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September 2, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

August 31, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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The Man Who Turned Life Into Magic

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)

Marcelo Gleiser: We are a story, each of us. And a story with no listener is the same as silence, as oblivion. Some stories are harder to listen to, or can’t be listened to in ordinary ways, and, so, take a very special kind of listener. We are blessed to have Oliver as a listener, at once scribe and bard of the human condition. More here.

August 31, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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petals of blood by ngugi wa thiongo

ngugi wa thiongo’s “petals of blood” reminds me of “the grapes of wrath” on account of its breathtaking scope, its poetry, and its impassioned love of humanity. the sheer magnitude of the book is mind-blowing. when i started reading it i thought that it embodied the story of africa, of an entire continent, but by the time i reached the end of the book, i could say with certitude that it tells the story of all colonized people, of the oppressed all over the world. the idea of creating a “new world” because the old world is simply inadequate and can never be fixed, is a kind of epiphany which precipitates the book’s inexorable end.

“The true lesson of history was this: that the so-called victims, the poor, the downtrodden, the masses, had always struggled with spears and arrows, with their hands and songs of courage and hope, to end their oppression and exploitation: that they would continue struggling until a human kingdom came: a world in which goodness and beauty and strength and courage would be seen not in how cunning one can be, not in how much power to oppress one possessed, but only in one’s contribution in creating a more humane world in which the inherited inventive genius of man in culture and science from all ages and climes would be not the monopoly of a few, but for the use of all, so that all flowers in all their different colours would ripen and bear fruits and seeds. And the seeds would be put into the ground and they would once again sprout and flower in rain and sunshine.”

petals of blood by ngugi wa thiongo

August 31, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Sentiment Building to Deport Nation’s Billionaires

According to a new survey by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, the American people hold the nation’s billionaires in lower esteem than ever before, and a majority would like to see new laws enacted to deport them.
“They come here, take thousands of our jobs, and export them overseas,” one respondent said, in an opinion echoed by many others in the survey.

“They are part of a shadow economy that sucks billions of dollars out of the United States every year and puts it in Switzerland and the Caymans,” another said.
Images of hedge-fund managers arriving via helicopter in the Hamptons this summer have only reinforced the impression that authorities have turned a blind eye to their movements.

“Many of these people should be in prison, and the government is looking the other way,” one respondent said.

Stirring even more controversy is the billionaires’ practice of having babies in the United States and using the nation’s porous estate-tax laws to pass down untold wealth to the next generation. More here.

August 31, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Photography by Christy Lee Rogers

Christy Lee Rogers is a self-taught photographer from Kailua, Hawaii. Her obsession with water as a medium for breaking the conventions of contemporary photography has led to her work being compared to Baroque painting masters like Caravaggio. With an eye for the chiaroscuro qualities of light, her subjects bend and distort; bathing in darkness, isolated by light, and are brought to life by ones own imagination. Without the use of post-production manipulation, her works are made in-camera, on the spot, in water and at night.

Photography by Christy Lee Rogers

Photography by Christy Lee Rogers

Photography by Christy Lee Rogers

August 24, 2015
by mara.ahmed
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Playing Mozart’s Piano Pieces as Mozart Did

Rachel Nuwer: “As a visiting student at Cornell University in 2010, she researched 19th-century pedagogical piano treatises — essentially, instruction manuals for piano playing. The techniques that they described, she realized, differed drastically from those she had been taught. “I was not following even the most basic instructions given to beginners at the time,” Ms. Kobb said. “I wondered, ‘Would this make a difference in my playing?’ ” For the next three years, she gradually replaced her modern way of playing with 19th-century technique, gleaned from around 20 treatises. Most were written in Vienna in the 1820s, while a few were published in France and England. Her primary source, however, was “A Complete Theoretical and Practical Course of Instructions on the Art of Playing the Piano Forte,” the seminal 465-page treatise published in 1827 by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, one of Mozart’s students. “It’s hard enough learning how to play once,” she said. “I had to become conscious of every motion in my hands and fingers, things that normally I would do automatically, by habit.” While modern players tend to hunch over the keys and hold their forearms nearly perpendicular to the keyboard, 19th-century style dictated that pianists sit bolt upright. The posture prevented players from bringing their weight to bear on the keyboard, instead forcing them to rely on smaller finger movements. The elbows were held firmly against the body, with forearms sloping down and hands askew. As Ms. Kobb became more fluent in this approach, she found that certain movements — jumping quickly between disparate chords, for example — became swifter and more fluid. “The elbow against your body serves as a sort of GPS, so you always know where you are,” she said. Chords and scales sound smoother and can be played faster, Ms. Kobb also found, and dramatic pauses between notes — often a matter of physical necessity rather than of style — are lessened. The old style also allows the performer to be more discriminatory and subtle in choosing which notes to stress, Ms. Kobb learned, producing a performance that is subdued by today’s standards. “There’s a different physical feeling to playing, as well as a different outcome,” she said.” More here.