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Chris Hedges

Marcel Proust’s ‘In Search Of Lost Time,’ 100 Years Later

A century ago on Nov. 18, 1922, Marcel Proust died. He worked feverishly in his final hours on his masterpiece, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, In Search of Lost Time. His 4,000 page novel is one of the most remarkable works of literature of the 20th century. During the war in Bosnia, I plowed my way through its seven volumes populated with 400 characters not as an escape from the war, for the specter of death and the twilight of an expiring society haunts Proust’s work, but as a way to reflect on the disintegration around me. Proust, like all great writers, gave me the words to describe aspects of the human condition I knew instinctively but had trouble articulating. Proust understood the conflicting ways we perceive reality and come to our own peculiar self-serving truths. He illuminated human folly with its illusions, ambiguities, and contradictions.

The Good Priest

During the two years the cartoonist Joe Sacco and I spent on our book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, written out of the poorest pockets of America, we invariably encountered heroic men and women who — against overwhelming odds — rose up to fight lonely and often losing battles on behalf of the oppressed. Bill Means, Charlie Abourezk and Leonard Crow Dog in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Larry Gibson and Judy Bonds in the coal fields of West Virginia. Lucas Benitez, Laura Germano and Greg Abbot in the produce fields of Florida. The men and women in Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street movement. When set against the crushing poverty, environmental degradation, corporate abuse and despair they opposed, the victories they amassed were often miniscule.

Medea Benjamin: Making Sense Of The War In Ukraine

Eight months in, there is no clear end in sight for the war in Ukraine. Millions have been uprooted from their homes, and thousands killed in the conflict. Simultaneously, billions in US taxpayer dollars have been stuffed into the pockets of defense contractors in the name of providing military aid to Ukraine, perpetuating a war profiteering bonanza that has cost trillions of dollars over the past two decades and brought ruin to Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and other nations. Meanwhile, mass media has loyally propagated a narrative of the war that favors the interests of NATO and the US in manufacturing consent for a prolonged conflict designed to weaken Russia. The complex history of the conflict and region have been intentionally obscured by a simplistic tale of good vs. evil, and democracy vs. authoritarianism.

Death Of An Oracle

The poet Gerald Stern, who died last Friday at the age of 97, spent his life thundering against the mendacity and abuse of power; rebelling against all forms of authority, big and small; defying social conventions; and wielding his finely honed writing on behalf of the demonized, forgotten and oppressed. He was one of our great political poets. Poetry, he believed, had to speak to the grand and minute issues that define our lives. He was outrageous and profane, often in choice Yiddish, French and German. He was incredibly funny, but most of all brave. Rules were there, in his mind, to be broken. Power, no matter who held it, was an evil to be fought. Artists should be eternal heretics and rebels. He strung together obscenities to describe poets and artists who diluted their talent and sold out for status, grants, prizes, the blandness demanded by poetry journals and magazines like The New Yorker, and the death trap of tenured professorships.

Writing On War

"As this century began, I was writing War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, my reflections on two decades as a war correspondent, 15 of them with the New York Times, in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, Bosnia, and Kosovo. I worked in a small, sparsely furnished studio apartment on First Avenue in New York City. The room had a desk, chair, futon, and a couple of bookshelves — not enough to accommodate my extensive library, leaving piles of books stacked against the wall. The single window overlooked a back alley. There were days when I could not write. I would sit in despair, overcome by emotion, unable to cope with a sense of loss, of hurt, and the hundreds of violent images I carry within me. Writing about war was not cathartic. It was painful. I was forced to unwrap memories carefully swaddled in the cotton wool of forgetfulness. The advance on the book was modest: $25,000. Neither the publisher nor I expected many people to read it, especially with such an ungainly title. I wrote out of a sense of obligation, a belief that, given my deep familiarity with the culture of war, I should set it down. But I vowed, once done, never to willfully dredge up those memories again."

Chris Hedges Report: Trauma, Addiction, And Illness Under Capitalism

How does living in a consumer society at war with basic human needs affect our minds and, ultimately, our bodies? In his new book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a Toxic Culture, Dr. Gabor Maté and his son Daniel argue that our culture’s standards of normalcy are destructive to the health of human beings. In a society where profit and personal attainment are the highest values, traumas abound, and everyday people are left to endure their pain and shame in silence. The consequence of this dark ethic, Dr. Maté illustrates, plays out on our bodies, severely damaging our psyches, and pushing us towards individual and social self-annihilation. Dr. Gabor Maté joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his new book.

The Puppets And The Puppet Masters

Washington, D.C. - Merrick Garland and those who work in the Department of Justice are the puppets, not the puppet masters. They are the façade, the fiction, that the longstanding persecution of Julian Assange has something to do with justice. Like the High Court in London, they carry out an elaborate judicial pantomime. They debate arcane legal nuances to distract from the Dickensian farce where a man who has not committed a crime, who is not a U.S. citizen, can be extradited under the Espionage Act and sentenced to life in prison for the most courageous and consequential journalism of our generation. The engine driving the lynching of Julian is not here on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is in Langley, Virginia, located at a complex we will never be allowed to surround – the Central Intelligence Agency.

Chris Hedges Report: Dystopia, Octopus Intelligence And What Makes Us Human

Ray Nayler’s novel The Mountain in the Sea asks the kinds of questions about us, our future and our interaction with other living beings that are raised by many great works of science fiction. In his book the marine habitat of a hyperintelligent species of octopus, endowed with its own language and culture, is seized by a global tech corporation determined to harness this non-human intelligence for profit in new systems of artificial intelligence. This dystopian future world is one of total surveillance, vast polluted dead zones, climate breakdown, a pervasive alienation, frequent targeted assassinations by governments and corporations against those who resist bondage as well as the brutal enslavement of workers, especially those from the Global South.

Dr. Gerald Horne On The Life And Legacy Of W.E.B. Du Bois

Decades after his death, W.E.B Du Bois stands as one of the great intellectual giants of the 20th Century. Born in Massachussets after the Civil War, Du Bois became the first Black man to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, and was one of the founders of the NAACP and the Niagara Movement. He authored works such as The Souls of Black Folk, The Philadelphia Negro, and Black Reconstruction in America, and is widely considered to be one of the founders of American sociology. Du Bois’s brilliance extended beyond the academy to the world of politics. He denounced accommodationists such as Booker T. Washington, thundered against Jim and Jane Crow and the reign of terror in the South with its segregation, race laws, and lynch mobs, along with the evils of imperialism and colonialism and the inherent cruelty and injustices of capitalism.

The Chris Hedges Report: John Kiriakou, We Don’t Need The CIA

The CIA, from its inception, carried out assassinations, coups, torture, and illegal spying and abuse, including of US citizens, many of which were exposed in 1975 by the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House. Congress attempted to enact laws to curb the widespread criminal activity by the CIA. Senate and House intelligence oversight committees were created, and after the Iran-Contra scandal a statutory Inspector General at the CIA was appointed. But this oversight has largely collapsed following the attacks of 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. The activities of the CIA have once again reverted to the shadows. The CIA, at the same time, has transformed itself into a paramilitary organization, with its own armed units and drone program.

The Dawn Of The Apocalypse

The past week has seen record-breaking heat waves across Europe. Wildfires have ripped through Spain, Portugal and France. London’s fire brigade experienced its busiest day since World War II. The U.K. saw its hottest day on record of 104.54 Fahrenheit. In China, more than a dozen cities issued the “highest possible heat warning” this weekend with over 900 million people in China enduring a scorching heat wave along with severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China. Dozens of people have died. Millions of Chinese have been displaced. Economic losses run into the billions of yuan. Droughts, which have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced many to flee their homes, are creating a potential famine in the Horn of Africa.

The Chris Hedges Report: Breaking The Cycle Of American Violence

American society is the most violent of any nation in the industrialized world. Nothing we do, from administrating the world’s largest prison system to militarizing our police, seems to help. Dr. James Gilligan argues that childhood abuse, and the shame it engenders, is the engine that fuels America’s deadliest epidemic. This abuse and shame, he argues, fosters a dangerous numbness that breeds a deep self-loathing and inchoate rage. It is only by understanding the causes of our national epidemic, and addressing those causes, that we will have any hope of stemming the nihilistic violence that grips American society. Dr. Gilligan grounds his writing not only in case studies of the violent patients he works with, but Greek myths and Shakespeare.

Chris Hedges On Trauma And Teaching Writing In Prison

Since 2013, Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and host of The Chris Hedges Report, has taught college courses in drama, literature, philosophy, and history at East Jersey State Prison (aka “Rahway”) and other New Jersey prisons. In one such course, after reading plays by Amiri Baraka and August Wilson, among others, Hedges’ students wrote a play of their own. The play, Caged, would eventually be published and performed at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, New Jersey, for a month-long run in 2018 to sold-out audiences. In his latest book, Our Class: Trauma and Transformation in an American Prison, Hedges chronicles the journey he and his class embarked on together. Joining Mansa Musa on Rattling the Bars, Hedges speaks about his book and the transformations he witnessed among the men he taught behind prison walls.

The Chris Hedges Report: Hemingway’s Shadow

The writer Mark Kurlansky, by a series of coincidences, spent his life as a journalist and author in the shadow of Ernest Hemingway, starting with his presence in Idaho on the day Hemingway died. Kurlansky would reside and work during his career in Paris, the Basque region of Spain, Cuba, and Ketchum, Idaho—all places where Hemingway lived, and where his myth remains firmly implanted and celebrated. Kurlansky struggled to free himself from the haunting presence of Hemingway, whose life—starting with the tales he told of being an ambulance driver in Italy in World War I—was a confusing blur of fact, exaggeration, hyperbole, and lies.

Chris Hedges: Ukraine And The ‘Worthy’ And ‘Unworthy’ Victims Of War

Rulers divide the world into ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ victims; those we are allowed to pity, such as Ukrainians enduring the hell of modern warfare, and those whose suffering is minimized, dismissed, or ignored. This bifurcation of the world into worthy and unworthy victims is a key component of propaganda, especially in war. In this episode of The Chris Hedges Report, award-winning journalist Peter Oborne joins Chris Hedges to examine how worthy victims are used to allow citizens to see themselves as empathetic, compassionate, and just; how they are an effective tool to demonize the aggressor; and how they are used to obliterate nuance and ambiguity. Peter Oborne is a former political commentator of The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph, and Daily Mail, who covered the war in Yemen.
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