#FiveSentenceFiction: Abandon #Hopivotskwani #NativeAmericans

Dedicated to the Hopi tribes, who knew agriculture, and the art of living, when Europe was starving, crawling in medieval darkness.

DSC_0322He stands on the red rocks, alone with ghosts, his sight on the painted horizon.

Slowly they appear in his vision: the millions, slaughtered by disease, hunger, the swords and bullets of the invaders.

He knows: a people in tune with nature, who understood the path of Mother Earth, as no-one since has understood Her.

And, now, he, the scientist, knows the end is near: his own tribe will have to leave the fourth world, and find solace in hell.

Then the braves will rise from their forgotten graves, as trees from the desert.

Hopivotskani: the Path of the Hopis #Arizona #Hopis #FourthWorld

This text is an extract from Nancy J. Parezo’s “Emergence to the Fourth World”, in Paths of Life, American Indians of the Southwest and Northern Mexico, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

In the beginning, Tawa, the sun spirit and father, impregnated Mother Earth, who gave birth to living things. These people, animals, and insects lived in the underworld, where they tried to live the Hopi way but were not able to understand the meaning of life and became mired  in corruption and strife caused by sorcerers. Upon hearing footsteps above  and the words of Hummingbird and Spider Grandmother, a brave group decided to leave the koyaanisqatsi, or “crazy life”, behind. They sent out birds to find a way to ascend and explore the unknown land. Catbird finally succeeded in reaching the sipapuni, a hole in the sky, and found Masauwu.

Masauwu, the Spirit of the Dead, gave the people fire and permitted them to settle on his land. The Fire People, who have a special relationship with Masauwu, emerged first, because they agreed to assume the responsibility of leading the others to their final destination. Chipmunk helped the good people climb to the sipapuni through a tall reed. As the people were resting before their journey, Spider Grandmother said, “The journey will be long and difficult. When we reach the Upper World, that will be only a beginning. Things are not like things here. You will discover new ways of doing things. During the journey you must try to discover the meaning of life and learn to distinguish good from evil. Tawa did not intend for you to live in the midst of chaos and dissension.”

Maria II

 

Image:

Maria II, Kate Russell photographer, Freyr Marie and Rose B. Simpson, models – Arizona State Museum

DSC_0091

Against Evil

“And the hard part is that she knows better, knows that beneath the high-cap scumscapes created by the corporate order and celebrated in the media, there are depths where petty fraud becomes grave and often deadly sin.”

~ Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

Silicon Alley For the past twenty years, that’s the time we have been sheltering in this little corner of damp suburbia, I have owned and used a wonderful little petrol-engine lawnmower. It does, in all seasons, a jolly good job of keeping our patch of grass tidy, even, at times, depending on the vagaries of this island’s weather, delightful.

The small engine was designed and built by a US engineering outfit in Milwaukee, and I guess “they” have long sold off, or been declared bankrupt. Their product is clean, does not leak oil, is wonderfully sober. Through the year I probably use a mere three or four litres of unleaded, sometimes much less. I love the sound of the engine, a low purr that does remind me of old American cars, with big, friendly, low revving eight cylinders disposed in V. Yet, it is a small engine.

When I cut the grass I think of the people, in Milwaukee, who built the engine, and I praise them, and their skills, wherever they now are. The same feeling overcomes me when I read a Thomas Pynchon novel: I know that this voice is more powerful that the thousands of followers of the “pensée unique” that clogs up the web, those writers and journalists who have long given up thinking for themselves, and respecting their public.

In a Pynchon novel there are several co-centric stories, and like Johann Sebastian Bach’s Art de la Fugue, it takes several readings, indeed a lifetime of reading, to discover them. The central character is on a journey, or, better, a quest. Along his or her progress, often halted by external events of great, if hidden, significance, or smaller anecdotes whose meaning may remain obscure, evil lurks. In “Against the Day”, and now, in “Bleeding Edge”, this evil has a clear profile: the late capitalistic neo-liberal conundrum, responsible for atrocities and destructions perpetrated world-wide, in the face of God and Mankind.

One of the book’s theses is that evil well precedes its latest avatars. The story follows Maxine Tarnow’s gumshoe and sexed-up mother of two, who’s investigating that rarity, in early 2001, out of the ruins of Silicon Alley, a technology company – hashlingrz – that is successful and growing, but also engaged in obscure, and well protected, big money transactions with the Middle-East. For the technology sector has crashed, in the so-called dot com collapse of 2000. This is a pivotal moment in US history: the cranked up Y2K fallacy, the Nasdaq equity dive, and now those rumours about all things Arabic, and the rise of Bush Jnr. Maxine’s work is part funded by Igor, an ex-Spetnatz soldier-turned-entrepreneur, whose soul found its road of Damascus, when his umbrella failed to open over Chechnya.

Soon, the boss of hashlingrz, Gabriel Ice, comes into sharp focus: double or triple agent, engaged in a series of capital manipulations for the benefit of shadowy Gulf’s secret armies, and protected by equally shadowy US agencies. This is September 8, 2001 and “the market” is playing with airlines shares, fact that Maxine’s found again ex-husband and commodity trader, Horst, does not fail to notice and explain to their kids, while masked men play with Stinger missiles and sniper rifles on the roofs of New-York.

Maxine, above all caring for her two boys, Ziggy and Otis, proceeds to meet one operative, Nick Windust, mercenary in the pay of evil, assassin, presumed torturer, and well-hung enough to attract more than Maxine’s fraud examiners’ professional interest. Indeed our hero gets seduced by Mr I-don’t-do-foreplay-Windust, one evening, in the sinister flat the said Windust occupies, in an equally sinister part of the City. For this is New-York City, just before the fall.

When the outrage comes, to no-one’s real surprise, Maxine is momentarily lost, in fear for her boys. She has discovered DeepArcher, a piece of code constructed by survivors of the crash, and finds for a short while some solace in its depth, before it goes “open-source”. This virtual world is not without reminding us of that proto-metaverse: Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (1992). So we have, at least, three stories: Maxine’s quest to uncover the truth about Mr Ice and his corporation, her infatuation for Windust – who will end up murdered by , presumably, his employers, and half eaten by wild dogs, and her reflections on 9/11 as viewed through the eyes of a true New-Yorker, who longs for the City of her childhood. Those reflections are enhanced by her travels through DeepArcher, the memories of her father, who is clear about what the Internet is, where it comes from, and where it is going: a tool – a toy? – of the Cold War, first designed to survive a nuclear blast, now magisterially transformed into instrument of manipulation and slavery, and a “chance” meeting with Windust’s once South-American wife, now strutting her stuff in US Academia.

Despite all, Maxine, who lost at some point her license of fraud examiner, manages to stay “on the honourable side of the ledger”.

As one of her friends says to her: “Guess I’m just a Yahoo! type of girl. Click in, click back out, nothing too far afield, nothing too… deep.”

One way to stay safe.

Talking about Maxine

Takahiro Shimatsu I haven’t finished reading Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, and I will later adorn my Goodreads page with my conclusion. Suffice to say that Thomas Pynchon is, for this reader, one of the four vortices of the magic square, that which is at the heart of my love for contemporary American letters: Pynchon – Stephen King – Neal Stephenson – Bret Easton Ellis. Those guys are, to my mind,  America, through and through.

Re-reading Christian Lorentzen’s review of Bleeding Edge in the 26 September 2013 issue of the LRB, I found myself, a rare event, in some disagreement with the respected editor of the said LRB. Bleeding Edge is not, in my reading, “a period novel” about New-York City’s Silicon Alley, that is merely the backdrop. Bleeding Edge is, literary speaking, about the atrocity, about 9/11, in the same way as Gravity’s Rainbow is about the nazi weapons of reprisal, and their aftermath.

Pynchon’s genius, once again (as, in Gravity’s Rainbow, the surreal connection between Peenemünde and West Africa), is to link the Saudi-perpetrated-and-funded outrage with the preceding, less bloody, but no less potent, disaster: the collapse of the first corporate attempt to subjugate the Internet, known as the “*.com” bubble. The link – shadow of Stephenson’s Snow Crash – is DeepArcher, a “piece of code” that turns out to be a deep metaverse, malevolently seductive to the hero of the tale, Maxine Tarnow, fraud investigator by profession, and to survivors of the outrage. The book mentions a number of fraudulent plots, real or supposed, the main one being the subject of Maxine’s own quest for truth, about Gabriel Ice, corporate predator, pervert, double or triple agent, and purveyor of funds to shadowy Gulf’s paramilitaries.

Thus the novel skirts around the trinity: late capitalism – “War on Terror” and, finally – the Terrorists among us, bankrolled by successive US administrations (the “ben Ladin’s network” and its successors) and the Saudi’s evil empire. In the meantime we get the “period piece” about 2001, which could be described as the last year of innocence of the 21st century. Worse was to come.

Maxine, a hero for our time, is left, bemused, abused – on her own volition – but still kicking, incredibly.

I am taking my time to finish the book, and will write again. Incidentally, my definition of the atrocity, is my own, not Thomas Pynchon’s.

Related articles:

The Crying of September 11

The New American Way of War

#FiveSentenceFiction: Pieces

JFK and Jackie Kennedy It looked complicated, and all at once, those who should have known better started circulating the worst stories; it was a cacophony of contradictory statements, false witnesses, and as ever, the mainstream media contributed actively to the confusion.

Yet the jigsaw was relatively simple: a young president had opposed the underworld’s evil lords, countered a threat from the traditional enemy, and made his fair share of vicious foes across what is often described as “the establishment”.

He was very different from his predecessors, and more different still from those pale puppets  who would succeed him: for many across the world, he was Hope.

Then, he was murdered, leaving behind him a sea of sorrow, a beautiful widow, and two small children who would spend the rest of their lives isolated from all the others.

People mourned, inconsolable, heads of states reflected on the fragility of life.

#WritersWednesday: Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis ~

I know who you are and I know what you’re doing.”

Glamorama Today I am taking a break from my usual #WW feuilleton to say a few words about Glamorama. I got this book as a Xmas present from son no 2, and so I read it with attention. Of course I am aware of the scandal around American Psycho, and of some of the damning reviews that welcome Glamorama in 1998, in equal number to admiring ones. I am on the side of the admirers: don’t be fooled by the jealous, this was, still is, will be for a long time, an important book. And I think Ellis is an important writer.

Since 1998 we have seen more horrors, on these shores and elsewhere, some perpetuated by us, our governments, our contractors, our armies. Others, well… We can’t be sure ever,  of what is true and what is cinema, can we?

Victor Ward/Johnson is a hero of our time. He’s possibly a great lover, in the sense of the dying years of the 20th century, in the crumbling empire named America. His girlfriend Chloe, the most beautiful of models, dies an atrocious death in Paris, capital of terrorism – after all the word was coined there! The impostor who stalks Victor, and eventually substitutes himself to him, bed his women, gets his money, and is the only victor, blessed by Johnson senior, presidential hopeful: for so it is that lies trump truth, and the beautiful people be damned.

Read Glamorama, there is one of the keys to our times.

#AtoZChallenge: April 29, 2013 ~ Yalta (Conference)

Yalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945

Yalta Conference

Yalta Conference in February 1945 with (from left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Also present are USSR Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left); Field Marshal Alan Brooke, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (standing behind Churchill); George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt).

It was their last meeting, the last Allies Conference of the War, that was to reorganise Europe in “peace-time”.  WWII was drawing to a close: soon Hitler would be dead in the ruins of Berlin, soon the USSR, and her martyrs, would win the war, at last, at the price of 25 million dead.

Soon President Roosevelt would die.  The former Allies would become the enemies of the Cold War.  Atomics would be dropped on defenceless Japanese cities.  When they meet again in Potsdam, in August 1945, Truman is President, the dice are down, and the Cold War has started, in all but the name.  But still, in this cold month of February, 1945, it was possible to hope… against all hopes.  German refugees were flowing through the ruined roads and cities of central Europe, in their millions.  For the next 45 years Germany would be a divided country.

In the US Roosevelt’s New Deal would survive in the guise the warfare/welfare state till the late 70’s, then other demons would take over.

Britain was a shadow of her former self, then a hopelessly indebted country, the country soon of  Orwell’s “1984” –  of food rationing perduring till the 50’s, still a colonial power, although not for much longer.

The long night of Stalinism would last until 1954, the year a French army was defeated in Dien-Bien-Phu in what would be soon called the Republic of North-Viet-Nam, and was still then “l’ Indochine”, and the United Nations (chiefly the US and Britain) would stop bombing what was already North-Korea.

#AtoZChallenge: April 24, 2013 ~ Uranium

Trinity You are the most fatal chemical element found on earth, only preceded by plutonium, the byproduct (“waste”) of nuclear reactors.  In nature you are mostly the stable isotope Uranium-238, but your brother, Uranium-235, is much sought after by the sorcerers of nuclear fission since it “only” requires low-energy neutrons to trigger the chain reaction.

Nuclear Fission was discovered in 1938, on the threshold of WWII, by German scientists.  The discovery was one of the outcomes of a series of  findings, both experimental (observations and measurements of interactions of sub-atomic particles) and theoretical (Quantum Mechanics), in nuclear physics, particularly the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick in 1932.  Artificial fission, as opposed to natural radioactive decay, and as obtained in nuclear reactors, or in nuclear explosives (atomic bombs), is the result of the bombardment of heavy elements by neutrons, which “transmute” the target element releasing enormous energy (E=mc2).  The physics of fission is relatively “simple” and well understood by physicists, but the control and engineering of its applications far more complicated.  Following the discovery of fission, fear that Nazi Germany could develop an atomic bomb prompted the Allies (USA, Canada and Britain) to launch their own program: the Manhattan project, led by Major General Leslie Groves, scientific Director J. Robert Oppenheimer (“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”).  Finally bombs were built, tested, and dropped on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the very end of the WWII.

Later research led to the thermonuclear bomb (the “H” bomb), which is an application of nuclear fission and fusion of light elements (such as deuterium), triggered by a plutonium bomb.

In 1983, thirty years after the development of the extension of Quantum Mechanics named  Quantum Electrodynamics, Richard Feynman declared:

We physicists are always checking to see if there is something the matter with the theory.  That’s the game, because if there is something the matter, it’s interesting!  But so far, we have found nothing wrong with the theory of quantum electrodynamics.  It is, therefore, I would say. The jewel of our physics – our proudest possession.”

Oak Ridge

Shift change at the Y-12 uranium enrichment facility at Oak Ridge. By May 1945, 82,000 people were employed at the Clinton Engineer Works.

We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” I suppose we all thought that one way or another.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer

http://www.atomicarchive.com/Movies/Movie8.shtml

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0131479962/theatomicarchive

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inside-The-Centre-Robert-Oppenheimer/dp/022406262X

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/dec/16/inside-centre-oppenheimer-monk-review

#AtoZChallenge: April 8, 2013 ~ Giant

James Dean in GiantThe year is 1956George Stevens directed the film.  Edna Ferber wrote the book. Through the magic of technicolor the hues of the Texan skies reach us, as in a dream.  There is evil, of course, but there is love and personal courage also, in abundance, and we know that evil will be overcome.  This world is still young, or at least this is what the enthusiasm of the actors would have us believe.  But we know that they, themselves, are on their way to their own tragedies:  James Dean had died on 30 September 1955 before the release, Rock Hudson would later succumb to the dark side of his legend, and Liz Taylor would soon meet her Nemesis and greatest love. This was America, under the shadow of the Bomb, but hopeful, prosperous, and peaceful: America before the horror, and before the fall.  Lord, in Your Mercy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPiOTyh8Tg8

http://www.infoplease.com/year/1956.html