ball while snapping your hand in a motion contrary to its natural path, a motion made in reverse, in fact, from a straight fastball or a curveball, that defies logic and confounds opponents.

Not unlike being a Republican.