Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Horror And Sorrow

The income gap in the United States is currently the worst it has ever been. Meanwhile, the “CIA steps up drone attacks ... in Pakistan.”

Does anyone else see the horror and sorrow of what is happening in this country?





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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/28/AR2010092801858.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/world/asia/28drones.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homeless Story of J 12, Part 12

This is a work of fiction. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the writer.

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XII

I couldn’t contain my anger at the forces of stupidity. Most people hide their frustration and wear a mask. I could not. Now I openly accuse fools and immoral dogs, but no one will listen. My sustenance is the truth. It cannot keep me safe.

There are plenty of discarded newspapers, and I keep up on things. My hero is Paul Krugman, a columnist. Over and over, he demonstrates that the “angry rich” and their pocket politicians manipulate the gullible public. The politicians spew blatant lies and logical contradictions; but their target audience, untrained in logic, laps it up.

These stupid masses are pawns of monsters. Here is Bill Clinton talking about the zealotry of one gullible group of citizens, the Tea Party:

"They think the little guy gets the shaft, and that's largely been true. But they are pawns in a larger game," he said. "The people that are funding this tea party are trying to weaken the government at a moment where people are queasy about the government ... so they can have unaccountable private power."

From an article by Michael A. Memoli, latimes.com



The top 1% controls 23% of the total wealth, a percentage on the rise. It indicates social disease as much as a bulging cyst. In other words, the greedy rich are extremely dangerous. They play the system, lobby (aka legalized bribery) for more and more.

These despicable tactics have been used by tyrants forever. As Thomas G. Donlan says, “The lesson of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history.”

People like Krugman run up against the roadblock of ignorance. People so full of smug ego they can’t think outside their own definitions.

The politicians work to keep their herds dumb. They gut educational funding, subsidize a huge military. Teachers are not as important as guns. Teachers reduce fear. Guns increase fear. Fear is a leash.

It has come to the point where millions of Americans want to be led into violence. Perhaps it is an unconscious hysteria. They are not aware of their own hate. Our country is an constant war, decades upon decades. They shrug. Cheer for their football team.

The dysfunction, following Occam's Razor, can be reduced to one force: greed.

(1) A small faction of the population that has amassed huge amounts of wealth.

(2) These mega-elites use whatever tactic they can (without exposing themselves) to manipulate a vulnerable people.

(3) The mega-elites rely on their minions to whip up furor. Logic has no place in their puppet show. Distorted patriotism reigns. Concepts like "freedom" are prostituted and distorted to drive the herd. Freedom becomes freedom for the wealthy to get wealthier.

(4) In this way, the greedy expand their status, and privatize (acquire) more and more aspects of life.


It’s that simple. Avarice in destructive, mind-twisting forms.

I am tired of watching ignorance win souls. It’s a horrible game, the bureaucracy grinds you down.

Even homeless, I still have the weapon of writing. The internet makes it possible. I speak up.

As I’ve said in the past, the answer is simple, the solution impossible. Without empathy, we are all selfish and broken spirits. The old Roman saying emerges:

homo homini lupus


J

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Although language is potentially versatile, the ritualized ways we use it reflect thousands of years of expansion through violence. History has embedded classification and objectification in the byways of our thoughts, anchored to the superiority of the warrior male, who is defined by an ability to kill with prowess while showing no emotional vulnerability. All of us unconsciously replicate this program, and must overcome it in the struggle to reclaim our words, enlisting them to sculpt a mature ethos.

Aristine Eaglewoman, Ecofem Wise

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

David Brooks' Latest Ridiculous Claim

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/opinion/21brooks.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&ref=global-home&adxnnlx=1285077656-SDnEnwSyilnpNHdFrEXXAg


David Brooks has a horrible Op-ed piece in the New York Times today called “The ‘Freedom’ Agenda,” in which he effectively says that Freedom, a provocative new book by Jonathan Franzen is wrong to claim Americans are spiritually stunted and shallowly materialistic.

Freedom is Oprah Winfrey’s last book club choice for her viewers.

Brooks sees nothing seriously wrong with the mindset of Americans today. They aren’t too money-oriented, he says, nor is their spirituality compromised by their fetish for purchases (my words, not his).

It was so annoying that I wrote a comment, but the New York Times is no longer accepting comments, even though there are only twenty posted so far. I assume there are hundreds of comments (as usual) and the staff at the newspaper is slowly trickling them through some kind of check.

Anyway, here is my own comment, which the NYT will not permit.

I realize that no one is going to read this, but I am just SO frustrated with the corporate media shills.


OWL

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Comment on David Brooks’ article, “The ‘Freedom’ Agenda”


It is easy to see why Brooks would be unmoved by an appeal to a greater range of conscience, because he highly prizes economic growth, more than moral truths. A theme that appears again and again in his writing is capitalist vigor vs ethical considerations.

This is perhaps most blatant in a piece called “The Values Question.” (11/24/09) Speaking about health care reform he remarks:

“Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth ... America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one.”

In a more recent article “The Genteel Nation” (Sept 9 2010) he pits “commercial values” against humanitarian values. Reflecting on one of Michellle Obama’s speechs, in which she says, “Become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse ...”, Brooks laments:

“As talented people adopt those priorities, America may become more humane, but it will be less prosperous.”

A willingness to trade human rights for stock market increases is a fundamental element in Brooks’ worldview. In “The Values Question” he says, not disapprovingly, that “the United States was a wide-open dynamic country with a rapidly expanding economy. It was also a country that tolerated a large degree of cruelty and pain.”

Morality, for Brooks, is a bargaining chip on the table of government options, played off against the economic health of the country. In his worldview, human health and economic health horribly clash. This makes him, fundamentally, a moral relativist, even when it comes to our most cherished values, like the right to human life.

Given that Brooks so highly praises a certain economic dynamic, one that happens to favor corporate behavior in a particular culture in a particular time--so much so that morality is debased and degraded to the point of being a bargaining chip--it is easy to comprehend his failure to ‘get’ the message in Freedom.

Young, virile economic ferment is what does it for Brooks. He seems incapable of viewing the massive suffering of millions of people, languishing without medical care, as more than a side effect of what’s truly important to him: sexy money.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Acceptance: Bare Root Review

http://www.smsu.edu/barerootreview/Index.htm

Bare Root Review took one of my most revealing poems, "Confession."

Academic journals have a pretty high baseline when it comes to quality. They are often situated in an English Department, where a team of diligent bookworms toils over each issue, providing a superb blend of the 3 E’s: enthusiasm, expertise and energy.

Bare Root Review is no exception, and in fact stands out among its peers. Not just high but rather excellent quality. Why do I say this? A number of factors come into play.

First of all, the acceptance rate (duotrope.com) is very low, only 4%, an indicator of meticulous judgement. Second, the journal has been around for five years, which is a sign of commitment, health and experience. Most importantly, the poetry is really really good--not only well-crafted but fresh and (dare I say it) bare.

In other words BRR (it gets cold in Minnesota, so BRR is an appropriate acronym), lives up to its mission statement, part of which reads:

Why "Bare Root" you ask? The name stems from Minnesota's state flower, the pink and white Lady Slipper. The Lady Slipper's roots must be cut and individually transplanted. But once planted, they spread and grow thick.

Under the surface, the roots dive and tangle in a complex bundle we can only appreciate when we dig deep and push aside the chaff. Writing is a high risk, high reward endeavor. Dig deep and don't be afraid to take chances.

We are looking for work like that -- complex and strong and deliciously unexpected.



This leads to my favorite reason to praise Bare Root: the journal has fine flair. The mission statement reads cool, fonts are bold and funky, navigation is fun, and the poetry nestles within a good vibe, appearing alongside revealing photographs of the contributors. (you can take “revealing” any way you want, but you won’t know what I mean until you go to the site and get the bare facts ...)

It seems to me that the editors at this journal add a good dose of their own creativity, and I can’t wait to see what the current leadership (Dannica Dufur and Erin Kyle) come up with. Personally, I hope they preserve the large luscious fonts. The faculty advisor is Anthony Neil Smith.

The Spring 2010 issue contains the work of only four poets, positioning three nascent voices (Heather Cadenhead, KJ Hays and Ben Nardolilli) alongside seasoned word prince Michael Lee Johnson. As mentioned above, the quality is fantastic.

I strongly suggest checking out Bare Root Review and, even better, sending them your most honest psychological exposé.

Good things are happening in a nook of southwest Minnesota!


OWL

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Poem: Owl

This poem, a gift from my spirit guide, is one of the best I’ve ever written. It has one of the strongest web presences of any of my works. For instance, you can hear me reading it at this link:

http://rosethorn.podbean.com/2008/10/02/owl-by-chris-crittenden-poem

You can so read it in situ, if you wish, where it appears under a very beautiful work of art:

http://www.dmqreview.com/Aug07/Crittenden.htm


Thank you for reading.

OWL

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Owl

smudge of silence
and mahogany, alert
in onyx, vizier
in a skein of boughs,
scrying the weft of the universe,
observant like Orion,
stalking warm umber--

winged prophet
of secretive night-pines,
obsidian thief,
flying like a riddle
that doesn’t even whisper,
swooping in a merge
of bat and falcon,
neck a whirlpool of fates--

you Hanged Man
in a noose of flutters,
unable to breathe unless you moan.
darkness and forests ordained you,
long ago, when moonlight
fled the trees like rain.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In a matter of centuries, humanity transformed the Earth into a cynbionic hive. Few if any of the individual billions of humans had any idea what they were participating in or doing, especially those who lived before 2033, when mindware was made publicly available and went viral.

Lucifex Ri3et, From Sinew To Wire

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Acceptance: WHL Review

WHL took three of my poems: “Linguist,” “Sheets During Nightmare” and “Garapito Loop.”

WHL, or Wilderness House Literary Review, is the literary equivalent of geographical wonder, which is to say, the Earth has some especially beautiful nooks--for example, the White Mountains of Greece, Okavango Delta in Botswana, Kakadu in Australia--and the poetry world has such magical places too, one of which is WHL.

I’m busy, tired, and horribly misanthropic right now, so please take my pure praise for Irene Koronas, the editor of this fantastic site, for what it is: absolutely genuine.

I work really hard to produce a trickle of good poems, and when I get work in this journal I feel a rare sense of completion.

Thank you, Editor Koronas, and thank you staff of WHL for persevering!

OWL

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Poem: Coin

This poem originally appeared a long long time ago in a journal called The Homestead Review. Enjoy!

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Coin

don’t look at me
as if you have a complaint,
some false story about lost youth
when you shimmered on the flank
of a sparkling dragon.

you’re a hard blind eye
stealing the warmth of my palm,
you and your sorcerous stare:
its lying runes,
its bloodless head,
its calamitous raptor.

it’s not important that you see us,
but crucial that we see you--
that was the bargain you made,
immortality to become the prophet
of violent kings.

that’s why jesus gave you to caesar.
that’s why the hungry weep:
because they are the prisoners
of a weepless thing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Poem Up At: Bolts Of Silk

http://boltsofsilk.blogspot.com/2010/09/outside-by-chris-crittenden.html

If you get a chance, you can find one of my best nature poems ("Outside") featured right now at Bolts of Silk, which is one of my favorite journals. So, a great combination. I hardly ever get it just right, and if you have a spare moment, why not glance over this short yet potent poem?

It's about 12 lines long and took months to edit into worthy shape.

Thanks as always to one of my FAVORITE editors on the web, Juliet Wilson. She's a fantastic writer and poet, and a great leader in the literary world too.

If my patient wife Shanna and I weren't busy making bottles and bottles of applesauce, and canning them, an arduous task, I'd have a lot more energy to praise this editor's abilities, as I have in the past.

Yay Druidess Wilson!


OWL

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What Is Wealth Really?

The following two quotes show you how to satisfy all your desires without a lot of money:

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Humans correct in making the leap from wealth as currency to wealth as energy. But logic failure. Wealth ultimately is desire fluctuating with emotion and state of mind. Desires, when all are supported in purely adaptable system, true wealth is achieved.

Usurper Judaa Marr, "Human : Nature"


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When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.


--Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Be Spiritual Not Material

A great Op-ed by Robert B. Reich recently appeared in the New York Times, titled “How To End The Great Recession.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/opinion/03reich.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage


Part I

Reich informs us that the wealthiest 1% of Americans take in 23.5% of our total income, a bloated percentage that hasn’t been seen since 1928, just before the Great Depression.

Let me express his strong implication with a handy jingle:

When the super-wealthy bloat with money, it is bad for the country.

Why?

First of all, they tend to hoard, not spend. Second, when they do spend, it might well go out of the country--for a Villa in France, for example, or a nifty tax-free bank account in the Cayman Islands.

Heck, they have the money to travel wherever they want and they probably do, spending untold thousands of dollars as tourists anywhere but here.

In other words, the ultra-rich don’t put money back into the American economy as efficiently as the rest of us. We need to redistribute the wealth so that we get the fair and level income curve that existed in the 50’s and 60’s.

Reich points out that during those Golden Decades there was a (gasp) “70 percent to 90 percent marginal income tax on the highest incomes.”

Moral of the story: the government needs to play Robin Hood. Take from the rich 1 percent and give to the poor 99 percent.


Part II

From about 1970 onward, the American income has been struggling to keep up with our neurotic need to buy new stuff. Instead of wising up and stepping back from the temptation of glitz, we fell into the trap set for us by the Madison Avenue mind-controllers.

First, we sacrificed our free time. Women started working instead of staying home like they did in the 60’s. Then they starting working more and more hours. Men, who had been working full time already, ramped up their hours. Now everyone is a frantic thoughtless callous ant.

Get this: even sacrificing our free time to meaningless jobs under tyrannical bosses couldn’t boost our income enough. We needed that stuff so badly. Gosh golly! So, by the 1990’s, we went into debt.

Yes, that’s right. Because we are addicted to shiny new stuff, we sold our souls on two levels: (1) gave up our free time, (2) put ourselves in more and more debt.

So, here we are. Porcine shoppers who had a wonderful lifestyle back in the 60’s, but we let ourselves be tugged along by the golden rings through our noses.

Realize this: The corporations sold us out as soon as they could. As Reich says:

This crisis began decades ago when a new wave of technology — things like satellite communications, container ships, computers and eventually the Internet — made it cheaper for American employers to use low-wage labor abroad or labor-replacing software here at home than to continue paying the typical worker a middle-class wage. Even though the American economy kept growing, hourly wages flattened. The median male worker earns less today, adjusted for inflation, than he did 30 years ago.



Nothing in this world more resembles a Biblical “Servant of Mammon” than a corporation. These obese creatures have no loyalty to American workers. Through public relations campaigns they put on a good face, but they are amazingly selfish. Corporations are perfect sociopaths.

I find it ridiculous that Republican Conservative Christians and right-leaning Democrats are so hateful when it comes to government programs to help the needy; and yet right in before them, larger than any of us, are some of the most repulsive pustules of greed the world has ever know: multinational corporations and billionaire carpetbaggers.

Time for another jingle:

Be spiritual not material.

If OWL’s jingles were followed, to quote Sam Cook, “What a wonderful world this would be.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

Acceptance: Phati'tude

Phati’tude Literary Magazine is a project of the IAAS, which stands for the Intercultural Alliance of Artists and Scholars. The organization is professional and varied in its approach, and seeks to use art and literature as dynamic forces to initiate and advance intercultural dialogues.

From their website:

The IAAS's primary objective is to present a forum for artists and scholars to unite under one umbrella and create literary programming that develops and explores critical thinking about cultural assumptions, immigration, and diversity. Our goal is to enhance the field of multicultural education and broaden its impact on the world, inside the classroom and, just as importantly, outside the classroom. The IAAS sees multiculturalism directly connected to our work, our lives, the communities in which we live and to our emerging global society. Using literature as a conduit, we believe artists and scholars have the power to effect and implement change and ultimately create a viable "intercultural alliance."



Programs of the IAAS include Phati’tude Literary Magazine and also Phati’tude Literary TV, which has produced two documentaries (“Visionary Voices” and “Visual Signatures”).

There is also education program called Phati’tude Language & Literary Arts Curriculum, with middle school, high school and college applications.

The driving force behind this very professional and charismatic organization, as far as I can tell, is Gabrielle David, who puts in the hard work of managing a multi-sided non-profit. I strongly recommend going to the websites to get an idea of the quality and compelling presentation:

theiaas.org

phatitude.org


I’m extremely honored that my poems “Justice Quest” and “Reagan’s Ghost” were accepted for the upcoming Issue Three of Phati’tude. I felt very at home submitting to this zine. Free to express a side of myself I usually keep hidden.

Below is the biography I submitted, and that might explain why.

If you are looking for a great literary magazine to support, one that is part of a larger non-profit organization founded on the importance of cultural exchange through literature and art, this is your place.

I wish I had much more time to praise the IAAS and Gabrielle David, but my life is particularly hectic right now. What else is new!

OWL

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My Phati’tude bio in the upcoming Issue 3:

[Owl Who Laughs] teaches environmental ethics for the University of Maine, and does much of his writing in a hut in a remote spruce forest, fifty miles from the nearest traffic light. He lives near Deer Island, Canada where his native ancestry is buried. Although mostly ‘white’, he seeks the wisdom of the shaman, and promotes reciprocity, spirit, and empathy for the Land. It has been said of the Wabanaki that “they [are] a people remarkable for their poetic imagination,” and his obsession with poems (over five hundred published) draws from that.