Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should the "Mad Man" be allowed to speak?

Hoo Hoo! Ha Ha! ho ho ha ha! hee hee ho ho!....(ahem.)

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address students at Columbia University in New York on Monday, September 24. There's a lot of controversy as to whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia, and a desired visit to the site of the former World Trade Center has all but been ruled out already. Should Ahmadinejad be allowed to speak at Columbia? My initial reply to that question was, yes, of course he should. That's what we're supposed to be all about, right? Freedom of speech, even for those whose views we may find to be less than palatable? I have to admit though that I had to rethink this afterward, given known Iranian support for such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon and its rocket attacks upon Israel. Even that support though, is itself controversial, as they say that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Ultimately though, when I considered the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq, and the tens of thousands of deaths that have occurred as a result of that unfortunate decision, not to mention a long history of U.S. illegal interference in the affairs of other nations, I came to the conclusion that this is a case of "the pot calling the kettle black", and that it would be the ultimate in hypocrisy to attempt to deny Ahmadinejad the privilege of speaking at an American university based upon supposed involvement in terrorist activities. If involvement in "terrorist activities" is a criterion regarding a right to speak freely in the United States, then the U.S. government had better arrest itself immediately, go straight to jail, and definitely not go past GO, and not collect $100. And maybe sell off Park Place, if we haven't already sold it off to the Saudis that is. In watching 60 Minutes on Sunday, it was kind of ridiculous in watching the American reporter lay at Ahmadinejad's feet a litany of charges of wrongdoing, particularly with regard to Iranian involvement in Iraq. Hello, we are like 7,000 miles away from Iraq, and we have 160,000 troops there!!! The faux outrage at the nerve of Ahmadinejad to be playing a role in the current conflict going on within Iraq, by a direct neighbor, is laughable! People will eat this stuff up though here in America. Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Fidel Castro, Evo Morales in Bolivia; they're all just some crazy brown people trying to take us over here in the United States, just like those crazy North Vietnamese Communists were trying to take us over in the 60's and 70's. We didn't win that illegal war, yet they didn't try to make us into Communists either, surprisingly enough! As Desi Arnaz used to say to Lucy (who here represents the U.S. govt.), "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!"

Ahmadinejad has made some outrageous statements in the past, particularly with regard to Israel. The thing is though, Iran is like that kid that's always talking smack, about what he's gonna do, how bad he is, etc, etc. Israel, though, is that kid that can kick your ass, and everyone in the neighborhood knows it. At least for know, Israel can handle its own affairs in that neighborhood, and it doesn't need America to do its fighting for it; it's quite capable of doing its own. And, when Ahmadinejad is not engaged in the outrageous rhetoric (which we have a tendency of replaying over and over, statements from sometime back now, as if he just said them yesterday), I have found him to be quite lucid and direct in his communications to the West, as with his famous letter to Bush from last year. It's somewhat obvious that he's trying to stave off an attack from the truly mad Bush Administration within the next several months, by a direct appeal to the American people. I, for one, would like to hear what he has to say, and if I can't find a live feed of the Columbia event on Monday night, then I'm sure it will be up on YouTube fairly shortly thereafter.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

El Laberinto Del Fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)

What an amazing film. I finally got to see this after waiting weeks and weeks for my name to move down the long wait list at the local library. My friend Willowtree has an excellent review of this film that she wrote on June 6, 2007, something I could not improve upon, so I will describe more of my feelings about the film itself. In reading the Wikipedia entry on the film, a fellow director of Labyrinth's director, Guillermo del Toro, describes the film as "very Catholic" (although del Toro himself prefers "profane" - surely in the sense of earthly, and the here and now, as opposed to the "sacred" of the otherworldly). Coming from a Catholic backround, at least nominally, I can see such a description quite plainly throughout the storyline, and most certainly in the final scenes (which look much like a Catholic Mass altar, writ large). It is a story of innocence, courage, and redemption, so it is very much within the Catholic/Christian tradition. The pre-Catholic mythical aspects of the film though, with fauns and fairies, and other mythical creatures, hearkens back to a pre-Christian Europe, when the Old Religion still held sway, and when Pan the nature deity, ruled over forests full of the spirits and forces of the natural world. One of the many deeper allegories evoked by this film is how we have long become disconnected from the natural world, and therefore cannot relate with what folklorist and scholar Mircea Eliade called the "enchantment" of the world when such beliefs, including the very embodiment of spiritual existence as being at one with the natural realm, ruled supreme. Science and modern lifestyles have done away with much of that, leaving us only an existential, bleak landscape. Films such as this though, evoke that lost enchantment, and tell us that through things such as art and creation, the hope for such worlds can still go on. As well, the word "myth", according to folklorist Joseph Campbell, describes not a story which is untrue, but in fact refers to the story of those things that have the most deepest of meanings to human beings, and therefore serve for us in reality, as the highest of truths. When Ofelia creates a doorway with chalk, or sees her future in the book of blank pages, we can see that the world of myth and enchantment can have effects in the real world, and at times can even serve as a "necessity" for survival.

Another aspect I really liked about the film was how the fascist regime of Francisco Franco's Spain was paralled against the mythical world of the little girl, Ofelia. This to me was another allegory for a real world full of much pain and suffering, juxtaposed against a mythical world where hope still perhaps might be found. Ofelia was able to retreat from the oppression surrounding her into a world so real that it was able to carry her through, to her final, if unfortunate destiny. Even here though, the film provides hope, a hope that innocence can conquer evil, one day here on earth, as with the Resistance to Franco's evil regime, as well as beyond, through the love of Ofelia for her missing father, her love being her very "essence", as described in the film when she is tested by the faun to see if she has maintained such "essence"; and with whom she, in her last dying moments, is ultimately reunited with in the most glorious of ways. There was a line in the film by the faun, who says at one point something to the effect of,"by knowing of that which is missing or absent from us, we are in that way assured of its very real and true essence." I think that this may now be my most favorite film of all time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vote for Pedro

Napoleon Dynamite - next time I'm voting for Pedro!

Looks like I have a troll (also called a lurker?) on this blog. Fascinated by me, and every word I write it seems. Too bad it's a dude. That's kind of weird, the dude part, I mean, huh? Being as this blog I'm sure is regularly filtered through Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, they probably already have his IP location locked up. Maybe he'll earn a nice trip to Romania; I hear it's just lovely out there this time of year!

Speaking of renditions, you may have noticed how I have let up on 'ol Bush & Co. as of late. I think I simply became worn out at saying the same old things, over and over. Maybe it has done some good though; now about 70% of Americans are against the occupation of Iraq, as opposed to about maybe 35% or so when I started this blog. Not that this reversal is entirely due to my blogging (did you think that it was, cheeky monkies? - Mike Myers used to say that!). I told a friend the other day that I now really did believe that we are under an early form of American fascism. The Democratic Congress has essentially caved in to all of Bush's illegal demands. The same Democratic Congress that we put into power in 2006 through all of our hard work. It's very disconcerting. No one, not the media, no one, is standing up in a prominent way and saying that the Emperor has no clothes, as in the children's tale. The lies have just continued on and on; Iraq was always meant to be a client state of the U.S., as West Germany was, or South Korea still is, with permanent, massive U.S. military bases now being built there for a long-term occupation. It was a lie that we went to liberate the Iraqis; in fact we went over to force them under the U.S. umbrella of occupation, in order to satisfy neocon fantasies. They're still lying, up unto this very day.

Bush has to be impeached before his term is out, or he will just hand off this disaster to the Democrats, and it will then become their war, their occupation; the war they enabled throughout the final term of the Bush Administration. This seems like it is not going to happen though, unless Bush & Co. slip up in a massive way (as if they haven't already yet?), or someone leaks a new set of Pentagon Papers which reveal all of the illegal secrets in great detail, as Daniel Ellsberg did during the Vietnam War. I've got a funny feeling though that something like that just might well happen, and fairly soon. You can't keep the lid on everyone, and we still have just too many patriots in this country. As I always say, stay tuned. Also, watch for the increasingly belligerent talk about Iran and the "madman", Ahmadinejad. More neocon fantasies of endless war. Maybe the ramping up for this new conflict will be the catalyst for impeachment? We can only hope.