The Ugly Toe

I am not sure if I should post a picture to accompany this post (or even write the post at all, but then, we all are getting familiar with how desperate I may be getting for ideas). On the other hand, having written it, what the heck…

I have gotten considerably better about running lately, churning out about thirty miles a week (donʼt sneer or condescend, actual athletes — thatʼs pretty good mileage for me). I have even gotten back into the long loop, six miles around town, some days. Once again, I should acknowledge that the word “run” is at best a fantasy-approximation of the actual sluggish trudge/jog that my aging body incapably almost doesnʼt accomplish. A considerable number of svelte, healthy, trim young women in lithe track suits speed past me regularly (one or two even twice a morning), pony tails bouncing insouciantly with contemptuous disdain. I saw one gangly guy, visibly running like a girl (no offense to women, but it is the best possible description of his wayward arms flapping unsynchronously to his wide-spaced legs), turn onto the sidewalk about a block ahead of me one day last week, and although I had figured there would be one individual not merely crawling along on all fours that I would end up passing, he easily galloped away, ever increasing the gap of distance between us until I gratefully turned the corner toward home. Equally or more aged folks feebly strolling in the morning breeze are about the only ones I ever pass nowadays, and even they cannot avoid hearing my hoglike approach.

But I am back at it, instead of loafing for an extra hour or two in bed before arising to help Janet with breakfast and lunch and getting her away to work (which had become the alternate-week pattern usually in the earlier summer — one week on, one week off with huge, poorly selected lunches every week to boot). And furthermore, the running so far hasnʼt injured me again — yet. This spring I got off track after pulling a muscle in my left leg, and then as I got myself back at it, my right knee acted up. (I really, really enjoy getting old.) Pain made it particularly easy to decide on getting nearly seven hours of sleep instead of not-quite-five.

With pain in mind, we are back on track. Sometime late last week (I think it was Thursday), I noticed that my right big toe hurt, noticeably so on Friday, and by Saturday morning I knew I had somehow let myself suffer an ingrown toenail. At least that is what I think these little situations are — a situation I never faced at all until I was about forty, and which I have only suffered about a half dozen times altogether. The redness, swelling (and pus eventually) I attribute to my near blind personal toenail clipping: difficult for the aged fatty to bend himself sufficiently to bring his face near enough his toes to see what heʼs doing when he tries eventually to trim the knifelike nails. And Mr. MultifocalLenses canʼt twist his head awry enough to find a viewing angle that puts the toes in focus with his glasses on. So I am generally cutting somewhat blindly. And periodically pay the price, like this past weekend.

I ran with the possibly infected toe on both Thursday and Friday (six then five miles). I mentioned the problem to The Lovely One on Saturday morning (she had noticed me wincing with every step and shunning shoes for my sandals). My normal regimen is to suffer a day or two and then with some rigid tool — fingernail or plastic knife — press back the enflamed flesh along the side of the toe to reveal the bit of nail that has been buried. It is exquisitely painful and usually produces the oozing liquid behind the inflammation. She offered to soak my foot in lukewarm water enriched with epsom salts that evening (although her definition of “lukewarm” apparently matched my footʼs definition of “scaldingly hot”) as we watched a rental movie, Date Night (not bad, amusing often, but not life-changing or -enhancing whatsoever) while eating grilled scallops for dinner.

Sunday the toe was better but not by much. Janet thought it looked even more gross, red and enlarged. I opted for flipflops and sandals again. And again, as we did episode ten of I, Claudius, I put the foot in the plastic tub of (considerably cooler) salted water. I even sat an extra hour, watching a big part of Inglourious Basterds on one of the movie channels (not bad, like all Tarantino films featuring great dialogue — even in French and German with subtitles — and without much letʼs-just-turn-this-off-now gruesome violence of the sort that made Janet never get further than just past the opening conversation between the Mr. Colors in Reservoir Dogs).

Monday morning, I awoke before the alarms (a side effect of plenty of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights) and got out to do my miserable excuse for a run (unfortunately without my iPod, which somehow had lost all charge between mowing the lawn Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, but I found the six miles of semisilence — my hearing leaves nothing completely silent these days, what with the insubstantial celestial choir of cicadas I tintinitically pseudo-hear — interesting and not boring). And my toe never complained. Until later, as I was watching another movie, The Last Station (which Janet had selected but not really wanted to watch, and as it had to be returned by Monday evening, I decided to go ahead — liked it a lot, especially Plummer and Mirren, both juicily enjoyable doing Tolstoy and his wife, but likewise with the ever-excellent Paul Giamatti, and the young folks and the doctor were all good, too). The toe is still visibly red and somewhat swollen. I did take the picture. Weʼll see if my nerve permits me to include it.

It should be better by the end of this week.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Dreams of a Storytelling World

James Cameron at Starpulse.com

I did watch Avatar last Wednesday, as I had planned. And it was like a comic book adventure. But as a good book could do with me when I was young, the flick captivated me. What can I say? Thatʼs two for Cameron. I enjoyed the movie, especially the mutilayered/collaged opening sequences that so efficiently got the story going (those of you that may have been reading my own fiction posted on this blog should have noticed by now how I struggle with that initial narrative background exposition). Cameron plays us much fairer than the typical action/adventure flick that throws you into events and explosions with no knowledge of whoʼs who or whatʼs what; but he still gets to the action fast, as contemporary audiences evidently demand. I did notice that the story is pretty rough on minor characters and spearcarriers, again. His movie is pretty hokey and old-fashioned in the storytelling, but right on the cutting edge for effects, just like Titanic (and also with a strong love story) — the same concept works again.

On the other hand, the movie reminds me of a dream that holds you in its grip while it lasts, but thinking back on it, you realize that dream really didnʼt make any sense. The details donʼt add up. The individual sequences, although overpoweringly interesting in themselves, donʼt match with the others exactly, nor does the whole story actually hold together. For Cameron and Avatar, even bringing back the hammerhead creatures for the climax doesnʼt do much more for coherence than herald that the end is at hand. Ultimately, the plot doesnʼt makes sense altogether: simply lots of “sound and fury, signifying nothing” (a better summary of dreams, King Macbeth, than of life, I hope). Of course, that is the nature of dreams: they donʼt quite make sense (in details or overall).

Dashiell Hammett

I have been rereading Dashiell Hammett over recent months, mainly because of the impetus that led to the critical essay on The Maltese Falcon. (Did anyone else notice how that thing starts out being about the movie, Hustonʼs adaptation of Hammettʼs novel, but ends up being about the novel with some references to the movie? Thatʼs because I read the book again after creating the first three posts.) Rereading, I reviewed The Maltese Falcon, of course, and then headed on to The Glass Key, at which I dabbled in off moments until last week when I devoured what I hadnʼt read yet (about two-thirds or three-fourths of the story), and I found myself enjoying it the most I have yet. It is also the Hammett book that most reminds me of Raymond Chandler. As I have written on Hammett already, Iʼll just refer to what ties in to where I started — dreams. First, Ned Beaumont, the hero, seems to me very much to be a dreamlike version of Hammett himself — tall, thin, moustached (finger-biting? I donʼt know if thatʼs a Hammett behavior or not), and coughing with perhaps tuberculosis. Second, the book has formerly read to me much like a dream — sequences that seem fine in themselves not quite adding together. (However, I donʼt feel that way after this reading; I just wanted to have three dream parallels, and thatʼs the second one I could think of.) Third, dreams are an issue in the novel — both literally and as ambitions or visions for the future (or the past).

The title, The Glass Key, even comes from a dream. At the end, Beaumont is going off with the Senatorʼs daughter, Janet Henry. (That relationship is perhaps the most dreamlike aspect to the plot, as I still donʼt quite believe that connection, although it seems fine all by itself. However, as sneering as Ned has been about the upper crust citizens, the Senator and his family in particular, and as unpleasant as Janet Henry has been, spreading lies about Nedʼs friend and boss, Paul Madvig, obsessively manufacturing evidence to convict the man of a murder he did not commit, conniving with the opposition against Madvig, and basically being unscrupulous, selfish and — worst, in Hammett-world — wrongheaded, I donʼt think their relationship has much of a future in the unwritten events after the novel ends. He and Janet earlier have shared their dreams (which she romantically wishes to believe they had dreamed simultaneously, in some psychic contact with each other; they had not, naturally). Just before the climactic scene, she reveals that she had lied about the outcome of her dream: they hadnʼt in the dream gotten into the witchy house, avoiding all the hundreds of snakes, and eaten themselves full of the cake (Beaumont had  known that ending was false all along, as “all the dreams I ever had about food ended before I got a chance to do any actual eating”). Instead, the key they had found to enter the wonder house was made of glass, and they dropped it, and it shattered.

Salvador Dalíʼs Study for the Dream Sequence in Spellbound 1945 © Salvador Dalí. Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, DACS, 2007 Oil on panel

The shattered glass key is also the symbol of the plot, which is why the last chapter is “The Shattered Key,” and we are left to determine just how happy an ending we have…

However, the dream element I want to explore comes from a matter-of-fact insertion into Janetʼs original narrative of her dream: “You helped me to climb up on the roof — it was low in this part of the dream: I donʼt remember what it was like before — and you climbed up after me and leaned down and unlocked the door, and all the snakes came slithering out.” Her unamazed, everyday dismissal of the overall coherence of dreams is exactly correct. San Francisco is actually Olivet, Michigan, and New York City. Houses change into theaters, but your dream and you dreaming donʼt notice exactly or care, and those buildings contain strangely long and winding corridors that are staircases into nights that were afternoon when you entered the building. Your partner in a dream changes from your best friend into your brother (or vice versa or in some manner both at once), but itʼs all the same in the dream somehow. Your dream is about you as a child, but somewhen during the events you became an adult, but it doesnʼt matter or reflect back on the earlier events when you were a child at all. Dreams lack all coherence, and Janet Henry, tossing away that internal logic (that storytellers often struggle mightily to maintain) about her dream, has expressed an utter truth about the nature of dream narrative without doubting it or wondering at it at all (which in itself is dreamlike).

It would be another whole essay to consider the relationship of dreams and storytelling — orally, in print or onscreen. And I donʼt have an answer about that relationship except that I suspect there is one, and it may explain our human  interest in stories. Maybe it can help explain why we dream, or at least why dreams (okay, mine anyway, as I donʼt know about yours at all, because as I have quoted before, “We live as we dream — alone”) have storylines, narratives. Do we imagine or want to believe our stories connect us as our isolate dreams do not?

And thatʼs along way from the beginning, when I thought I might write a review of Avatar. Letʼs give it three nods of approval (worthy of rental and not a waste of my time for the viewing) only, then, a continued strong thumbs-up for The Glass Key, and wonder whatʼs in the air for tomorrow.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Rambling from My Mind

Yesterday, thanks to a donation of squashes (and a tiny eggplant) from Janetʼs folks on a quick visit Sunday, I again made our new soup (at least that is my hope/plan as I write this post during the lunch hour, intending to get this and at least one more post completed as my Tuesday task, presumably once again in lieu of actually writing something of [im]possible salable value).

John Brunner

It has been both rainy and hot and humid lately. The forecasters say that weather pattern is supposed to break after we hit a nineties-high today (Wednesday), and I am looking forward to the change. Not that the heat and atmospheric moisture have been of the intolerable lay-you-somnolent-and-ill-at-ease-in-a-webbed-hammock kind (as I can recall one fortnight of indolence and discomfort about thirty years ago, which dominate my memories of whatever summer that was — probably ʼ79 or ʼ80 — with images and physical sensations of lolling drenched in my own perspiration attempting to read but often dozing off, until my life pattern became all-night reading until about 10:00 AM, at which point I would sleep through the heat of the day, arising about 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening; I reread almost all of John Brunnerʼs science fiction that way). But I ended up mowing a very wet lawn after unpredictedly early rains arrived Monday about noon, ceasing only between 2:30 and 5:30 (the time when I got out there and mowed the yard, the machine clogging itself regularly with thick, wet chopped “hay” that I had to knock or dredge out from the housing around the blade, as my body precipitated heavily; I still have a huge bag of clippings to cart to our yard waste disposal site). Once Janet got home from work, it rained hard enough to create a little lake in our sunken corner of the drive, and then it drizzled through the evening. Real rain returned just as I was going to leap manfully from bed this morning for my run (instead I returned for another two hours of sleep once Janet and I had closed the windows around the house).

Fanny Brawne

John Keats

Just now (Tuesday noon, my realityʼs time) the sun has come out after a dull, gray morning. Not that I would have noticed, as I elected to watch Jane Campionʼs Bright Star on Starz, having caught a few minutes from a previous showing on Monday and learning that it would begin again on Tuesday at 7:45 AM. Itʼs a good flick, although I only ever saw uniformly dismissive and negative reviews when it came out. The opening sequence brought to (onscreen) life images I had summoned to my mindʼs eye reading Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier — actually listening to the audiobook, a onetime practice I have fallen away from in the last year, that book being the only audiobook Iʼve heard/read since retirement. I got started on an essentially tedious nonfiction book about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel that was performed in such an utterly dolorous and dreary (and pretentious) way that I never finished, and that evidently put me off listening to books (at least for a while), which is what I used to do always when I ran in the mornings — now itʼs just music. Anyway. I liked the movie well enough (and I pulled out my collected Keats to dip into some of the verse because of seeing the film). Bright Star is quiet and understated, like the era it portrays, in some ways, and the sets and costumes are very nice, as is the overall period feeling conveyed. I did not find the quoting of Keats obtrusive or silly, as some of the reviewers claimed. The performances are really good, too, inspiring me to google Abbie Cornish, the beloved Fanny Brawne, in order to learn more about this actress. My female readers might prefer to check up on Mr. Keats, Ben Whishaw, who was emotive and pedculiar as the poet, but interestingly suggestive of genius. Personally, I was very impressed by Paul Schneider as Keatsʼs friend Mr. Brown (and whom I did not recognize from his role on NBCʼs Parks and Recreation series).

I also highly recommend Burning Bright (the subject there being William Blake), which I decided to select at the library because I really, really enjoyed the same authorʼs The Lady and the Unicorn (although it was made into a movie, I havenʼt read, or even listened to Girl with a Pearl Earring… yet). Historical novels (and films, I guess) are fun for me.

Iʼll be movie-watching again today (I think), having rented Avatar at the video store on Saturday. Janet has absolutely no interest in it (ironically, she also turned down The Hurt Locker that day), and although James Cameronʼs flick seems cartoonish to me at a distance, I thought this sci fi fan owed it a watch. If itʼs any good, maybe Iʼll write a very late review for the blog. I really had but a tiny interest in seeing Titanic more than a decade ago, as well, but soapy as the plot was, it won me over; now itʼs one of the movies Janet and I pull out for a regular reviewing (literally so, in this case — “seeing again”), rating right up there with Doctor Zhivago (more a favorite of mine than hers, I think), For the Boys, The Commitments (and letʼs recommend any book by Roddy Doyle at this point), The Princess Bride (although the book really is better) and maybe a half dozen others we treasure together (owning all those on VHS, which is how we still watch them). Thatʼs also where I, Claudius of previous mention (on to episode 7 this coming Sunday), Jeeves and Wooster, Monty Pythonʼs Flying Circus and Rumpole of the Bailey belong as well, treasured favorites (although TV series and owned on DVD — I  may just have to throw away the old off-the-air VHS recordings I made of most of those). Quite dated viewing now in this millennium, but justifiably a kind of “classics” (horribly abused word, as I just did myself).

I certainly shouldnʼt label this random thought-ramble as an essay, but it is a post, so up it goes… One more bit of writing to complete, and then itʼs soup-making time for me.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Movie Review!

A couple of weekends ago, while Janet was partying with the girls in Milwaukee, I used several of the evenings available to me to watch some DVDs that I didn’t think she’d be particularly interested in. Somehow Christmas 2009 arrived fast from my point of view. Therefore, I was a little taken aback when Janet pointed out to me back then that I needed to: A) get to writing our annual Christmas missive, and B) come up with a list of Christmas-gift suggestions for both sides of our families. The Christmas letter, as in just about every former year when I was still working, filled about a day and a few hours on another (after Janet had a chance to proofread, edit and correct) to compose and complete. The gift list needed to go out by e-mail much more immediately, so in desperation I racked my brains for things I desired. (The previous year I had accidentally sent out the same list as I had in 2007.) I even went through the wish lists I have created on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, which was a good technique because it gave me several idea—of of which my obliging relatives accepted.

The Maltese Falcon 3-DVD set

One suggestion was a new three-DVD set of a remastered The Maltese Falcon, including Warner Brothers’ two earlier versions of Dashiell Hammett’s classic crime novel. My niece Rachel went ahead and bought it for me (although I had felt its price was a tad steep for a Christmas gift) to my surprise and delight. The long bachelor weekend gave me the opportunity to watch all three versions as well as the additional “Making of” video and other specials (I still haven’t watched the Bogart version with the expertʼs commentary yet).

It was an interesting experience. I took them in chronological order, starting in 1931 with a straight version, very close to the book, that since it’d been a long time since I saw the Bogart version, seemed all right. It was pretty racy, clearly indicating a sexual relationship between Spade and the duplicitous Miss Wonderly, even indicating that they had spent the night together. I especially enjoyed Spadeʼs secretary, as played by Una Merkel in a delightfully spacey turn. The Spade actor was adequate, and Wonderly okay; there was some heat between them. The cops were good, too. The worst element in the movie was a really weak choice to end the film with a prolonged visit by Spade—now “promoted” to an assistant district attorney investigator—to Wonderly in prison. Vapid and sappy.

Satan Met a Lady, 1936 — stinker

The second version, Satan Met a Lady from 1936, was simply odd. First of all, it was a comedy, nearly farcical (with three murders essential to the plot), and Spade (renamed Ted Shane) as a carefree, jovial playboy! I watched it, enjoying some moments, but it wasn’t good (and it tanked back in the Thirties). It was eerie to hear some of the same lines of dialog (also from the book) in such a different context. I really can’t comment much because it was really just bad.

great flick — but Kubrick’s always afre

That was all Thursday evening. On Friday I decided to watch another black-and-white movie I had never seen and also doubted Janet would enjoy, Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. With Vladimir Nabakov himself writing the screenplay, it did a pretty good job of squashing the book into film. Peter Sellers was a hoot as Clare Quilty, and James Mason, always good, was oilily sympathetic as Humbert Humbert. The one who really gripped me, however, was Shelley Winters as Lolita’s mom — annoying dynamite and right on target all the time as that character.

I went back on topic to John Huston’s 1941 classic remake of The Maltese Falcon for Saturday night’s viewing. After the two earlier versions, this one truly was a revelation. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it before, but I had never appreciated or enjoyed it quite like this most recent viewing. Like the first version Huston’s script is faithful to the book (a Hollywood legend, retold in the “Making of” documentary, says he told his secretary simply to type up the text of the book in script form for him to consider, but Warner execs saw that typescript and asked it to be filmed—not true, I believe). What made it tower above those previous botches reveals the importance of good directing and good acting. Humphrey Bogart really is amazing as Sam Spade, trying to be coolly casual but tormented by his decisions and situations. Mary Astor always has seemed too demure and distant to me for Miss O’Shaughnessy, too apparently nice and sweet, no real hint of the character’s deviousness. I still feel that way; Bebe Daniels got closer in the 1931 film. On the other hand, as I learned from the “Making of” information, Mary Astor’s scandalous personal life colored in the character sufficiently for audiences back in the Forties, so we’ll give her a break.

Huston really understood the story and its themes. The cinematography, evidently the first real film noir, makes the most of strange angles, sharp and dark shadows, interesting shots (like Spade answering the phone at two AM and the camera remaining focused only on the phone), and moody atmosphere. I had always liked how Gutman is frequently shot from low and close below, making Sidney Greenstreet look even larger than he really was. It also works well for me that Spade’s apartment is lit so flat and harshly at the end (and does as the documentary indicated as well, feel cramped and small). Visually everything feels tense, raw, like the novel.

But the true mastery is in the meaning of the story in this version.

However I’m already tapping at 1000 words, my intended daily ration for the blog, so I better save the literary criticism/interpretation for tomorrow. (Images today all available on Wikipedia.)

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.


for the survivors of English II (since about 1984)

For a quarter of a century, mid- to late January meant it was time for sophomores to study Gandhi (the man, yes, but more the film). I know that those of you who are former students probably remember this annual two- to three-week event. It seems almost as memorable and legendary among Andrew alumni as chalk-eating.  I always enjoyed our annual cinematic pilgrimage to India (and South Africa). I just may have to take a day out soon and sit down to watch my DVD copy of the film. For old-times sake, reproduced below are the notes that I have handed the sophomores each year to review for the test (and from which I worked to remember to include the information I knew would be on that test). It was one test that changed very little once I got a version I liked, regardless how many illegitimate copies got into circulation among the youth of Andrew Community School district. It didn’t matter: I essentially told the classes the answers to the test every year as our review activity. After all, how much more nonviolent could I be than offering every opportunity to pass?

As this unit evolved, I know by the early Nineties I got to stopping the movie so often to add all the tidbits of knowledge and insight I had acquired (and I did study Gandhi deeply once I started using the film in class: it’s simply too embarrassing not to know what the students ask you questions about) that youthful frustration at the lack of progress on the plot was immense (and the unit had started to bloat to a month of class time). I worked for the next fifteen years to keep the beloved experience to less than three weeks, even with snow days.

Regardless, I realized as the film started to mean less and less to the kids that the time was nearing for me to retire. Their lack of connection or interest was like a sign: I was getting out of touch. It was becoming time to go. Either for generational or societal/cultural reasons, we were no longer communicating. (Another sign for me was youthful love for tightie rightie politics and Fox News, but I may have gone too far on that topic for now this past Friday.) If they couldn’t get Gandhi, they couldn’t get me, nor could I appreciate them much longer.

However, in a sense of nostalgia for the start of second semester and a love for the movie and the man and his ideals, I want to post these notes. (I almost believe that I would be willing to live a medieval life as Gandhi espoused in his swadeshi mode, to avoid the ills of twenty-first-century Western life—including al-Quaeda, since Gandhi’s universalism might have removed the stain of religious extremism and rivalry as the subsequent governments of India have not accomplished.)

G A N D H I

Attenborough, Richard.  Gandhi.  Film Investors Corporation, 1983.

MOHANDAS KARAMCHAND GANDHI

  • b. October 2, 1869, in Porbandar province
  • d. January 30, 1948, in New Delhi
  • called:  bapu, Gandhiji, Mahatma
  • “father of modern India”
  • independence from the British Empire

nonviolent resistance (satyagraha):  the six-fold path

  1. oppose injustice in every form:  external and internal
  2. work/fight  to change minds —> not to punish  (come together, not apart) —> seek agreement in the end
  3. personal dignity, self-respect, and courage
  4. do not submit = resist and keep resisting
  5. make injustice visible = truthfulness = publicity:  let the truth be known/shared  (no effect if no one knows what’s going on)
  6. negotiate

sources:

  • Henry David Thoreau “On Civil Disobedience”
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • New Testament/Gospels  (Jesus)
  • Bhaghivad Gita  (Arjuna and Krishna)
  • influence on:  Martin Luther King, jr.

India (multi-religious/ethnic society)  Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, paganism

Hinduism:  holy Sanskrit, reincarnation, nirvana, karma, maya, caste system (Harijani), guru

satyagraha:  (“truthfulness” or “steadfastness”) nonviolent resistance

brahmacharya:  self-control; discipline; control of one’s senses, of desire, of selfishness, of ambition = “courage”

the film is dedicated to:  Motilal Kothari, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Earl Mountbatten of India

Gandhi , passed the bar (Inner Temple) in 1889

Kasturbai (Ba) [wife] — married at thirteen

South Africa

British attorneys:  solicitor, barrister  / Chancery

characters met in South Africa

  • Mr. Khan
  • General Jan C. Smuts
  • Charles Andrews
  • Vince Walker
  • Herman Kallembach

asram (ashram) = “community” (communal farm:  self-supporting, equal/shared work, social experiment and satyagrahi training center)

swadeshi = “one’s own country” — making each village (each individual) an economically independent unit (self-sufficiency)

“There are unjust laws, just as there are unjust men.”

“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.”

“They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me.  Then they will have my dead body:  not my obedience.”

India

terminology:  Viceroy / military governor, guru, sedition, insurgent, anarchist, assimilate, indigo, synthetic
Home Rule
India Congress Party

characters met in India:   Saadyah Patel
Mohammed Ali Jinnah
Professor G. K. Gokhale
Rajkumar Shukla
Champara (Bihar)

“Their politics are confined to bread and salt.”
“luxury in the midst of… poverty”
700,000 villages
350 million Indians

“In our country it is the British who decide how an Indian should live — what to buy and what to sell.”
“Where there is injustice I have always believed in fighting.  The question is:  do you fight to change things or do you fight to punish for weaknesses we all possess?  For myself, I have found we are all such sinners we should leave the punishment to God.”

Rowlatt Bills (Anti-Sedition Laws)

“Terrorism would only justify their repression.  And what kind of leaders would it throw up?  Are they likely to be men we would want heading our government?”

“I have never advocated passive anything.  We must never submit to unjust laws.  Never.  And our resistance must be active and provocative.  I want to embarass all those who would treat us as slaves, all of them.  I want to change their minds, not kill them for weaknesses we all possess.”

Day of Prayer and Fasting — April 6, 1919
Amritsar Massacre — April 13, 1919  (General Dyer)

“We must defy the British–not with violence that will enflame their will but with a firmness that will open their eyes.  If we fight back, we become the Vandals and they become the law.  If we have the courage to take their anger, they become the vandals…”

“There is no people on earth who would not prefer their own bad government to the good government of an alien people.  Despite the best of intentions in the best circumstances, you must humliate us to control us.  General Dyer is just an extreme example.  It is time you [British] left.  . . . You will walk out because 100,000 Englishmen cannot control 350 million Indians if those Indians refuse to cooperate.  And that is what we intend to achieve–peaceful, nonviolent, noncooperation until you see the wisdom of leaving…”

“There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes for hunger and unhappiness.”

Noncooperation (1920-1922)

  • Hindu/Muslim unity always
  • remove Untouchability (“no Indian must be treated as the British treat us”)
  • defy the British:  cloth (khadi) boycott against colonial economic system

homespun
Chauri Chaura
Elizabeth (Madeline) Slade  =  Mirabehn

fasting = penance (deprivation), punishment of self for sin (escape maya)
Day of Silence

māyā = world of desire (senses) is not good (deceptive, distracting from truth); the good person must discipline his/her senses/desires (punish the body) = do not submit to desire–>therefore Hindu tradition of fasting (like yoga it pulls one from this world)

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.  There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.  Always.  Whenver you are in doubt that that is God’s way, the way the world is meant to be, think of that, and then try to do it His way.”

“Noncooperation with evil is a duty.”

1930, Porbandar, decision to make the Salt March (March 12 – April 5, 1930)
Sabartimi ashram to Dandi on the Indian Ocean — 90,000 -100,000 jailed

“The function of a civil resister is to provoke response, and we will continue to provoke until they respond or they change the law. They are not in control, we are.  That is the strength of civil resistance.”

Dharasana Salt Works march — May 16, 1930
Mrs. Sarojini Naidu
Gandhi/Irwin talks
Second Roundtable Conference (September 1931)

Gandhi spent the 1930’s focused on swadeshi (agriculture, diet, natural cures) and harijan issues

Ba died in 1944
Mountbatten arrived in 1947

“Taking advantage (when someone is down) is just another way of hitting back.”

“Happiness does not come with things, even twentieth-century things. It can come from work and pride in what you do.  India lives in her villages, and the terrible poverty there can only be removed if their local skills can be revived.  Poverty is the worst form of violence.  It is not necessarily progress for India if she simply imports the unhappiness of the West.”

on Hitler and nonviolence:  “Not without defeats and great pain.  But are there not defeats in this war?  No pain?  What you cannot do is accept injustice from Hitler or anyone.  What you must do is make the injustice visible and be prepared to die like a soldier to do so.”

“two kinds of slavery in India:  one for women, and one for Untouchables”

“The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts and that is where all our battles ought to be fought.”

The movie gave me some well loved Gandhian quotations, obviously. But the man was scripturally quotable, as the plethora of Gandhi quotes sites available online must prove.

You may have noticed that many of my chosen links take you to Wikipedia. For all its faults (and depending on what topic you are investigating, there can be many faults in that source), I quite like Wikipedia. As it stands, I can almost invariably, very quickly find out at least something about almost any topic, on a site that loads fast and cleanly. Even Jimmy’s now constant pleas for cash don’t slow it down. I like it so much that I even joined and have edited some of my favorite articles (there’s a common weakness—proofreading and editing). I liked it so much that I even bucked the then-popular trend about seven or eight years ago to shun it as a valid source for student research. Why was this old man so bold? Because I used it myself…

In its ideal form, Wikipedia does represent what the internet should be—that digital ashram in which we each labor anonymously and joyfully for the benefit of all.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.