444 Chapters
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Medium 9780253020659

Introduction: Mediterraneans and Migrations in the Global Era

Hakim Abderrezak Indiana University Press ePub

I am neither French nor Moroccan, I am in between. I am Spanish!

—Mustapha Al Atrassi

The end of summer at the port of Melilla, a Spanish enclave in northern Morocco. Arabic music played loudly, drowning out the conversations of families in cars and vans. It was late at night in this remnant of Spain’s protectorate. About an hour earlier, the drivers were directed to form lines near the ferryboat so that Spanish customs security employees could check vehicles and identification papers. I was seventeen years old when, at this same port, I watched a dog sniff out a teenager hidden in a bag tucked under the feet of the rear seat passengers in the car parked in front of us. As my family waited to be searched, we observed the entire episode. From inside our car, we saw the frightened teenager being taken away, gasping for air and sweating heavily. We never knew what became of him or the other people in that vehicle. Every September on our way back to France, we would see young men walking back and forth on the rampart that overlooked the docks. They would get as close as possible to vehicles waiting to board the ferry in hopes of catching a ride. The vigilant agents of the Guardia Civil relentlessly chased the migrant hopefuls away. On one particular trip, I saw a young man try to board our ship by climbing up an anchor rope. Alerted by the cheering of travelers, agents ran to the ferry and attempted to shake the man off his precarious perch on the rope. The crowd grew anxious when he seemed likely to fall to the ground. Moroccan strangers were imploring God’s help. Some women covered their eyes, anticipating a tragic end. A few passengers were screaming. Two couples, however, who happened to be taking an evening walk took in the scene with seeming amusement, probably because they were accustomed to witnessing such events. The man was finally captured upon reaching the deck and then escorted into the rear of the patrol van and driven away in the night. This was one of several encounters I had with this type of chase on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Medium 9780253356864

16. Higher Laws

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“Higher Laws,” a late addition to Walden, often presents Thoreau in his least modern, least sympathetic light. After the famous opening confession of his desire “to seize and devour [a woodchuck] raw,” accompanied by the appropriate lesson (“I love the wild not less than the good”) (145), Thoreau quickly embarks on a series of repudiations: hunting, fishing, animal food (“there is something essentially unclean about this diet and all flesh” [146]), wine, coffee, tea (“Ah, how low I fall when I am tempted by them!”), and even music, which “may be intoxicating” (147). He is only warming up for the big topic. Here is Thoreau singing the virtues of chastity and sounding like Dr. Strangelove’s General Ripper, with his talk of “precious bodily fluids”:

We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers. It is reptile and sensual, and perhaps cannot be wholly expelled; like the worms which, even in life and health, occupy our bodies.… The generative energy, which when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man. (149)

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29. Readers

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Because Walden’s growing popularity has often derived from Thoreau’s advocacy of certain issues, especially civil disobedience and environmentalism, we have tended to avoid a central problem: what is Thoreau’s relationship to his readers? It’s not an easy question to answer. Walden is at once inspirational and demoralizing, revelatory and boring, practical and quixotic; and Thoreau himself appears as a prophet, companion, scold, laborer, idler, eccentric, businessman, braggart, nature lover, and instructor. What reader is sufficiently thorough (to evoke his name’s Concord pronunciation) to accommodate all these attitudes and roles? Walden, in other words, not only represents Thoreau’s solution to his own problem of writing; it also poses a problem of reading: who can read Walden correctly?

Walden is an instruction manual, but it is also a sermon, offering the standard fire-and-brimstone rebuke before its summons to the True Way. “There is not one of my readers,” Thoreau announces, “who has yet lived a whole human life” (223), a relatively mild invective compared to others, where general propositions snap suddenly into direct address:

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Medium 9781743603604

Song

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

The man is in a hotel just outside Nairobi. A local friend of his has set him up here, saying the hotel was clean and cheap.

It is indeed cheap, $45 a night, but it does not seem safe. The locks on the doors do not work, and the clerk sits behind bulletproof glass. The man’s room is small and smells of paint, and the outlets don’t work, so he goes down to the hotel bar, which is unadorned and empty.

He orders a gin and tonic from the Kenyan bartender, who is wearing a red vest and white shirt and black bowtie. The visitor drinks his first drink down, feeling sad about so many things, wanting to be home, wanting to be doing something else, and then orders another. He takes this second drink and, not wanting the bartender to feel compelled to talk to him, he walks to the other side of the bar and sits in front of a large flat-screen television. There is a music video on, in which eight African women in traditional clothing are singing and playing instruments. The song is jangly, buoyant, joyous.

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Medium 9780892727605

I’m New Here

McNair, Wesley Down East Books ePub
Medium 9781847772114

The Somme Still Flows

Blunden, Edmund Carcanet Press Ltd. PDF

THE SOMME STILL FLOWS

I

t was a sunny morning, that of July 1st, 1916. The right notes for it would have been the singing of blackbirds and the ringing of the blacksmith’s anvil. But, as the world soon knew, the music of that sunny morning was the guns.

They had never spoken before with so huge a voice. Their sound crossed the sea. In Southdown villages the schoolchildren sat wondering at that incessant drumming and the rattling of the windows. That night an even greater anxiety than usual forbade wives and mothers to sleep. The Battle of the Somme had begun.

This battle on the southern part of the British line overshadowed everything else. Even Ypres fell quiet. The three nations most prominently concerned on the Western Front concentrated their force in the once serene farmlands of

Picardy. Their armies had arrived at a wonderful pitch of physical and spiritual strength. They were great organizations of athletes, willing to attempt any test that might be ordered. If the men of the Somme were probably unrivalled by any earlier armies, the materials and preparations of the battle were not less extraordinary. Railways, roads, motor transport, mules, water supply, aircraft, guns, mortars, wire, grenades, timber, rations, camps, telegraphic systems – all multiplied as in some absurd vision. Many of you who are reading now still feel the fever of that gathering typhoon.

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Medium 9781847778772

Shell Shock

Ford, Ford Madox Carcanet Press Ltd. ePub

From Mightier Than the Sword, pp. 264–6.

At any rate, after I was blown up at Bécourt-Bécordel in ’16 and, having lost my memory, lay in the Casualty Clearing Station in Corbie, with the enemy planes dropping bombs all over it and the dead Red Cross nurses being carried past my bed, I used to worry agonizedly about what my name could be – and have a day-nightmare. The night-nightmare was worse, but the day one was as bad as was necessary. I thought I had been taken prisoner by the enemy forces and was lying on the ground, manacled hand and foot … and with the enemy, ignoring me for the time, doing dreadful stunts – God knows what – all around me …. Immense shapes in grey-white cagoules and shrouds, miching and mowing and whispering horrible plans to one another! It is true they all wore giant, misty gas-masks – but wasn’t that the logical corollary of the bitter-hating age that produced the mid-Victorian Great Figure? Wouldn’t, I mean, poison gas be just the sort of thing that, could they have invented it, the Ruskins and Carlyles and Wilberforces and Holman Hunts would have employed on their enemies or their blood-brothers become rivals? So their Germanic disciples used it when their Day came. Inevitably! Because the dreadful thing about nineteenth-century Anglo-Saxondom was that it corrupted with its bitter comfort-plus-opulence mania not merely itself but the entire, earnest, listening world. What effect could a serious and continued reading of those fellows have had but 1914?… And 193 …

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Medium 9781938901249

11. Colette’s Ghost

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

11

COLETTE’S GHOST

A frizzy-haired old woman wearing sandals used to sit on a stoop at the Palais-Royal in Paris. If people took her for a tramp what did she care? Her extraordinary life was almost over. Now she could spend her afternoons eyeing passersby and cooing to stray cats.

Her ghost still haunts the quiet north arcade of the Palais-Royal, only now there’s a plaque to identify her: Colette spent her last years at the edge of this garden. It doesn’t give her dates; vain to the last, she wouldn’t have liked that. But when she died at 81 in 1954, she received a state funeral in the palace’s Cour d‘honneur. Her coffin lay under a French tricolor, surrounded by wreaths, and thousands came to pay their respects.

Colette has gone in and out of style, but by any measure, she was a great writer, the author of 80 books, including five novels about the insouciant teenage girl Claudine that were all-time French bestsellers, inspiring two plays, a shirt collar, perfume, candy, and cigarettes. Ten of her works were made into films, most famously, the 1958 musical Gigi.

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Medium 9781771870801

CAN ID

Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
“Can ID” by Pauline Holdstock begins as a humourous reflection on what it means to be Canadian and ends with an allegory about the often futile process we put ourselves through in order to define our country.
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Medium 9781771870825

Honey Song

Virgo, Seán Thistledown Press ePub

HONEY SONG

Brian Brett

“The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead.”

— John Keats, On The Grasshopper And Cricket

“THEY’RE SINGING THE QUEENLESS SONG,” the old beekeeper said. He’s a tall, thin, cranky man who doesn’t appreciate fools. Once, he was a mathematics teacher, but the bees took him. These days he’s an angry swarm of advice, educated in too many things, and made bitter by his knowledge. I go to him for instruction. After he’s finished lecturing me about my inadequacies and the failures of my generation, the secrets spill out — he’s generous despite himself, begrudging his desire to communicate the stories of a lifetime among insects; they’d spoken to him for too many years, and I think he’s ashamed of his own species.

My first hive was troubled. Even an amateur like myself knew it, so I stuffed the entrances with foam and bound it with the rubber inner-tube loops he’d given me, humped the whole hive onto my pickup, and drove out of my east field down to his cluttered yard. As soon as I dropped the tailgate and we stood listening in the humid late afternoon, he knew she was gone. A hive is always talking to itself. This one was humming grief. There was no queen, and no eggs that the workers could remake in time to save its life — the hive was dying, its last survivors wandering mournfully on the empty combs without purpose. I needed a new queen.

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Medium 9780253018571

The Chief Sam Movement, A Century Later

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

ONE HUNDRED YEARS ago this summer, the SS Liberia set sail from Galveston Island, Texas, for the Gold Coast in West Africa. The boat transported a mere sixty passengers—most of them former slaves-turned-homesteaders from the new state of Oklahoma—but carried the dreams of thousands of African American exodusters. A few days earlier, hundreds paid admission to board the Liberia, to touch the brasses of the steamship “owned by Negroes” at the height of Jim Crow. At the helm stood a complicated West African missionary and global entrepreneur named Chief Alfred Sam. Sam had first come to the United States as a merchant trading in timber, rubber, and cocoa, but soon found himself organizing African American farmers and landowners who hoped to emigrate from the U.S. and settle his homeplace in the Akyem region of the Gold Coast. Meanwhile, many denied the movement’s reality. W. E. B. Du Bois proclaimed in the February 1914 Crisis, “There is no steamship in New York building for the African trade and owned by Negroes.”

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Medium 9780253018571

Hypothecation

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

IF I TOLD you this was a ghost story, would you want to read it? If I said it was a serious academic treatment of prisons and profits, aimed to moderate the specter of privatization, would you drop it cold or grip it tighter? What if I have simply written you a letter—a wistful rumination on loss and the perception of loss, on truth and rumor, and the deep truth that resides within rumor?

I mourn the loss of my former student, Trey, the person who led me to this topic and proposed that we explore this particular truth. Trey enrolled in a class I taught at the Putnamville medium-security correctional facility in Greencastle, Indiana, and then became a part of the ongoing discussion group we called a “Think Tank,” which he engaged with his acrid insight. Meanwhile, he argued his own legal appeal pro se, and won, and after nine out of a twenty-year bid, moved himself beyond the walls. When Trey got out, we chatted via email and met, once, for lunch at an outdoor café table on an artsy Indy thoroughfare, then strolled the avenue and browsed a bookstore where the middle-aged white ladies behind the counter trembled at his presence.

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Medium 9781927068304

Two Fathers, a Half-Dozen Moths

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

TWO FATHERS , A HALF-DOZEN MOTHS

My father was a Canadian prairie farmer for most of his life. In his last ten years he was in and out of hospitals. Two heart attacks had damaged him severely, and the complications attending this, added to the sundry infirmities of advancing age, made hospital stays common for him and visits there routine for me.

“What does it mean,” he asked as he lay in intensive care for the first time, “if I dream it’s late autumn and the crop is in, and I remember there’s one field I forgot to harvest?” This dream, which began there, re-visited him thirty or forty times in the last decade of his life, and it always ended in frustration as he found his dream-machinery broken down, and his dream-self too embarrassed to ask the neighbours for help. Yet he told me about it faithfully every time the dream recurred.

At first I supposed he wanted me to answer him. But our discussions always concluded with his indifference to any insight I thought I had contributed. To me it was patently clear — didn’t Jung say that what we have woven by day the night will unravel — but not until the dozenth-or-so time did I have the sense to leave him with his own question. To his usual “So what do you think it means?” I for once replied, “I give up, Dad; what do you think it means?”

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Medium 9781938901249

21. The Ineluctable Allure of Lost Places

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

21

THE INELUCTABLE ALLURE OF LOST PLACES

You expect places to stay put. Once they’re on maps, they should remain there. But cartographers know hundreds of places that don’t exist anymore, from the tiny Krakatoan islets of Indonesia, all but wiped out in a volcanic eruption in 1883, to the vast USSR, which made anachronisms of atlases when it disbanded several decades ago.

As Allen Carroll, chief cartographer for the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., once told me, “The world is very dynamic.”

I would like to visit Prussia, for example, which has a long history but no longer exists on modern maps. Similarly, I want to see the majestic spires of Glen Canyon on the Colorado River in Utah, which were obliterated after the construction of Glen Canyon Dam; Tibet before the Chinese takeover; and scads of places in Eastern Europe I’ve read about but can’t find on maps: Pomerania, Volhynia, Bukovina, Courland, Bessarabia, all of which sound to my ear like the homelands of nutty dukes and counts in Marx Brothers movies. The more gone Bessarabia is, the more I want to see it. That’s the romance of places off the map.

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Medium 9780253000958

The Singular First Person

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

The first soapbox orator I ever saw was haranguing a crowd beside the Greyhound station in Providence, Rhode Island, about the evils of fluoridated water. What the man stood on was actually an up-turned milk crate, all the genuine soapboxes presumably having been snapped up by antique dealers. He wore an orange plaid sport coat and matching bow tie and held aloft a bottle filled with mossy green liquid. I don’t remember the details of his spiel, except his warning that fluoride was an invention of the Communists designed to weaken our bones and thereby make us pushovers for a Red invasion. What amazed me, as a tongue-tied kid of seventeen newly arrived in the city from the boondocks, was not his message but his courage in delivering it to a mob of strangers. I figured it would have been easier for me to jump straight over the Greyhound station than to stand there on that milk crate and utter my thoughts.

To this day, when I read or when I compose one of those curious monologues we call the personal essay, I often think of that soapbox orator. Nobody had asked him for his two cents’ worth, but there he was declaring it with all the eloquence he could muster. The essay, although enacted in private, is no less arrogant a performance. Unlike novelists and playwrights, who lurk behind the scenes while distracting our attention with the puppet show of imaginary characters; unlike scholars and journalists, who quote the opinions of others and shelter behind the hedges of neutrality, the essayist has nowhere to hide. While the poet can lean back on a several-thousand-year-old legacy of ecstatic speech, the essayist inherits a much briefer and skimpier tradition. The poet is allowed to quit after a few lines, but the essayist must hold our attention for pages and pages. It is a brash and foolhardy form, this one-man or one-woman circus, which relies on the tricks of anecdote, conjecture, memory, and wit to enthrall us.

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