Tree Museums and Parking Lots – by Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

“They took all the trees
Put them in a tree museum.
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em.

Don’t it always seem to go 
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone?
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot…

JONI MITCHELL

A Fierce Green Fire (2013) – The Battle for a Living Planet [Documentary]

“A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet” is the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change. Directed and written by Mark Kitchell, Academy Award-nominated director of “Berkeley in the Sixties“, and narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep, the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2012, has won acclaim at festivals around the world, and in 2013 begins theatrical release as well as educational distribution and use by environmental groups and grassroots activists. Inspired by the book of the same name by Philip Shabecoff and informed by advisors like Edward O. Wilson, “A Fierce Green Fire” chronicles the largest movement of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st. It brings together all the major parts of environmentalism and connects them. It focuses on activism, people fighting to save their homes, their lives, the future – and succeeding against all odds.” – 

http://www.afiercegreenfire.com/

THE EARTH WOMAN (from “The God Of Small Things”, by Arundhati Roy)

the-god-of-small-things
THE EARTH WOMAN
Arundhati Roy (1961 – )

1“We belong nowhere”, Chako said. “We sail unanchored on troubled seas. We may never be allowed ashore. Our sorrows will never be sad enough. Our joys never happy enough. Our dreams never big enough. Our lives never important enough. To matter.”

Then, to give the twins Estha and Rahel a sense of Historical Perspective, he told them about the Earth Woman. He made them imagine that the earth – 4600 million years old – was a 46-year-old woman. It had taken the whole of the Earth Woman’s life for the earth to become what it was. For the oceans to part. For the mountains to rise. The Earth Woman was 11 years old, Chacko said, when the first single-celled organisms appeared. The first animals, creatures like worms and jellyfish, appeared only when she was 40. She was over 45 – just 8 months ago – when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

“The whole of human civilization as we know it”, Chacko told the twins, “began only 2 hours ago in the Earth Woman’s life.”

It was an awe-inspiring and humbling thought, Chacko said, that the whole of contemporary history, the World War, the War of Dreams, the Man on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge – was no more than a blink of the Earth Woman’s eye.

“And we, my dears, everything we are and ever will be are just a twinkle in her eye…”

 

ARUNDHATI ROY, The God Of Small Things (1997).
Harper Perennial.
Winner of the Booker Prize 1998.

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Toronto Chronicles: The Easter Sunday of the Potheads

Easter Sunday It was Easter Sunday in Toronto (April 20th, 2014) and thousands of potheads took to the streets, gathering at Yonge and Dundas, for a pro-cannabis demonstration. In the photo above, the misty cloud you see is not a sign of pollution, but the result of more than a thousand joints burning simultaneously (at 4:20, of course!). Canada was the first country in the world to legalize medicinal cannabis (in 2001) and hemp farming is also legal (since 1998). Even tough marijuana is still outlawed, the pressure from the streets is intense and is quite possible that soon Canada will become the second nation – after Uruguay – to legalize it. The disastrous policy known as The War on Drugs, with its racist underpinnings, its obscene rates of mass incarceration, its empowerment of criminal drug cartels and black markets, seems to be more than ever doomed to imminent collapse.  “If Canada legalized marijuana, the annual estimated revenue from taxing marijuana would be somewhere around $2 billion. And that’s not counting savings from enforcement…” [http://bit.ly/1i080ev]

See the whole album with lots of other photos

Easter Sunday 2Easter Sunday 3Easter Sunday 4Easter Sunday 5

Recently,  Toronto’s NOW Magazine published a cover-story about how are matters nowadays in Canada concerning hemp and cannabis. Here are some excerpts from this excellent survey, and also links to the full articles – enjoy!

“Although there are no federally regulated clinical trials involving medical marijuana, and Health Canada and the Canadian Medical Association don’t currently encourage doctors to prescribe the untested drug, CBD and medical marijuana have been used with success to treat epilepsy, autism, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, lupus, fibromyalgia and a host of other disorders including Tourette syndrome. Talk to the mother of an epileptic child and you’ll understand that medical marijuana is a lifesaver.”  [http://bit.ly/1teHZN4]

* * * * *

“Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the 60 active, naturally occurring ingredients in marijuana that have more medical uses than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gets you high. CBD has demonstrated anti-seizure and pain management properties and seems to have neuro-protective qualities – meaning it reduces the rate of neuron loss over time. A 2012 Israeli study also showed promising outcomes when CBD was used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, liver inflammation, heart disease and diabetes.” [http://bit.ly/1eR3dMZ]

* * * * *

“Arrest patterns tend to follow racial lines. The 1995 Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System identified a continued pattern of racism in drug enforcement, with blacks 27 times more likely to end up in jail awaiting trial on drug charges than whites.”  [http://bit.ly/1i080ev]

* * * * *

 “It’s nearly impossible to overdose on weed. You’d have to smoke 800 joints in, like, 15 minutes.” [http://bit.ly/1i080ev]

* * * * *

“Weed makes you smarter. Cannabinoids in pot increase the rate of nerve cell formation in the hippocampus, the part of brain associated with memory and learning, by a staggering 40 per cent.” [http://bit.ly/1i080ev]

[http://bit.ly/1i080ev]

“Hemp is an annual plant whose foot-long taproot helps stabilize soil and provides a vital ecosystem for microflora and fauna. Colorado’s first commercial hemp farmer, Ryan Loflin, comes from an experienced farm family. He told me hemp uses half the water his wheat crop did. Imagine the implications for drought-ravaged parts of the world like sub-Saharan Africa.” [Interview with journalist Doug Fine http://bit.ly/1i6GPdg]

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“Five times more – that’s the amount of climate-cooking CO2 hemp absorbs compared to trees, according to Agriculture Canada.” [http://bit.ly/1i6GPdg]

Easter Sunday 6

May 3rd is the day scheduled for the Global Marijuana March in Toronto. Awestruck Wanderer will be there and will report back with the news, images, videos and stories. Stay tuned!

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 “THE UNION – THE BUSINESS BEHIND GETTING HIGH” [http://youtu.be/0YWaCTjX94U]
One of the greatest docs ever made about Hemp in Canada

“Verses in April”, by Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky

Before April – “the cruellest of months” – is gone, I’d like to share a marvellous poem by comrade Brodsky, whose calid words helped me out a lot in the task of not going mad during the previous months of frosty temperatures. Reading his poems has been a solace to keep me sane through the whirlwinds and snowstorms and frozen landscapes of my first Canadian winter. It was hardcore winter, for sure, and I wish myself well at the coming of spring!…

VERSES IN APRIL
by Joseph Brodsky (April 1969)

Once again this past winter
I did not go mad. As for winter itself –
one glances; it’s gone. But I can divide
the din of ice cracking from the green
shroud of earth. So I’m sane.
I wish myself well
at the coming of spring;
blinded by the Fontanka (1),
I break myself up into dozens of parts.
I run my flat hand
up and over my face. The snow-crust is settling
in my brain, as it does in the woods.

Having lived to the time of gray hairs,
I observe how a tug threads its way,
among ice floes, toward open sea.
For me
to forgive you in writing would be
just as harsh and unfair
as to charge you with wrong.
Please excuse me
for this lofty style:
though there’s no end to our discontent,
there’s an end to our winters (2).
For the essence of change lies in this –
in the wrangling of Muses who swarm
at Mnemosyne’s banquet.

 

NOTES

(1) The Fontanka is one of the majors rivers in Leningrad, the other being the Neva. In April its surface would be “blinding” because still covered with ice.

(2) Cf. the opening lines of Shakespeare’s Richard III:
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.

An inspiring story from the people who were on the ground at the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999

this is what democracy looks like817PCfSGe8L._AA1500_

“THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE”
DIRECTED BY JILL FRIEDBERG & RICK ROWLEY / US / 2000 / 72 ‘
PRODUCED BY BIG NOISE FILMS AND CORRUGATED FILMS

This Is What Democracy Looks Like weaves the footage of over 100 videographers into a gripping document of what really happened on Seattle’s streets. The film cuts through the confusion and tear gas to paint an intimate, passionate portrait of a week that changed the world. With narration by SUSAN SARANDON and SPEARHEAD’s MICHAEL FRANTI, and with a driving soundtrack including RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, DJ SHADOW, DJ MUSAKA, and COMPANY OF PROPHETS, This Is What Democracy Looks Like is the first documentary to capture the raw energy of the WTO protests, while clarifying their global and historic significance. The Independent Media Center provided a production infrastructure for over 450 media activists during the WTO protests in November 1999. With autonomous, volunteer-run media centers operating in four continents, ten countries and twenty-one cities, the IMC represents a new and powerful emerging model for independent media.

“The IMC isn’t waiting for the old guard media to tell the true story. . .
the IMC is simply doing the job itself, reporting directly form the front lines.

 Naomi Klein, author of NO LOGO

Demo

“DANCING WITH DYNAMITE: Social Movements and States in Latin America”, a book by Benjamin Dangl (AK Press)

Dancing with Dynamite

Synopsis: In the past decade, grassroots social movements played major roles in electing left-leaning governments throughout Latin America, but subsequent relations between the streets and the states remain uneasy. In Dancing with Dynamite, award-winning journalist Benjamin Dangl explores the complex ways these movements have worked with, against, and independently of national governments. From dynamite-wielding miners in Bolivia to the struggles of landless farmers in Brazil and Paraguay, Dangl discusses the dance between movements and states in seven different Latin American countries. Using original research, lively prose, and extensive interviews with workers, farmers, and politicians, he suggests how Latin American social movement strategies could be applied internationally to build a better world now.

By Benjamin Dangl

“Throughout much of the 1970s and early 1980s, South America saw a wave of military dictatorships come to power that crushed labor unions, political dissidents, students and regular citizens. Tens of thousands of people were tortured, murdered, or disappeared by regimes in a coordinated effort between dictatorships spanning the continent. This Washington-supported nightmare officially ended for many countries in the 1980s. Though the dictatorships were gone, their economic policies remained.

While dissidents at the time condemned the overt violence of the regimes, many protested the equally torturous effects of pro-corporate economic policies. In a letter investigative journalist Rodolfo Walsh sent to the Argentine junta immediately before his murder in 1977, he condemned the dictatorship’s violence against Argentines. After describing the crimes of the dictatorship – including murder, torture and disappearances – he said “the greater atrocity” was the regime’s economic policy, which “punishes millions of human beings through planned misery.” He was referring to neoliberalism.

Neoliberal economic recommendations involve slashing government spending on public works and services, such as education, healthcare, and transportation, and advocating for the privatization of public-owned services and businesses. (…) This ideology spread with the help of willing elites and leaders in South American governments, as well as pressure from international lenders such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which played a vital role in using debt to force crippling neo-liberal austerity measures on governments.

Therefore, many of the South American presidents’ actions, today and in the past, against social movements were due in part to the constraints they found themselves in as leaders of states enmeshed in global capitalism and beholden to Washington, the financial market, military powers, corporate interests, corrupt officials, bureaucracy, and the stranglehold of debt, among other factors.

While neoliberalism appealed to some South American policy-makers, the results for most people were disastrous. Throughout the 1960s and beyond, nascent neoliberal economists (like Milton Friedmann) used South America as their laboratory. In recent years, South Americans have lived the results. Instead of promised jobs, economic mobility, and expanded freedoms, neoliberalism has increasingly concentrated wealth in the hands of a few and impoverished millions. The region’s shift to the left in the recent decade is largely a response to this devastating economic ideology: voters sought an alternative, and presidential candidates promised to provide such alternative.”

* * * * *

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EDUARDO GALEANO

Galeano_fotoEugenioMazzinghi
“Utopia is on the horizon. I go two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I’ll never reach her. What good is utopia? That’s what: it’s good for walking.” – GALEANO

 

 

Excellent interview with Arundhati Roy about the reality in India (@ Al Jazeera)

2014_0418roy

In 1997, Arundhati Roy’s first novel “The God of Small Things” made her the first Indian woman to win the prestigious Booker Prize. More than six million copies of the book were sold worldwide.

Since then, she has turned her pen to politics. During the Bush years, she was a fierce critic, calling the invasion of Afghanistan “an act of terror on the people of the world”.

In India, she has campaigned against mega dams projects, denounced the rise of Hindu nationalism, and has been imprisoned by the Supreme Court of India for “corrupting public morality”.

Her latest essay describes her trip into the heart of India’s Maoist insurgency, the movement that India’s government has launched a major military campaign to crush…

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“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your common sense.” – Siddharta Gautama

FAITH & DOUBT
by Jean-Marie Guyau (1854-1888)

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“Doubt has long enough been accused of immorality, but the immorality of dogmatic faith can be equally maintained. To believe is to assert as real to myself that which I simply conceive as possible – sometimes as impossible. This is seeking to build up an artificial truth… At the same time it is shuting one’s eyes to the objective truth, thrusting it aside beforehand without knowing anything about it. The greatest enemy of the human progress is the presupposition… Faith from that point of view becomes indolence of thought. Indifference even is often superior to dogmatic faith. One who is indifferent says: ‘I do not care to know.’ But he adds: ‘I will not believe’. The believer wants to believe without knowing. Therefore, whatever may be the question, doubt is better than the perpetual affirmation, better than the renunciation of all personal initiative, which is called faith. This kind of intellectual suicide is inexcusable, and that which is still more strange is the pretension to justify it, as is constantly done, by invoking moral reasons… “The dignity of believing!” – you reply. Man has too often, all through history, rested his dignity upon errors… The truth is not always so fair as the dream, but its advantage is that it is true. In the domain of thought there is nothing more moral than truth; and when truth cannot be secured through positive knowledge, nothing is more moral than doubt. Doubt is dignity of mind. We must therefore drive out of ourselves the blind respect for certain principles, for certain beliefs. We must be able to question, scrutinize, penetrate everything…”

JEAN-MARIE GUYAU (1854-1888).
French philosopher and poet.
In: “Esquisse d’une morale sans obligation ni sanction”. Pg. 62. SHARE.

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COSMOS – A SPACE-TIME ODYSSEY
Download Episode 1 – Episode 2 – Episode 3 – Episode 4 – Episode 5 – Episode 6

The Whirlpool of Existence: Words by Jean-Marie Guyau, Image by K. Hokusai, Music by Claude Debussy…

Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)

“The Great Wave”, by Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)

“Perhaps there is nothing which offers to the eye and the mind a more complete and more sorrowful representation of the world than the sea. In the first place, it is a picture of force in its wildest and most unconquerable form; it is a display, a luxury of power, of which nothing else can give an idea; and it lives, moves, tosses, everlastingly without aim. Sometimes we might say that the sea is animated, that it palpitates and breathes, that it is an immense heart, whose powerful and tumultuous heaving we see; but what makes us despair here is that all this effort, this ardent life, is spent to no purpose. This heart of the world beats without hope; from all this rocking, all this collision of the waves, there results only a little foam stripped off by the wind.

I remember that, sitting on the beach once, I watched the serried waves rolling towards me. They came without interruption from the expanse of the sea, roaring and white. Behind the one dying at my feet I noticed another; and further behind that one, another; and further still, another and another – a multitude. At last, as far as I could see, the whole horizon seemed to rise and roll on towards me. There was a reservoir of infinite, inexhaustible forces there. How deeply I felt the impotency of man to arrest the effort of that whole ocean in movement! A dike might break one of these waves; it could break hundreds and thousands of them; but would not the immense and indefatigable ocean gain the victory?

The ocean neither works nor produces; it moves. It does not give life; it contains it, or rather it gives and takes it with the same indifference. It is the grand, eternal cradle rocking its creatures. If we look down into its fathoms, we see its swarming life. There is not one of its drops of water which does not hold living creatures, and all fight one another, persecute one another, avoid and devour one another… The ocean itself gives us the spectacle of a war, a struggle without truce… And yet this tempest of the water is but the continuation, the consequence, of the tempest of the air; is it not the shudder of the winds which communicates itself to the sea?

There is nothing which is not carried away by the whirlpool of cosmic existence. Earth itself, man, human intelligence, nothing can offer us anything fixed to which it would be possible to hold on – all these are swept away in slower, but not less irresistible, undulations…

* * * * *

Let us imagine a ship in a storm, rising and falling by a series of curves… If at one moment of the passage the descending curve bears the ship down, and she does not rise again, it would be a sign that she is sinking deeper and deeper, and beginning to founder. Even so is it with life, tossed about on waves of pleasure and of pain: if one marks these undulations with lines, and if the line of pain lengthens more than the other, it means that we are going down. Life, in order to exist, needs to be a perpetual victory of pleasure over pain.”

JEAN-MARIE GUYAU (1854-1888),
French philosopher and poet,
Esquisse d’une morale sans obligation ni sanction.
Originally published in 1884. Quoted from the English translation,
by Gertrude Kapteyn. London, 1898. Chapter I. Pgs. 42 – 35.
Download e-book in French or English.

“La Mer”, by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)