There be dragons!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Value, Meaning and the Economic Crisis

A great article by Frederick Turner in the American Arts Quarterly. Spot on about the connection between images and ideas as well as the nature of sacrifice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A discussion on teaching

A former student of mine, interested in going into teaching, asked the following questions. Here are my answers.

He asks: As for advice,anything you can send my way would be great. I'm not even sure what questions to ask.

Respondeo ad eum: well, let me ask a few questions then:
1. what subject(s) are you teaching?
2. what age group?
3. where are you going to be teaching?

He asks: I guess my first question is what do you do differently from other teachers that makes you more successful or helps your students succeed to a greater degree?

Respondeo ad eum: first, I don't really follow any of that education classes BS like rubrics and week planners and teaching to different styles of learning. Partly b/c I'm no good at it, partly b/c it doesn't really seem to help in the long run. I little planning, yes, clear & simple expectations for student achievement, yes, organizing activities other than purely lecture, yes. I have a colleague who thinks that piling on oodles of terms and reading and lab work will help students love and learn the subject. Not true. An appropriate amount of work (with constant readjustment to what is reasonable) but not piles of backbreaking labor.

second, constant interpretation of texts, clarification, explaining things so that students can understand the material. discussion of the material. working through in discussion why the arguments are important.

third, I give only a few major terms that need to be known and repeat them, and repeat them, and repeat them. Other minor terms are thrown about during lectures and discussions, but the major terms (10 or so) are reiterated during the course of the year.

finally, I never pander to students. I've always treated students as though they were bright enough to understand the importance of what was put before them and important enough to put before them the best and most powerful stuff.

He asks: Is it your passion for the subject, a passion for your students succeeding, both?

Respondeo ad eum: Both, really. I love what I teach and love whom I teach. The subject matter must be interesting to me or I can't teach it. Consequently if I have to teach something that I am not familiar with I always try to find the angle, the point of interest, something in it that I find remarkable - never teach something b/c you have to - always teach it because you have come to want to. I'm always being told "you have to love these students more" but as one of my colleagues pointed out we can only love our students to the degree that they are in our classrooms. Genuine interest in their success is important, though never to the point of sacrificing the curriculum - they need to know this stuff & to not teach it is actually doing them a disservice. But I know many teachers who love their subject matter and can't stand the students they teach; even going so far as to say that the students are idiots or that it's their fault they can't learn. Though it is sometimes their fault, if they don't understand the material I ought to make an effort to help and not berate them. Above all, compassion and mercy. I only hold a student's feet to the flames if I think it will help him/her, never just to exert my vindictive desires.

Respondeo ad eum: Lastly, if there is any advice that I would offer gratis, I would quote one of my great mentors/teachers who said "we don't try to save every student we teach, but we do try to offer them the tools to handle salvation when it comes to them." I think that, bottom line, this is what I do (or try to do). Teaching is not about just conveying information (b/c YouTube alone would be good for that), nor is it about simply giving skills (b/c that would be found in a tech school), nor is it about saving the souls of your students (thank God, b/c I would suck at that royally!). Ultimately teaching is about training students to be able to handle the difficult choices, decisions, thoughts that will come to them. I hold this mantra for every discipline whether it be science, math, language, philosophy, history, or mechanics. I really do think (and here I will wax philosophic so you can stop reading now if you so desire) that the gristmill of life is such a crushing thing that without some ability to handle it, to think through the weirdness of our human condition and mature into rational adults, we will be destroyed; even if we go on living physically, our minds and spirits get ruined - darkened - fall into a sort of malaise of despair or monotonous repetition which is hellish. The true job of the teacher is to try and provide the ability to see order, structure, pattern and beauty in the world by means of rational thought and contemplation; the constant questioning of "why is this so?" or "what is the pattern?" or "how does this fit?" In short, teaching is a revelation that there is an order to things, a Logos, and that the Logos is beautiful.
Very Platonic of me, I know, but there it is.

He asks: P.S.- In class yesterday we discussed the poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. I could't help but notice some similarities with the story of Dante's Inferno. Is this just me or do you see what I am referring to?

Respondeo ad eum: It's just you. No, seriously, I just finished teaching this and found some excellent material on this poem and on "Road Not Taken" which I will gladly share with you when YouTube is working again. I wrote several essays on the blog (ScribbleBibble) regarding different Frost poems. The connection btwn "Woods" and "Inferno" is very strong - woods, cold, darkness, despair, the longing for sleep - but did Frost intend that? Is there evidence that he was referring to that work or is it just similarly used natural symbolism (which, after all, is a bit limited as it only means what it is and not what we say it is).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The convergence of the three

Three things happened that converged into this idea; a dream, a Biblical reading, Mary Wollstonecraft's mother.

The dream -
I came into a Gothic style church and Father J and several other priests were preparing to say Mass. Father J was excited to see me b/c now there would be good singing. But instead of Mass there was a heated debate going on about the nature of scripture; was it the direct word of God? was it not the direct word of God? Did God even exists? I interjected myself in good teaching fashion and proclaimed that the people there had it all wrong. The truth of the work did not lie in its direct descent from a divine being or not, but rather that the work inspired such vivid reactions and debate amongst those who read it. No one, after all, has such debates over Judy Blume books or over Dr. Seuss. The bible inspires such debates because it encourages readers to seek for the truth, and because truth is important to them they discuss the merits of the work with passion. If they were striving for unity, such unity would be found in that they all wished to find the good, the true, and the beautiful - nor would they sacrifice their pursuit of these three things for the sake of just getting along. The bible creates unity either by instilling in its readers a desire to know the real or by fanning that desire that already existed in them.

In the Song of Solomon Chapter 3 one reads that

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but I found him not.
I said,
I will rise now, and go about the city;
In the streets and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but I found him not.

The watchmen that go about the city found me;
To whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?

It was but a little that I passed from them,
When I found him whom my soul loveth:
I held him, and would not let him go,
Until I had brought him into my mother's house,
And into the chamber of her that conceived me.

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the roes, or by the hinds of the field,
That ye stir not up, nor awake my love,
Until he please.

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness
Like pillars of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all powders of the merchant?

Behold, it is the litter of Solomon;

Wollstonecraft in Vindication writes:
In the world few people act from principle; present feelings, and early habits, are the grand springs: but how would the former be deadened, and the latter rendered iron corroding fetters, if the world were shew2n to young people just as it is; when no knowledge of mankind or their own hearts, slowly obtained by experience, rendered them forbearing? Their fellow creatures would not then be viewed as frail beings; like themselves, condemned to struggle with human infirmities, and sometimes displaying the light, and sometimes the dark side of their character; extorting alternate feelings of love and disgust; but guarded against as beasts of prey, till every enlarged social feeling, in a word, - humanity, was eradicated.

Somethings cannot be revealed to some people. Perhaps the whole of our iconography exists in order to bring us to a farther shore of knowing who we are. As rational creatures we understand things by creating an image in our minds of the thing to be considered; we imagine things to understand them. As they correspond to the reality being considered they are more or less "true".

A. image -----(degree of truth)------> B. reality

The point of the faith life is to unite image and reality as closely and honestly as possible such that we are able to love that which is lovable. The metaphor for this is a marriage union between man and woman. Image unites with reality so that the mask and the masker are the same and the dancer and the dance are one.

But our problem is manifold. First, we can't handle a great deal of reality, so we have to cloak the reality in layers of imagery. As people mature in their spiritual life they are able to comprehend more beyond the initial image; not losing the initial image (though that is a risk and often seems to result in loss of faith completely), but rather a looking beyond, like Bilbo looking out over Mirkwood.

Second, we have a tendency to cling to our images - to concretize them and insist that the image, not the thing imaged, is the real. Problematic, esp. when we then try to impose these (artificial) concretizations upon others, insisting they live and think the same way as we.

Third, b/c we are so good at self-delusion we frequently construct an image which we know to be wrong - willfully avoiding the images that work in favor of the images that will allow us to get our way; we manipulate images to enforce the dominance of our will over others. This is necromancy.

All this on the natural lacuna, the abyss that occurs as a consequence of the distance between images and reality. Images always fall short of reality and thus need to be abandoned at some point. EVERY image must be abandoned if we are to truly understand either image or reality. This "dark night of the soul" or negative vision, is, it seems, a necessary part of the whole spiritual exercise but probably also the hardest as it is the most terrifying and difficult to accomplish. Those who are afraid of it shy away and retreat to their concrete images, become literalists and doctrinalists, and never enter again the realm of questioning and darkness. Those who are untrained to go through this experience come to think that every image is bogus and all faith is a lie; they cease to question what faith even means (or what terms like "soul", "God" "heaven" or "hell" could mean). Thus they fall into atheism, ridicule or critique of all faith. Rather than trying to comprehend what faith actually seeks to accomplish, namely coming to love that which is lovable, which

cometh up from the wilderness
Like pillars of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense

as one would love a man or a woman; self and other; image and reality joined in a union; the members of these two camps become law-driven or lawless, the Hammerites or the Trickster's Pagans.

Note to self: Read more Ratzinger

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Be Still and know that I am God

“An inconceivable beauty you speak of,” he said, “if it is the source of knowledge and truth, and yet itself surpasses them in beauty. For you surely cannot mean that it is pleasure.”
“Hush,” said I...
- Republic Bk IV: 509a

αὐτὸ δ᾽ ὑπὲρ ταῦτα κάλλει ἐστίν: οὐ γὰρ δήπου σύ γε ἡδονὴν αὐτὸ λέγεις.

εὐφήμει, ἦν δ᾽ ἐγώ:

Socrates' response to Glaucon is commonly read to mean "shut up" or "don't blaspheme" for Glaucon, in the midst of the discussion of The Good has misunderstood and suggested that this "inconceivable beauty" (hyper tauta kallei) is nothing more than pleasure. His knuckleheaded response is understandable, though, given his character; pleasure IS all he knows.

Socrates' response, however, is surprising. He is normally very tolerant of the obtuse incomprehension of his interlocutors. The severity of his response seems to indicate that he takes this matter very seriously. Indeed to reduce this greatest of visions to something so base and transitory is itself akin to blasphemous speech. IF all our vision of greatness is only another form of pleasure, being good only in that it pleases us, then not only does the whole native hue of resolution get sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, but our very standard for what is good or evil becomes a subjective gratification of what appeals to us. Consequently The Good becomes theft, power, sloth, rapine, murder or any other host of evils dared by Gyges. Indeed, to subjectify this concept of The Good is to verify the rightness of what Gyges in Book 2 does. He is right in rapine and murder, Hugh Hefner is right in polygamy, Karl Miewis is right in cannibalism, Pol Pot is right in genocide, and no one can tell anyone else anything certain of what is good, true or noble.

But the command "euphemei" in Greek has another connotation besides "hush" - literally it translates as "use words of good omen" or "abstain from evil words" and comes from the combination of "eu" (good) and "phemei", meaning a voice of unknown or prophetic origin. ("euphemism" in English is a direct derivative) So what Socrates says to Glaucon isn't just "shut up" or "be silent", it is "prophecy well". He is commanding Glaucon at this critical moment to become a prophet of The Good - to allow the truth that inspires to speak through him, rather than let his own vision clouded by desire ruin the greatness of the conversation (and of the work). So one could extract from this command something of the prophetic calling of Glaucon by Socrates.

Nevertheless, the common use of the imperative (according to Liddell & Scott) is normally "hush!" or "be still!". Such a command at this moment rings harmoniously with the command in Psalm 46.10 "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." This too is a command from the speaker (God) to the interlocutor (us) to "hush!" in the midst of all our babble.

I can't help but think that in both texts, Republic and Bible, the hush is something more akin to a formula. How does one know God? How does one become a prophet? Is it in argument? Conversation (as Socrates seems to ironically proclaim)? Being busy with good works? Reading voluminously? - what both the Psalm and Socrates indicate is that the only way to know God is in the midst of stillness. What is sin but constant noise and business, hurriedness, worry, the cacophony of the world., the imperative to buy, the injunction to neither stand nor lie nor sit.

"O figliuol", disse, "qual di questa greggia

s'arresta punto, giace poi cent'anni

sanz'arrostarsi quando 'l foco il feggia."

In such a din there is no way to know God any more than it is possible to know the Good of which Socrates speaks.

The evening prayer of John Henry Cardinal Newman has stuck with me since my youth. Newman writes

May the Lord support us all the day long,
Till the shades lengthen and the evening comes
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.

Then in his mercy may he give us
a safe lodging
and a holy rest,
and peace at last.

True insight comes in silence, not in fever, and what we long for, safe lodging, holy rest, peace at the last, seem to come not through the busy machinations of the world's materialism and pleasure, but only at silent reflection and meditation on the fact that God is Good. So mote it be (or in the vernacular: Amen).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

On consciousness and the God

Here's what I'm currently deliberating - the belief in evil (with which I agree) uncoupled from a belief in a, as you say, "beneficent supernatural god". We both may doubt the existence of god, but how then do we account for evil? If we say that evil is merely one man hurting another then we have agreed to a standard based on the importance of the individual. But where does that standard come from? Doesn't it assume that there is an individual to be honored and doesn't such belief in an individual importance mean that I believe in a thing, invisible to the eyes (call it consciousness, soul, nous, mind, whatever) which manifests through outer actions and the working of the human mind through writing and speech and art (as I am doing now)? Then - and here is the sticking point - how important is that individual nous; likened to a divinity? Not to use this observation to prove the existence of god b/c I don't know if such "proof" is either valid or necessary; but what if The God is a way not of viewing some magnificent power that dominates over us, but a way rather of viewing some odd phenomenon in us which is otherwise hard to justify or explain - namely, consciousness. Regardless of knowing that there is a god, our belief, or willed assent, that there is a god allows us better to make sense of this weirdness with which we are afflicted. Perhaps The god is rational thought itself - Logos; denial of which ruins the possibility of discussion. Perhaps The god is consciousness - nous; denial of which ruins the possibility of honoring the importance of the individual. And maybe the only way to give assent in order to engage in rational thought, discussion, honor is to acknowledge that The god is other than and greater than us.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Sophist's Dictionary

(with apologies to Ambrose Bierce):

comfort = the root of all existence; too little of which stimulates change, too much of which kills spending

country = an illusion that helps placate the masses by encouraging them to think they share some common bond and are not isolated and lonely targets; a good excuse for going to war with another group of people in order to increase profit margins

family = a temporary convenience until something better from Argentina comes along

freedom = a limited set of choices calculated to encourage the maximum amount of spending among the people by seeming to be limitless; proportional to one's spending power (see Maxim's maxim); just some people talking; another word for nothing left to lose

God = a tool for self aggrandizement

happiness = a euphoria induced by the release of chemicals within the body brought on by an abundance of porn, fast food, violent video games/movies, and/or loud music; an excellent stimulant to freedom (see above); a warm gun.

illusion = a term marketed to the masses to encourage them to think that they must buy certain products in order to be liberated from it.

love = that without which no product can be moved; love must be fanned until it burns focused until it flames, controlled until it consumes; chemicals released into the body that convince one that everything will be okay; easily simulated by chocolate, steak, or 1-900 phone calls.

Maxim's maxim = F1+P1 = S1,
Let F1 = greater sense of freedom
Let P1 = more spending power
Let S1 = more spending

religion = a fine thing taken in moderation; a useful set of actions and words to gain money, advance a career, or promote one's latest album

soul, consciousness, nous, individuality = nice sentiments easily compromised; a delusion common among the buying public of their own self-worth and/or importance.

thought = the enemy of success; the prompter of hesitation; the impediment to ruin; the foil to excess; the confounder of profits; the parent of self-control; the disperser of illusion; the destruction of empires; the breeder of emancipation; the catalyst of action

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Comment on "that video"

One of the viewers at YouTube left this comment on my video.

ideas are great. beliefs are dangerous. if they are set up to be followed beyond all logic and reason, then beliefs are bad.
I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, though not with the syntax. As I point out in the fourth video, we humans tend to construct our mythology in order to understand ourselves, but then quickly we concretize the mythology and lose the thing trying to be understood. The next step, then, is to impose that concretized mythology in a mindless, dictatorial fascism upon those around us. Rather than trying to bring others to greater understanding or trying to find what is best for others through love for them, we try to force others to abide by the actions and outer signs which are but manifestations of the understanding we are trying to achieve. Consequently, we tend very quickly to a dangerous form of totalitarianism which kills logic and reason; whether that totalitarianism is Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Deist, or Theist is inconsequential. As a race we have a tendency to "lose the forest for the trees" or "throw the baby out with the bathwater" or "make a club and beat each other on the head with it." This, I think, is utterly antithetical to the life of holiness.

But, that being said, what the commentator is suggesting is that there is a difference between ideas and beliefs - the two are diametrically opposed - the first is good, the second is bad, since the first corresponds to logic and the second to superstition. This needs addressing.

First, the Greek language had a better handle on this then we do. Plato distinguishes not between ideas and beliefs but between knowledge and opinion. Opinion is subject to error, but knowledge is not. Opinion does not have a basis in reason, knowledge does. Opinion is what the multitude possess, knowledge is what a true philosopher possesses. Opinion is closer to sleep walking, knowledge to being awake. Opinion is like being dead, or non-existence, knowledge is life and full existence. Yet between the two is something like
a correct judgment which does not yet have full confirmation of its reality. From the Symposium:

For true opinions, as long as they remain, are a fine thing and all they do is good, but they are not willing to remain long, and they escape from a man’s mind, so that they are not worth much until one ties them down by (giving) an account of the reason why. [...] After they are tied down, in the first place they become knowledge, and then they remain in place. That is why knowledge is prized higher than correct opinion, and knowledge differs from correct opinion in being tied down. 98a
True opinions have to be transformed into knowledge if they are going to be reliable and fly away. How does one do this? Plato suggested it was through a form of katharsis, or emotional purging prompted by a traumatic experience, that releases one from the illusions of this world that lead to complacency and routine. But since we cannot go through such traumatic experience regularly we have to compensate with images, rituals, stories, and habits designed to prompt this cathartic experience.

Second, when the commentator above refers to belief I assume he means the ignorant, pigheaded, unquestioning belief that takes as concrete the images and rituals of religion as the end goal (telos) of that religion. But indeed, that's my point. The images and rituals of religion - any religion - exist to prompt the kathartic experience in man so that he asks the questions necessary to achieve knowledge and not rely anymore on opinion. Plato suggests that the images which prompt this katharsis, the icons (eikones), are merely shadows of the actual forms, ideas (eidos), which they represent. If one is to mature in religion he has to move beyond thinking that the eikons are the eidoi; the shadows are not the reality. If one does not do so, then to stare into that abyss is to see only one's own reflection, and to fall in love with that reflection (selfishness) and be transformed into something non-human; like Narcissus. As Simone Weil points out, the true life of holiness is a life of enquiry into the nature of things. Only by such enquiry, peering into the abyss, do we actually come to knowledge and move away from the complacent comfort of opinion.

Third, however, as the Cave metaphor shows, the movement beyond the eikones does not prompt their utter abandonment. One cannot throw out the rituals, images or shadows, but has to realize that they are not the end goal. Nor does insult or denigration of these rituals and images by those who are "in the know" (gnosis) actually help anyone else to move from opinion to knowledge. Rather it does damage to the mind, or soul, or nous. It is, as I say in the third video, a bit like telling in graphic detail to a 5 year old what rape is; they aren't helped by such description, merely terrified. Instead we tell them "Red Riding Hood". The story is about rape (or other forms of demonic violation) but children are able to understand the horror without actually seeing it. This is a bit like challenging the Medusa using a mirroring shield. Mythology, religion, is a mirroring shield to allow us to experience the katharsis that leads to knowledge without being turned to stone by the horror of it.

Consequently, it would seem, there are people of fanaticism on both the side of "belief" and the side of "knowledge"; those who are professed believers in Christianity (or another religion) frequently seem to think it their job to beat down non-believers, skeptics, and critics, insult them, or try to convert them using rigorous logic and quotations from the Bible. But non-believers also seem compelled to insult religion, ridicule believers, and convert to non-belief those who are part of a religion. I don't know the cause of such strange desires; perhaps childhood trauma, perhaps sexual license, perhaps weakness or laziness of thought. Whatever the case such actions seem little to correspond with what might be considered a life of holiness. Benedict XVI in his address to Regensburg made this very clear when he said that religion cannot be spread by the sword; metaphorically or literally. Religious understanding (or more accurately spiritual understanding) is a deeply personal experience; namely b/c one is confronting that greatest of abyssals that we are alone in the universe - but to understand this and convey it to others we have to have recourse to the images and rituals we use to express this experience.

The life of knowing is not diametrically opposed to the life of believing, in this sense, any more than the life of ideas is opposed to the life of icons. Indeed, the two are actually complementary. We must come to understand and to love and this is done through images and mythology that prompt catharsis away from ourselves and toward the reality which the images embody.

To concretize the images does damage to the understanding which they embody; but so too does insulting or denying the images. Thus, it seems, we are left only with the course which Plato embodies in his great myth; we go down into the shadows to learn what they have to tell us and thus escape, repeatedly, from our own little cave of confinement.

I plan to make more videos b/c I'm not done mumbling yet.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th - Independence

Honoring all the men and women, including many of the signers of the below document, who gave their lives for this unique ideal. If we love our country we not only must critique the bad, we must also extol the good; and there is much good about this great nation. I never cease to be amazed at the remarkable quality of the ideal that led to our founding. So below I post again the Declaration of Independence. To hold certain truths to be self-evident, to claim that men are endowed with certain unalienable rights, and to boldly assert that governments exist to secure those rights is, in itself, a monumental shift in human history. Happy July 4th!

Documents of Freedom

Interactive Constitution

British PEM Daniel Hannan on the greatness of America:

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

John Donne: The Broken Heart

Just reading this again. What a great poem. What a great poet.

And why, he asks in his odd way, looking under his brows like a bull, do we only know that we love something once it has been crushed or wounded or lost?

What a screwed up race we are.