385 Chapters
Medium 9780253356864

7. Death

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Walden lives up almost entirely to the purpose Thoreau announces in the epigraph: “I do not intend to write an ode to dejection.” (5) However varied his moods may have been during the book’s nine-year gestation, Thoreau produced a consistently optimistic work by sticking to a strict compositional plan: “I put the best face on the matter.” As a result, in the midst of so much high spirits, the famous penultimate paragraph of “Where I Lived and What I lived For” seems not only obscure but unexpected:

If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimmer on both its surfaces, as if it were a cimiter, and feel its sweet edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality. If we are really dying, let us hear the rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities; if we are alive, let us go about our business. (70)

Thoreau had written like this before. Using the same odd phrase, “to front a fact,” he had previously imagined his enterprise as another kind of life-and-death struggle:

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Medium 9780253220042

6. Scenes in a Roman Theater

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM TUNISIA

 

With a sigh, Hedi plunked himself down on a stone seat in the Roman theater. As the last of the afternoon’s tourists straggled off and disappeared among the ancient walls, he stared dully at the grand view of the ruins and the green hills of the Tunisian countryside beyond.

He hadn’t done very well today. Only one hat sold. His mother would be disappointed, and he wouldn’t blame her … having to make those hats every night after her day’s labor in the fields, weaving straw till her fingers were sore. Tomorrow he’d try harder. Midwinter break from school gave him a few days to earn money, and he couldn’t waste the chance.

It’d be so much better, Hedi often thought, if he could be a guide, more interesting and more money. Once in a while he did manage to latch on to a friendly couple and show them a few sights … the temple, the theater, the baths and marketplace—and best of all, the communal toilet where twelve people could sit at a time. That always got a laugh, and Hedi would get a few small coins. But that was all. A real guide had to be older and know a lot more.

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Medium 9780253018571

The Staccato Master of the World

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

AMIRI BARAKA, A brilliant light that shined brightest when in the middle of battling for his people’s rights, has taken the eternal sleep. His manifest destiny was to make racial criminals and political thugs angry and uncomfortable with a staccato style that imitated jazz music in its isolation of certain notes that appeared to be detached and of a shortened duration. This is why the poems he wrote agitated the establishment and made him a righteous defender of human freedom; they were poems with words that actualized energy and power and, more than most poets, he was a student of sound like the old bald-headed Egyptian priests who knew that articulation of the voice was the chief miracle of human mystery. He was a free man and, in that freedom, he was free to be bold, to be wrong, to be strong and to be adventurous, and to be right at times. He knew that freedom came with a price but that price was never too costly for one’s sense of purpose. Always capable of self-correction, Baraka’s ability to take the dagger of his words and strike the blow for truth as he saw it was uncanny and a part of his genius. We will miss him and his poems and plays and essays that provoked a generation to be better humans, to unleash hell on those whose fat bellies snuffed out the souls of the poor. Despite his detractors, or those who believed that he was merely this-or-that, he was a socialist, feminist, womanist, nationalist, and culturalist who sought to bring equality and justices to the world. Nothing anti-African passed him without a comment and nothing was so close to him as his battle with his own intellect. A great spirit has passed this way!

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Medium 9781927068304

How Not to Scare a Gopher

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

HOW NOT TO SCARE A GOPHER

Gay Balfour in Cortez, Colorado was hard up. He worked at a marina but was looking for ways to raise extra cash, when one night he had a dream. A huge yellow truck fitted with green hoses drove through a cornfield at five-hundred miles per hour, vacuuming prairie dogs from their holes. And when he woke up, he resolved to build such a machine. He went shopping for a street sweeper, modified its workings, and looked further for suitable hoses to attach. In a certain industrial supply shop a clerk pointed at some bright green flexible tubing, and a chill went through Gay Balfour: he had seen hoses just like that in the dream.

He dubbed his machine the “DogGone”, claiming it could vacuum twenty acres, or eight-hundred holes, on a good day. It sucked gophers from the ground and deposited them, alive but somewhat bewildered, in the back of the truck to be “relocated” — heavy artillery in farmers’ war against gophers, which promised to eliminate the need for the poisons that had been used to date. But how many of the confused animals had been relocated anywhere but to heaven, he didn’t say.

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Medium 9780253019042

Part 2 Complicated Places

Douglas A. Wissing Quarry Books ePub

Bennie Zebelle of Muncie, Indiana, poses with a basket of tomatoes in the Agriculture Building at the 1947 Indiana State Fair.

STATE FAIRS ARE THE CONFLUENCE OF THE GARISH AND THE profound, a carnivalesque celebration of life amidst the drive for recognized excellence. Regal princesses with tiaras pass through the neon-lit Midway throngs. Burly farmers herd Brobdingnagian boars. Kids nap beside their brushed and curried heifers who gaze with long lashes at their resting guardians. Barkers howl the wonders of the sideshow; ladies quite alluring give a desultory bump. A swain with his first sideburns wallops the carnival game, trying to win a stuffed bear for his admiring sweetheart. Trailed by her two apple-cheeked boys, a young mother proudly paces through the crowd with a blue ribbon carefully placed across her prize pie.

The smells of corndogs and elephant ears mingle with the electric scent of cotton candy. Wood smoke, sopped sauce, and cooking pork chops waft from the barbecue stands. An unmistakable tang announces the animal buildings.

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