The suburbs are where people come to grow old.
Even though time never stops and the 66 year old can fondly recall his days skipping school at 15, even though it seems to move too fast to hold, it is slower here. Time almost isn’t. Sure, your kindergartner ultimately graduates from high school, but there are many many days of bored contentment and lethargy in between.
As a child, I thought I would have my sepia tonescapes here. So slow that I would be sure to feel myself living before I die. The loose sleeve of time only a gentle reminder of ultimate decay. Harried and frantic city living, stifling in its mania, but liberating in its persistent meaning, a thing separate and to be waded in.
But what a dull candle that would be.
I rotate round your fecund slickness, ptolemaic and
undeterred, the happenstance of mismatched starcharts killing
I climb into your stares,
Breathe only mutual aspirations,
even in the wake of altercation, the altars of my adoration, adulation,
benevolence and magnanimity are false
for you may have what I have and not more
you may have what I have and not more
but that is more than what you had alone
I will promise you all that I have to give
the whole of my relative forever
without reservation or claim
a forever which is every bit eternal
though it will end when I do
For my dearest M.N., recovering at last: Though the title may seem harsh, if you put plurality in its place and restore the precedence of ‘M’, suddenly all-encompassing circumstance (and even tragedy), becomes bearable, if restrictive and itchy.
Finesse mines buried listless,
incubate them, intubate them,
incur their greatest toll,
and desist detesting detonation,
else disarmed embrace the loss —
a few fewer joints,
no bloody knuckles,
fingerless, thus without blame,
emerging manicured in unkempt sway and
a lovely heart’s cruel weight.
Despair spares not the sparrows,
Disparity, sparse speros spars:
Paring par until perhaps,
Life is lost.
Here is a by no means comprehensive photovisi collage of house interiors that I like – house interiors that are modern and open and cozy and sleek. The photos contained in this collage were garnered from around the web, and I do not claim to own the rights to them. When I saved them, I didn’t think to record the names of the sites they were pulled from, but I will gladly update this post as that information becomes available.
all of the time that I have to give or imagine
is yours, if you’ll take it
all of the time that I have to gamble or win
you can pocket right now, if you wish
you may have what I have and not more.
Hsi Wang Mu, Queen Mother of the West, was the most influential goddess of the T’ang dynasty, though she began her rise to preeminence during the Han. She had great status, riding in a purple cloud carriage pulled by nine chi’i-lin and being waited on by attending, highly talented “jade maidens” who served both food and entertainment. She was considered a matriarch of other goddesses, and she kept the peaches of immortality in her palace’s garden on Mount K’un-lun, planting seeds and throwing a divine banquet once every thousand years as a peach reached maturity. She, like the tiger she was sometimes displayed as, was a symbol of yin, the female, but she and her mountain palace by the turquoise pond also became associated with death.
Because she was the dominant female figure in the Taoist pantheon, she was considered the head of the female priesthood, and therefore had great impact on her female subscribers for she could grant the loyal transcendence. As Jowen R. Tung stated, some influential women, like poetess Yu Xuanji, and several of the T’ang princesses, such as Princess Yuhzen, moved into the Taoist priesthood in a gambit for independence and power. Suzanne Cahill of the University of California San Diego, the chief scholar on Hsi Wang Mu’s influence, reaffirmed this claim[i]. Princesses Jade Verity and Golden Transcendent (their Taoist names) of the Li clan both entered religious life and followed the example of and were compared to the Queen Mother. As they left their houses to join the cloister, they were referred to as beginning their ascension to the Queen Mother’s court, and as they gained authority and merit as priestesses, they were assumed to be intimately (and rhetorically) familiar with her by poets, calling her “Amah,” or “nanny.”
Nor was this the only influence Cahill claims the myth had. Courtesans were often compared to the “jade maidens,” especially during mention of their musical skill. Courtesans could believe in the protection of the Queen Mother for young beautiful women talented in music and service.
Therefore, between her patronage of priestesses and Taoist adepts and her patronage of courtesans and public women, Hsi Wang Mu could be considered a role model for non-traditional life in traditional China (for she was not a goddess to bless mundane happenings, like childbirth), granting a lifestyle of independence to women outside of the household and allowing them to enter the Taoist religion and convents for security, legitimacy, and prestige.
[i] I referred extensively to Cahill’s “Performers and Female Taoist Adepts: Hsi Wang Mu as the Patron Deity of Women in Medieval China” published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society in January of 1986 in my study of Hsi Wang Mu.
In his second inaugural address, on 20 January 2005, President George W. Bush declared that the central aim of U.S. foreign policy would be to abolish tyranny and spread freedom around the world. So, what went wrong?
There were two problems with President George W. Bush’s central foreign policy aim. First, the aim itself was noble but misprioritized. By seeking to abolish tyranny and spread freedom around and throughout the world, President Bush was relying on his moral idealism, fueled by his devout faith, to determine policies for the world. Unfortunately, this meant a move away from the Realism past Presidents had employed successfully and overlooked the dirty political realities of our time: abolishing tyranny is not so simple as toppling a dictator, in many cases there are no established, peace-seeking leaders to fill the resultant vacuum with freedom, and a more radical, anti-American regime will emerge; in the wake of colonialism, not every country is a nation-state, many are multination-states in which bloody ethnic sectarianism is the norm, preventing cooperative elections, much less stability; since the end of the Cold War, the United States has had more might than any other nation, but it has not had enough hegemony to be above needing the aid and good will of other nations – thrusting democracy upon unwilling nations through brute force and invasion is not endearing. Ultimately, freedom should be viewed as an end, not a means, of stability, and democracy as an end, not a means, of freedom. Second, in pursuing these unrealistic aims, President Bush surrounded himself with advisors who would kowtow to his interests, neglect criticism, and hide their own goals. In particular, Donald Rumsfeld’s rejection of traditional military planning tactics, especially of Stage IV planning – the formation of post-war stability and infrastructure – in Iraq not only left Iraq crippled but left America’s capital to accomplish its foreign policy objectives decimated, destroying international empathy and solidarity for American interests. This in turn hurt the perception of the very American values George W. Bush hoped to spread, making them undesirable, because he repeatedly and with some success tried to convince the world that America’s values and interests were now one and the same.
Bush’s aim shaped his policy towards several countries, including North Korea. By rejecting Kim Jung Il simply because he was (and is) a dictator, President Bush disregarded the advances that his predecessor, President Clinton, had made with Kim Il Sung in the Agreed Framework. He moved instead to impose economic sanctions and a policy of nonrecognition. In so doing, he allowed North Korea to build a stockpile of nuclear weapons made from the reprocessing of commercial plutonium pits that had once been locked away and subject to IAEA protections. Thus, Bush’s action to protect morality by condemning a tyrannical figure and system hurt America and the world at large by allowing that very figure to acquire the same Weapons of Mass Destruction he argued were, in other cases, reason for war.
Another place he tried to implement this aim as policy was Palestine. By refusing to take meaningful steps towards peace until after Palestine met the U.S.’s condition of establishing democratic structures and institutions, Bush prevented those very structures from coming about. Instead of an agreement with Israel under the friendly Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S. was left with the rise of Hamas and militant extremism through the same elections that it touted would bring increased democracy. Similarly, when Hezbollah was fighting Israel, the U.S. should have taken action to quell the belligerence and work with fleetingly yielding Arab states. Instead, hoping to avoid dealings with states perceived as non-democratic and abusive of human rights, the U.S., via Condoleezza Rice, missed the opportunity to form a less hostile Middle East and a safer Lebanon.
In Iraq, the problem of ill-prepared and willfully ignorant advisors came much further to the fore. In all of their strategizing, Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney tried to dismiss or suppress opposition, framing all such attempts as the by-product of liberal Clinton loyalists. In fact, though Rumsfeld was correct about the potential of technology to transform the air force into a far more vital organ of military attack, particularly for strikes of industrialized, urban nations, his desire to see a “transformational” era of U.S. foreign policy based primarily upon military muscle was misguided at best. By refraining from interaction with opposing thinkers, he left no place in his invasion plans for a stabilization strategy. He hoped not to remain as an occupying force at all. But this was contrary to the true aim of the war, which Bush had stated as not merely removing Saddam Hussein from power, which Rumsfeld accomplished with astonishing rapidity and ease, but bringing democracy to the people of Iraq. In this sense, Frank Miller, the man in charge of acquisitions and agreements for Iraq’s war effort, who attempted to enact a similar policy of preparation for the post-war transition, could have been of use. But the Pentagon resisted his attempts. Collin Powell, the ignored and later dismissed Secretary of State, also could have been of use. But because Powell was unable to play to both the President’s religious sentimentalism and his “cowboy instincts,” he was disregarded. His replacement, Condoleeza Rice, was a loyal convert to Bush’s policy, despite her own education to the contrary, and took little action to force a change in the handling of post-invasion Iraq. Even when she did report Rumsfeld’s inaction to the President, he refused to personally intervene, and nothing was done. Nor was Rumsfeld the only one not held to account – L. Paul Bremer, the man placed in charge of Iraq’s domestic affairs in the interim between the invasion and the election, took actions without the consent of the President, and completely contrary to all high level consensus, at the instruction of Rumsfeld’s undersecretary for policy, Douglas Feith. His decrees were never reversed and his authority left unchallenged.
Therefore, by cherishing freedom not merely as an ideal but as a tool to be used against other nations for what America perceived as those nations’ “own best interest,” and refusing to hire advisors who might think otherwise and promote a moderate foreign policy, President Bush inspired a mass of anti-American sentiment that promoted tyranny and denigrated freedom, contrary to his aim.