409 Chapters
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 9780253019028

A Tribute to Ali Mazrui

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Ali Mazrui. Photo by Seifudein Adem. ©2011

LET ME SPEAK briefly to Mazrui’s love of writing, his commitment to scholarship, and his position on issues of justice in general. Mazrui loved writing, and in 1974, he told us why:

[T]his tremendous urge to communicate . . . This is why I write at all, why I write so much, why I write on such varied subjects. I have a constant urge to try and share with others what I think are glimpses I have had . . . When I want to communicate any particular thought that has occurred to me, a) I want to work it out and b) I want to communicate it to others. I have to work it out. I work it out in the writing. Having worked it out, I want somebody else to know what occurs to my mind, to my being.

In order to play Boswell to Mazrui’s Samuel Johnson someday, hopefully, I kept more than 5,000 pages of handwritten correspondence with him. This collection bears testimony to Mazrui’s love of writing, a collection that includes his instantaneous thoughts and immediate reactions in writing when he was pleased and when he was less-than-pleased.

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Medium 9780253019028

Over Seas

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Mer d’Asphalte. ©2012 Rym Khene.

KOFI WAS LOOKING over the whitewashed walls of the Elmina Castle. Three centuries before, he might have seen a row of desperate Africans, shackled together and exiting through the narrow Door of No Return. They would have shuffled across the beach and boarded a ship whose crew would have given some of them to the sea and sold the survivors in the Americas. But on that day the beach was teeming with fishermen and fishmongers. Men, their upper bodies chiseled by years of battling the sea, dragged in gigantic nets laden with fish and rubbish while women waited impatiently with deep enamel basins in hand, their eyes trained on the day’s catch, poised to haggle with the weary fishermen.

They didn’t come to the castle to see the dark and airless slave dungeons but to stand on the rampart overlooking the sea and boyishly fantasize about when they, too, would cross the expanse of foamy water to America.

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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 9780253356864

13. Full of Hope

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

In “Spring,” Walden’s penultimate chapter, Thoreau describes his sudden awareness that winter was finally over:

The change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather, from dark and sluggish hours to bright and elastic ones, is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim. It is seemingly instantaneous at last. Suddenly an influx of light filled my house, though the evening was at hand, and the clouds of winter still overhung it, and the eaves were dripping with sleety rain. I looked out the window, and lo! where yesterday was cold gray ice there lay the transparent pond already calm and full of hope as on a summer evening. (209)

We can imagine this moment as a film scene, with Thoreau at his window and a point-of-view shot revealing what he sees. The Walden passage provides the visual details: the abrupt “influx of light,” the overhanging clouds and still-dripping eaves, the pond liberated from its ice. But how does a writer show us that something is “full of hope”?

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