Philip Levine: Voice for the Voiceless

A Voice for the Voiceless

“One of the aspects of my own poetry I like best,” Levine said in a 1988 interview for The Paris Review, “is the presence of people who don’t seem to make it into other people’s poems.” This, indeed, was his mission: speaking for those who were voiceless. The brief time he spent as one of them brought to his poetry a constant moral indignation about the treatment of workers in this country. His interest in their predicament gives his work at times a documentary quality, like those Depression-era photographs of factory workers and the unemployed. “Nothing epic,” he said of his own poems. “Just the small heroics of getting through the day when the day doesn’t give a shit, getting through the world with as much dignity as you can pull together from the tiny resources left to you.”

Charles Simic

New York Review of Books, June 22, 2017

A Brief History of the Uncanny…

…and it’s late 20th century return.

“Flesh World: On the New Uncanny” (Anneleen Masschelein, Los Angeles Review of Books, August 2012)

“Examples of the uncanny, taken from Freud’s own experience as well from literature and superstition, included getting lost in the woods and always ending up in the same place, déjà vu, missing body parts, dead objects that turn out to be alive, the fear of being buried alive, meeting one’s double, the evil eye, and so on. From all this, Freud concluded that the uncanny is a mild shade of anxiety or unease that arises when the familiar suddenly appears strange.”

About that Electoral College

“The Electoral College meets Dec. 19, when its 538 members cast their votes. The hope of many Trump opponents is that at least 37 Republican electors, slated to vote for Trump, will vote for someone else. This would leave Trump with 269 electoral votes or less, not enough to be declared president. The decision to choose the president would then fall to the U.S. House of Representatives. This extraordinary twist in presidential politics has only happened once in U.S. history, back in 1824.”

Here is a brief and clear historical account of the Electoral College, the ‘Hamilton Electors’ and the current situation:

Hamilton Electors Have a Message for Donald Trump: “You’re Fired” (Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan for Democracy Now)

“This is Water”

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?'”

Congratulations to those currently graduating!

Here, via YouTube, is the lovely and well-known commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace:

This is Water

(text version)