Friends: Today is Juneteenth. In the words of one writer, 19 June 1865: “Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slaves in Galveston, Texas, United States, are finally informed of their freedom. The anniversary is still officially celebrated in Texas and 41 other contiguous states as Juneteenth.”
Below – “The jump”; “Look Away”; “Loose green”; “Abandoned slide”; “Faint landscape”; “Blending in.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 19 June1947 – Salman Rushdie, an award-winning Indian-English novelist, essayist, and author of “Midnight’s Children” and “The Satanic Verses.”
Some quotes from the work of Salman Rushdie:
“What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
“I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’m gone which would not have happened if I had not come.”
“Whenever someone who knows you disappears, you lose one version of yourself. Yourself as you were seen, as you were judged to be. Lover or enemy, mother or friend, those who know us construct us, and their several knowings slant the different facets of our characters like diamond-cutter’s tools. Each such loss is a step leading to the grave, where all versions blend and end.”
“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.”
“Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read.
If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.
I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn’t occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don’t like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don’t like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.
To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”
“When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced.”
“A poet’s work . . . to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”
“The fundamentalist seeks to bring down a great deal more than buildings. Such people are against, to offer just a brief list, freedom of speech, a multi-party political system, universal adult suffrage, accountable government, Jews, homosexuals, women’s rights, pluralism, secularism, short skirts, dancing, beardlessness, evolution theory, sex. There are tyrants, not Muslims.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said that we should now define ourselves not only by what we are for but by what we are against. I would reverse that proposition, because in the present instance what we are against is a no brainer. Suicidist assassins ram wide-bodied aircraft into the World Trade Center and Pentagon and kill thousands of people: um, I’m against that. But what are we for? What will we risk our lives to defend? Can we unanimously concur that all the items in the preceding list — yes, even the short skirts and the dancing — are worth dying for?
The fundamentalist believes that we believe in nothing. In his world-view, he has his absolute certainties, while we are sunk in sybaritic indulgences. To prove him wrong, we must first know that he is wrong. We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love. These will be our weapons. Not by making war but by the unafraid way we choose to live shall we defeat them.
How to defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized. Don’t let fear rule your life. Even if you are scared.”
Contemporary Canadian Art – Kerri Palangio
Below – “Teapot with fruit”; “Green apples”; “Tangle 3”; “Beyond”; “Marina”; “Silhouette.”
“Thankful for Now”
by Todd Davis
Walking the river back home at the end
of May, locust in bloom, an oriole flitting
through dusky crowns, and the early night sky
going peach, day’s late glow the color of that fruit’s
flesh, dribbling down over everything, christening
my sons, the two of them walking before me
after a day of fishing, one of them placing a hand
on the other’s shoulder, pointing toward a planet
that’s just appeared, or the swift movement
of that yellow and black bird disappearing
into the growing dark, and now the light, pink
as a crabapple’s flower, and my legs tired
from wading the higher water, and the rocks
that keep turning over, nearly spilling me
into the river, but still thankful for now
when I have enough strength to stay
a few yards behind them, loving this time
of day that shows me the breadth
of their backs, their lean, strong legs
striding, how we all go on in this cold water,
heading home to the sound of the last few
trout splashing, as mayflies float
through the shadowed riffles.
Below – Alessio Mazzarulli: “Walking by the river”
Below – “My Danish Meadow”; “River of Life”; “From Denmark with Love”; “Red Heat”; “Space Orgasm”; “Dance of the Ice Flowers.”
by Austin Smith
Christmas Eves our dad would bring
Home from the farm real hay
For the reindeer that didn’t exist
And after we were finally asleep
Would get out and take the slabs
Up in his arms and carry them
Back to the bed of his pickup,
Making sure to litter the snow
With chaff so he could show us
In the morning the place where
They’d stood eating, their harness
Bells dulled by the cold, their breath
Steam, all while we were dreaming.
Contemporary French Art – Luc Josserand
Below (digital painting) – “Jehanne”; “Alcor”; “Alcor – Act II”; “Irmine & Ethereum”; “Laude”; “The Daydreams of Luana.”
A Poem for Today
By Wyatt Townley
Here you are forty years
later in a white coat
examining my ears.
All I can think
is how your tongue once
turned in the tunnel
you’re peering into. The
fault is not in my ears,
but ‘between’ them!
No one can see that far.
But could we gaze back
through the years and dead stars
to the doorstep of my parents’ house,
you bending down with your tall mouth
to make the softest landing on mine,
having thrown off my balance
so tenderly, can you explain,
good Doctor, how to regain it?
Below – Kelly Puissegur: “First Kiss”