Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sheep Graze at The Montreal Botanical Garden (2018)

Sheep in Residence

Eco Project at the Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin botanique de Montréal) at 4101 Sherbrooke Street E., corner of Pie-IX, involves the use of sheep (Ovis aries) doing what they love to do: eat grass. Espace pour la vie Montréal writes about this wonderful initiative that combines urban agriculture and animals: “From May 15 to July 2, nine sheep will be “mowing the lawn” at the Jardin botanique, near the Leslie Hancock Garden. […]. This eco-grazing is a joint initiative by the Jardin botanique and an NPO called the Laboratoire d’agriculture urbaine (AU/LAB), as part of the ‘Biquette à Montréal’ project.” There are nine ewes and four lambs. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Espace Pour la Vie

I am taking a short break and will return by mid-June.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Butterflies Go Free at Montreal’s Botanical Garden

Photo of the Day

Montreal Botanical Garden (Jardin Botanique de Montréal) has many living beings, including butterflies, as this photo from March 2014 shows. Every year, the Botanical Garden has a “Butterfly Go Free” event, describing it as follows: “From late February to the end of April, the Insectarium’s Butterflies Go Free event draws thousands of visitors of all ages into the Jardin botanique’s main exhibition greenhouse. All around the visitors, more than 1,500 butterflies of about fifty different species flit about, browsing from one flower to the next. The warmth, lush greenery and graceful aerial ballet invite everyone into a world of discovery and relaxation.” The butterfly belongs to the Lepidoptera, an order of insects that include moths, whose members are called lepidopterans. According to Wikipedia, “About 180,000 species of the Lepidoptera are described, in 126 families[1] and 46 superfamilies,[2] 10 per cent of the total described species of living organisms.[2][3] It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world. [4]” And the most well-known butterfly is the monarch (Danaus plexippus), which I have not seen yet this year, but I have already seen a couple of other butterflies this year at some of Toronto’s parks; it might be a good summer for butterfly watching after all. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons; Richard McNeil; March 27, 2014.

Edward Albert: Butterflies Are Free (1972)

Butterflies Are Free (1972), an American comedy-drama film starring Edward Albert, Goldie Hawn and Eileen Heckart; the movie is based on the 1969 play by Leonard Gershe. The title is based  on  Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1852–53): “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies.” Sometimes the freedom an individual desires is to be free from an overbearing, overprotective mother, as is the case in this film. “Freedom.” Is this not always the question before us: how much freedom individuals living in a community, both large and small ought to have? How to exercise such “freedoms”? how many of these freedoms ought to be enshrined as “rights”? The nature of politics within a democracy is for politicians, the people’s representatives, to decide such questions through discussion and debate and then a vote on whether to legalize it. In non-democratic states, of course, such things do not take place, the people’s interests matter not, do not count and are never taken into consideration.
Courtesy: Youtube

Monday, May 28, 2018

Jean Béliveau, ‘Le Gros Bill,’ My Hockey Hero

Photo of the Day

Joseph Jean Arthur Béliveau [born in 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec–died in  2014 in Longueuil, Quebec] is shown in this 1963 photo during the height of his professional hockey playing days (1950–1971), sporting the “C” on his home game sweater, the designation of captain of Les Canadiens, which Béliveau proudly led for 10 years (1961–1971). Béliveau, who played centre, was 6' 3"; 205 lb., then considered tall for a player. He was known for his graceful skating, meticulous stickhandling and a well-aimed wrist shot. Known also as “Le Gros Bill” (named after a Québecois folk song, he was not only a hockey legend, he was my first sports hero. He was for many boys of my generation growing up in Montreal in the 1960s and the first two years of the ’70s, who followed and rooted for the Montreal Canadiens, “the Habs,” “Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.” I got to follow Béliveau later in his career (he playing between 1950 and 1971), and remember vividly when he scored his 500th goal (February 11th, 1971), a few of us watching the game at a friend’s house across the road. I met Béliveau as a hockey player a couple of times in my life; the first as a young boy asking for his autograph outside the old Montreal Forum (1924–1996) on Ste-Catherine W and Atwater, and he always was gracious. Always, as so many have said. This is how I remember him: a tall dignified athelete, but always a gentleman. Some might say, hockey is only a sport, and while this is true, and now it is hyped-up entertainment (reflecting, perhaps, the head-office move to New York from Montreal in 1989), it was different back then. Very different. We all need heroes, and I was fortunate to have one as a young boy. And a decent human being, as well, the likes of which are rarely seen in sports today. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Library and Archives Canada; Louis Jacques for Weekend Magazine, December 28, 1963.

The Montreal Forum’s Last Game (1996)

Montréal Memories

The Montreal Forum, at 2313 Saint-Catherine Street West (corner of Atwater Avenue), sees its last hockey game on March 11, 1996, between Les Canadiens and the Dallas Stars; the Habs won, 4-1. After the game, there was a ceremony to mark the 70+-year history of this building (1924–1996), which included honouring many of the then-living greats of Les Canadiens. Maurice “Rocket” Richard received the longest standing ovation, lasting almost 10 minutes. There is history and legend behind this long ovation, one that any long time Montrealer knows. If you know about the importance of hockey in the City, and what Richard represented to working-class French-Canadians and to working-class English-Canadians, and to persons who were neither, but felt proud to be a Montrealer and a Quebecer (such as this writer), this all makes perfect sense. The Forum was considered a hockey shrine to many in Québec, and its closure marked the end of an era that started almost a century ago. Montreal is a special city; there is no city like it in Canada; there is no city like it in North America. Every person who likes his city says the same thing, and this is the way it ought to be. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Youtube

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Beaver Lake, A Place of Reflective Beauty & Memory

Photo of the Day

Beaver Lake (Lac-aux-Castors), sitting prominently and prettily in Montréal’s Parc du Mont-Royal. What memories this photo engenders. One of my past-times while growing up in Montreal was to play at Mont-Royal Park, or as it was often called, “the mountain.” (The highest point at the top is 233 metres (or 764 feet) above sea level. On Sunday afternoons, picnicking near “The Chalet” at Beaver Lake was what my family would often do during the 1960s. One of the highlights was getting an ice cream cone, usually chocolate, at The Chalet’s snack bar. Although I had always thought it was always there, it opened in 1961, and was soon “considered one of the most innovative buildings in Québec,” says les amis de la montagne on its site. This is how I remember it, a picture frozen in my mind. and more so now that I am far away from it in a physical sense. It is true that I miss “it.” Waxing philosophical, some would say such reflects my distance from my youth, and this makes it more attractive—its absence. Perhaps this is true, but so is it true that I miss what I do not know or now have near me—a yearning for something that cannot be. For now, I hold on to the good memories. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

My Balcony Garden (2018)

Concrete Gardening

Vegetables are necessary for healthy living and it is always better to grow your own, even if it is a modest garden, so last week my 10-year-old son and I added to our balcony garden two plants: the one on the left a jalapeno pepper (Capsicum annuum) and the one next to it a beefsteak tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). By early to mid August, if all goes according to good expectations, which includes good weather and good nurturing on our part, we will have a small bounty of delicious tomatoes and hot peppers. I will keep you posted with a few photos along the way.
Photo: ©2018. Perry J. Greenbaum

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Four Lions of Montréal’s Parc du Mont-Royal

Photo of the Day

One of the Four Lions surrounding the Monument of George-Étienne Cartier at Montréal’s Parc du Mont-Royal. I have many fond memories of playing on and around these mighty bronze lions, symbolic of majesty, freedom and beauty, in the 1960s, when we lived in the area, in such close proximity to the park/“mountain.” The monument was made by sculptor George William Hill [1862–1934]; on the top is a winged female figure, La Renommée, and the whole beautiful installation was inaugurated on September 6, 1919 in the heart of Fletcher's Field, on av du Parc, on the west side. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

Bernstein, The Berlin Celebration Concert and Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 (1989)

Leonard Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 at the Schauspielhaus, right on Gendarmenmarkt in the centre of Berlin, with Freiheit (Freedom) replacing Freude (Joy), the choir  singing “Ode to Freedom,” to celebrate the Fall of the Berlin Wall during  this Christmas concert of 1989. The New York Times writes: “Leonard Bernstein transformed a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony today into an appeal for brotherhood as West and East Berliners mingled freely for the first Christmas in 28 years. ‘I am experiencing a historical moment, incomparable with others in my long, long life,' the American conductor said during the nationally televised performance on Monday.” In keeping with this sentiment, this concert was performed by an orchestra and chorus coming from many nations: the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; the Chorus of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; members of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden; the Philharmonischer Kinderchor Dresden; members of the Orchestra of the Kirov Theatre; members of the London Symphony Orchestra; members of the New York Philharmonic; and members of the Orchestre de Paris. The soloists are June Anderson (soprano); Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano), Klaus König (tenor), and Jan-Hendrik Rootering (bass). Alle Menschen werden Bruder (“All Men Will Be Brothers”)For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Youtube

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lilian Wald, Nursing NYC’s Lower East Side

Photo of the Day

Lilian Wald [born in 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio–died in 1940 in Westport, Connecticut] is shown here posing with great dignity in this undated photo. This woman accomplished so much in her mission to create a more just society, a mission that I heartily endorse. When for example, she opened the Henry Street Settlement, located in New York City’s Lower East Side, in 1893, she created the idea of public health nursing, an idea which is implemented today among nursing professionals and nursing practitioners. Wald accomplished much during the American Progressive era (1890–1920), when America was open to such ideas. What she did and accomplished was beyond anything that can be measured in a quantitative way; for one, she helped restore both a sense of hope and dignity to people who initially did not have much. We would be pleased if we were able to accomplish half as much as Ms. Wald did in her life. Anne M. Filiaci, Ph.D., writes the following on a site dedicated to Wald: “Within a few years the Henry Street Settlement had become a vibrant neighborhood center, offering residents of the Lower East Side not only nursing services, but a playground and a kindergarten, afterschool programs, classes for adults, boys’ and girls’ clubs, mothers’ groups, day trips and vacations to the country, summer camps, a theater, and the myriad other activities that came to be associated with the settlement house movement.”
For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

Henry Street Settlement: 120 Years in 4 Minutes (2013)

Henry Street Settlement, at 263–267 Henry Street, at Manhattan’s Lower East Side,was founded by Lilian Wald [1867–1940] in 1893. The three buildings, federal row houses, were donated by American financier and philanthropist Jacob Schiff. Although this video is from five years ago, age matters not, since it continues to do what it has always done: provide so many wonderful programs to more than 60,000 New Yorkers each year. This is good. So good that what it has done for the past 125 years has not gone unnoticed, and in one remarkable gesture of generosity has been amply rewarded, this organization writes (Extraordinary $6.24 Million Gift to Henry Street”; May 7, 2018) on its site: “Henry Street Settlement received $6.24 million – the largest single estate gift to the Settlement in its history — from the estate of Sylvia Bloom-Margolies. The gift will be used to create The Bloom-Margolies Scholarship Fund in Memory of Sylvia Bloom Margolies, Raymond Margolies and Ruth Bloom to support Henry Street’s Expanded Horizons College Success Program. The Fund was established in memory of Sylvia Bloom-Margolies, her husband Raymond Margolies and her sister Ruth Bloom.” For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Youtube

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Carl Sagan, Making Science Accessible

Photo of the Day

Carl Sagan [born in 1934 in New York City–died in 1996 in Seattle, Washington] in 1980 when space exploration was still popular among the public, capturing its imagination with the possibility of discovery and the possibility of other worlds besides ours. Sagan worked and taught at Cornell University for almost 30 years, having gone up to Ithaca after Harvard University denied him tenure in 1968. Sagan, who held a doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Chicago, made science popular, interesting and fun. In this regard, I remember Cosmos (1980), the 13-part series originally broadcast on TV (“A Personal Voyage;” PBS). At the heart of Sagan was a curious and questioning mind, inquisitive but also cautious, as I would think a scientist ought to be. In his last book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995), Sagan writes: “Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”  As much as this is true, there is even more to say on this subject, found in, for example,  Richard C. Lewontin’s review (“Billions and Billions of Demons;” January 9, 1997) in The New York Review of Books, on how Science (and its scion, Technology) today also over-reaches and makes spurious claims. Money and the desire for fame, which brings more money, often makes “rational” people do funny things. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here]. 
Courtesy: Wired

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1983)

Pygmalion, a 1983 American TV production starring Margot Kidder as Eliza Doolittle and Peter O'Toole as Professor Henry Higgins, one of the many adaptations. Pygmalion, the five-act play bGeorge Bernard Shaw, was first performed on stage at the Hofburg Theatre in Vienna on October 16, 1913, in a German translation by Siegfried Trebitsch. It opened in New York City at at the German-language Irving Place Theatre on March 24, 1914; and in London, In English, at His Majesty’s Theatre on April 11, 1914. Since then, there have been dozens of adaptations of this story, one of “making a lady” out of someone born to the lower classes, one of “making a lady” out of a working-class girl by teaching her diction and manners. The 1956 stage musical, My Fair Lady, is one of the most famous adaptations of this play, as is the 1964 film musical with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. It is funny in a sad way, a sort of humane comedy. But, it is also much more, as Fintan O’Toole astutely and sensitively writes (“The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back;” October 18, 2017) in The Guardian: “Pygmalion is not just about Eliza’s transformation from flower girl to apparent duchess. It’s about her father’s transformation from a disreputable character to the epitome of propriety. And in this morality tale is one of Bernard Shaw’s most important arguments: people are not poor because they are immoral; they’re immoral because they are poor. Or, to put it in the terms of today’s assumptions about poverty: the problem with the poor isn’t their ‘culture’ or their want of character. It’s just that they don’t have enough money.” Some people who are not poor might get it, but I suspect that they are in the minority. More’s the pity. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].

Courtesy: Youtube

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Charlie Chaplin, The Dignified ‘Little Tramp’

Photo of the Day

“Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them. Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority of one.”
—Charlie Chaplin, My Autobiography (1964)

Charles Spencer Chaplin [born in 1889 in London, England–died in 1977 in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland] is shown here in this 1921 photo. Chaplin starred in 82 films; his first film appearance was Making A Living (February 2, 1914), which can be seen [here]; The Tramp character was first seen in his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice (February 7, 1914), and can be seen [here]. Although he played many other roles, Chaplin is most famous for his role as “The Tramp,” a childlike goodhearted individual, who, despite being a vagrant, behaves with the manners and dignity of someone born into a higher social class. The Tramp is endearing, representing us, all downtrodden and resilient humanity. Without a doubt, Chaplin is a most wonderful actor, whose silent films I have enjoyed since I first laid eyes on them as a small child. These quickly come to mind: Easy Street (1916), where life in the slums is not easy, a life of hardship and incredible deprivation; The Kid (1921), which is again close to home, a reminder, a reflection of Chaplin’s life as a kid living in the slums of South London at the end of the 19th century; The Gold Rush (1925)—“the picture I want to be remembered by,” Chaplin said; and City Lights (1931), a tragicomedy that took 800,000 feet of film and over two years to complete. What they bring to the common man and woman is thoughtful and powerful commentaries of being poor, both before and during “The Great Depression” it is their story. Then there is Modern Times (1936), the last silent film, a masterpiece of satire of our modern industrialized age (The Tramp never talks but sings a gibberish song at the end.); The Great Dictator (1940), his first talkie, and so prescient on totalitarianism, notably Fascism; and A King in New York (1957), a satirical look at the paranoia and hysteria dominant in the U.S. during  the era of McCarthyism (roughly 1947 to 1956) Moreover, as an anti-Fascist, he will forever be in my mind a man of good conscience and good taste. He will forever be the dignified “Little Tramp.” For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons; National Portrait Gallery, London

Charlie Chaplin’s Easy Street (1917)

Charlie Chaplin and Easy Street (1917): The site, Charlie Chaplin, writes of this film: “The look and feel of Easy Street evoke the South London of his childhood (the name “Easy Street” suggests “East Street,” the street of Chaplin’s birthplace). Poverty, starvation, drug addiction, and urban violence—subjects that foreshadow the social concerns in his later films—are interwoven in ‘an exquisite short comedy’ wrote critic Walter Kerr, ‘humor encapsulated in the regular rhythms of light verse’ (23).” It is hard to imagine that people lived like this; and yet a good many still do in western civilization. Look at how civilized we have become! Chaplin was right; only satire can work in this case.
Courtesy: Youtube

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Arturo Toscanini, An Ardently Anti-Fascist Conductor

Photo of the Day

Arturo Toscanini [born in 1867 in Parma, Italy–died in 1957 in New York City, New York], in shown here in this 1947 photo, seven years before he stepped down from what he did best. Starting out as cellist from Parma, Italy, he became one of the 20th century’s great conductors, doing so for almost seven decades (1886–1954), leading such notable institutions as La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which was created for him and which he led from 1937 to 1954. He was ardently anti-fascist, which places him in my good books as a hero. In  an article (“The Toscanini Wars”: July 10, 2017) for The New Yorker, David Denby writes what is already well-known but bears repeating: “After 1931, Toscanini refused to conduct in Italy, resisting Mussolini, who dangled honors and official posts; he was thereafter reviled in the Fascist press. Hitler pleaded with him to honor holy German art and preside over the Wagner rites at the Bayreuth Festival. When Toscanini turned him down, his recordings and broadcasts were banned in Nazi Germany. Instead of going to Bayreuth, he worked in 1936 and 1937 with the newly formed Palestine Orchestra (later the Israel Philharmonic), an ensemble largely composed of Jewish refugees. Toscanini did not make speeches; he stuck to business. But his sentiments were widely known, and he became a lodestar for anti-Fascists. After the war, Isaiah Berlin pronounced him ‘the most morally dignified and inspiring hero of our time—more than Einstein (to me), more than even the superhuman Winston.’ ” For more go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here]
Courtesy: The New York Times

Toscanini, The NBC Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (1948)

Arturo Toscanini conducts The NBC Symphony Orchestra in Ludwig van Beethoven’s [1770–1827] Symphony No.9 in D minor, opus 125, at NBC Studio 8-H, New York City, in a concert that was broadcast on April 3, 1948. In this concert are Anne McKnight (soprano); Jane Hobson (contralto); Erwin Dillon (tenor); Norman Scott (bass); as well as Members of the Collegiate Chorale.The Ninth Symphony premiered on May 7, 1824 in the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna. The soprano and alto parts were sung by Henriette Sontag and Caroline Unger. The fourth movement contains the famous “Ode to Joy,” taken from Friedrich Schiller’s poem of 1785. Two hundred years later (around 1979–80), Leonard Bernstein provides an informative and humane discussion on this wonderful symphony, touching on the meaning of love, joy and peace, and on King David’s Psalm 133: Hine ma tov u’ma-nayim. Deep thoughts, to be sure, but ones that are easily accessible by all humans. And for all humans. This symphony binds us together.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr., and His American Dream

Photo of the Day

“The assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Hyman Bookbinder, in a frank statement on December 29, 1966, declared that the long-range costs of adequately implementing programs to fight poverty, ignorance and slums will reach one trillion dollars. He was not awed or dismayed by this prospect but instead pointed out that the growth of the gross national product during the same period makes this expenditure comfortably possible. It is, he said, as simple as this: ‘The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate.’ Furthermore, he predicted that unless a “substantial sacrifice is made by the American people,” the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between races and continued disorders in the streets. He asserted that people are not informed enough to give adequate support to antipoverty programs, and he leveled a share of the blame at the government because it ‘must do more to get people to understand the size of the problem.’ ”
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967)

Martin Luther King, Jr [born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia– died in 1968 in Memphis,Tennessee], was a Baptist minister and a social activist, a vocal leader of the civil right movement. In this photo, on March 25, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses a crowd of civil rights marchers, about 25,000 individuals in Montgomery, Alabama. This is the culmination of the famous 54-mile Selma-Montgomery March, where marchers left Selma on March 21 and arrived in Montgomery on March 25. (One of the individuals taking part was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.) The King Institute at Stanford University writes: “During the final rally, held on the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery, King proclaimed: ‘The end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man’ (King, “Address,” 130). ” That day has yet to arrive in America, which is hardly at peace with itself. It is a nation beset with violence and hatred and many kinds of social inequalities. As a stark reminder, on another day—April 4, 1968—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr was murdered, assassinated actually, at The Lorraine Motel in front of Room 306. He was only 39. This is one of those days I will remember, a sad day for a 10-year-old Jewish boy, when hope took a downturn. If this man is to remembered for anything, it is as a man of conviction and hope, who wanted to turn chaos into community. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, one of the few who actually deserved the honour. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: TIME; Stephen F. Somerstein; Getty Images

Albert Einstein: Why Socialism? (1949)

The Capitalistic Society & Alienated Man

Albert Einstein and Charlie Chaplin at at the Los Angeles premiere of the film City Lights, on January 30, 1931. “Chaplin was the one man in Hollywood Einstein wanted to meet,” the article (“Einstein in Hollywood; April 1931; p. 36) in Photoplay said. Chaplin’s political and social views on modern society are well known. That being the case, I would have liked to have met both men.

In 1949, the noted physicist and humanitarian wrote an article for Monthly Review (May 1949), a socialist publication, entitled Why Socialism? It was republished 60 years later, on May 1, 2009, for good reasons;  I cite the following the salient points from it that Dr. Einstein made:
I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.
For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
How true is this last point, as is the complete article. The conman man and woman will find comfort in these words, knowing that what he felt all along was not mere imaginings, but yearnings validated decades ago by such an eminent thinker. Albert Einstein was not only a genius in physics; he well understood society and how it worked, and much better than many current “experts” on the source of our lingering societal malaise: “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.”

Well, it has not gotten better in the last 70 years, has it? It has actually gotten worse. Capitalism has now extended its tentacles into all areas of human endeavors: birth, education, work, marriage, retirement and even death. (Funerals are expensive.) Capitalism has become more avaricious; and Man more alienated. The supporters of Capitalism are still many, even found among those it hinders and harms, but they tend to be older.

Capitalism is pertinacious, but it is also pernicious and non-inclusive. This fact alone might lead to the beginning of the end of Capitalism’s rule, notably for those who are born between 1981 and 1996 (“The Millennials”). As many recent articles and studies show, support for Capitalism in America is diminishing over-all. The younger generation of  Millennials hate Capitalism, preferring instead socialism. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].

When a system creates so many poor people, who, despite higher education, remain poor, what else can you expect but a rejection of the system that, in many cases, has shut them out. I could go on and on, but a much better mind than mine has stated it with much clarity and humaneness. You should and can read the whole article that Prof. Einstein wrote almost 70 years ago [here]. I would highly recommend it.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Abraham Joshua Heschel, Prophetic Voice of Kindness

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 “There is immense silent agony in the world, and the task of man is to be a voice for the plundered poor, to prevent the desecration of the soul and the violation of our dream of honesty. The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the Prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
“The Reasons for My Involvement in the Peace Movement” (1972)

Abraham Joshua Heschel [born in 1907 in Warsaw, Poland–died in 1972 in New York City, New York] is known for his stand against the Vietnam War, for his support of Black Civil Rights—including taking part in the Selma–Montgomery March in 1965—for his scholarship, and for finding the middle ground between the legalism of Orthodox and the leniency of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Heschel was, by all accounts, a most humane thinker and individual, who left a legacy of goodness, thoughtfullness and kindness, illuminated in his teachings, actions and writings, notably in such influential works as Man is Not Alone (1951), The Sabbath (1951), God in Search of Man (1955), and The Prophets (1962). Robert D. McFadden writes for The New York Times (in 1972) about the many parts that made up Rabbi Heschel: “Standing before a class, he was by turns a scholar who could elucidate fine points of the Talmud, a philosopher who could compare the metaphysics of Hegel and Kant and a Hasid, who could evoke the mystery of God's concern for man in tales and parables.” In Who is Man, Rabbi Heschel writes about the search for meaning, never easy but always necessary for thinking man: “The sense of meaning is not born in ease and sloth. It comes after bitter trials, disappointments in the glitters, foundering, strandings. It is the marrow from the bone. There is no manna in our wilderness.” True enough.
For more go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Commonweal

The Eternal Light: Abraham Joshua Heschel (1972)


This is Post No. 2,500.

Abraham Joshua Heschel interviewed by Carl Stern (on December 10, 1972) for “The Eternal Light” (1944–1989) show on NBC-TV.  The interview took place a couple of weeks before Rabbi Heschel’s death (from a heart attack on December 23, 1972); he was 65. The interview was shown on February 4, 1973.
     In a wide-ranging discussion, Rabbi Heschel talks about free will, wonder, discipline, meaning, prayer, the prophets, messianic redemption, God, loneliness, and the “celebration of life.” All serious talk. “Without holiness, we will sink into absurdity. …God is not limited to one nation, one people,” Rabbi Heschel says in this interview. “God is the Father of all men.” It might seem like a paradox, but Rabbi Heschel was both very Jewish and very universal, an understanding that came about by the study of the Prophets and by the life he led. When I watch this interview, I am led to the conviction that Rabbi Heschel is a sincere intelligent humane man. Here is what he said near the end of the interview, which validates this statement: “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”
    The Eternal Light, conceived by the Jewish Theological Seminary, began on radio in 1944, with radio dramas and continued on TV with interviews such as this one in 1952. It was broadcast by NBC as part of its Sunday morning religious programming until 1989. For more on The Eternal Light, go [here] and [here] and [here].
Via: Youtube

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jean Améry, A Tortured Body, A Tortured Mind

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Jean Améry [born as Hans Maier in 1912 in Vienna, Austria–died in 1978 in Salzburg, Austria]. Amery’s most famous book of collected essays, which he began writing in 1964, in German, is Jenseits von Schuld und Sühne: Bewältigungsversuche eines Überwältigten; Trans: Sidney Rosenfeld and Stella P Rosenfeld), or in English, At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities, published in 1966 and re-issued ten years later. The title describes so much, including whhat happens when someone has been tortured, as Améry was by the Gestapo. A person who has been tortured forever remains tortured, notably a person of the mind who relies on abstractions and imagination. When the blows of harsh reality strike, immediately his trust in humanity is not only diminished, it is forever gone. Amery writes in “Die Tortur,” one of the essays in the book noted above: “At the first blow…trust in the world breaks down. This other person, opposite whom I exist physically in the world and with whom I can exist only as long as he does not touch my skin surface as border, forces his own corporeality on me with the first blow. He is on me and thereby destroys me. It is like a rape, a sexual act without consent […].” Torture always defeats trust. It might be that one man ruling over another is not humane; torture is its full and complete antithesis, the negation of man. For that reason alone, there is no moral reason that torture should ever be used. Améry killed himself on October 17, 1978; he was 65. Whether his was an act of defiance or of despair, one can never know with certainty; it was, however, an act of a man who had reached his limit. I have not read this book, only excerpts, but it is on my list of books to order. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].

Patti Smith: Because The Night (1978)

Patti Smith: “Because The Night” (1978) on “The Old Grey Whistle Test” (OGWT), a British TV show dedicated to serious rock music, which aired on BBC2 from 1971 to 1988. The song was written by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith. Springsteen’s version can be heard [here] in a 1978 performance in Houston, Texas. Fast forward 40 years later. You can watch a version with Smith and Springsteen, at the Tribeca Film Festival at the Beacon Theatre in New York on April 23, 2018, [here]. Of course, this is a love song, and a personal one, Smith completing what Springsteen started to write. Allow me to wax poetic, with a philosophical bent, stretching the song further. The day might belong to business and politics, with all that it entails; the night to love and lovers, with all that this brings. All in ALL, this is just a wonderful rock song.
Via: Youtube

Friday, May 18, 2018

Viktor Ullmann, A Life Composed of Dissonance

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Viktor Ullman [born in 1888 in Teschen, now Cieszyn, Poland–died in Auschwitz in 1944] shown here in this undated photo, perhaps from the late 1920s, but undoubtedly in better times. In an excellent article for the Orel Foundation, Gwyneth Bravo writes: “Prior to his death in 1944, he wrote that ‘[artistic] form’ must be understood from the perspective of Goethe and Schiller as that which ‘overcomes matter or substance [and where] the secret of every work of art is the annihilation of matter through form—something that can possibly be seen as the overall mission of the human being, not only the aesthetic but ethical human being as well.’”
     His life was marked by dissonance, the last few years only more so, but what he did with this material, chiefly what resided in his brain and his heart, is remarkable. One site dedicated to Viktor Ullmann writes: “Viktor Ullmann was transported to Terezín on 8 September 1942. In the squalor of the ghetto he organised lectures, wrote critiques, performed as a pianist, and continued to compose. He created more than twenty works in captivity, including three piano sonatas, songs and choruses, the melodrama The Song of the Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke based on the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, and the opera The Emperor of Atlantis, which he did not have time to stage (it was first performed in altered form in 1975, in its original form in 1992). On 16 October 1944 he found himself bound for Auschwitz in a transport which included the conductors Rafael Schächter and Karel Ančerl, the actor Gustav Schorch, composers Pavel Haas, Hans Krása, Gideon Klein, the poet and painter Petr Kien (the librettist of Ullmann’s The Emperor of Atlantis), and many other artists. On 17 or 18 October 1944 Viktor Ullmann was murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.”      For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Orel Foundation

John Berger: Ways of Seeing (1972)

John Berger and “Ways of Seeing,” Episode 1 (1972).  A person's social status changes the way he sees. For example, the wealthy look down and the poor look up. Money can buy many things, material goods and comfort, no doubt, but a sure way to kill any creativity is to become wealthy. There is a reason why, all things being equal, the poorest artist produces the greatest art. A good reason is that happiness and contentment in an individual is the enemy of creativity. One of the great ironies of the modern world is that masterpieces, painted by poor artists, can only be afforded by the wealthy, who would not have given these bohemians the time of day when they were alive. Episode 2 can be found [here]; episode 3 [here] and episode 4 [here].
Via: Youtube

Thursday, May 17, 2018

John Berger’s Way of Being

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John Peter Berger [born in 1926 in London, England – died in 2017 in Paris, France) was, Wikipedia notes, “an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism, Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text. He lived in France for more than half a century.” To be precise, he lived in Quincy, the tiny village in the Alps where he had lived since 1973. Berger, who was born into a prosperous middle-class family, was no capitalist, far from it; he critiqued it as an aggrieving force for humanity. Jacob Brogan for The New Yorker writes: “Berger was a committed Marxist—‘Capitalism survives by forcing the majority, whom it exploits, to define their own interests as narrowly as possible,’ he wrote in ‘Ways of Seeing,’ a representative statement that still seems remarkable in a book produced to accompany a popular television series—and his attention to materiality had a political aspect. His writing often focussed on problems of labor; artists, Berger reminded his readers, are actors in the world, each creation a worldly performance. As Robert Minto puts it, ‘Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object.’ ”  Like many, Berger saw the brutal side of capitalism, how it dispossess the weak, and how it can make the world ugly, when, for example, to build another unsightly high-rise condo or office tower, it dislocates Man from Beauty. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: The New Yorker

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 film starring the late-great Robin Williams as John Keating, an unorthodox English teacher at an all-boys preparatory school (Welton Academy in rural Vermont), set in the year 1959. This scene, “Mr Keating’s First Class (the carpe diem lecture),” is how English teachers should teach, and how they ought to teach poetry. “We don't read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for,” Keating says. If only more English teachers today would (want to) emulate Mr. Keating, but timid and cowardly school administrators fail the students time and time again. Instead, students have to sit through boring lectures that even the teachers themselves would find boring if they themselves were students; and then there is the constant testing and exam taking, which only makes marks important and learning subservient to it. Some aspects of education today are no better than they were in 1959, while others are worse. The film was directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman.
Via: Youtube

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Paul Celan, Poet of Suffering & Sadness

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Paul Celan [born as Paul Antschel in 1920 in Czernovitz, Romania–died in 1970 in Paris, France] was the son of German-speaking Jews, spoke several languages, including Romanian, Russian, and French.  The death of his parents (at an internment camp in Transnistria, then part of Romania) and The Holocaust (Celan was taken to a forced-labour camp during the war) are evident in Celan’s poems, as is the dark, brooding mood of someone who has suffered the kind of losses that he cannot ever recover or even reconcile as acceptable. Such might describe the antithesis of life, a failure of the poet, but how can we judge? Is it not the sensitive souls, who, even if they survive tragedy, carry their sufferings internally and cannot mask it well? (“Death is a master from Deutschland.”) Perhaps, he was courageous for 25 years, and his courage ran out. Celan committed suicide by jumping from the Pont Mirabeau, thus drowning himself in the Seine River in Paris on April 20, 1970. He was 49, leaving behind a wife (Gisèle de Lestrange, a French-Catholic woman from a noble family) and son (Eric, born in 1955). For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].

Leonard Bernstein: Teachers & Teaching (1988)

Leonard Bernstein [1918–1990]: Teachers and Teaching: An Autobiographical Essay by Leonard Bernstein. Learning and teaching are similar words in both German and in Yiddish, thus Bernstein says they are interchangeable. “When I teach I learn; when I learn I teach,” he says rather convincingly. Unfortunately, most teachers fail to understand this essential dictum, and thus they also fail as teachers and probably as humane human beings. Watch the full video. It is a delight, and it is only 57 minutes.
Via: Youtube

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Amedeo Modigliani, and Unconscious Beauty

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Amedeo Clemente Modigliani [born in 1884 in Livorno, Italy–died in 1920 in Paris, France] is here shown on September 11, 1905, before his arrival in Paris, in 1906. Modigliani epitomized the artistic life in its romantic myth, dying at an early age, in poverty, unrecognized. He had only one solo exhibition in his short life. He sold his paintings for restaurant meals and drink. After his death, his paintings became sought after by collectors, selling for tens of millions of dollars. For example, La Belle Romaine (Nude Sitting on a Divan) a painting of a nude, part of a series of nudes Modigliani created around 1917, sold for more than $68.9 million at a 2010 auction in New York—a record then for the artist’s work. A private collector purchased the work. And “Tete,” a 65-cm limestone sculpture was sold for $52.6 million in 2010. Recent works have sold for much more, including Nu Couché (Reclining Nude) for $170.4 million in 2015. If the modern art critics haven’t taken a liking to him, the public undoubtedly has. If some view him as an arrogant individual, it is only an impression that he made, borne out of poverty and a creative child-like view of the world that few would understand, let alone enter. (See here for a list of some of his notable paintings.)  For more, go [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Wikipedia Commons

A Terrifying Life of Loneliness

Social Isolation

I came across an interesting academic paper recently; it is an oft-cited paper on loneliness and its relationship to mental illness, written by Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann [1889–1957], which was originally published in Psychiatry: Journal for the Study of Interpersonal Processes (Psychiatry, 22:1–15, 1959)—almost 60 years ago.

Given what we know about our society, its competitive nature and its alienating harsh uncompromising nature, it is not surprising that it remains highly relevant today. Fromm-Reichmann writes:
The characteristic feature of loneliness, on which I shall elaborate later, is this: It can arouse anxiety and fear of contamination which may induce people —among them the psychiatrists who deal with it in their patients—to refer to it euphemistically as “depression.” One can understand the emotional motivation for this definition, but that does not make it conceptually correct.  
People who are in the grip of severe degrees of loneliness cannot talk about it; and people who have at some time in the past had such an experience can seldom do so either, for it is so frightening and uncanny in character that they try to dissociate the memory of what it was like, and even the fear of it. This frightened secretiveness and lack of communication about loneliness seems to increase its threat for the lonely ones, even in retrospect; it produces the sad conviction that nobody else has experienced or ever will sense what they are experiencing or have experienced.
Even mild borderline states of loneliness do not seem to be easy to talk about. Most people who are alone try to keep the mere fact of their aloneness a secret from others, and even try to keep its conscious realization hidden from themselves. I think that this may be in part determined by the fact that loneliness is a most unpopular phenomenon in this group-conscious culture. Perhaps only children have the independence and courage to identify their own loneliness as such—or perhaps they do it simply out of a lack of imagination or an inability to conceal it. One youngster asked another, in the comic strip “Peanuts,” “Do you know what you’re going to when you grow up?” “Lonesome,” was the unequivocal reply of the other.
The first fact to get straight is that loneliness is not depression, and yet many doctors mistake depression for loneliness. Loneliness is a stand-alone diagnosis. Sadly, this is a truth, an everyday reality, for many people worldwide, from young to old.

If I have written often and periodically about loneliness and social isolation [e.g., see here and here and here], it is chiefly because I think it is a major problem that affects our society, and more so in societies that have undergone industrialization and the adoption of capitalism as an economic system, thus increasing alienation and dislocation of the individual. Such is my current view, and it is not by any means a scientific view, though science might one day validate my ideas on this matter.

Here is a revolutionary thought. Fromm-Reichmann determined, writes Judith Shulevitz, in The New Republic (2013) “that loneliness lay at the heart of nearly all mental illness and that the lonely person was just about the most terrifying spectacle in the world.” If you can get a hold of this article by Dr. Fromm-Reichmann, I would highly recommend that you read it in its entirety. You will not be disappointed.

And, equally important, if you think or suspect that someone is lonely, reach out to him or her. You can be saving his or her life, and you might make a good friend, too. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Helen Keller, Political & Social Activist

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Helen Adams Keller [born in 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama–died in 1968 in Easton, Connecticut], circa 1913, possibly at the International Flower Show, New York City, April 1913. Keller was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from university, having graduated with a B.A., cum laude, from Radcliffe College, at the age of 24 in 1904. The story of how she achieved this is told in The Miracle Worker, about the companionship and close friendship between Keller and Anne Sullivan, the resourceful and demanding teacher who introduced her to education. After graduation from university, Keller became a known lecturer, political activist and socialist, fighting for labour rights among other things, writing in 1911, what is still true today: “The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all ... The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands—the ownership and control of their livelihoods—are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.” For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: Smithsonian Magazine; Library of Congress

Sorry to Say, But School Is Boring


“A lack of education is the mother of all suffering.”
Aristotle, Pythagoras 2.31.96 

Most students today find that school is boring, and it has been for some time. [see here and here and here and here]. There are many reasons offered by pedagogues and teachers, but if you listen to the students, they say that there is not enough classroom discussion, teachers lecture (drone on) too much, teaching what is called “for the test,” and there is really too much testing. Such a combination would make any classroom boring. In other words, school has become primarily (if not only) about taking tests. Wow, this is not education!

No wonder that by the time they are in Grade 10, it becomes increasingly difficult to sit there in boredom. I daresay no one could, without any incentive (like money) to do so. Even that might not be enough. Think of all the boring business meetings and conferences you have attended in your life.

There is also what is being taught, which starts in the younger grades. Schoolchildren, for the most part are being taught to serve, Neil Postman writes in The End of Education (1995), “the false gods” of modern education—economic utility, consumerism and technology—all geared to the ideas inherent in American capitalism and its corporate interests, of making every individual into bound, obedient, willing consumers, who know how to “write code.” So can a machine. Or, to be plugged into jobs that companies say will be needed in 10 or 15 years—as if companies (employers) can predict such things. You and I know they can’t.

The “need” for greater specialization in so many fields or disciplines is itself a symptom of a certain way of societal thinking that is itself problematic, lacking an understanding of humaneness, thus forcing people to become narrower and narrower in their thinking. One result is that persons become dispassionate human automatons. An example is the emphasis on STEM education, or in some cases, STEAM (the addition of Art), which my youngest son’s school started to promote when he was in Grade 3. While I myself studied and worked in engineering a number of years ago, it came about on my own, without any emphasis from school, without any programs like STEM or STEAM. This way worked fine for hundreds of years.

Education ought to have a purpose beyond gainful employment, as shocking as this sounds to some people. If information is not anchored in a grand transcendent narrative, such as is found in the Bible, in Great Literary Works, in Art, in Music, in the pursuit of knowledge and a moral education, it becomes discarded eventually as information overload. This is obviously true in science and technology, where new information replaces old, but it is also true (sadly so) today in the humanities (e.g. philosophy, religion, literature, art, music), where you would expect otherwise.

It does not get much better in university, where in the humanities theory has overtaken any love of reading literature or of listening to music, with the result that “the humanities” has become politicized for narrower and narrower interests. The grand narrative and the grand moral vision that long marked the humanities and a liberal arts education has been shelved and forgotten—seen as part of an old social order—as has been the understanding of human moral failings, and what is required to have a humane society. It is hard to find meaning in any modern humanities course offered today, but there is sure enough blame to go around. Students are often angry and disappointed in their education, but they have every reason to be, since they have been sold a false bill of goods.

Moreover, I do not think creativity can be taught, though it can be encouraged, but not in today’s classroom, which is overly programmed. Which makes me think how much spontaneous fun and creativity there is in most schools, when classroom discussion is limited so as to move on to the next lesson of a government-mandated curriculum. There is also a high degree of conformity in what is expected in the way of thought, which is not surprising given the way society is today structured and the way teachers themselves are taught. Where is the emotion? Where is the passion?

If teachers hate teaching (many do!), and if teachers have no passion for knowledge (many don’t!), students will quickly notice. Small wonder, then, that many kids say school is boring, and understandably so, because the way my oldest son, in Grade 10, describe his day, it seems like he is in a “house of detention.” Shame on the adults, the pedagogues who attend conferences, taking every faddish idea back with them, and yet know nothing about their students, whom, by their mulishness and foolishness, are failing the minds of the young, by not properly educating them. School is boring, but education is not. There is a better way. [e.g., see my idea, “A Plan for Education;” April 7, 2015]

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Henry Roth, Happily Exiled in New Mexico

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Henry Roth [born in 1906 in Tysmenitz, Galicia; and now part of Ukraine–died in 1995 in Albuquerque, New Mexico] came with his parents to America and New York City in 1908. Roth is famous for the Jewish immigrant novel, Call it Sleep, published in 1934, which examines the alienation and the dislocation of the individual in America and his search for self in light of the pulling forces of assimilation and acculturation—and the spiritual cost of freedom. His initial novel, published when he was 28, was drawn from his childhood experiences growing up in the slums of New York City’s Lower East Side, from which he escaped and to which he never physically returned. There was a publication silence for a long time, as Roth the writer had to wrestle with the demons of Roth the man. It would be 60 years before he would publish another novel, the epic four-volume, Mercy of a Rude Stream, the first volume  published in 1994. For most of his adult life, Roth lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, secluded from the East Coast literary establishment, and a good part of that time in a mobile home. If anything, Roth was not conventional, which makes him endearing to more than a few people who are seeking humaneness and forgiveness. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: CNN

Neil Postman: The End of Education (1995)

Moral Education

Neil Postman on “The End of Education” (1995), based on his book of the same name. In Prof. Postman’s talk, the word “end” also means purpose. Such describes the crux of the problem; whatever purpose modern educators have ought to be re-examined in light of what he says in his book, The End of Education, published in 1995. “The preparation for making a living... is well served by any decent education” (32–33). “Here it is necessary to say that no reasonable argument can be made against educating the young to be consumers or to think about the kinds of employment that might interest them. But when these are elevated to the status of a metaphysical imperative, we are being told that we have reached the end of our wits—even worse, the limit of our wisdom” (35–36).
For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].