444 Slices
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Medium 9781927068304

Harry Ziegler’s Philosophy

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub


You may not have heard of the philosophy of Finalism. I learned it from a little eighty-year-old Jewish man who appeared on my doorstep one day when I was pastor of the Mennonite Church in Morris, Manitoba. He was puffing and sweating and carrying two enormous duffel bags, so tired out that he just hoped he wouldn’t have to break into someplace in town to sleep, but if he didn’t find hospitality soon he might have to do it. And when I invited him in, he sure wished he had something to eat, so I made him a sandwich as we got acquainted.

He was Harry Ziegler, the founder of the philosophy of Finalism and the author of books about it. The books were in his bags. And no wonder he was tired — each bag must have weighed fifty or sixty pounds. He said he didn’t live in any particular place, and he had no family; he travelled a circuit between Texas and Canada, staying where he could, never asking for money except when he needed a bus ticket across the border so the officials wouldn’t take him for a transient. After supper I got him a motel room with money from the ministerial association’s budget, and when I said goodbye, he gave me a crumpled ten-rupee note from the Imperial Bank of India, but didn’t offer to show me the books.

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Medium 9780253018571

The Silences of Bob Kaufman: A Cento

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

the truth is an empty bowl of rice

truth is a burning guitar

it takes so much to be nothing

long green journeys into sounds of death

you get off at Fifty-ninth Street forever

eternity has wet sidewalks

all those well-meaning people

who gave me obscure books

when what I really needed

was a good meal

ordinary people, that is, people whose annihilation

is handled on a corporate scale

they have memorized the pimples

on your soul

whether I am a poet or not, I use

fifty dollars’ worth of air

every day, cool

dear people, let us eat Jazz

so we sat down on our bloodsoaked

garments and listened to Jazz

one thousand saxophones infiltrate the city

my face is covered with maps of dead nations

the poet nailed to the bone of the world

I love him because his eyes leak

in most cases, a sane hermit will beat

a good big man

I think of Chaplin and roll a mental cigarette

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Medium 9780253000958

Speaking for the Land

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

At the dedication ceremony for the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in June 1934, the pioneering ecologist Aldo Leopold began his remarks by declaring: “For twenty centuries and longer, all civilized thought has rested upon one basic premise: that it is the destiny of man to exploit and enslave the earth. The biblical injunction to ‘go forth and multiply’ is merely one of many dogmas which imply this attitude of philosophical imperialism.”

Leopold was not shy about making such grand claims, especially when, as in this brief talk, he wished to distill a complex argument into a few words. One could cite many examples of “civilized thought,” including the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Native American cultures, that do not advocate enslavement of the Earth. And one could cite biblical injunctions that urge us to be caretakers rather than exploiters of the creation. Still, there was ample evidence in Leopold’s time that the majority of his fellow citizens regarded the Earth as purely a source of raw materials, to be mined, dammed, deforested, plowed, paved, and otherwise manipulated to suit human needs, without regard for the needs of other species and with scant regard for the needs of future generations. This attitude of “philosophical imperialism,” which wrought so much damage in the Dust Bowl years, remains powerful in our day, and is now wreaking havoc on a global scale.

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Medium 9780253356864

38. X Marks Walden’s Depth

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

During the winter of 1846, Thoreau mapped Walden Pond, partly to disprove the local myth of its “bottomlessness.” Lying on the ice and taking soundings with a small stone and cod line, Thoreau produced surprisingly accurate measurements that revealed the water’s actual depth: 102 feet. He also observed what he calls “this remarkable coincidence,” which he drew on a map, “that the line of greatest length intersected the line of greatest breadth exactly at the point of greatest depth” (195). After leaving the woods, Thoreau would caution himself against ready generalizations: “Let me not be in haste to detect the universal law; let me see more clearly a particular instance of it!” (J, 25 December 1851). But in “The Pond in Winter,” he is quickly off to the races. Proud of his X, he begins to speculate:

Who knows but this hint would conduct to the deepest part of the ocean as well as of a pond or puddle? Is not this the rule also for the height of mountains, regarded as the opposite of valleys? (195)

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Medium 9781574412086

2. John Graves, “Kindred Spirits” from From a Limestone Ledge

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 2

John Graves

Kindred Spirits

John Graves lives near Glen Rose, Texas, on his four-hundred-acre farm. He is the author of several books; among them are Goodbye to a

River (1960), Hardscrabble (1974), From a Limestone Ledge (1977), and his recent memoir Myself and Strangers (2004). “Kindred Spirits” is taken from From a Limestone Ledge.

I have what started out as a canvas-covered wooden canoe, though with the years it has taken on some aluminum in the form of splinting along three or four fractured ribs, and this past spring I replaced its rotting cloth rind with resin-impregnated fiberglass. It is thus no longer the purely organic piece of handicraft that emerged from a workshop in

Maine some decades back. Nor do I use it more than occasionally these days, to run a day’s stretch of pretty river or just to get where fish may be.

Nevertheless I retain much fondness for it as a relic of a younger, looser, less settled time of life.

While readying its hull for the fiberglass I had to go over it inch by inch as it sat on sawhorses in the barn—removing the mahogany outwales and stripping off the old canvas, locating unevennesses in the surface of the thin cedar planking, sanding and filling and sanding again so that protuberances and pits would not mar the new shell or lessen its adhesion, and

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Medium 9780253356864

14. Genius

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Although Emerson famously said of Thoreau that “his biography is in his verses,” he described those verses as “rude and defective,” concluding that Thoreau’s “genius was better than his talent.” Without citing Emerson as the source of this famous judgment, Henry James extended its application to Thoreau’s prose, declaring in 1879 that “whatever question there may be of his talent, there can be none, I think of his genius.… He was imperfect, unfinished, inartistic … ; it is only at his best that he is readable.” Why did Emerson and James arrive at this opinion? What aspects of Thoreau’s writing prompted it?

While any list of writers with more talent than genius will always be a long one, the reverse is not the case. What American writers have had more genius than talent? Whitman? Gertrude Stein? Hart Crane? Thomas Wolfe? Has this imbalance occurred more frequently in America? And is it more common with writers, as opposed to other kinds of artists? We can start to answer these questions by noting that an artist needs to be lucky enough to have a genre available to him that suits his genius. Imagine if Larry Hart had come along before the flowering of the Broadway musical: he would have become, at best, simply a talented light-verse writer, a reduced version of his own ancestor, Heinrich Heine. Had Elvis Presley arrived before rock and roll, he might have developed into a minor version of his idol, Dean Martin, himself a lesser Sinatra. Elvis, of course, helped to invent the genre his genius required, and his ability to do so suggests a way to think about Thoreau and Walden.

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Medium 9780253000958

Mountain Music

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

On a June morning high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, snowy peaks rose before me like the promise of a world without grief. A creek brimful of meltwater roiled along to my left, and to my right an aspen grove shimmered with freshly minted leaves. Bluebirds kept darting in and out of holes in the aspen trunks. Butterflies flickered beside every puddle, tasting the succulent mud. Sun glazed the new grass and licked a silver sheen along the boughs of pines.

With all of that to look at, I gazed instead at my son’s broad back, as he stalked away from me up the trail. Sweat had darkened his gray T-shirt in patches the color of bruises. His shoulders were stiff with anger that would weight his tongue and keep his face turned from me for hours. Anger also made him quicken his stride, gear after gear, until I could no longer keep up. I had forty-nine years on my legs and heart and lungs, while Jesse had only seventeen on his. My left foot ached from old bone breaks and my right knee creaked from recent surgery. Used to breathing among the low muggy hills of Indiana, I was gasping up here in the alpine air, a mile and a half above sea level. Jesse would not stop, would not even slow down unless I asked; and I was in no mood to ask. So I slumped against a boulder beside the trail and let him rush on ahead.

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Medium 9781771870849

Carling’s Gospel

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub


ONE SUMMER NIGHT IN THE 1970S, two illicit bottles of Black Label beer made the Bible grow holy for me indeed. I was a young Mennonite minister, green as a peapod and with a few neuroses for good measure, and had just been on vacation in Saskatchewan with my family. When we returned to Manitoba, I left my wife and daughters visiting with relatives in Dauphin, and drove on south alone to our home in Morris. Along the way, I stopped furtively and bought the verboten lager; not a case or a six-pack — two bottles, and I meant to have a party.

Late that evening, I drew my curtains against the eyes of the neighbours across the street, who had a reputation for what they knew about people in town, and went to get myself a beer from the fridge. The brand had enticed me mainly for its childhood associations — the ads in Life magazine (“Mabel! Black Label!”), and the empties I’d gathered in the ditch, warm and sweet in the summer sun, to cash in for a penny apiece.

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Medium 9781574412086

10. Ray Gonzales, “Tortas Locas” from The Underground Heart

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 10

Ray Gonzales

Tortas Locas

Ray Gonzalez is the author of nine books of poetry. Turtle Pictures

(Arizona, 2000), a mixed-genre text, received the 2001 Minnesota Book

Award for Poetry. His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry (Scribners) and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000 (Pushcart Press). “Tortas Locas” is taken from his collection of essays, The Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden Landscape

(Arizona, 2002), which received the 2003 Carr P. Collins/ Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Book of Non-fiction, was named one of ten Best

Southwest Books of the Year by the Arizona Humanities Commission, named one of the Best Non-fiction Books of the Year by the Rocky Mountain

News, named a Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Memoir, and selected as a Book of the Month by the El Paso Public Library. His other non-fiction book is Memory Fever (University of Arizona Press, 1999), a memoir about growing up in the Southwest. He has written two collections of short stories,

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Medium 9780892727605


Down East Books ePub

Richard Russo

T hough he never set foot in the state, my grandfather would have been a natural Mainer. When I was a boy, he was already in the autumn of his life, having survived two world wars, the Depression, and a daily existence too full of Duty (both secular and religious). Prematurely bald and rail thin from the malaria he

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Medium 9781847772114

Infantryman Passes By

Blunden, Edmund Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF




n the early months of 1914 I was very little concerned with world affairs, except that my mother used sometimes to caution us under the rubric ‘when you go out into the world’ which we told her meant at the moment the small market town 2 or 3 miles off. The scene of her repeated admonition was the schoolhouse in a very small village in Sussex, in the south of England, within comfortable reach – by bicycle – of the seacoast and above all the enchantments of ‘London by the Sea’, Brighton. Heroic expeditions to that city with all its huge hotels and piers and fashion parades along the seafront were sometimes managed, but my leadership could only be infrequent and while I was on holiday from my school.

The school was in the same county of Sussex and also inland, about as far away from the sea as our village, and that geographical detail used to matter in one’s feelings. It is strange now to think what a distance lay between the schoolhouse and the English Channel in a sense of security

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Medium 9780892727605

Big Jim

Down East Books ePub

Robert Kimber

I n the summer of 1955, the year my father quit his job with the Bankers Trust Company in New York City and bought Big Jim Pond Camps, the year, that is, when my father took a flier and did what he had always wanted to do, which was own and run a hunting and fishing camp in Maine, he discovered after just a couple of months at Big Jim that substantial as the place may have looked to the casual eye, it was as tender and vulnerable as a new-born baby, in need of constant coddling and attention if it were not to succumb to the heat, humidity, rot, rust, and decay of Maine summers, the crushing weight of winter snows, the rank growth of alders that kept marching, marching against this tiny beachhead of cleared land, threatening to engulf it if they were not constantly beaten back.

Take the main lodge, two stories high, built of full logs, nobody knew when exactly, but a long time ago, around the turn of the century. Downstairs: one big, open room, forty by twenty-two feet, the guests

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Medium 9780253001818

Part 1 The Personal

William O'Rourke Indiana University Press ePub







I was home in South Bend, Indiana, in my attic office, working on a novel involving coal miners, set against the backdrop of the 1984–85 National Union of Miners strike in England. The phone rang and it was Eric Sandeen, the oldest child of my friends, Eileen and Ernie Sandeen. Eric, a professor of American Studies at the University of Wyoming, was in town to go to the Notre Dame-University of Southern California football game. His father was an emeritus professor of English at the university and Eric was using his tickets. And he had an extra one for the game that was to start in about an hour, which he offered to me. I had donated my tickets to some good cause. It was October 26th, 1991, and the fall weather was only fair: but the gray, overcast sky wasn’t supposed to turn into rain.

My day’s work writing was about over, in any case: the cold, wet atmosphere of the novel’s English pit towns had seeped into me and the idea of getting outside was appealing. My novel, for a number of reasons, had been hard going. I decided to abandon it and attend the game.

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Medium 9781743603604

Friends We’ve Not Yet Met

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

The first night I met the man who would be my husband, we talked for hours. We met in a bar – of course. Where else would an Irish man and a Kiwi girl meet but a bar?

We were the last ones left and the bartender was slumped in a corner waiting for us to finish our bottle of wine and our conversation. The wine came to an end but not before we had decided – within hours of meeting one another – that one day we would travel to Cuba together. We’d both seen Ry Cooder’s film Buena Vista Social Club and the soundtrack to the film was ubiquitous that summer. I had read and adored The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. Both Tom and I were champagne socialists and we loved the idea of Fidel Castro sticking two fingers to the United States administration in the face of the Americans’ trade embargos and tourist restrictions. Cuba was a country that valued the important things – freedom, education, equality – we affirmed to one another (while topping up our glasses), and while the people may have been poor, they were immeasurably rich in all that mattered, we insisted (as we had another drink).

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Medium 9781927068304

O Wheel

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub


The mayor of Dachau takes for granted we are not here to see the town. “Dear Guests,” the brochure begins, “You have come to Dachau to visit the memorial site in the former Concentration Camp. Innumerable crimes were committed. Like you, the citizens of Dachau bow their heads before the victims of this camp. After your visit, you will be horror-stricken. But we sincerely hope you will not transfer your indignation to the ancient 1200-year-old Bavarian town of Dachau, which was not consulted when the concentration camp was built and whose citizens voted quite decisively against the rise of National Socialism . . . ”

There are photos, then, of footpaths beside the Muehlbach River, and distant Alps as seen from the Dachau Palace. There are paintings of old mills and taverns and smithies, and of harvests and peat bogs, of the place as it was before the years of infamy.

“I extend a cordial invitation to you to visit the old town of Dachau,” the mayor says. “We would be pleased to greet you within our walls and to welcome you as friends.”

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