Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On Gerald Ford's Fall

Should it be deemed

an irony or an

homage that on

the announcement of the death

of President Gerald Ford (1913-2006)

Fox television burst out of its newscast

with Homer Simpson falling down a flight

of stairs?* Will history require

that Mr. Ford’s tumble

down the stairs of Air Force One should define

his mythology? Or will the Fox’s spin

:Ford-- Healer of the Nation’s Wounds:

prevail? Neither history nor Fox News

will record that on December 26, 2006

a sudden and permanent burst

of empty opened in the heart of Betty, on December

26, 2006 sons and daughters logged each frame

of moment like an image in a family album as their

indefatigable father wearied

and fell

into history’s capricious arms. Neither

Fox News, nor posterity

will rise and recognize

this as the moment

worthy of defining


C. Seda

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Hopi Tale

Raise your hand if you're familiar with the Hopi. Anyone? Anyone?

I studied them many years ago in a sociology class. Culturally they value harmony above all else. They lived where no other tribes or peoples cared to make their home. And because they lived where no one else understood how to live, they lived with a remarkable degree of peace. (That's probably a very serious oversimplification, but so are all efforts to encapsulate the long history of a people in a single stroke of sentence.)

They broke apart and redistributed as a people many, many times throughout their history. Frank Waters (1963) described the inherent lack of a "national" identity as a "weakness," but I think he was just underestimating the unique power of confederation. It's a form that seeks NOT to allow too much power to accumulate. Anathema to the European inspired mindset. At some point in history, when the Spanish were attempting to dominate the Hopi, in a remarkable act of cultural conservatism, they attacked the villages that were allying with the Spanish and redistributed the women and children to other villages (Rushforth and Upham, 1992). They did not confront the Spanish (an outside and hostile force), but their own community. Unexpected among a people who sought to avoid conflict. But then, Europeans habitually underestimate indigenous peoples.

Why am I blathering about the Hopi? (For an American audience, there must always be a why.)

I consider a good friend of mine who is regularly angered at forces outside of herself, but will not take the step of looking within her soul's own community to consolidate her harmony. She attacks and attacks and attacks the world, and then blames the world for deserving the attack. Her mind writhes in anger for hours, sometimes days after the offense-- reliving, and reliving the moment of anger, imagining ways to make the perpetrators pay. I picture her sometimes at the edge of a crowd shouting "Guillotine" as this or that former dignitary loses his head. She has, in times past, taken offense at me for not supporting her in her anger. It has made me the enemy more than once. At another time in history, she might during a fit of bitterness be the person who turned me into a privy council for not being passionate in my patriotism or sufficiently outraged toward a common foe. One day I'll ruminate on the relationship between rage and blood sacrifice. Or maybe not. Seems a given. There's a regret component, too- it's an antidote that inevitably comes too late to save the innocent.

That's when I consider the way of the Hopi-- to cultivate nourishment where it seems impossible to grow, to keep their alliances flexible and amorphous, preferring to yield and absent themselves than to release wrath, and when wrath is the only option available, preferring to annihilate a segment of themselves than to attack a neighbor.

Raise your hand if you're familiar with the Hopi. Anyone? Anyone?

This one's for you Sheryl

Never thought I'd be much interested in the whole blog phenom. Strikes me as publicizing a diary. On the other hand, how many opportunities are there for the common man to speak their piece? On the other hand, there's so many people who think they have something to say but all they're doing is generating narcissistic drivel. On the other hand, history is made of collecting narcissistic drivel and seeing what we can learn from it. The big difference is some write more beautifully than others, and with a more greatly expanded point of view. It takes some people generations to be heard. (Herman Melville was never renowned in his time.) I actually think slow cooking works as well for ideas as for food. Of course then you have to wait longer to eat.

This blog thing-- that immediacy of audience I think really does effect the slant on your writing. On the other hand, it does require you to be especially aware of what you have to say and how you want to say it.

The only bottom line I can find on the above particular piece of drivel is that we're all trying to figure out how not to look like a fool. Well, there's more to it than that, but that's my conclusion for the moment, unless I want to continue finding reasons to say "on the other hand."

Anyway, this blog is for Sheryl, whose passion to be heard has made her a marvelous, though underrated, poet. I think of her as a Chicana Hermen Meliville. Underappreciated in her time, but I believe hers is the work that will sing down through the generations, while others who consider themselves great in the today of things become tucked away in a Wikipedia definition 7th graders happen upon when assigned to write bios about obscure writers from the turn of the 20th Century.

Well Sheryl, now I have a place to post my undigested narcissism (which by the way is a hard word to type) and hope that it makes a connection in the out there. And if it doesn't... what the heck. I'm in the game.