Category Archives: Praxis

Navid Baraty

Summer Movie Night in Bryant Park
by Navid Baraty

Once upon a time…

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Filed under Images, Praxis

Dan Albergotti

Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale
by Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

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Filed under Bagatelle, Praxis, Quotes, Uncategorized

Frederick Buechner

from Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation
by Frederick Buechner

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

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Filed under Expectancy, Praxis, Quotes

Linda Pastan

I Am Learning To Abandon the World
by Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world
before it can abandon me.
Already I have given up the moon
and snow, closing my shades
against the claims of white.
And the world has taken
my father, my friends.
I have given up melodic lines of hills,
moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.
And every night I give my body up
limb by limb, working upwards
across bone, towards the heart.
But morning comes with small
reprieves of coffee and birdsong.
A tree outside the window
which was simply shadow moments ago
takes back its branches twig
by leafy twig.
And as I take my body back
the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap
as if to make amends.

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Filed under Expectancy, Poems, Praxis, Sureness

Linda Pastan

Love Poem
by Linda Pastan

I want to write you
a love poem as headlong
as our creek
after thaw
when we stand
on its dangerous
banks and watch it carry
with it every twig
every dry leaf and branch
in its path
every scruple
when we see it
so swollen
with runoff
that even as we watch
we must grab
each other
and step back
we must grab each
other or
get our shoes
soaked we must
grab each other

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Filed under Love, Poems, Praxis

Charles Simic

Poem
by Charles Simic

Every morning I forget how it is.
I watch the smoke mount
In great strides above the city.
I belong to no one.

Then, I remember my shoes,
How I have to put them on,
How bending over to tie them up
I will look into the Earth.

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Filed under Poems, Praxis

Ephphatha (Ἐφφαθά)

And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” which is ‘be opened’.
Mark 7:34

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Filed under Kindheartedness, Praxis, Quotes

Quote This

Editorial: I’m not a big collector of pithy quotes, but from time to time one will jump at me.  Spring cleaning on my laptop turned up these.

Be curious, not judgmental.
― Walt Whitman

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
― Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
― Mark Twain

I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped. I had been in the state legislature for a long time, I was in the minority party, I wasn’t getting a lot done, and I was away from my family and putting a lot of strain on Michelle. Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn’t what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I’d invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn’t seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I’ve felt stuck, is to remind myself that it’s about the work. Because if you’re worrying about yourself—if you’re thinking: ‘Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?’ – then you’re going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you’ll always have a path. There’s always something to be done.
― Barack Obama

The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; and the fruit of service is peace.
― Mother Teresa

I thought I was pretty cool until I realized plants can eat the sun and poop out air.
― Jim Bugg (?)

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T.H. White

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White

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Karl Ove Knausgaard

Time is slipping away from me, running through my fingers like sand while I do what? Clean floors, wash clothes, make dinner, wash up, go shopping, play with the children in the play areas, bring them home, undress them, bathe them, look after them until it is bedtime, tuck them in, hang some clothes to dry, fold others, and put them away, tidy up, wipe tables, chairs and cupboards.

My Struggle: Book Four, by Karl Ove Knausgaard,

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Yekaterina Samutsevich

Editorial: Yekaterina Samutsevich is the defendant in a criminal case against the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot. Her closing statement is well worth reading especially if you study the formation and maintenance of state power apparati:
http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/yekaterina-samutsevich-closing-statement/

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Jules-Alexis Muenier

La leçon de catéchisme (1890)
Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie de Besançon
oil on canvas

Editorial: We are giving catechism a go. I have reservations that are admittedly abstract. The word itself is unfortunate– to sound down to. And while I like the idea of studying doctrines intellectually (in this case Christian doctrines), the thought of indoctrinating our daughter is rather off-putting. I am accepting the skepticism and discomfort as part of the process itself, which is why for now we are leaning in.

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Filed under Editorial, Etymology, Images, Praxis

Bertolt Brecht

How Fortunate the Man with None
by Bertolt Brecht

You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him
And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You saw courageous Caesar next
You know what he became.
They deified him in his life
Then had him murdered just the same.
And as they raised the fatal knife
How loud he cried: you too my son!
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s courage that had brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You heard of honest Socrates
The man who never lied:
They weren’t so grateful as you’d think
Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried
And handed him the poisoned drink.
How honest was the people’s noble son.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s honesty that brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

Here you can see respectable folk
Keeping to God’s own laws.
So far he hasn’t taken heed.
You who sit safe and warm indoors
Help to relieve our bitter need.
How virtuously we had begun.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s fear of god that brought us to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

from Mother Courage and Her Children (1939)

Editorial: Enjoy this as spoken verse.

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Wislawa Szymborska

Vermeer
by Wislawa Szymborska

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn’t earned
the world’s end.

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/aug/19/vermeer/

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Kay Ryan

That Will to Divest
by Kay Ryan

Action creates
a taste
for itself.
Meaning: once
you’ve swept
the shelves
of spoons
and plates
you kept
for guests,
it gets harder,
not to also
simplfy the larder,
not to dismiss
rooms, not to
divest yourself
of all the chairs
but one, not
to test what
singleness can bear,
once you’ve begun.

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Filed under Ephemeron, Poems, Praxis

John Masefield

Sea Fever
by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life.
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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Filed under Love, Praxis

Wislawa Szymborska

Microcosmos
by Wislawa Szymborska

When we first started looking through microscopes
a cold fear blew and it’s still blowing.
Life hitherto had been frantic enough
in all its shapes and dimensions.
Which is why it created small-scale creatures,
assorted tiny worms and flies,
but at least the naked human eye
could see them.

But then suddenly beneath the glass,
foreign to a fault
and so petite,
that what they occupy in space
can only charitably be called a spot.

The glass doesn’t even touch them,
they double and triple unobstructed,
with room to spare, willy-nilly.

To say they’re many isn’t saying much.
The stronger the microscope
the more exactly, avidly they’re multiplied.

They don’t even have decent innards.
They don’t know gender, childhood, age.
They may not even know they are—or aren’t.
Still they decide our life and death.

Some freeze in momentary stasis,
although we don’t know what their moment is.
Since they’re so minuscule themselves,
their duration may be
pulverized accordingly.

A windborne speck of dust is a meteor
from deepest space,
a fingerprint is a farflung labyrinth
where they may gather
for their mute parades,
their blind iliads and upanishads.

I’ve wanted to write about them for a long while,
but it’s a tricky subject,
always put off for later
and perhaps worthy of a better poet,
even more stunned by the world than I.
But time is short. I write.

Appears in The New York Review of Books, December 17, 2009 (Volume 56, Number 20).  Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak, Clare Cavanagh.

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Filed under Bagatelle, Poems, Praxis

Yiddish Proverb

To a worm in a horseradish, the whole world is a horseradish.

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Filed under Expectancy, Praxis, Sureness

David Foster Wallace

The mistake here lies in both sides’ assumption that the real motives for redistributing wealth are charitable or unselfish. The conservatives’ mistake (if it is a mistake) is wholly conceptual, but for the Left the assumption is also a serious tactical error. Progressive liberals seem incapable of stating the obvious truth: that we who are well off should be willing to share more of what we have with poor people not for the poor people’s sake but for our own; i.e., we should share what we have in order to become less narrow and frightened and lonely and self-centered people.
From “Authority and American Usage” in
Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, Back Bay Books, New York, 2006.

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Japanese Proverb

Nana korobi, ya oki.
Fall seven times – rise eight.

Editorial: The first time I heard this proverb it was mangled in the mouth of a young man who had made a series of colossally poor decisions that confounded common sense. The last in the series was to lie ceaselessly even when he knew that everyone else was on to him. Because the truth seemed destined to go with him to the grave I was thoroughly surprised when he eventually opened up. I asked him why he came around and his reply was the mangled proverb. The gist, however, was straight and true, and profoundly simple: you get up from the place where you fall. Nana korobi, ya oki. Fall seven times – rise eight. The Chinese have a proverb that makes essentially the same point: Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up. Here’s the sentiment told another way: When you reach the point where you just can’t give any more of your time or effort, stand very still. Then take one more step. (thanks, elsah cort).

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Filed under Editorial, Praxis, Quotes, Sureness