PR: What has been of greater service to humanity, the dark vision of humanity, limned in satire, by Jonathan Swift or the positivity-rancid homilies of corporate church of self-actualization? What is more propitious to the psyche, a descent into the underworld by Orphic imagination or the Icarusian dazzle on Instagram or the narcissistic intoxication induced by gazing upon one’s image reproduced by a thousand retweets on Twitter?
The recent death of the Russian poet with whom I was acquainted, Yevgheny Yevtushenko, prompted these considerations of the role of poets in social-cultural-political progress in general and in a particularly spectacular fashion in Russia. In few other countries have poets played a more significant than in Russia. Nonetheless, for centuries Russian poets have been harassed, persecuted, and punished for their songs. Dostoevsky imprisoned, Pushkin exiled, Yesenin, Mayakovsky and Tsvetaeva suicides, Mandelshtam and others perished in the cultural events of 1937. Poets seldom lead easy lives anywhere. The poet sees the ideals but he must flee from the world in order to rejoice in them and he cannot remain unaffected by the caricatures of these ideals around him.
Drifting in the fevered winter of a desolate mind
The captive pursuit of status and power a daily grind
In such a space the stilled bells of conscience no longer toll
For travailing arduously against sense and dignity many lose their soul
(to the music of “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” by Bob Dylan)
Come gather ’round people who count earth as home,
And admit that the sea levels around us have grown,
And accept it that soon we’ll be drenched to the bone.
If our future to us is worth savin’,
Then we’d better start pressuring those with hearts of stone,
For the climes they are a-changin’. Continue reading →
On the 28th of March, 2014, at about 4 p.m., the Afghan Peace Volunteers heard a loud explosion nearby. For the rest of the evening and night, they anxiously waited for the sound of rocket fire and firing to stop. It was reported that a 10 year old girl, and the four assailants, were killed. Continue reading →