Moby Dick, by Herman Melville, is among America’s greatest novels. It is a prescient portrait of the American character and our ultimate fate as a nation and perhaps a species. Melville makes our murderous obsessions, our hubris, violent impulses, moral weakness, and inevitable self-destruction visible in his chronicle of a whaling voyage. Melville’s description of the ship’s captain, Ahab, is a description of the bankers, corporate boards, politicians, television personalities, and generals who through the power of propaganda fill our heads with seductive images of glory and lust for wealth and power. We are consumed with self-induced obsessions that spur us toward self-annihilation. Melville is our foremost oracle. He is to us what William Shakespeare was to Elizabethan England, or Fyodor Dostoyevsky to czarist Russia.
One hundred years ago this week, Sylvia Beach, who ran the bookstore Shakespeare and Company on 12 rue de l’Odéon in Paris and nurtured a community of expatriate writers that included Richard Wright, T.S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, Thornton Wilder, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, placed in the bookstore’s front window a 732-page novel she had published, “Ulysses” by James Joyce. “Ulysses” had been rejected by numerous publishers in English speaking countries. The book, which was banned in the United States and Great Britain because of its “obscenity” until the 1930s, takes place during a single day in Dublin, June 16, 1904. It would swiftly become one of the most important novels of the 20th century, drawing its inspiration from Homer’s “The Odyssey.” “Ulysses,” which I have read three times accompanied by a book of annotations by Don Gifford to catch the literary and historical references, is timeless.
Russell Banks in books such as ‘Continental Drift’, ‘Affliction’ and ‘The Sweet Hereafter’ has long chronicled the struggles and inner torment that come with being a member of our dispossessed working class. In his new novel, ‘Foregone’, he turns his lens on the inner life of artists, in this case a well-known documentary filmmaker Leonard Fife. Fife, who fled to Canada, supposedly to avoid the draft, is dying from the ravages of cancer. He is confined to a wheelchair, wracked by pain, pumped full of medications, and unable to eat solid food. His final desire, in front of a camera, is to expose to his wife of 40 years the lies and myths that he has spun to create a fictional persona, perhaps a curse of all who become public figures.
By Alnoor Ladha for Kosmos Journal - In 1972, the Club of Rome published a groundbreaking study titled The Limits to Growth. MIT scientists used computer simulations to create scenarios playing out how exponential growth interacts with finite resources. The findings were devastating. The growth trends in human population, combined with rampant consumption, led to resource depletion, destructive pollution, social unrest and ecosystem failure. Without limits on growth we would inevitably end up with civilizational collapse.
By David Swanson for World Beyond War - When I wrote War Is A Lie in 2010 (second edition coming April 5th!) it was a condemnation of war, but not exactly a manifesto for abolishing it. I wrote that in War No More: The Case for Abolition in 2013. But John Horgan wrote The End of War in 2012. Douglas Fry wrote Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace in 2009. Russell Faure-Brac wrote Transition to Peace in 2012. Winslow Myers wrote Living Beyond War in 2009. Judith Hand wrote Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War in 2013. Colleagues of mine at WorldBeyondWar.org and I wrote A Global Security System: An Alternative to War in 2015. And I’ve just picked up a copy of Roberto Vivo’s War: A Crime Against Humanity (2014). There are others out there, and others in the works. Some readers may point to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (2012), although it’s not so much a rallying cry to end war as a misleading claim that war is ending itself.
By Patrick Iber in The Awl -In May of 1967, a former CIA officer named Tom Braden published a confession in theSaturday Evening Post under the headline, “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral.’” Braden confirmed what journalists had begun to uncover over the previous year or so: The CIA had been responsible for secretly financing a large number of “civil society” groups, such as the National Student Association and many socialist European unions, in order to counter the efforts of parallel pro-Soviet organizations. “[I]n much of Europe in the 1950’s,” wrote Braden, “socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’—the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.” The centerpiece of the CIA’s effort to organize the efforts of anti-Communist artists and intellectuals was the Congress for Cultural Freedom.
By Damon Young in Very Smart Brothas - Every once in a while, you’ll see a story that’s so uniquely and unambiguously Black — with so many different aspects of Blackness involved in it — that it’s almost like someone had a Blackness Bingo card and was trying to fill every slot. The story of the11 Black women thrown off of a train — a train where the train’s only purpose is to transport tipsy people to somewhere where they can get more tipsy — for having too good of a time on that train qualifies. Seriously, if this story got any Blacker it would have to involve a Denmark Vesey hologram hurling empty Hennessy bottles at Donald Trump. Let’s just go down the list of all the things involved with this that can be categorized as some Black-ass shit.
He began his career at a very early age. At 14, he was already drawing political cartoons and began his career as a journalist as an editor for the weekly Marcha and later for the daily Epoca. After the 1973 coup in Uruguay, Galeano was briefly jailed and immediately after fled to Argentina, where he founded a cultural magazine called Crisis. According to The Most Famous People website, Galeano is one of Latin America’s most cherished and admired literary figures, particularly because he raised his voice incessantly for human rights and social justice. He was a severe critic of globalization and highlighted the dehumanizing facets of globalization in the contemporary world, the website added.