Reading: Blood Oranges by Lisel Mueller

Today I read a poem by Lisel Mueller (b. 1924), another Pulitzer Prize-winning poet (in 1996, for her poetry collection Alive together), born in Germany who emigrated to the US as a child. She wrote a famous poem about ‘things’, but I prefer this one:

Blood Oranges
In 1936, a child
in Hitler’s Germany,
what did I know about the war in Spain?
Andalusia was a tango
on a wind-up gramophone,
Franco a hero’s face in the paper.
No one told me about a poet
for whose sake I might have learned Spanish
bleeding to death on a barren hill.
All I knew of Spain
were those precious imported treats
we splurged on for Christmas.
I remember pulling the sections apart,
lining them up, sucking each one
slowly, so the red sweetness
would last and last —
while I was reading a poem
by a long-dead German poet
in which the woods stood safe
under the moon’s milky eye
and the white fog in the meadows
aspired to become lighter than air.

Mueller was born in Hamburg and emigrated with her family when she was 15 and the war started. As a twelve year old girl all she knew about Spain was the music from the gramophone and the face of Franco in the newspaper. Which Spanish poet are we looking for here? Many fought in the civil war. Lorca, perhaps, who was executed (on a barren hill?)

She didn’t know about poetry (IRL Mueller published her poetry late, when she was 40) but she knew those oranges they had for Christmas. Follows some symbolism about pulling sections apart and lining them up (ay, the image reminds me of people in German singled out and lined up); all for the sake of the red sweetness. My god, is the innocent child Mueller comparing herself to the nazis who sucked the life blood out of the Jews so that the sweetness of their dream of Lebensraum and Rassenreinheit could stay alive?

Then she read a German poem (and she kindly gives away which one, I head over to Google…). It’s probably Joseph von Eichendorff, who writes

Der Mond ist aufgegangen,
Die goldnen Sternlein prangen
Am Himmel hell und klar; Der Wald steht schwarz und schweiget,
Und aus den Wiesen steiget
Der weiße Nebel wunderbar.

(I couldn’t find the milky eye here). Anyway, the white fog rising completes the imagery. The ‘heile Welt’ about which she reads will soon be destroyed. Mueller says of Germany that it was struck a fatal blow by history. It’s a powerful poem, this one, what do y’all think?

Reading: Blood Oranges by Lisel Mueller was originally published on Meandering home

Revolutionary Rant

Buckminster Fuller.
Buckminster Fuller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contrary to my habits (but what are habits worth), I republish a piece of raw text originally meant as a small comment on a social network. It was about a quote of Buckminster Fuller, saying that we keep inventing new jobs to control each other, while the real work can be done by an ever decreasing proportion of us.
But let’s discuss this more seriously. What Buck (!) said in 1970 is very true now, just look at the job titles. It is the old discussion of a leisure-only and work-free utopia (see Ernst Bloch) and the “innate” need of humans to feel they are somehow useful, which translates into “working” (and outsourcing the task of telling you that you are useful to a leviathan called society). That is dangerous. I see so many jobs the world would be so much better off without. If all these  busy people regain sanity there would be a huge need for shrinks. That at least might be a useful job.

But Spass beiseite, this is a serious matter. Automating (automating making automobiles!) won’t halt, ever. The friends of the planet are the enemies of the machine. They will suffer, look at the indigenous chiefs in Brazil. It is us who are fucking them in their asses. We cannot feel shame. Because we are “organized”.

But I digress. Arbeit macht eben nicht frei. Labour = slavery of capital. All we can do is make friends with a small peace of this still green planet and live an exemplary life there. Hoping others will follow. That is a sustainable revolution. Not a revolution that relies on resource extraction and plastic and high tech to disperse their fancy slogans .

But I digress again. What is it we want? Peace and satisfaction in our hearts. Freedom from the shadows of our abusers (especially the subtle abuse by our parents “ihr habt den Krieg nicht erlebt/je hebt de oorlog niet meegemaakt”), clean water, fresh air, being surrounded by healthy loved ones, the knowledge that we are part of a natural cycle and are not disrupting it. And our insane culture is structurally destroying ALL of these things. Fluoride and other toxins in water (not to mention the harmful practice of bottling water), dioxin in breast milk, smog, elbow-society.

So yes, we should go back to school but let the land we inhabit be our school. We want to (and will) live in healthy communities freed from the craze of the “system”. A few bright minds will be honored because they lend their heads to the community. And instead of “earning a living” (that present-day variation of the Christian and appalling notion of original sin) the rest of us will re-invent living. Yes,we will defy the capitalist propaganda that we “need to do something” (meaning exploit ourselves so that the rich can continue their sadistic execution of the planet). And we will discover that there are other, more meaningful ways of existing together.

Helping the weak build a house, teaching each other how to dance, sing, or cook, reading, studying, telling each other stories, and above all regaining our fantasy so that we our children can play with sticks and stones and experience them in “Full super-bright high-definition 3-D surround-sound” without the need of a civilization raping the planet.

thanks for reading this far

hasta la victoria siempre


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