September 23, 2011 archive

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A week of horrors, death and killing.  The death of Troy Davis.  The evaporation of the illusion that justice would somehow be served in his case.  The negation of hope for mercy and compassion and life for Troy Davis. A killing in our names we were unable to stop.  We could not, did not spare Troy Davis.  We killed him.  And we killed a part of ourselves.

We have lost our way.  And we have broken ourselves apart.  We believe in the illusion that we are all separate, that we are fragmented.  We don’t see ourselves as every bit of the entire phenomenon.  But we are all of it.  Every single bit of it.  We are all of it: we are the failed rescuers, we are the victims (Officer McPhail and Troy Davis and their families and friends the homeless man who was shot), and most importantly we are the executioners (wearing a black hood or shooting Officer McPhail or denying the stay). Inside each of us is all of them.  Inside us is the person who killed Officer McPhail.  And Officer McPhail.  And Troy Davis.  And those who killed him.  And those who judged him.  And those who advocated for him.  And all of the families of all of these people.  All of them is inside us.   A huge loud, bloody cacophony.   We truly are Troy Davis.  And we also are Officer McPhail.  And Justice Scalia.  And every single person touched this week by this killing, especially those we most blame for this execution.

But we deny it.  We cannot accept it.  We cannot allow it to recognized inside us, in our hearts, our minds, our souls (if we have them).  It is unacceptable to be all of this.  It is denied.  We consign all of this ugliness to our Shadow.  To the unseen.  To the denied.  To the disowned.  To the unacceptable. We can’t see it in us, but everybody else can.

We are oh so dangerous like this.  We are blinded like this.  We cannot love anything or anyone like this. In our panic to deny and disown all of this and our dread of our own painful, complicated human ugliness, we are filled with fear.  We deny it.  And we lash out.  And we kill.  We kill it outside of us, because we cannot countenance its existence inside each and every one of us.  We kill outside because we cannot love what is inside.

This has to stop.  We are dreaded Angulimala, with his chain of fingers around his neck, whom the Buddha himself told to stop.  But we are also the Buddha.  We need to abolish the death penalty, and we need to accept, in fact love the parts of us that are so invisible, so unacceptable, so horrible.  These parts and our efforts to ignore them are driving us crazy.  And they are making us kill.  We need to stop ourselves.

In Troy Davis’s memory, we need to commit once and for all to ending State Killing.  For everyone.  And part of that commitment, if we are to succeed, has to be to healing this enormous fissure inside us.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not actually a digest of essays posted in the past week at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visit The Dream Antilles. Please leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or click the “Encouragement Jar” if there is one. Your Bloguero likes to know you’ve visited.

On This Day In History September 23

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 99 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces–childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the world of dreams and the subconscious. . . .

. . . . Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones that he filled with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, during a performance of the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, a few detractors condemned Chagall’s work as overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the general acclaim for the work. In 1966, as a gift to the city that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).

In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at the age of 97.

The unveiling of the ceiling coincided with the publication of The Phantom of the Opera (“Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”) by Gaston Leroux.

It was first published as a serialization in “Le Gaulois” from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

Experiment gone awry

Gaurav Gopalan had “an insatiable appetite for life”, according to his friend Heather Haney.

Gaurav was always looking to learn more, about himself, about others, about theater. He was always discovering something.

–Heather Haney

Heather had met Gaurav when he invited her in 2006 to try out for a role in an upcoming production of MacBeth.

Gaurav had moved to Washington from his native India, where he had received a British colonial private school education.  He arrived with a desire to learn how to direct, a background in Sanscrit epics, Eastern spirituality and Chekov.  nd he had a particular passion for Shakespeare.

He told me once that his mother told him that everything he needed to know about Western culture, you can learn from reading Shakespeare and the King James Bible.

But she said that most of the good things in the King James are also in Shakespeare, so he could just read that.

–Christopher Henley

Henley and Gopalan often worked together in the Washington Shakespeare Company, where he became resident assistant director.

Late Night Karaoke

Autumnal Equinox 2011

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

At 5:05 AM EDT, the Northern Hemisphere passes from Summer into Autumn as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, Autumn Equinox, Fall Equinox, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch’s Thanksgiving, and the first day of autumn.

It is the second harvest, a time for gathering the Summer’s last fruits, giving thanks for the harvest and marking a celebration in gratitude as the soil and plants die away. This year’s Harvest Moon reached its peak early Monday, Sept. 12 at about 5:27 AM EDT. The “Harvest Moon” is another name for the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the change of seasons. The moon gets its name from the amount of light it emits, allowing farmers to continue harvesting the summer’s crops through the evening. The Harvest Moon usually appears before or after the equinox. Last year, the Harvest Moon occurred on the fall equinox, a rare occurrence that won’t happen again until 2029.

A scientific myth is that day and night are equal around the entire world, not really:

Most Northern Hemisphere locations, however, do not see an exact 12-hour day until a few days after the fall equinox (and a few days before the spring equinox).

The main reason is atmospheric refraction: This bending of the sun’s light allows us to see the entire sun before and after it crosses the horizon. (By definition, actual sunrise occurs as soon as the upper edge of the solar disk appears above the horizon, while sunset occurs the moment the sun’s trailing edge disappears below it – though that’s not how our eyes see it.)

This helps explain why the day is slightly more than 12 hours long on the equinox. It also explains why places on the equator always see just over 12 hours of daylight year-round: It’s because of the angle from which they observe the sun.

One of the myths connected to this celebration/time of year is the myth of Demeter and Persephone.  The Autumn Equinox signals the descent of Persephone back to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades and the Harvest Mother, Demeter’s mourning for her daughter…thus, the explanation of the dying back of plant life.  This myth gave explanation to our ancient ancestors for the changing of the seasons.  The symbolism that is present for us today is the letting go of our youth, child-bearing years and moving closer to the crone/elder part of our lives.  But it is only a preparation, the opening to what needs to be prepared when the Winter inevitably comes.

I Am The Autumnal Sun ~ by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature

— not his Father but his Mother stirs

within him, and he becomes immortal with her

immortality. From time to time she claims

kindredship with us, and some globule

from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,

With autumn gales my race is run;

When will the hazel put forth its flowers,

Or the grape ripen under my bowers?

When will the harvest or the hunter’s moon

Turn my midnight into mid-noon?

I am all sere and yellow,

And to my core mellow.

The mast is dropping within my woods,

The winter is lurking within my moods,

And the rustling of the withered leaf

Is the constant music of my grief….