458 Slices
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34. Tracks and Paths

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Thoreau’s attention to the Fitchburg train, roaring past five times a day barely six hundred yards from his cabin, moves characteristically from sounds—“the rattle of railroad cars,” “the whistle of the locomotive,” the earth-shaking thunder of the engine (81–82)—to the word track itself, mobilized as a metaphor for deadening routine. Watching the railroad workers ride by prompts the first shift into this other register:

The men on the freight trains, who go over the whole length of the road, bow to me as an old acquaintance, they pass me so often, and apparently they take me for an employee; and so I am. I too would fain be a track-repairer somewhere in the orbit of the earth. (81)

The train’s whistle, a “warning to get off the track” (81), gives Thoreau what he needs, an image of dehumanizing mechanization that “regulates a whole country,” an implacable “fate, an Atropos, that never turns aside” (83). Stephen Fender has described the railroad’s effect on Concord: it enabled the transcendentalists’ connection to their Cambridge and Boston colleagues while damaging local businesses suddenly thrown into competition with metropolitan stores. Immediately apparent was the loss of local time, as the railroad’s scheduling mandated standardized time zones: with the train’s arrival, Thoreau observes, “the farmers set their clocks by them” (83).

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Medium 9780253220042

5. In Line

Elsa Marston Indiana University Press ePub

A STORY FROM EGYPT

 

Halfway home from school, on a lovely clear day in December, I did something really daring. I decided to change my route. Not much, of course, because my mother knew exactly how long it took me to get home and she would be waiting. I just thought it would be nice to walk along the canal a bit and pretend it was the Nile. That’s how it happened I ran into Fayza.

I’d noticed her in class. You could hardly not notice her, even in a classroom as packed with people as ours. She always raised her hand to answer the teacher’s questions—she even asked good questions of her own! What’s more, she was a lot smarter than most of the boys and wasn’t afraid to let them know it. So I’d begun to think I’d like to get to know her. But how? Most people still acted as if I were from Mars, or someplace even farther away, and they couldn’t figure me out. I was afraid Fayza might feel that way, too.

Well, I would try, at least.

Fayza was standing at the edge of the canal, holding a big bunch of flowers—roses so bedraggled they looked as though the flower seller had given them to her for free. But what made me curious was the way she was staring down at the canal. I stopped near her to see what she was looking at. It was a donkey, dead, lying there in the water.

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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

The Why and the Wherefore

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

THE WHY AND THE WHEREFORE

Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the forest . . . and thought about things.Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, “Why?” and sometimes he thought, “Wherefore?” and sometimes he thought, “Inasmuch as which?” — and sometimes he didn’t quite know what he was thinking about. — A. A. Milne

Cindy is an eighteen-year-old student of Larraine’s who is inclined to deal with everything in her world by one comprehensive explanation: “That’s why because.” Some people call her mentally disadvantaged. Larraine co-ordinates her educational program, and living with Larraine entitles me to a debriefing at the end of every working day where she needs to tell, and I need to hear, stories about annoyingly innocent people.

“I’m going home on the bus today, that’s why because,” Cindy says.

“I got new shoes yesterday, that’s why because.”

Things are as they are, because they are.

She is closer to the truth, probably, than we are. For explanation lies on us like a disease in which we forfeit our sense of wonder — the curiosity that drives the best kinds of science, and the humility which is close kin to worship. “How marvellous this is!” said an old Zen saint; “I chop wood, I draw water.” One day when my daughter Sheri was five, colouring a picture, she said, “No wonder you like green!” “Why is that?” I asked, and she said, “Because it has such a nice colour.”

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Medium 9781780491929

Chapter Thirteen - Beyond the Spoken Word

Sue McNab Karnac Books ePub

Gail Simon

Silence in therapy

Silence, as we might know from our own experiences, can be beautiful, welcoming, terrifying, confusing, grounding—so many things. But a therapist's reading of a silence might not tell us whether it is a desirable and friendly silence for people or whether people want help with talking in general or about something in particular.

My training in psychoanalytic therapy and my experience of having psychoanalytic therapy taught me about the uses of just sitting with people without feeling a responsibility to populate the space between us with a wordy attempt to understand and process through questions, answers, and reflections. On the other hand, I think back with horror to other times in my therapeutic career when I might have contributed to unnecessary discomfort for some people by not creating additional choices with them. The move in systemic therapy towards dialogical and collaborative relationships in therapy brings me great relief. A reflexive, appreciative, and learning stance in therapy opens space for therapists and the clients to negotiate rewarding and creative ways of communicating together. This is a better ethical and practical fit for me. It opens up possibilities to get alongside people in their silence and find useful and fitting ways of being together.

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