Kabir …

Posted on July 23, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Harbans Mukhia –

Long before Kabir’s time (c. 1440-c.1518), with Islam’s arrival in India, two religions with contrary concepts of God and forms of prayer stood face to face. 

If Islam stood for the singularity of God, tauhid, Hinduism was teeming with legends of 330 million gods and goddesses even as the population practicing it would probably be under a hundred million.

Hinduism, in fact, comprised several strands, including monotheism as well as a very strong strand of atheism, unthinkable in Christianity or Islam as doctrines. 

The forms of worship for Muslims was a single one; these abounded in Hinduism. Islam came in through various doors: through the battlefields, Sufi dargahs and at the hands of traders. If its arrival at the point of the sword clearly created divisive tensions at the social level, the Sufis tended to soften these tensions through an alternate version of their faith.

However, even as interactions and some give-and-take of ideas, especially between the Sufis and the Nathpanthis did occur, the two competing identities of God – Allah and Ishwar – remained intact with this rivalry percolating down to their followers. 

It was Kabir’s genius that sought a resolution of this conflict. If the problem was extremely complex, Kabir’s solution was marked by a matching simplicity. He gave tauhid a very simple Indian version.

Tauhid, the Arabic term for the singularity of God or monotheism, the basic premise of Islam, had led to extensive discussions within the Muslim community. 

No one questioned either the existence or the singularity of God, but discussion followed on whether human beings can be held answerable for their deeds if all they do is pre-ordained for them by God; or whether Time had been created by God or was eternal; even the legitimacy of prophethood was questioned.

Al-Ghazzali, however, with enormous erudition at his command, closed all doors to dissent and firmly placed the faith beyond all manner of discussion. But then, some doors were opened again with Ibn al-Arabi proposing that while God’s singularity is given, He can be perceived and approached in multiple forms: wahdat al-wujud, the unity in multiplicity formula that we in India are so fond of repeating. 

In the 12th century a group in Morocco calling itself al-Muwahiddun (believers in tauhid) created a movement to purify Islam of its pre- and anti-Islamic elements and led to the establishment of a state which lasted over a century.

However, all these discussions, elaborations and movements were confined within the fold of Islam. 

Kabir broke out of this fold and took tauhid beyond the boundaries of denominational religions. But first, what are Kabir’s bona fides as an interpreter of tauhid?

Abu’l Fazl, medieval India’s tallest historian and intellectual mentions Kabir as a Muwahidd, says that he had unfolded life’s hidden “meaning” – a Sufi trope referring to life’s real spiritual meaning above the daily routine – and had given up the worldly rituals. 

Abu’l Fazl’s junior contemporary, Abdul Haqq Muhaddis, an orthodox scholar, tells a delightful story: his father asked his own father whether this renowned Kabir was a Hindu or a Muslim. His father said Kabir was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim but a Muwahidd.

Kabir was recognised as a Muwahidd both in the liberal Muslim circles in medieval India, of which Abu’l Fazl is the most shining symbol as well as in orthodox circles and both emphasised that Kabir’s Muwahidd status went beyond the bounds of Islam and Hinduism. 

What did Kabir do to earn this distinction?

He questioned two prevailing orthodoxies: the concept of rival Gods and the need for religious rituals for worshipping Him. In place of Allah and Ishwar he conceptualised a single universal God; in place of denominational religions, he conceptualised a universal religiosity. “Bhai re do jagdis kahan se aaya; kahu kaune bauraya (Brother, where have two gods come from, who has misled you into believing it?),” he asserted. 

Alla, Ram, Karima, Kesav Hari Hajrat naam dharaya (Allah, Ram, Karim, Kesav, Hari, Hajrat – they are all the same identity).” 

His entire collection of poetry is teeming with this single theme. He also ridiculed the rituals of going to temples or masjids to worship God, the rituals that Abu’l Fazl refers to and himself endorses giving these up.

Kabir was thus displacing the age-old dichotomy between denominational religions with a remarkably innovative concept, i.e. dichotomy between universal religiosity and denominational religions. 

One God for him no longer stood for one community, but for all of humanity. It eliminated rivalry between gods and included them all in a single fold. 

This was a specifically Indian solution to religious disputes. I believe one consequence of this displacement was that even as medieval Europe was engulfed in intra-religious bloodshed on a massive scale, social peace in medieval India remained intact, though there was widespread inter- and intra-religious violence on the battlefields.  

Isn’t it significant that over the nearly 550 years of the “Muslim” rule in India (James Mill’s term), in the midst of a lot of political violence, communities lived in peace, for the first occurrence of real communal violence is recorded in 1714 in Ahmedabad seven years after Aurangzeb’s death. 

There is no record of any other instance of this nature prior to that. During the 18th-century five such incidents are recorded. Compare this with almost five hundred incidents every year under the aegis the secular Indian state!

The influence and durability of Kabir’s conceptual innovation of tauhidis almost astounding. 

Abu’l Fazl’s endorsement of Kabir has already been noted; indeed, the concept of sulh-i kull (absolute or universal peace) for which both Abu’l Fazl and Akbar have earned acclaim derives its premise from Kabir. 

Bulleh Shah speaks Kabir’s language when he holds that salvation lies in giving up all rituals and shedding one’s religious ego; and the greatest Urdu poet, Ghalib, in a remarkable verse (sh’er) virtually reproduces Kabir whether regarding rituals or the ego of denominational religions to arrive at the true imānor religiosity.

Remember that Gandhi Ji’s favourite bhajan was ‘Ishwar Allah tero naam’

After all, the notion that God is one entity with different names and different paths of approaching Him is commonplace in India; this is the singular legacy of Kabir. 

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Famed War Ships …

Posted on July 18, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |


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Caesar’s Truimphs …

Posted on July 17, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |


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Patriotism – USA Style …

Posted on July 13, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Among the many things that the American women’s soccer team got right over the last month was its approach to patriotism.

The players have strongly held views about injustices in the United States, and they didn’t hesitate to express those views. Team members spoke up about sexism, L.G.B.T. issues and President Trump.

They never made the mistake of equating patriotism with nationalist jingoism. They understood that free speech is itself patriotic. But the team — and especially its biggest star, Megan Rapinoe — also did something else.

They didn’t make the mistake of conspicuously rejecting American symbols during the World Cup. Rapinoe, who had previously knelt during the national anthem, stood for it during the World Cup. (In part, she was responding to pressure from team management, but I still think it was the right move for her own sake).

“When progressive protesters reject American symbols, I think they’re making a tactical mistake. For one thing, they take attention away from their specific causes and turn attention toward the question of their patriotism. For another thing, protesting the anthem or the flag needlessly alienates people who otherwise who could be won over by substantive arguments”.

Many civil rights leaders of the 1960s understand the dynamics. They knew that their critics were going to call them all sorts of insults no matter what — “un-American” and “communist,” as well as racist slurs.

But they also recognized that they could help their chances of winning over persuadable Americans by aligning their cause with the country’s stated values, like justice and freedom.

They said, in effect: We are the true patriots, because we want to help America live up to its ideals and create a more perfect union. In its own way, the women’s soccer team accomplished this same balancing act.

“I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American,” Rapinoe
said during the tournament. “If we want to talk about the ideals we stand for, the song and the anthem and what we are founded on, I think I am extremely American’.

“For the detractors, I would have them look hard into what I am actually saying, the actions I am doing. Maybe you don’t agree with every single way I do it, and that can be discussed. I know I am not perfect.”

And at yesterday’s parade in New York to celebrate the team’s championship, the crowd offered a tweak to the usual “U.S.A, U.S.A.!” chant by adding, “USA USA EQUAL PAY!  

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Bit Coin Compared to Gold …

Posted on July 11, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he can envision a return to an era where multiple currencies are in use in the United States.

During Powell’s testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Facebook’s planned Libracryptocurrency, he said: “The size of Facebook’s network means it could be, essentially, immediately systemically important.”

Though the initiative raised “a lot of serious concerns,” including privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability, he began to speak favorably about other cryptocurrencies.

“Almost no one uses bitcoin for payments, they use it more as an alternative to gold,” he said Thursday afternoon. “It’s a speculative store of value.”

Powell has stated in the past that the United States should not return to the gold standard. Some took the statement as referring to a call to “drop gold, buy bitcoin.”

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell Compares Bitcoin to Gold

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Anglo Indians …

Posted on July 9, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

An Aglo Indian on ‘Anglo Indians’ – I’m attempting to condense over 300 years of Anglo-Indian history in to 10 minutes. 

The British Empire once held absolute power in over 52 countries. About two-fifths of the world. But there was only one jewel in the crown  –  India. The first European settlers in India were the Portuguese in 1498 about 100 years before the British. The Dutch, French and the British followed. 

They were all here for the duration. The inevitable happened and a new mixed race community emerged. Even though the British came in peacefully as merchants and traders they soon colonized the sub-continent of India. But the British needed allies to protect the jewel in the crown and so began a deliberate policy, encouraging British males to marry Indian women to create the first Anglo-Indians. 

The East India Company paid 15 silver rupees for each child born to an Indian mother and a European father, as family allowance.These children were amalgamated into the growing Anglo-Indian community, forming a defensive structure for the British Raj. This was a deliberate act of self preservation by the English. 

This unique hybrid individual was ethnically engineered by the occupying British so much so that the Anglo-Indians were the only micro-minority community ever defined in a Constitution.  Article-366 of the Indian Constitution states.

An Anglo-Indian means a person whose father or any of whose male ancestors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident there-in and not established there for temporary purposes only. 

So you can see we were intended to be a permanent micro-minority. In 1830, the British Parliament described the Anglo-Indian as those who have been English educated, are entirely European in their habits and feelings, dress and language.

They were more “Anglo” than “Indian”. Their mother-tongue was English, they were Catholic or Anglican and their customs and traditions were English. While most of them married within their own circle, many continued to marry expatriate Englishmen. Very few married Indians. 

Without Anglo-Indian support British rule would have collapsed. 
RAILWAYS We ran the railways, post and telegraph, police and customs, education, export and import, shipping, tea, coffee and tobacco plantations, the coal and gold fields. We became teachers, nurses, priests and doctors. If it had any value the British made sure we ran it. And when it came to secretarial duties no one could touch our Anglo-Indian girls – the best stenographers in the world and with beauty to match. 

Were we favored? Yes, the English trusted us. After all we were blood related. We worked hard. We became indispensable. We lived comfortably and were protected by the British raj. Like the British we had servants to do all our domestic work. The average Anglo-Indian home could afford at least three full time servants – a cook, a bearer and the indispensable nanny (ayah). Part time servants included a gardener, cleaner and laundry man (dhobi).

Of course we learned to speak Hindi to be able to argue, give orders, bargain, accuse and terminate employment and throw in a dozen Hindi expletives. 

Imagine our horror when we were later to migrate to England, Canada and Australia and we no longer had servants to do our domestic chores.

Who can remember looking at our first toilet brush and asking ‘what do we do with this?’ We had to learn to cook, clean, garden, do the laundry and take the garbage out and look after the kids. 

CHRISTMAS CAKE The tradition of making your own Christmas cake was a sacred Anglo-Indian custom. Each family had a secret cake recipe, handed down from our grandparents.

About a week before Christmas, the local baker was contacted. He would turn up to your home with two very large terracotta bowls that looked more like satellite dishes. One for the egg whites and one for mixing. Mum would dish out the ingredients.

This was all mixed together under her watchful eye and distributed in to about dozen or so cake tins and labeled with your name on it. This labeling was all important. We did not want him to return that evening with someone else’s cake recipe. Heaven forbid. 

MUSIC/DANCE Music, movies and socializing were high on the agenda. We loved a dance. Afternoon dance jam sessions were a magnet for the teenagers where we jived, jitterbugged, tango’d or just fox trotted. 
Many a lasting liaison was forged on the dance floor and today many of us are celebrating 40-year plus marriages.

Our mums sat around gossiping and seldom took their eyes off their darling daughters. I know I speak from experience. I met my wife at one such event and now 44 years later I still fancy her. 

The Anglo-Indian railway and cantonment towns that sprung up around the major cities cultivated a unique social and industrial blend with a heartbeat. Their dances were legendary. At the drop of a hat, the city cousins would jump on a train and travel for anything up to six hours to get to that up-country dance. 

Many of our lives revolved around the biggest and best railway system in the world. And the trains ran on time! 

Today, the Indian Railways transports over 5 billion passengers each year employing more than 1.6 million personnel. Between 1853 and 1947 we built and managed 42 rail systems. This was a legacy we can be proud of. 

CONTRIBUTIONS During World War 1 about 8000 Anglo-Indians fought in Mesopotamia, East Africa, and in the European theatre – Eleven Anglo-Indians were awarded Victoria Crosses. 

In World War II they fought at Dunkirk and flew in the battle of Britain – Guy Gibson of the Dam Busters was one such Anglo-Indian, and we were in North Africa, Malaya and the fall of Singapore. 

Actress Vivien Leigh, actor Boris Karloff, actor Ben Kingsley, actress Merle Oberon, writer Rudyard Kipling, dancer Juliet Prowse, singer Cliff Richard, singer Engelbert Humperdinck, singer Tony Brent, Ex Beatle Pete Best, track & field star Sebastian Coe, hockey player Leslie Claudius, cricketer Roger Binny, billiards player Wilson Jones, stand up comedian Russell Peters, are all Anglo-Indians 

The Anglo-Indians took India to Olympic hockey glory. From 1928, India won five consecutive Olympic hockey gold medals. In fact, when India faced Australia in the semi-finals of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, it was a unique occasion. The captains who came face to face were both Anglo-Indians – Leslie Claudius and Kevin Carton. 

EDUCATION English education played a major role amongst the Anglo-Indians. Anglo-Indian schools numbered close to 300 and were prized. They stretched from Bangalore in the south to the cooler northern hill stations of Darjeeling in the foothills of the Himalayas. Each was modeled on the posh English Public school system. We ran them as teachers and principals and to this day these schools are coveted across the sub-continent. 

IDENTITY DILEMMA The Anglo-Indian has always faced an identity dilemma because of our mixed origins. Europeans said they were Indians with some European blood; Indians said they were Europeans with some Indian blood. The world of Anglo-India vanished on August 15th 1947, when India became the largest independent democracy in the world. 

The British packed and went home.  Over 300,000 Anglo-Indians remained. We felt apprehensive and abandoned. So we too packed our bags and began to migrate to Australia, Britain, Canada, the U.S.A. and New Zealand!

Many of you will remember the dreaded Income Tax Clearance document you need to leave the country and further faced the strict Indian foreign exchange regulations that allowed you only 10 pounds each. Imagine starting life in a new country with 10 quid in your pocket.

Some had to leave behind their savings; others simply resorted to the risky black market losing a 30% of your savings. 

IDENTITY The Anglo-Indian identity is disappearing. We have found new lives and merged into the mainstream. Our generation, sitting here tonight, who were born in India, growing up in the 40s thru to 60s, are possibly the last true Anglo-Indians. 

Look around you. Where is the next generation? Most of our children were born abroad and their connection to Anglo-India is very fragile. They have married Aussies, English, Canadian or other Anglo-Indians born outside India. They prefer to be regarded as English, Australian or Canadian. Our grandchildren will assimilate and forge a new identity based on their country of birth. 

Putting aside history I believe we could regard ourselves as an exotic cocktail that had its origins over 300 years ago. We have matured and become a unique aromatic spirit, generously flavored and very stimulating. 

We were a force to be reckoned with.

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George Orwell …

Posted on July 8, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Anjan Basu –

George Orwell worked by the exact same code that Orwell the man lived his life. The code that George Orwell lived and wrote by can be squeezed into two simple words: honesty and unpretentiousness. 

In life as in his writing, he was an implacable enemy of humbug and hypocrisy, of pompousness as much as of mawkishness.

In the 1946 essay titled Politics and the English Language, he went so far as to put down on paper his professional code of conduct, with characteristic candidness:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word when a short word will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Do these words of advice (to the aspiring writer of non-fictional prose) come across as dreary and bland?

Maybe they do, but anyone who has thought of taking the business of writing seriously knows how extraordinarily hard it can get to try and follow Orwell’s advice.

In the essay, Orwell quotes copiously from many contemporary sources to show how clumsy, even ugly, prose can become if these simple precepts are lost sight of. The most hilarious of Orwell’s examples comes from the venerable Professor Harold Laski, no less:

I am not, indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year, more alien to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate.

Orwell believed that cluttered, ponderous prose was as much a product of lazy writing as of muddled thinking. And he was convinced that just as thought corrupts language, so can language corrupt thought. 

In other words, unless a writer can break free of the shackles a properly sophisticated manner of writing, he cannot begin to think straight and clearly.

He can think up something fresh to write about, begin to write in dead earnest but, soon enough, the time-tested ‘high’ literary style – with its lazy similes, its tired witticisms and clichéd turns of phrase – takes over, and the essay inexorably heads toward a morass where all thought bogs down, to eventually drown without a trace of the rare and original that inspired the piece in the first place.

It can be said that Orwell’s own prose checks all the ‘how to’ boxes that the essay sets down, but the pleasure of reading an Orwell essay can hardly be broken down into a compliance check. 

Consider Reflections on Gandhi, for example, which opens brilliantly with this observation:

Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent, but the tests that have to be applied to them are not, of course, the same in all cases.

Written about a year after Gandhi’s death – and one year before Orwell’s own – this piece looks at Gandhi’s life and work through the prism of his autobiography.

Orwell finds in Gandhi much that is unappealing: his near-deification of “homespun cloth, ‘soul forces’ and vegetarianism”, for example, or the fact that “his mediaevalist programme was obviously not viable in a backward, starving, overpopulated country”.

 Orwell also believed that “the British were making use of him” – his exertions to ensure there was no violence against the British rule worked presumably to the colonisers’ advantage – “or thought they were making use of him”.

Orwell also thinks that those on the Left – he mentions Anarchists and pacifists in particular – who were claiming Gandhi as one of their own, were deluding themselves, because they were clearly ignoring ‘the other-worldly, anti-humanist tendency of his doctrine’ which made it impossible to square his teachings ‘with the belief that Man is the measure of all things, and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have’.

But he goes on to pay Gandhi a memorable – if somewhat uncustomary –tribute:

One may feel, as I do, a sort of aesthetic distaste for Gandhi, one may reject the claims of sainthood made on his behalf, one may also reject sainthood as an ideal and therefore feel that Gandhi’s basic aims were anti-human and reactionary: but regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!

One suspects that the reason why Orwell in the end thought Gandhi superior to most other contemporary politicians was simply this: unlike the others, Gandhi meant what he said, he was not sanctimonious or phoney. 

Let’s recall that around the time that he wrote this essay on Gandhi, Orwell was also finishing his last major work of fiction, 1984. Simplicity of manner and honesty of purpose meant everything to a man tormented endlessly by nightmares of the Apocalypse.

Orwell’s ability to invest the quotidian, the unremarkable with meaning comes across powerfully in the 1946 piece Some Thoughts on the Common Toad

The celebration of spring is a hoary literary tradition, but to associate its spectacular arrival with the waking-up, after the long sleep-laden winter, of the unglamorous common toad is a supreme feat of the artistic imagination:

At this period, after his long fast, the toad has a very spiritual look, like a strict Anglo-Catholic towards the end of Lent. 

His movements are languid but purposeful, his body is shrunken, and by contrast his eyes look abnormally large. This allows us to notice, what one might not at another time, that a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature. 

It is like gold, or more exactly it is like the golden-coloured semi-precious stone which one sometimes sees in signet-rings….

As for spring, Orwell reminds us, ‘not even the narrow and gloomy streets round the Bank of England are quite able to exclude it’. He goes on to sing this lively paean to one of the enduring pleasures of being simply alive:

So long as you are not actually ill, hungry, frightened or immured in a prison or a holiday camp, spring is still spring. 

The atom bombs are piling up in factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loud-speakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.

Orwell is on record that he wrote lifeless stuff when he lacked a political purpose to write, whether it was fiction or non-fiction. He perceived ‘political’ in the broad sense of being rooted in the human condition, in other words in the lived understanding of reality. 

Just as the humble toad, freshly arisen from long, wintry slumber, links up effortlessly with the defiance of dictators and bureaucrats, so does a European colonist’s shooting of an irate – but possibly harmless – elephant in a Burmese town tie into the white man’s burden in Shooting an Elephant. The Englishman knows that he should leave the elephant alone, but

I had got to shoot the elephant…. A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing –no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.

So the gun is cocked, the trigger released, and out flies the bullet, and a mysterious, terrible change comes over the elephant.

‘He neither stirred nor fell, but every line of his body had altered. He looked suddenly stricken, shrunken, immensely old. …. At last… he sagged flabbily to his knees. His mouth slobbered. An enormous senility seemed to have settled upon him’.

As the European leaves the scene, having done his duty by the lofty name of his race, he wonders if any of the others present grasped that he had done what he had done solely to avoid looking like a fool.

It is on the here and now that Orwell is focussed, on the concrete, the solidity of objects, the surface of the earth he is walking on. The Spanish Civil War was a watershed in his personal and moral history, as he said more than once, notably in Why I Write (1946):

‘The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood’.

And yet, writing about his time in the War, in Looking Back on the Spanish War (1942), he most readily and vividly remembers the least consequential of his experiences in the war: the wind-swept cavalry barracks where they trained before being sent out to the front; the icy-old water of the pump where they washed; the roll-call of the early mornings where his ‘prosaic English name made a sort of comic interlude among resounding Spanish ones’; the militia women in trousers chopping firewood…. He volunteered to fight because, in the circumstances, that seemed the only conceivable thing to do, but be never shrinks from actively demythifying for the reader the story of the war.

‘The essential horror of army life’, he freely confesses, ‘is barely affected by the nature of the war you happen to be fighting in’.

Besides, the Civil War also turned out to be a humongous tragedy – looking back, it indeed seemed to Orwell to have been a tragedy foretold. But that doesn’t stop Orwell from believing that it was a ‘just’ war, that it needed to be fought, regardless of the outcome.

The question is very simple. Shall people like the Italian soldier (an illiterate, poor working-class volunteer from Mussolini’s Italy who had thrown in his lot with the Spanish Republic and whose acquaintance Orwell had briefly made at the war’s beginning) be allowed to live the decent, fully human life which is now technically feasible, or shan’t they? Shall the common man be pushed back into the mud, or shall he not? I myself believe, perhaps on insufficient grounds, that the common man will win his fight sooner or later, but I want it to be sooner and not later – some time within the next hundred years, say, and not some time within the next ten thousand years. That was the real issue of the Spanish war, and of the present war, and perhaps of other wars yet to come.

This, then, is the essential Orwell. 

The powerful simplicity of his prose is the perfect artistic vehicle for his uncomplicated worldview, which consisted in a belief in justice and the equality of all men. And in the deeply-held conviction that no amount of rhetorical grandstanding would help the cause of equality and justice. 

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WWII – German Suicides After Surrender …

Posted on July 7, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A New  Book zooms in on the small northeastern German town of Demmin, where up to 1,000 Germans, out of a population of roughly 15,000, killed themselves — including children whose parents admonished them to do so. Some parents even took the lives of their children before killing themselves.  

While Demmin is considered to be the largest mass suicide in German history, Huber underlines that the town was not a singular case, and that fear and panic was not limited to the Soviet Army’s advance.

“Many people felt a sense of guilt and entanglement. They were afraid of what might come next.

Many could not even imagine what the world might be like after these twelve years in a state of emergency,” he said. “This sense of being doomed was not limited to the East German population. It prevailed throughout the country …Entire families committed suicide all over Germany.”

While the English publishers have described the book as a “suppressed” story and “one of the last untold stories of the Third Reich,” the British daily The Guardian pointed out that European historian Christian Goeschel explored the topic in his 2009 book Suicide in Nazi Germany.

Demmin’s cemetery stands a monument to those who committed mass suicide at the end of WWII.

But Huber explained in 2015 — when his book was originally published — that the topic was taboo in Germany for so long because, in his estimation, the former communist GDR took a hardline stance against anything casting a bad light on the Soviet Union and its Red Army.

Moreover, many of those who were liberated from Nazi rule after the war saw this time as one of relief, and sometimes celebration. “But what many others saw was quite the opposite,” Huber said. “So much so that they believed they had no choice but to kill themselves.”

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Achilles Hector Duel – The Bard’s Version …

Posted on July 4, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

(We are In the Grecian Camp where the old Trojan Aeneas and others have come to discuss the Hector Ajax duel).

AGAMEMNON – Which way would Hector have it?

AENEAS – He cares not; he’ll obey conditions.

ACHILLES – ‘Tis done like Hector; but securely done, A little proudly, and great deal misprizing the knight opposed.

AENEAS – If not Achilles, sir, What is your name?

ACHILLES – If not Achilles, Nothing.

AENEAS – Therefore Achilles – but, whate’er, know this: In the extremity of great and little – Valour and Pride excel themselves in Hector. The one almost as infinite as all, the other blank as nothing. – Weigh him well – And that which looks like pride is courtesy.

(ELSEWHERE in the same Camp the wise old Greek, NESTOR and the wily ULYSSES are meeting HECTOR when ACHILLES bursts in)

NESTOR – I have, thou gallant Trojan, seen thee oft labouring for destiny, make cruel way through ranks of Greekish youth, and I have seen thee, as hot as Perseus, spur thy Phrygian steed, despising many forfeits and subduements, when thou hast hung thy advanced sword i’ the air – not letting it decline on the declined. That I have said to some by standers by ‘Lo, Jupiter is yonder, dealing life!’

And I have seen thee pause and take thy breath, when that a ring of Greeks have hemm’d thee in, like an Olympian wrestling: this have I seen – but this thy countenance, still lock’d in steel, I never saw till now.

I knew thy grandsire, And once fought with him: he was a soldier good; But, by great Mars, the captain of us all, Never saw like Thee. Let an old man embrace thee; And, worthy warrior, welcome to our tents

Let me embrace thee, good old chronicle, That hast so long walk’d hand in hand with time: Most reverend Nestor, I am glad to clasp thee.

I wonder now how yonder city stands
When we have here her base and pillar by us;

ACHILLES (Bursting into the Group) – Now, Hector, I have fed mine eyes on thee; I have with exact view perused thee, Hector, and quoted joint by joint.

HECTOR – Is this Achilles?

ACHILLES -I am Achilles.

HECTOR – Stand fair, I pray thee: let me look on thee.

ACHILLES – Behold thy fill.

HECTOR – Nay, I have done already.

ACHILLES – Thou art too brief: I will the second time, as I would buy thee, view thee limb by limb.

HECTOR – O like a book of sport thou’lt read me o’er; But there’s more in me than thou understand’st.
Why dost thou so oppress me with thine eye?

ACHILLES – Tell me, you heavens, in which part of his body shall I destroy him? – whether there, or there, or there? That I may give the local wound a name – And make distinct the very breach whereout Hector’s great spirit flew: answer me, heavens!

HECTOR – It would discredit the blest gods, proud man, to answer such a question: Stand again:Think’st thou to catch my life so pleasantly as to prenominate in nice conjecture where thou wilt hit me dead?

ACHILLES – I tell thee, yea.

HECTOR – Wert thou an oracle to tell me so, I’d not believe thee. Henceforth guard thee well; for I’ll not kill thee there, nor there, nor there; But, by the forge that stithied Mars his helm, I’ll kill thee every where, yea, o’er and o’er. — You wisest Grecians, pardon me this brag; His insolence draws folly from my lips; But I’ll endeavour deeds to match these words – I pray you, let us see you in the field: We have had pelting wars, since you refused The Grecians’ cause.

ACHILLES – Dost thou entreat me, Hector? To-morrow do I meet thee, fell as death;

HECTOR – Thy hand upon that match.

(NEXT DAY — (After a full day of fierce fighting, during which he has not come across ACHiLLES, HECTOR takes off his armor and sits down to rest).

Now is my day’s work done; I’ll take good breath:
Rest, sword; thou hast thy fill of blood and death.
(Takes off his helmet and hangs his shield behind him).

(ACHILLES and Myrmidons come storming in).

Look, Hector, how the sun begins to set;
to close the day up; Hector’s life is done.

I am unarm’d; forego this vantage, Greek.

Strike, fellows, strike; this is the man I seek.
(HECTOR falls)
On, Myrmidons, and cry you all amain,
‘Achilles hath the mighty Hector slain.
Come, tie his body to my horse’s tail;
Along the field I will the Trojan trail.

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Grand Canyon Park is 100 yrs Old …

Posted on June 30, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |


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