Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The Beginning of Bop - Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969),


Jack Kerouac, wrote articles for the American magazine Escapade from  1959 until 1967. Commencing with the essay The Beginning of Bop in the April edition. Kerouac was inspired by and promoted jazz in his writing. He breathed jazz in prose and poetry. Allen Ginsberg called his writing  “spontaneous bop prosody.” The Beats wanted to take the attitudes and lifestyles of jazz greats, like John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and Lester Young, and enshrine the ways of these “secret heroes” into a unique style of poetry and prose. This use of music became integral to the Beats, especially in the work of the two most recognized figures within the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. For them jazz became the musical accompaniment to and embodiment of their lifestyle during the late 1940's and early 1950's; it  created a feeling in the Beats of a new reality, one that they strove to recreate in their writings.
Beginning with Kerouac's career-making second novel, On the Road, jazz became a vital element in his fictional milieu but, more important, the essential influence on his writing. Called upon to explain the sources of his dynamic prose style, Kerouac wrote an essay titled "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose," which made explicit his links to the jazz musicians he had been exposed to since his arrival in New York. He likened his creative process to "blowing (as per jazz musician) on the subject of image," and equated his use of "the vigorous dash separating rhetorical breathing" to a "jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases." His new mantra: "Tap from yourself the song of yourself, blow!—now!—your way is your only way." Kerouac's principles of spontaneous prose and its explicit links to the improvisatory ethos of jazz became the foundation of Beat Generation literary theory.
Both Kerouac and Ginsberg spent time in New York during the post-war 1940's, when the bop revolution was at its peak; to them bop signified a complete departure from the popular, commercialized music of the 1930's. Bop, with its emphasis on extended improvisation that its small-band format allowed, and largely owing to the virtuoso soloists at the time such as Parker and Gillespie, represented individuality, spontaneity, and emotional intensity that was "pure" in a way the commercial music of the 1930's and 1940's was not.
As Ann Charters wrote in Kerouac: A Biography he “identified more with musical geniuses like Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan and Thelonious Monk than he did with any established literary scene . . . Bop was to Kerouac a new art form that had broken through to eloquence. His own method of spontaneous composition was meant to do the same thing with words that he heard bop musicians doing with their instruments. When Miles Davis played, Kerouac heard his trumpet sounding long sentences like Marcel Proust.
 The Beginning of Bop, is rated by many as very good writing, up with his best. it certainly reveals his astounding knowledge of the musical genre.In his essay Kerouac argues that the irreverence and ironic detachment of these pioneering African American musicians—their recognition of "the goof of life," as he put it—made them "not only misplaced in a white nation but mis-noticed for who they were."
Kerouac also once wrote , "It's not the words that count but the rush of what is said" He wrote with a language that picks at a reader's subconscious and resonates in bursts of images on the imagination. I feel Jazz does this to me too, in these unsettling times the spontaneous voice of Kerouac and the  pulsating rhythms of Jazz both bring much comfort, so here I present to you words that combine both, I hope that you enjoy.

The Beginning of Bop - Jack Kerouac 


     BOP BEGAN WITH JAZZ but one afternoon somewhere on a sidewalk maybe 1939, 1940 Dizzy Gillespie or Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk was walking down past a men’s clothing store on 42nd street or south main in L.A. when from a loudspeaker they heard a wild and possible mistake in jazz that could have only been heard inside their own imaginary head, and that is a new art.Bop.The name derives from an accident, America was named after an Italian explorer not after an Indian king. Lionel Hampton had made a record called "Hey Ba Ba Re Bop" and everybody yelled it and it was when Lionel would jump in the audience and would wail the saxophone with sweat clasp jumping fools in the aisles while the drummer vastly booming and belaboring on the stage as the whole theater rocked. Sung by Helen Humes it was a popular record and sold many copies around 1945 or ‘46. First everyone looked around and then it happened- bop happened. The Bird flew in- minds went in- on the streets thousands of new type hep cats in red shirts and some goatees and strange queer looking cowboys from the west with boots and belts  and the girls began to disappear from the street-you no longer saw as in the 30’s the wrangler walking with his doll in the honkey tonk, now he was alone, rrebop, bop, came into being because the girls were leaving the guys and going off to be middle class models ,Dizzy or Charlie or Thelonious was walking down the street, heard a noise, a sound – half LesterYoung, half raw rainy fog, that has that chest shivering excitement of shack, or track, or empty lot; a sudden vast tiger head on the wood fence rainy no school Saturday morning dump yards – “Hey” and rushed off dancing.
    On the piano that night Thelonious introduced a wooden off key note to everybody’s warm up notes. Minton’s playhouse, evening starts, jam hours later, 10 pm, colored bar and hotel next door. One or two white visitors: some from Columbia, some from Nowhere-some from ships- some from Army Navy Airforce Marines- some from Europe-The  strange note makes the trumpeter of the band
lift an eyebrow. Dizzy is surprised for the first time that day. He puts the trumpet to lips and blows a wet blur-
  “Hee hee hah” laughs Charlie Parker, bending down to slap his ankle. He puts his alto to his mouth and says “Didn’t I tell you?”- with jazz of notes. . .Talking eloquent like great poets of foreign languages singing in foreign countries with lyres by seas and no one understands because the language isn’t alive in the land yet-.Bop is the language from America’s inevitable Africa. Going sounded like gong. Africa is the name of the flew in kick beat off to one side, the sudden squeak uninhibited that screams
muffled at any moment from dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet - do anything you want - drawing the tune  aside along another improvisation. .. . 
. . . . ..bridge with a reach out tear of claws,  why be subtle and false?
The band of 10 pm Minton’s swings into action. Bird Parker who is only 18 years old has a crew cut of Africa looks impossible has perfect eyes and composures of the king when suddenly you stop and look at him in the subway and you can’t believe that bop is here to stay- that it is real. And that negroes in America are just like us. We must look at them understanding the exact racial counterpart of what the man is- andfigure it with histories and lost kings of immemorial tribes and jungle and Fellaheen town and otherwise of the sad mutts sleeping on old porches and big eating bird woods. When just 90 years ago, old roost come running calling “Ma” through the fence, he had just deserted the confederate army and was running home for pone-- and flies on watermelon porches and educated judges in horn rimmed glasses reading the Amsterdam news.

       The  band realized the goof of life that had made them be not only be misplaced in the white nation but misnoticed for what they really were. And the goof they felt stirring and springing in their bellies suddenly Dizzy spats his lips tight drawn together and drives a high screeching fantastic clear note that has everybody in the joint look up - Bird, lips hanging dull to hear is turning slowly in a circle waiting for Dizz to swim through the tune in a tone complicated wave of his own grim like factories and atonal at any minute and the logic of the man, the sock in his belly is sweet
the rock zonga monga bang-In white creamed afternoons of blue, Bird had leaned back dreamily in eternity as Dizzy outlined to him the importance of becoming Mohammedans in order to give a solid basis of race to their ceremony.“Make that rug swing mother. When you say race, bow your head and close your eyes. And give them a religion no Uncle Tom Baptist. Make them wear as of skull caps of respectable minarets in actual New York picking hashi dates from their teeth- Give them new names with zonga sounds- Make it weird-
      Thelonious, he was so weird. He wandered the twilight streets of Harlem in winter with no hat on his hair, sweating, blowing fog- In his head he heard it all ringing. Often he heard whole choruses by Lester.There was a strange English kid hanging around Minton’s who would stumble along the sidewalk hearing Lester in his head too - hours of hundreds of developing choruses in regular beat all day so in the subway none could crash against inalterable choruses and implacable bars- he erected in minds foundation jazz.
     The tune they were playing was All the Things You Are. . .they slowed it down and dragged behind it a half tempo dinosaur proportions- changed the placing of the note in the middle of the harmony to an outer more precarious position where also, its sense of not belonging was enhanced by the general atonality produced with everyone exteriorizing the tunes harmony, the clonk of the millennial piano like anvils in Petrograd.-“Blow” said Dizz and Charlie Parker came in for a solo with a squeaky innocent cry. Monk punched, anguished, nub fingers crawling at the keyboard to tear up foundations and guts of jazz from the big masterbox to make Charlie Parker hear his cry and sigh- ,to jar the orchestra into vibrations- He stared down wild eyed at his keys like a matador at the bull’s head. Groan. Drunken figures shaded in the weaving background, tottering-the boys didn’t care. On cold corners, they stood three backs to one another facing all the winds, bent- lips don’t care - miserable, cold, and broke- waiting like witchdoctors- saying “Everything belongs to me because I am poor.”Like twelfth century monks high in winter belfries of the Gothic organ they wild eyed were listening to their own wild sound which was heralding in a new age of music that would eventually require symphonies, schools, centuries of technique, declines and falls of master ripe styles- the Dixieland of Louie Armstrong 16 and new Orleans and the big pop’s forest Jim in the white shirt wailing at a big scarred bass in raunchy nongry New Orleans on South Rampart Street famous for parades and old Perdido Street- horses steaming turds near breweries and saloons,-soon enough it would leap and fill the gay Twenties like champagne in a glass, pop!- And crawl up to the Thirties  with tired Rudy Vallees lamenting with Louie who had laughed in the Twenties Transoceanic Jazz, sick and tired early Ethel Mermans, and old beat bed springs creaking in that stormy weather blues when people would lay in bed all day and moaned and had it good- The world of the United States was tired of being poor and low and gloomy in a line. Swing erupted as the depression began to crack,it was the year marijuana was made illegal, 1937. Young teenagers took to the first restraint, the second, the third, some still wondered in hobo trains (lost boys of the Thirties numbered in the hundreds of thousands, Salvation Armies put up full houses every night and some were ten years old)- teenagers alienated from their parents who had suddenly returned to work and for good to get rid of that damn old mud of the river- and tear the vine off the porch- and paint the porch white- cut the trees down - castrate the hedges- burn the leaves- build a wire fence- get up an antennae-,
listen- the alienated teenager in the 20th century finally ripe, gone wild, modern to be rich
and prosperous, no more just around the corner- became the hep cat, the jitterbug and smoked the new law weed.World War 11 gave everybody two pats of butter in the morning on a service tray, including your sister. Up from tired degrading swing, wondering what had happened between 1937 and 1945 and because the army had worked it, canned it, played it to the boys in north Africa, enraged it in the piccadilly bars and the Andrew Sisters put the corn in the can- swing with its heroes died- and Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Thelonious Monk who were hustled through the chow lines-came back remembering old goofs- and tried it again- Zop! Dizzy screamed,Charlie squealed,
Monk crashed, the drummer kicked ,dropped a bomb- the bass question mark plunked- and off they whaled on Salt Peanuts jumping like mad monkeys in the grey new air. “Hey Porkpie, Porkpie, Hey Porkpie!
      "Skidilibree-la-bee you,-oo.-e bop she bam, ske too ria- Parasakiliaoolza - menooorriastibatiolyait-oon ya koo." They came to their own they jumped they had jazz and took it in their hands and saw its histories, vicissitudes, and developments and turned it to their weighty use and heavily carried it clanking like posts across the enormity of a new world philosophy and a new strange and crazy grace came over them , fell from the air free, they saw pity in the old heaven, hell in their hearts,Billy Holiday had rocks in her heart, Lester droopy pork pie had hung his horn and blew bop lazy ideas inside jazz that everybody was dreaming. (Miles Davis leaning against the piano fingering his trumpet with his cigarette hand working making raw iron sound like wood speaking in long sentences like Marcel Proust) -“Hey Jim," and the stud come swinging down the street and says he’s real bent and he is down and he has a twisted face, he works, he wails, he bops, he bangs, this man  who was sent stoned and stabbed is now down, bent and stretched- out-he is home at last, his music is here to stay, his  history has washed over us, his imperialistic kingdoms are coming.

ESCAPADE . APRIL 1959, VOL 111, # 9

As a companion piece here is Kerouac's ' History of Bop' 


Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Workers Memorial Day


.Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in "tragic accidents", They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't important. An international day of rememberance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work is marked today. First declared by the AFL-CIO in 1970, commemorates those workers.Everyone deserves to come home at the end of the work day. It is officially recognised by the UK government and is supported in 19 countries worldwide.Workers Memorial Day reminds us of those who didn't, and encourages us to take steps to make sure there's less of them in the future, while raising awareness to help ensure these tragedies are not repeated.The day provides a focus for us all to remember those who have been killed at work, to provide support and comfort to their families and to commit to striving for healthier , safer and fair work for all helping to ensure workers are not denied the basic human right of returning home to loved ones after their day's work is done.
April 28th is also the same date that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established in 1971. OSHA states that the day "is a day to to honor those workers who have died on the job to acknowledge the grevious suffering expeienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthy workplaces for all workers. Every death is a death to many, today also serves as a focus for people to come together in solidarity."
Safety is a huge issue for working people right now, especially for all the essential workers who are working harder than ever to provide us with critical goods and services during this pandemic. Every day we’re hearing reports about workers like nurses, firefighters, grocery clerks, and food processors who are contracting COVID-19 at work. And too may are dying deaths that could’ve been prevented if they had been provided the proper Personal Protective Equipment.
Never has Workers Memorial Day carried greater poignancy than in 2020 as key workers are on the front line keeping the whole of society going while a coronavirus pandemic is raging. Every day recently we are told about selfless NHS staff who have died, and the media is full of reports about PPE. The current pandemic has changed many people’s outlook. Day in and day out, worried NHS and care workers are going into work in a state of fear and anxiety as they find that PPE is either not there or running low. Health workers are going to work to treat and care for sick patients, with the knowledge that they or colleagues could get sick and die simply by doing their job.
The health workers who have died should be praised for their bravery and remembered as heroes. However, their deaths were not all inevitable. In many cases, the lack of appropriate PPE has been repeatedly raised by health workers – again, around the world. Key workers must now receive the proper pay and terms and conditions that they need and deserve and that have been withheld from them for so long. It’s also important to recognise the dedicated workers at home and across the world who are right now standing between the most vulnerable in our community to shield and protect them from the worst of this appalling virus.
Earlier today people around the world  marked this day with a minute’s silence at 11am this morning in their homes as a mark of respect.People are also being encouraged to light a candle tonight to remember those who have fallen – and to show our support to the essential workers  and the efforts being made to keep them safe at work during this unprecedented and challenging time. On Workers’ Memorial Day let’s honour the dead and wholeheartedly commit ourselves to fight like hell for the living.

Monday, 27 April 2020

Mary Wollstonecraft ( 27/4/1759 -10/9/1797) - Radical Advocater for Women's Rights.


Mary Wollstonecraft , the Anglo-Irish , feminist, intellectual  novelist. educator, political radical and advocate for women's rights, was born  on this day in Primrose Street, Spitalfields, London, the second of seven children.of.Elizabeth Dixon and Edward John Wollstonecraft.
At the time of her birth, Wollstonecraft's family was fairly prosperous: her paternal grandfather owned a successful Spitalfields silk weaving business and her mother's father was a wine merchant in Ireland, but her father gradually squandered it on speculative projects. Consequently, the family became financially unstable and they were frequently forced to move during Wollstonecraft’s youth. As a child, she regularly defended her mother from one of her  fathers drunken rages, an abusive man who wasted away a small fortune in gambling and alcohol. Wollstonecraft was deeply affected by the tyrannical nature of her abusive father who completely subjugated and emotionally destroyed his wife. During her teenage years, Wollstonecraft used to sleep outside of her mother’s bedroom to protect her from Edward’s beatings.
 Because of this situation, Wollstonecraft left home at 17, quickly learning how to survive through adaptability and independence, educating  herself through books and her own observations. At the age of nineteen Mary went out to earn her own livelihood. Mary's mother died in 1782. In 1783, she helped her sister Eliza escape a miserable marriage by hiding her from a brutal husband until a legal separation was arranged. With her sister and  best friend Fanny Blood, Wollstonecraft founded a girls’ school in London They first set their sights on Islington, then moved to Newington Green, where Mary met the moral and political thinker, the Reverend Richard Price, head of Newington's thriving Dissenting community, and heard him preach.Rational Dissenters believed in the primacy of reason in tandem with scripture instead of tradition and what they believed to be superstition, Many Dissenters were committed to very radical opinions for their time. They argued for the separation of church and state. the rejection of church hierarchies and even the denial of original sin. This was a crucial encounter for Mary. Several years later, she was to rise to his defence in a Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790), and it was through her connections to members of this community that she was to gain an introduction to her future publisher, friend, and one might even say, patron, Joseph Johnson.in 1784. During its brief life, the school developed a prestigious reputation and served as a starting point for Wollstonecraft’s radical ideas about the necessary equality of female and male education.Wollstonecraft’s teaching experience is reflected in her pamphlet, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1787).
 Far from providing her with a reliable income and some stability, the school was to be a source of endless worries and a financial drain. Only Joseph Johnson's advance on her first book, Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: with Reflections on Female Conduct in the more important Duties of Life (1787) helped ease her considerable financial difficulties. Following the death of her friend Fanny Blood in 1785 and the collapse of the school, Wollstonecraft began employment as a governess in Ireland. However she soon learned that she was not suited for this type of domestic work and returned to London, becoming a translator for a publishing firm and later an advisor to Joseph Johnson, who  held weekly dinners, and it was here Wollstonecraft met several of the age’s greatest radical philosophers, including William Blake,  https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2017/09/william-blake-radical-visionary.htmlThomas Paine, https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2019/01/thomas-paine-2911737-861809-common-sense.html and  William Godwin.who she later married. thus, began Wollstonecraft’s activism, as a writer on the obstacles to women’s equality in late eighteenth-century Europe.  She lived at 49 George Street, Blackfriars, London and worked as a reviewer for Johnson’s “Analytical Review”. She meets influential people at this time such as the artist and writer Henry Fuseli, the writer Anna Laetitia Barbauld and the political reformer Thomas Holcroft.
 In May 1789 the Analytical Review begins publication and during the year prints Wollstonecraft’s first novel,” Mary: A Fiction”,  which was inspired by the death of Fanny Blood. her children’s book “Original Stories from Real Life” and her translation of “Of the Importance of Religious Opinions” by Jacques Necker.
Mary Wollstonecraft’s anthology, “The Female Reader” is published by Johnson in 1789 under the pseudonym of Mr Cresswick. At the same time she begins to be romantically attached with Henry Fuseli. Mary’s translations of Christian Gotthilf Salzmann’s “Elements of Morality” and “Young Grandison” by Maria Geertruida van de Werken de Cambon are published by Johnson. in 1790. The former is illustrated by William Blake .
In November she publishes “A Vindication of the Rights of Man” anonymously at first and then under her own name on 18th December as she was upset by the attacks on her friend Richard Price by Edmund Burke,and his  conservative critique of the French Revolution in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)  Her work was overshadowed by another response to Burke, Thomas Paine's Rights of Man, which followed several months later. In Rights of Men Wollstonecraft presented her vision of a society, based upon equality of opportunity, in which talent—not the wrongful privileges of gentility—would be the requisite for success. Paine and Wollstonecraft were accused in the press of seeking to "poison and inflame the minds of the lower class of his Majesty's subjects to violate their subordination."
A Vindication of the Rights of Man laid the groundwork for her 1792 treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In this visionary courageous discourse.Wollstonecraft abhorred the prevailing notions that women were nothing but adornments to their husbands and caretakers of the household. Wollstonecraft  attacked the educational restrictions that kept women in a state of "ignorance and slavish dependence." She was especially critical of a society that encouraged women to be "docile and attentive to their looks to the exclusion of all else." Wollstonecraft described marriage as "legal prostitution" and added that women "may be convenient slaves, but slavery will have its constant effect, degrading the master and the abject dependent." She added: " I do not wish them (women) to have power over men; but over themselves".
The ideas in Wollstonecraft's book were truly revolutionary and caused tremendous controversy. One critic described Wollstonecraft as a "hyena in petticoats". Mary Wollstonecraft argued that to obtain social equality society must rid itself of the monarchy as well as the church and military hierarchies. society bred “gentle domestic brutes,” resulting in this societal construction of “motherhood.” The solution, she claimed, is educational reform. Her proposed reform included giving women access to the same educational opportunities as men—the main doctrines of the later women’s movement.the faculties of reason and rationality are present in all human beings and that women must be allowed to contribute equally to society. If women were not afforded this opportunity, social and intellectual progress would come to a halt. 
To understand the radical nature of Wollstonecraft’s work we must understand how desperately subjugated women were in the past. The recognition of equality among genders was  a relatively new political goal. For most of history, women were considered by many key thinkers to be irrational and intellectually hollow beings who merely existed for beauty and procreation. The subjection of women was considered to be justified due to women’s apparent lack of rationality and their physical and emotional frailty, and hers was the first book to present women’s rights as an issue of universal human rights.



Mary and her radical friends welcomed the French Revolution. In November, 1789, Richard Price preached a sermon praising the revolution. Price argued that British people, like the French, had the right to remove a bad king from the throne. "I see the ardour for liberty catching and spreading; a general amendment beginning in human affairs; the dominion of kings changed for the dominion of laws, and the dominion of priest giving way to the dominion of reason and conscience.
In 179I she first meets William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement.incidentally at a dinner in November held by Johnson where Thomas Paine was speaking. Godwin was disappointed with Mary as she spent to whole time criticising Paine.While she'd already taken a sour view of the human condition, Godin  had a more hopeful one. He called her negative, she called his optimism negative, but the two radical 18th century geniuses had glimpsed one another, and for years gravitated towards one another.
 At this time Mary had become  infatuated with the artist Henry Fuseli despite the fact that he was already married. She was excited by his genius and actually proposed a platonic arrangement where she would live with Fuseli and his wife and travel to France. Fuseli’s wife was understandably upset and the artist ended their relationship the following year.
Mary decided to leave the country and  while everyone was fleeing the revolution in 1792 she set out for Paris to see it for herself. The French Revolution had begun with thousands of women unhappy over the price and scarcity  of bread. These women grew into a mighty force to be reckoned with , turning into a tide against royal rule in  France, forcing the king to submit to the will of the people and proving that the royals were not invulnerable.
There, as a witness of Robespierre's Reign of Terror, Mary collected materials for An Historical and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution: and the effect it has Produced in Europe (vol I, 1794),.The book sharply criticized the violence evident even in the early stages of the French Revolution and the killing of so many moderate Girondist revolutionaries like Olympe de Gouges  and Manon Roland on the guillotine in 1793.


,Mary met Captain Gilbert Imlay, an American timber-merchant, the author of The Western Territory of North America (1792). She agreed to become his common law wife and at Le Havre in May 1794, she bore him a daughter, Fanny. In November 1795, after a four months' visit to Scandinavia as his "wife,".Imlay deserted Mary which left her so emotionally unstable. that she tried to drown herself from Putney Bridge, but was saved, .
 Mary eventually recovered her courage, and reconciled  herself with life  with the help of William Godwin. who shared many of her ideas and  like her was a forward looking free thinker, who said that  their friendship  melted into love and she went to live with him in Somers-town  Although both Godwin and Mary abhorred marriage as a form of tyranny, they eventually married on 29 March 1797. By all accounts, theirs was a happy and stable, though brief, relationship, that was unique for the time because they lived independently of one another, each engaged in their own literary occupations, seldom meeting, unless they walked together, till dinner time, each day. In August, her second daughter Mary who later became  the poet  Percy Bysshe Shelley's wife https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2017/08/percy-bysshe-shelley-august-4-1792-july.html who in 1816, published her own masterpiece, Frankenstein  was born, and although the delivery seemed to go well initially, tragically the placenta broke apart during the birth and became infected; puerperal (childbed) fever was a common and often fatal occurrence in the eighteenth century. After several days of agony, Wollstonecraft died of septicaemia on 10 September.. having survived so many difficult situations, she died when she had so much to live for. Godwin was devastated: he wrote to his friend Thomas Holcroft, "I firmly believe there does not exist her equal in the world. I know from experience we were formed to make each other happy. I have not the least expectation that I can now ever know happiness again. "   
 Following her death, Godwin published all of her writings, including the letters she had written to Gilbert Imlay. While he intended them as a tribute, the general reception of these works proved to be quite opposite. Wollstonecraft faced a plethora of criticisms, as people attacked her “unusual” lifestyle consisting of free will, independence, sex, and suicide attempts. For over a century Wollstonecraft’s work and reputation was sadly diminished, deemed crazy, socially unacceptable, and immoral.
It was not until the modern feminist movement  fortunately resurrected her works that she became a popular and influential figure. Although  her life was  short and tumultuous, she reminded us that the foundation of morality in all human beings, male or female, is their common possession of the faculty of reason. It's this  insistence on reason , in these alienating times that we should be reading and listening to more than ever, She also pushed for the rights of all those she thought were victims of a society that assigned people their roles according to the artificial distinctions of class, age, and gender. and the core of her  literary career was to envision a social and political order in which women were treated as rational, autonomous beings capable of independence and virtue. 
Wollstonecraft was initially buried in the Old Saint Pancras Churchyard in London.Godwin was buried with her in 1836, but in 1851 their remains were moved to St. Peter's Churchyard, Bournemouth, Dorset, England.. Mary Wollstonecraft's legacy is secure, as an exceptional thinker and advocate, the foremother of feminism, a key Enlightenment thinker, and an early human rights champion. whose groundbreaking  contributions  leave her as an  important influence on modern feminist theory. Although  of course, it took more than a century before society began to put her views into effect, her prodigious works  and her messages of equality still continue to inspire. Let us  raise a fitting statue in her honour.

https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-a-statue-for-feminist-icon-mary-wollstonecraft-whereswolly-vindicationformary

 "The mind will ever be unstable that has only prejudices to rest on, and the current will run with destructive fury when there are no barriers to break its force." -  Mary Wollstonecraft  


Further Reading :-

Charlotte Gordon  - Romantic Outlaws :The Extraordinaey lives of   Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley : Windmill Books


Todd, Janet, 2000, Mary Wollstonecraft: a revolutionary life, London: Weidenfel and Nicholson.

Tomalin, Claire, 1992, The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, revised edition, London: Penguin Books.

 Taylor, Barbara, 1983, Eve and The New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the Nineteenth Century, London: Virago Press.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/wollstonecraft-mary/1792/vindication-rights-woman/index.htm


Saturday, 25 April 2020

Don't Inject Disinfectant!


 Doctors, epidemiologists and others reacted with alarm after US President Donald Trump stunned and horrified the world as he went of script on Thursday and suggested that injecting disinfectant and exposure to ultraviolet rays could help people with the  deadly coronavirus.
It was not long before White House officials began texting one another to ask where he got that idea because they thought, as one adviser put it, “this was going to be bad.”
None of them seemed to know, as Trump did not consult with any task force members or administration officials before making his impromptu statement, which has now been universally rejected by health experts, the officials said.
Instead, it appears Trump conflated and misinterpreted scientific information discussed with him in the Oval Office before Thursday’s daily briefing, according to the officials.
During the meeting some advisers — including the acting undersecretary for science and technology, Bill Bryan — shared with the president some new but promising information about testing that’s been done on coronavirus, officials said. It included a discussion about how the virus is killed on surfaces with disinfectants and on hands with soap or sanitizer and studies about the effectiveness of light, temperature and humidity, as well as a mention of treatments for various conditions such as radiation, officials said.
The plan was to stress during the daily White House coronavirus briefing that disinfectants should be used on surfaces, but then “the president took it a couple steps further,” one administration official said. He wants to always be giving people hope and optimism. He certainly isn’t telling anyone to drink bleach or ingest disinfectant,” the official said.
On Friday Trump told reporters he was being sarcastic when he suggested people inject disinfectant into their bodies.
It’s not the first time the president has claimed that his attempted “jokes” were being misinterpreted after facing intense backlash and widespread criticism. When he referred to himself to reporters as “the chosen one” during an exchange on trade talks with China last year, he argued later that he had just been “kidding” and “having fun.” During the 2016 campaign, after repeatedly saying that then-President Barack Obama was the “founder of ISIS,” he backtracked by saying he was simply being “sarcastic.” A man in Arizona died in late March after taking chloroquine phosphate - a substance used to clean fish tanks - after Trump repeatedly talked about hydroxychloroquine. The man's wife told TV network NBC News he had been watching the president's daily briefings.
Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested that warmer weather will kill COVID-19 and allow the country to resume its normal behavior. At a White House press briefing, he theorized dangerously about the power of sunlight, ultraviolet light, and disinfectant injections to rid the body of the novel coronavirus. The very fact that the president actually asked somebody about what sounded like injecting disinfectants or isopropyl alcohol into the human body was kind of jaw-dropping.
 Mr Trump's comments have since  been heavily criticised by doctors and have unleashed a torrent of ridicule online, with one comedian on social media app TikTok miming the action of injecting bleach into her veins like a drug.
On Twitter, journalists shared a video of Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House task force on the coronavirus, who appeared to look down, hunch her shoulders, and blink rapidly as Trump told the briefing that disinfectant “does a tremendous number on the lungs.”
April 23, marked an important moment in the history books, as it was the day that Donald Trump went from dangerous circus clown to actual imminent threat to all Americans.
There were early signs that at least some Americans were preparing to act on Trump’s comments, according to the Washington Post, Maryland's COVID-19 hotline has received 100 calls re: ingesting disinfectants.) Which led to, on Friday, what we believe is the first known instance of a manufacturer of a product (Lysol and Dettol maker Reckitt Benckiser ) that carries a poison label on the side of the bottle having to put out a statement effectively saying, “Please don’t listen to the president of the United States when he tells you to drink this.”"Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),""Our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information," the company said in a statement.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the danger that Trump poses is twofold. First, his mishandling of the crisis has already cost countless lives. His paranoid, narcissistic and psychopathic characteristics are certain to mean that many more lives will be lost due to his handling of the crisis than would be the case if a president of sound character and mental health were in office. The  fact remains  it's exceptionally dangerous to listen to any word that comes  out of the mouth of this very irresponsible president.
As well as  being a racist, sexist , homophobic, authoritarian bully  it's come a a bit of a surprise that it's taken his lunatic notion of injecting disinfectant for everyone to acknowledge the truth that has been staring us in the face all along – Donald Trump is clearly mentally disordered and poses a grave danger to us all.  His madness is catching, too. From the trauma people have experienced under the Trump administration to the cult-like characteristics of his followers, he has created unprecedented mental health consequences across his nation and beyond.
People worried about coronavirus should seek help from a qualified doctor or a qualified pharmacist and not take unfounded advice from an idiot whose daily briefings are actively endangering the public's health. Please don't inject disinfectant or ingest any of Trump's deluded bullshit, in  the meantime  stay tuned for next week when he wonders aloud if there would be any merit to freebasing rat poison when it comes to killing the virus, nothing  really surprises me anymore. .

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Earth Day 2020


Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, when millions of people around the world are expected to mobilise to protect the planet.Earth Day was first launched in 1970, when millions of people in America took to the streets to protest for environmental reform. The brainchild of US Senator Gaylord Nelson, it was founded in the aftermath of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and led to the creation of landmark environmental laws and the Environmental Protection Agency. Soon after the first Earth Day, the US passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
First launched as a way to teach  environmentalism and protest against the negative aspects of industrialisation, and set against the backdrop of rising public concern about the environment, Earth Day soon grew to become a global environmental movement. More than a billion people worldwide now take part in marches, petitions and clean-ups to protect the environment - making it the largest civic observance in the world. People all around the world are encouraged to do things to benefit the environment, from recycling and planting trees to reducing our carbon footprints. Now more than ever, Earth Day offers an opportunity for us all to reflect upon our relationship with the planet, amid the most powerful possible message that nature can surprise us at any moment, with devastating consequences for pretty much every individual. It is a time when the health of the planet and its people has never been so important.
Typically, Earth Day is assigned a different theme or area of focus each year; this year’s theme is Climate Action. The Day aims to change our behaviours and provoke policy changes so we can protect the environment with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day. Many believe that today’s planetary ecological crisis is due first and foremost to the increasing scale of the capitalist world economy. Capitalism is a system totally reliant on the exploitation of nature, whether that be sacrificing our clean water to frack for hydrocarbons or sacrificing our children to the production line. We must develop new ideas of what a different future may look like outside the  constraints of both capital and fossil fuels in order to move forwards to a sustainable future for humanity, instead of one of catastrophe. The connection that we have to nature, plants, and the land is integral to our health and all that we are. Earth Day reminds us to take care of our planet—whether it’s cleaning up litter, planting more trees, recycling and repurposing, or going on a walk in a green space amidst the wildflowers. We need nature more than ever, as a solution, as a resource, for respite and for life on Earth.
Ironically, this year’s Earth Day is taking place during one of the most widespread and deadly pandemics the world has seen for generations, As a result, any gatherings or other in-person events have had to be canceled , and  with the majority of the globe in lockdown, 2020 will be slightly different with organisers asking people to rally online instead for the first ever Digital Earth Day. Instead of filling parks, stadiums and the streets, people are instead being encouraged to use their "voices to drive action online rather than in person" in which participants are encouraged to share the hashtags #EarthDay2020 and #EARTHRISE "in a collective call for transformative action for our planet"..— social distancing  though doesn’t mean that you can’t go outside and enjoy nature, as long as you do so responsibly! Nature is not cancelled!
The global reach of the current pandemic offers a unique perspective on the one-ness of Earth. The coronavirus is no respector of political borders, and has forced the World to 'lockdown', but there can be forgetting the fact that climate change is real. With every new crisis happening, we realize that we are pushing us and our planet one step closer to disaster. A disaster of unprecedented scale. We are depleting our natural resources, our wildlife, and forests. 2019 witnessed one of the biggest forest fires in Amazon and Australia. We lost hectares of forests and almost a billion wild animals. The situation is critical and calls for our utmost focus. Together we can reverse climate change , but only if we act now. There really is no Plan B, not yet at least. This world is all we have. Earth Day is a day to recognize the richness of our planet and, as its trustees, do everything we can to protect it.This is our only home and now is the time to act before it's too late..
Earth Day Network will provide live coverage of the "global digital mobilisations" online, and other digital events include virtual protests, social media campaigns, online teach-ins and more. Find out more at earthday.org. Today and everyday. I  will stand in solidarity with all those risking their lives to protect our planet. Happy Earth Day. Environmental justice is more urgent than  ever.

Paradise Or?

Paradise or paradise lost?
Your effort is what it will cost
To keep our precious earth clean
By living a lifestyle that's green.

We cannot go on as we are
Leaving scar after scar
Upon this beautiful planet
Which so many take for granted.

The time to take action is now
To restore what's been damaged somehow.
We stand on the brink of "too late,"
But there's still time to change our fate.

Putting people before the thirst for profit
Humanity this treasure we can all share,
Growing wilder, keep on pressing for change
Beyond poisoned life, that greets the dawn.

Earth, our dear mother, don't pollute it
Nature's gifts can still be witnessed all around,
Give thanks, do all you cant to protect her,
Currently now in perilous danger


Sunday, 19 April 2020

Taciturn Abandonment.


Even in silence, voices can roar
Free beyond boxes, battered and broken,
Releasing feelings under dark clouds
Hanging from the sky disobediently,
Within minds, thoughts are born
That still the waves that crash around,
Beyond climates that seek to create fear
Nothing is wrong, dead or pointless,
Circumstances can rule our lives
Make us scream and shatter the lens,
Beyond malignant soup, artificial borders
Wild climbing grasses will run wild,
And the howling winds keep haunting
Nature delivering never ending cycles,
Redressing the balance, nurturing equality
Old God's and orders abandoned,
In the elements, we put our trust
Each passing day, dressed in mourning,
Lost forever, we have so much in common
Before the maggots and insects devour you,
Keep on passing round the burning weed
Tell your family, friends you love them.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Doctors and Hearses - Potent Whisper


In our current crisis, now is  the perfect opportunity today to appreciate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, and acknowledge the vital role the service plays in our lives, and to recognise and thank the extraordinary NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who are there to guide, support and care for us, day in, day out. It wouldn’t be possible to run a 7-day NHS, caring for millions of people day-in-day-out without the hard work and dedication of its staff.
The NHS  here in Wales employs close to 72,000 staff which makes it Wales’ biggest employer. I can never forget the compassion they gave to my dear departed, my dad, who himself served for 30 years. Despite all the adversity that’s thrown at it, the NHS  continues to be  a shining example of how a caring society should create good and safe care, making such a great contribution towards social and health equality, despite some with good intentions, take for example Captain Tom Clarke's  fundraising at moment to raise money for it, but remember the NHS has been severely damaged by underfunding and privatisation
Lest us forget that we paid for it,  it is owned by us, it is our precious commodity,  our national treasure that must survive. We must continue to keep fighting for it, put people before profit, allow it to keep providing free care far into the future. Despite all the adversity that’s thrown at them: poor pay,  cuts, to name a few; they continue to relentlessly keep delivering fantastic healthcare to the nation .You used to call the doctor, now the doctor's calling you... Watch and listen to the powerful message above and  take action to protect our NHS workers - https://twitter.com/Coronafrontline

Friday, 17 April 2020

Palestinian Prisoners' Day 2020


Today marks Palestinian Prisoners Day, a day that also serves to mark the ongoing perserverence of the Palestinian peoples relentless struggle for peace, justice, freedom and dignity. It is also used as a means to illustrate the Israeli army's excessive and often lethal use of force against peaceful and unarmed demonstrators throughout the West Bank and Gaza, A day for Palestinian people and supporters of justice and liberation for Palestine all over the world express  their support to Palestinian political prisoners of freedom.
 Commemorated since 1974, when the first , Mahmoud Hizazi  was freed in a prisoner exchange with the Palestinian resistance, Palestinian Prisoner Day was founded to remind the world of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners imprisoned in Israeli  occupied  prisons or detention centers without charge or trial for extensive periods of time. It is a day to demand their freedom.
In Palestine, political imprisonment is a central feature of Israeli Apartheid with over 20% of Palestinians facing imprisonment in their lifetime.The number of Palestinian detainess increases as Israeli occupying forces continue to wage campaigns of arbitrary arrests and detentions against thousands of Palestinian prisoners. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails continue to be subject to wide-ranging violations of their rights and dignity.
 Since Israeli began its military occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip in 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been abducted and imprisoned by Israel.  This figure represents 20% of the total Palestinian population and 40% of the Palestinian male population. It also includes 10,000 women imprisoned since 1967 and more than 200 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons as a result of torture and lack of medical care. Furthermore, 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested since 2000.
Under international law and conventions, including the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (the Third Geneva Convention), the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, Israel is legally bound to exercise its powers for the benefit of the occupied area and its people.
Palestinian Prisoner Day was founded to remind the world of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners imprisoned in Israeli prisons or detention centers without charge or trial for extensive periods of time. The number of Palestinian detainess increases as Israeli occupying forces continue to wage campaigns of arbitrary arrests and detentions against thousands of Palestinians.
Investigations have revealed that prisoners are regularly subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including poor detention conditions, in violation of Israel's obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.
The number of Palestinian prisoners at Israeli occupation prisoners reached around 5000 prisoners as of April 2020. This number also included 432 administrative detainees, 41 female detainees, 7 PLC members and 183 child detainees among them 20 under the age of 16, according to the latest figures released by the Israel Prison Service.
The number of young children detained between the ages of 12 and 15 was 20. In the middle of January, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) transferred 33 child detainees from Ofer prison, inside the occupied West Bank near Ramallah, to Damon prison, located inside Israel near Haifa. International humanitarian law and international criminal law prohibit the transfer of persons part of an occupied civilian population outside of an occupied territory, including prisoners. When a child is detained inside Israel, their parents face undue obstacles, like permits and checkpoints, when trying to visit.https://www.dci-palestine.org/israel_forces_transfer_palestinian_child_detainees_amounting_to_war_crime?utm_campaign=detention_bulletin_april2020&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dcipalestine    
 Detention facilities and prisons in Israel have long been criticized  for overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate access to healthcare. Classified separately to regular prisoners, Palestinians in Israeli custody are subjected to depressed conditions, which, as the highly contagious COVID-19 spreads through Israel, puts them at increased risk. The majority of Palestinians in Israeli custody are defined as “security” prisoners by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), which entails special restrictions that regular criminal prisoners do not face, such as the denial of phone calls. With the recent emergency regulation to combat the spread of coronavirus prohibiting visits of attorneys and family members to prisons, the ban on phone calls means that thousands of Palestinians in custody are isolated from their families and legal representative
 As COVID-19 spreads rapidly throughout the world, people in prisons and detention centers are extremely vulnerable. Prisoners live in cramped conditions, often without access to basic sanitation, and this is especially true for Palestinian child detainees in Israeli prisons. We must act now to demand Israeli authorities release all Palestinian child detainees to keep them safe from COVID-19.https://www.dci-palestine.org/israel_must_release_all_palestinian_child_detainees_amid_covid_19_pandemic?utm_campaign=detention_bulletin_april2020&utm_medium=email&utm_source=dcipalestine
 There are also reports of  security inmates being held eight per cell, rather than the regular four persons per cell,a discriminatory measure with direct impact on Palestinian prisoners’ ability to ward off the coronavirus, as its contagiousness increases with proximity. Also, the health instructions and guidelines concerning the virus are being distributed only in Hebrew, a practice that serves to jeopardize the health of Palestinians as Arabic-speakers.
It should be pointed out that Israel's system of arrest and detention is an integral part of Israel's apartheid system, under which Palestinians are governed and oppressed  under a separate set of laws than Israelis. It combines human rights abuses against individuals with a system of discrimination specifically designed  to restrict and repress the Palestinian people and their unrelentless struggle for freedom.
These are some of the reasons why I support the Palestinian prisoners, and continue  to support the international communities efforts to ensure the immediate and effective measures to ensure that Israel releases all unlawfully detaned prisoners, and ensures that conditions of arrest are consistent with international human rights and humanitarian law.Despite a multitude of guidelines and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and UN human rights bodies and experts on the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in detention, conditions in Israeli prisons continue to deteriorate with the Israeli occupying forces having failed to adequately mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has stated: “Now, more than ever, governments should release every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners and others detained simply for expressing critical or dissenting views.”
Every day, Palestinian prisoners are on the front lines of struggle, facing torturous interrogation , nighttime raids, solitary confinement, and relentless attacks on their rights at the hands of Israeli occupation forces. These attacks are aided by international and corporate complicity, support and profiteering, on  Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, we must demand the immediate release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees from Israeli prisons, particularly those who are more susceptible to the pandemic, including those who are chronically ill, members of vulnerable groups, and those held under administrative detention in contravention of international law and join a renewed call to the international community to take immediate action before it is too late to ensure the safety of Palestinian prisoners and to hold the occupying power accountable for its violations of the prisoners’ rights at all times. The international community, including states, the United Nations, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, must take action to ensure Israel’s respect for the rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, allowing communication with family members and lawyers, and to heed WHO recommendations by providing access to adequate healthcare, a hygienic environment and allowing for distancing among inmates and prison personnel.
 Further information and resources available at:

Palestinian Prisoner's Day 2020

Thursday, 16 April 2020

A Message From Yayoi Kusama To The Whole World

 

In the face of uncertain times celebrated Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama offered up a brief moment of pause on Wednesday through the power of a poem she wrote about the coronavirus pandemic. Her bold works have long tackled current events, from the Vietnam War to same-sex marriage; from Asian-American stereotype to gender roles.
"Today, with the world facing COVID-19, I feel the necessity to address it with this message," reads her message on the Victoria Miro gallery website.
The poem that follows extends words of hope, love and defiance: "To COVID-19 that stands in our way," she writes, "I say Disappear from this earth."
The 91-year-old artist, famous for her polka dot artwork says now is the time "to stand up," expressing gratitude to those "who are already fighting." She signs off as, "Revolutionist of the world of the Art." 
Kusama, is one of the most well-known, influential and beloved artists alive today. Her work is based in conceptual art and shows some attributes to feminism. minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art and abstract expressionism  and is infused with autobiographical content.and  is characterised by obsessiveness and a desire to escape psychological trauma.
Open about her own mental-health issues, she has lived voluntarily in a Japanese psychiatric institution since 1977. It was in this stable environment, nurtured by doctors interested in art therapy, that she began to rehabilitate her career and her mental health. From a workspace at the hospital and from her studio nearby in Shinjuku, aided by assistants, she began to churn out work, from paintings and sculptures to novels, poems, and other literature.
Her famous polka-dots were inspired by a psychotic episode during her childhood, after which she painted them. She described the experience as such: “One day, I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe.” The polka-dot .has since become Kusama’s most defining and well-recognized motif, appearing in her art throughout her career.
After a period of relative isolation, Kusama reentered the international art world in the Venice Biennale in 1993. Her dotted pumpkin sculptures were very successful and became a staple of her work from the 1990s to now. It came to represent a kind of alter-ego. She has  become hugely popular in recent years with her art tours in America and Europe, as well as her large-scale solo exhibitions in Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Taiwan. In 2017, a five-story museum dedicated to her work opened in Tokyo.  
Kasuma's work old and new, continue to draw huge crowds. Her most well-known work is her set of ‘Infinity Rooms,’that in the past  five years has drawn over  5 million people around the globe to step inside her feature rooms with mirrored walls and ceilings, giving the viewer the sense that they are within infinity itself..Kusama’s work exemplifies the experience of humanity within infinity: we are dually connected to infinity and lost within it. 
The artist, like many others, have had their exhibitions delayed, postponed and some altogether cancelled in these difficult and unprecedented times. Kusama’s  exhibition at Tate Modern was supposed to open in May to celebrate the gallery’s 20th birthday, but it is now closed until further notice, with no revised opening date announced yet. They would have  featured  two of her rooms: Infinity Mirrored Room — Filled With the Brilliance of Life (one of the Kusama's largest-ever installations) and Chandelier of Grief (a room that appears as an endless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers). For now you can read her poem of hope in dark times in its entirety below,

A MESSAGE FROM YAYOI KUSAMA TO THE WHOLE WORLD
 

Though it glistens just out of reach, I continue to pray for hope to shine through
Its glimmer lighting our way
This long awaited great cosmic glow

Now that we find ourselves on the dark side of the world
The gods will be there to strengthen the hope we have spread throughout the
universe

For those left behind, each person’s story and that of their loved ones
It is time to seek a hymn of love for our souls
In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future
Let us joyfully sing this song of a splendid future
Let's go

Embraced in deep love and the efforts of people all over the world
Now is the time to overcome, to bring peace
We gathered for love and I hope to fulfil that desire
The time has come to fight and overcome our unhappiness

To COVID-19 that stands in our way
I say Disappear from this earth
We shall fight
We shall fight this terrible monster

Now is the time for people all over the world to stand up
My deep gratitude goes to all those who are already fighting.

Revolutionist of the world by the Art
From Yayoi Kusama

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Remain Indoors



I hope you are safe and well and are currently adjusting  to this new way of living during this devastating global pandemic.

Our daily lives have suddenly turned upside down, like nothing that we have ever experience in our lifetime.

As  a bit of light relief above is Mitchell and Webb's chillingly brilliant, and tragically topical - series of sketches on . . . The Event.

A stark depiction of a dystopian landscape perhaps years in the future,  or possibly as close as next Wednesday.

As grim news continues to be unleashed every day, with Covid-19 death tolls and infection numbers rising, humor can act as a healing balm, and comedy can serve as mental armor to ensure safe passage through tragic times.

So chew on a protein fudge and prepare to enjoy the show. We have to find some time to laugh, because it enables us to feel more in control, empowered  and less afraid.

Please remain indoors.

Monday, 13 April 2020

Clément Duval (1850–1935) - The Anarchist who escaped from Devils Island


Clément Duval (1850–1935) was an infamous French illegalist, propagandist, and anarchist. At eighteen he seems to have started a "normal" bourgeois life: he dates a girl from a good family and becomes the father of a child. Shortly after the birth of his son, he was sent to the front to fight in the Franco-Prussian war, serving as a member of the fifth infantry battalion, distinguishing himself for his unruly character to military rules.Twice wounded, he was sent to convalescence in June 1871. When he returned to Paris he found his parents in serious economic and physical difficulties, while fortunately his partner and his 26-month-old son had managed to escape the miseries of the war. Called back to the front, he was definitively discharged in 1873, also for serious physical problems (he suffered from rheumatism) which forced him to a long period of hospitalization. Unable to work, Duval turned to theft.
Duval  became an anarchist around 1880 and joined the anarchists of The Panther of Batignolles. At the founding meeting, the group immediately manifested insurrectionist and illegalist  ideas , reporting in the October 14 L'Etendard Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Manifesto) the modalities concerning "the preparation of the hand grenades".
He was found guilty in 1886 death for an expropriation on October 25, 1886 – a breaking and entering, during which he stole eighteen thousand francs worth of jewellery and accidentally set fire to the residence of a rich bourgeois – and the attempted murder of the police sergeant that tried to arrest him, of theft and attempted murder of a police officer.
 The incident would likely have been relegated to the police blotter if Duval had not defended his act as an anarchist attack—he did not steal but put into action the theory of individual reclamation of capital, a “just restitution made in the name of humanity”. He stole not for his own benefit but to support the Revolution. During his trial, on January 11, 1887 Duval justified his action in a long declaration: While I do not recognize your right to pose to me the questions that you have, I have responded to you as the accused.
Now, you are the ones that I am accusing. I do not pretend to defend myself. To what end would this serve me, in front of those as well armed as you, having soldiers, cannons, police, and finally an army of mercenaries as your henchmen?
Let's be logical, you are in power, taking advantage of it, and if you still need the head of yet another anarchist, take it, and when our day comes we will take this into account, and I have the firm hope that on that day the anarchists will rise to the occasion. They will be without pity, because never will they reach the number of your victims.
It is not only you who I am addressing, but to all of this selfish, cruel, corrupt society, where on one side we see an orgy and on the other misery!
You have accused me of theft, as if a worker that has nothing could be a thief.
No, theft exists only in the exploitation of man by man, in a word by those who live at the expense of the working class. It was not a theft that I committed, but a just restitution made in the name of humanity, this money was to serve for making revolutionary propaganda, through writing and by the deed. To make newspapers and leaflets to show people the truth; it has been a long time that they have been deceived. To show the cure to those who are ill.
I busy myself with the chemistry and prepare what is needed for the day of battle, the day when the workers, conscious, will leave their torpor, their slump. Because it is time that this diabolic machination of the old world disappear, to give place to institutions where all will find a fate that is more fair, which does not exist but within anarchist communism.
Because anarchy is the negation of all authority.
And anarchy is the biggest social wound, because man is not free, and one must become free to do all that one wants, as long as one does not infringe upon the liberty of their fellow- of then one would become a despot in turn.
In communism, man gives to society according to his skills and strengths, and should receive according to his needs. Men group themselves, find each other according to their character, their skills, their affinities, taking as an example the group which functions the best, away from vanity, foolish pride, not seeking to do better than one's comrade for one can do better for one's self.
Out of this will come the useful masterpieces, people's intelligence no longer reduced to nothing but capital, because men would be able to evolve freely, no longer under the despotic yoke of authority, of individual property. And these groups can mutually exchange their products, unhindered.
Learning, and feeling good about governing themselves, they will federate and will be nothing more than a big family of workers associated together for the happiness of all - one for all, all for one - knowing only a single law: the law of solidarity and reciprocity.
No more gold, base metal for which I am here and which I despise. Base metal, the cause of all the evils and vices that afflict humanity. Base metal, with which men's conscience is bought!
With anarchist communism, there is no more exploitation of man by man, no more of these managers of sweat, no more salesmen with a mercantile spirit, rapacious, selfish, poisoning, falsifying their products and their commodities, thereby bringing the degradation of mankind.
You cannot deny this, because you see this all the way to the toy salesmen, who already poison with these toys the poor little creatures who are barely born.
And these factories, where they play with the workers lives with an unparalleled shamelessness, like in the factories of white lead where in only a few months the workers find themselves paralyzed and soon dead, or in the tinsmiths who in little time become bald, crippled, weakened in the bones and die in agony!
There are scientists who know that they can replace these unhealthy products with innocuous ones. The doctors who see these unfortunates twist in such agony and who leave things to continue, they allow these crimes against humanity to happen. It is even better, they decorate the heads of the factories, and they award them honorary awards in memory of the service they have given to industry and humanity.
And how many of these unhealthy industries are there? The number would be too large to count them all, not to mention the foul and unhealthy capitalist prisons where the worker, imprisoned for ten or twelve hours is obligated, for the sake of conserving his family's bread, to incur the vexations, the humiliation of an insolent convict, missing only the whip for us all to recall the heyday of ancient slavery and medieval serfdom.
And the unfortunate miners, imprisoned five or six hundred feet underground, seeing the light of day no more than once a week and when, tired of so much misery and suffering, they lift their heads to reclaim their right to sunlight and to the banquet of life: quickly the army is in the country side at the service of the exploiters, and we shoot this scoundrel! The proof doesn't default.
And the exploitation of man by man is nothing compared to that experienced by women. Nature is already thankless in this regard, to make them sick 15 days of the month, but we hardly take this into account: flesh of profit, flesh for fun, this is the fate of women. How many young girls arrive from the countryside, full of strength and health, only to be enclosed in the workshops, in rooms where there is room for four and they are fifteen, twenty, without air, breathing nothing but pollution: hardships they are forced to self-impose. By six months they are anemic. From there the sickness, weakness, and dislike of work that is not even sufficient to meet their needs drives these unfortunates to prostitution.
What does society do for these victims? It rejects them from her breast, like the leper, puts them on the map, enrolls them with the police and makes informers of their lovers.
And do you think the workers, with noble and generous sentiments, can see this picture of the human life unfurling constantly before their eyes without being revolted? He who feels all these effects, who is constantly a victim of them, morally, physically, and materially: he who is taken at twenty years old to pay his taxes in blood, cannon fodder to defend the property and privileges of his masters: and if he returns from this butchery, he returns maimed or with a sickness that renders him half crippled, making him go from hospital to hospital serving therefore as experimental flesh for these messieurs of science. I know what I speak of, I who have returned from the carnage with two wounds and rheumatism, a sickness that has given me four years in the hospital and which prevents me from working six months of the year. As an incentive, if you do not have the courage to give them my head as they ask, I will die in prison.
And these crimes are committed in broad daylight, after being plotted in the corridors of the government, under the influence of a clique, or the caprice of a woman, while shouting over the rooftops: The people are sovereign, The Nation is sovereign, and under the buzz words of patronage - Glory, Honor, Homeland, as if there were several homelands between all beings living on the same planet.
No! The anarchists have but one party, and that is humanity.
It is also, in the name of civilization that exists these distant expeditions where thousands of men are killed with a savage ferocity. It is in the name of civilization that we plunder, that we burn, that we massacre an entire people who demand nothing [more] than to live peacefully in their homes. And these crimes are committed with impunity because the law doesn't cover this type of theft and armed robbery, au contraire: We award medals to those who have led all this carnage, medals to the mercenaries who have taken part, in memory of their good deeds, and these unconscious ones are proud to wear this insignia which is nothing but a diploma of assassination.
But on the other hand, the law severely punishes the worker to whom society refuses the right to exist and who has the courage to take what is necessary which he lacks, where there is superfluous amounts. Oh! And then this one is treated like a thief, brought before the court and finally returns to end his days in prison.
Voila! The logic of our current society.
Ah well, this is the crime that I am here for: for not recognizing the right of these people to die of plenty while the producers, the creators of all social wealth, starve. Yes, I am the enemy of individual property and it has been a long time that I have said, along with Proudhon, that property is theft.
In effect, how does one acquire property, if not through theft, by exploiting one's fellows, giving three francs to the exploited for a job which will bring back ten for the exploiter? And the little exploiters don't do it any differently. Evidence: I have seen my companion do work as the second hand, two little detached pieces of lace and pearls, for which she was paid seven and a half centimes a piece. Fifteen days later, doing the same work as the first hand, he was paid fifty five centimes a piece.
So do you think that a conscious worker could be so stupid that one the day to pay the rent, to give back to the same exploiter-owner a part of his salary which had been given to him? And he will see his wife and children forced to deprive themselves of things most necessary for life, while the idle, with this money, goes to the stock exchange or somewhere else to speculate, play the market on the misery of the people, or wallow in some fashionable boudoir in the arms of an unwell girl, who to live is forced to give her flesh to others for pleasure, despite the disgust that it inspires in her.
As I do not want myself to be made an accomplice of the likes of these dishonorables, this is why I do not pay rent (for which you reproach me), not wanting myself to be robbed by this thief, this vulture that we call an owner, and this is why I had received bad references in the different areas that I have lived. Good references are only given for the vile and the groveling, for those who have no backbone.
Because the law is in all things the accomplices of those who own, the throw away the anathema at the workers who lift their heads proudly, who retain their dignity by revolting against abuse, injustices, against the monsters who make up the owning class.
But, it has been a long time since I have reckoned with anything but my conscience, mocking the fools and the wicked, feeling certain that I have the esteem of men of heart who have known me closely. This is why I am telling you: you are not condemning me as a thief, but as a conscious worker, who does not consider oneself to be a beast of burden, taxable and thanklessly exploited, and who recognizes the undeniable right that nature gives to all human beings: the right to existence. And if society refuses us this right, we must take it with unshaking hands (which would be a cowardice in a society where all abounds, where everything is in abundance, where what should be a source of well being is nothing more than a source of misery)... Why? Because everything is monopolized by a handful of idlers who burst from indigestion while the workers are continually searching for a loaf of bread.
No! I am not a robber but one who has been robbed, someone who brings justice, who says that everything belongs to everyone, and that it is this clear logic of the anarchist idea, which makes your legs tremble.
No, I am not a thief but a sincere revolutionary, who has the courage of his convictions and who is devoted to his cause. Within current society, [where] money is the nerve of war, I would do all that is within my power to procure it to serve this noble and just cause which would purge humanity of all of the tyrannies, the persecutions that it has suffered so cruelly.
Ah! I have only one regret, which is to have fallen too early into your hands, this preventing me from satisfying an implacable hatred, a thirst for vengeance that I have vowed upon so infamous a society.
But what consoles me is that there are combatants that remain, because despite all the persecution, the anarchist idea has germinated and the theoretical revolution is ending, being quickly replaced by the practice of action. Oh, then, that day - rotten society, governments, magistrates, exploiters of all kinds, you have lived!
Long live social revolution, long live anarchy!
 Duval was defended by Fernand Labori, a young lawyer committed to his office, making his first appearance before the high court. He would go on to defend (along with his own life) Pini and Auguste Vaillant and the famous Captain Dreyfus, along with Emile Zola. There was much uproar and popular support for Duval, which probably saved his head. Originally sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to deportation and hard labor,  he was dispatched to the  notorious Îles du Salut (Salvation Islands), whose three islands included the notorious Île du Diable (Devil's Island). 
Established by Emperor Napoleon III in 1852. in a period  of nearly 100 years over 70.000 men had been sent there. At least ¾ of them died there,including murderers, rapists and political prisoners. Around 5000 made it back to France as free men, 9000 tried to escape, few of them survived. Doomed to a torturous existence, most never made it off the island. It’s estimated that 40 per cent died in the first year, and only 5000 survived to see their release date.
Even the trip to the island was treacherous, and many didn’t make it off the boat. Some were murdered during fights inside the cages where they were locked up during the journey. Sulfer and steam were also used on prisoners who refused to obey orders on the ship.
Duval's companions in misfortune were thieves, assassins, soulless brutes; the sons of abjection, misery and ignorance. Lebou, sentenced for having shot his mother; Faure who had killed his brother for money, then chopped him up and fed him to the pigs; Mentier, who had killed two old women in order to rape the corpses and other worthy products of the society which had begotten them. This frightening section of humanity was paraded on deck for inspection every day, and met with the mockery, vulgarity and stupid comments of the crew, the guards, and the civilian passengers.
Duval was not the sort to accept this treatment willingly. On the first occasion he rebelled, answering the provocations in the same vein, and thus he had a taste of what was awaiting him in the penitentiary: naked as a worm, he was thrown into a water-logged cell where he stayed for two days, unable to stand upright because the ceiling was too low, and unable to lie down because the cell was too small. Repression inside repression.
Guyana was a real hell-hole, a filthy abyss of violence and depravity made even more intolerable by the hot and humid tropical climate. There the lie was given to the hypocritical idea that prison can lead to atonement and repentance. Guyana was synonymous with forced labour, fettered ankles, rotting food, punishment cells, swarms of insects, scurvy, dysentery. Redemption? In captivity, men lost their health, their dignity, they died of disease and want, their bodies and spirits scarred, humiliated, broken, brutalised, reduced against their will to the level of animals. The more assertive among them achieved some squalid privilege at the expense of their companions. The most cynical curried favour with the guards by crawling and informing on the others. The weakest went under. The penitentiary was the perverted image of all the vices, every misery, all the oppression of the society which had produced it. Because of this, those who had not submitted before, when they were free, did not accept the idea of submitting now that they were in a society that was more vicious but otherwise not dissimilar. Duval (and in general all the anarchists who ended up in prison) was no exception.
The story of his stay on the terrible island is the story of his pride of his unbeatable fighting spirit, of the constant struggle with the situation, not to lose his identity, of his refusal to fall into the abyss of misery that confronted him. And he succeeded. He opposed the guard's traps, rebelled against the injustices, helped the most wretched fellow prisoners, unmasked spies and provocateurs. The cruellest bullies, the drunken directors, the scum, the murderers, the mindless brutes that peopled the prison camp, learned to pay him a sort of respect, certainly worthy of better circles, in which admiration for his correctness was united with fear for his toughness. A respect that was merited, if one thinks of the terrible price that had to be paid for it.
After years of brutality and deprivation,  he was finally transferred in 1900 to the penal colony of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni on the mainland, and it was from there on April 13 1901 that he put to sea in a fragile canoe along with eight of his fellow-prisoners. Rowing with all their strength during the night, they managed to get out of sight of the mainland by daybreak and could put up their improvised sail and headed north-eastwards, away from French Guyana, Having survived hurricane-force winds and the accompanying massive waves, they arrived in Dutch Guyana the following day. There under false names, the fugitives went into hiding before. Duval himself began what would end up being a two-year journey, travelling via British Guyana and Martinique to Puerto Rico, where he spent some months recovering his broken health. On June 16, 1903, he finally set sail for the United States, arriving in New York City. There, supported by French and Italian anarchist comrades, he set up home and began writing his unfinished memoirs, which were published initially in 1907 in 'Cronaca Sovversiva'. The memoirs were finally published in Italian (in a translation by Luigi Galleani) by comrades from 'L'Adunata dei Reffratari' under the title 'Memorie Autobiografiche' in 1929. In 1980, Marianne Enckell, at C.I.R.A. inLausanne, recovered part of Duval's original manuscript, and had it published as Outrage: An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony.
It is a remarkable story of survival by one man’s self-determination, energy, courage, loyalty, and hope. It was thanks to being true and faithful to his ideals that Duval survived life in a living hell. He encouraged his fellow prisoners to practice mutual aid, through their deeds and not just their words. It is a call to action for mindful, conscious people to fight for their rights to the very end, to never give up or give in. More than just a story of a life or a testament of ideals, here is a monument to the human spirit and a war cry for freedom and justice. According to Paul Albert, "The story of Clement Duval was lifted and, shorn of all politics, turned into the bestseller Papillon." .
Despite all the deprivations he endured in the Bagne de la Guyane française colony and the damage it wreaked on his health, Clément Duval lived to the ripe old age of 85, dying in Brooklyn on March 25, 1935.

See Outrage: An Anarchist Memoir of the Penal Colony by Clément Duval (translated by Michael Shreve), PM Press, 2012.


Devil's Island :Colonies of the Condemned