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ianbradleym
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

Another great book that may even at times be equally subtle, from a mother in Texas, is Guns, Horses and Death The Life of a Wanted Man found at Lulu.com. Please get the word out about her book. I think she's a great author, and you'll enjoy the story, too.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana



foxycat wrote:
Hi, Ilana,

Just joined the clubs. I was wandering around the B&N site and saw a discussion of Plato and Wittgenstein. Wow! No resemblance to the real-life book club I mistakenly joined a year ago, which has since died. When no one understood the book we were reading except me, I knew it wouldn't last long.

So I'm a newbie here. Do you moderate all the groups yourself?


Hi Rochelle,

Thanks so much for joining us. It's nice to hear that a conversation about Plato and Wittgenstein can turn people on, not off.

I don't moderate all the clubs, just this one called "Literature & Life." In this club, each Friday I post about an idea we can pull from a book—as a prompt for discussion. You don't have to have read the book to respond to the initial post; we use one book as a jumping-off point for larger ideas.

At the Book Clubs Home page, you can also see the other types of groups at B&N: There are "author appearance" groups, in which an author of a recent book joins into a discussion of her/his work. There are also long-going clubs, like the "Literature by Women" Group, in which they discuss a book by a woman each month or so.

I'd love to see you around for as long as you can. I'd like to hear more about the last book club you were in.

Ilana



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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IlanaSimons
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana



ianbradleym wrote:
Ilana,

I'm new to the site, but I must say that Michael Cunningham is a real influence to my outlook and my writing. I especially like what I've read of Specimen Days but was turned off by the alien story. The Hours was excellent, and I attempted to get him to write alongside my efforts with what I had finished on my first novel after being told that it didn't have enough narration. I can be reached at ianbradley@hotmail.com. I enjoy the Barnes & Noble book clubs and what I've seen these past two nights being here.




Hi Ian,
Thanks a lot for joining the group. I thought The Hours was really terrific, too.
Feel free to tell us more about your relationship to fiction writing in here.
I look forward to seeing your comments.
Ilana



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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foxycat
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

[ Edited ]
Ilana wrote: I'd love to see you around for as long as you can. I'd like to hear more about the last book club you were in. .......................

Four bad experiences with live book clubs. No one showed up at a book group and at a BookCrossing group. I found this was common for Meetups, as many people just sign up for things indiscriminately.

I joined a club advertised in Craigslist, but was able to get there only twice because I work irregular hours. I never managed to find time to read any book completely anyway. Somehow the group dwindled and lasted only a year.

I tried another from Craigslist last fall. I'm 61, they turned out to be all in their 20's, and we had very different ideas about what to read. And sitting in Starbucks with rock music wasn't my idea of fun.

I live in a suburb of NYC, and all of the book groups at the libraries meet during the day, assuming you're retired. I'm not. Here there's enough variety so several kinds of literature I like are all represented. And the single-book discussions give the readers plenty of time to read.

Message Edited by foxycat on 06-19-2007 12:03 AM
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. --Oscar Wilde

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IlanaSimons
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

Thanks for the feedback. Good for you for adding something onto your load, pre-retirment. I'm glad you're with us.



foxycat wrote:
Ilana wrote: I'd love to see you around for as long as you can. I'd like to hear more about the last book club you were in. .......................

Four bad experiences with live book clubs. No one showed up at a book group and at a BookCrossing group. I found this was common for Meetups, as many people just sign up for things indiscriminately.

I joined a club advertised in Craigslist, but was able to get there only twice because I work irregular hours. I never managed to find time to read any book completely anyway. Somehow the group dwindled and lasted only a year.

I tried another from Craigslist last fall. I'm 61, they turned out to be all in their 20's, and we had very different ideas about what to read. And sitting in Starbucks with rock music wasn't my idea of fun.

I live in a suburb of NYC, and all of the book groups at the libraries meet during the day, assuming you're retired. I'm not. Here there's enough variety so several kinds of literature I like are all represented. And the single-book discussions give the readers plenty of time to read.

Message Edited by foxycat on 06-19-2007 12:03 AM





Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Goodmom
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

Hi Ilana,

I am very pleased to tell you that five women in my family from various spots in the country have formed a virtual book club which we'll conduct through emails. There are six of us so far in the Sisters Book Club (we have sisters, cousins, and nieces) from New York, Florida, California and South Carolina. We've selected the B&N Literature & Life book club as the one we'll follow, reading your monthly pick as our book club selection. We then plan to discuss it at a virtual book club meeting on the first of the month, as well as check out what our next read will be in the Featured Title section of your page.

We're looking forward to reading your book!

Does anyone on this discussion board ever talk about the book itself? I can't find any discussion of it.
-- Goodmom
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IlanaSimons
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

[ Edited ]
Hi Goodmom,
I'm excited for your club. I'm a Floridian living in New York with family in CA, so I already feel sisterly to it.
Here's a little caveat, about how Literature & Life works: I post one note each week (up top, under "Ilana's Journal Entry, Week #[week number here]." ) My little weekly essay discusses how some book or books have affected my life. That post is just a spark for discussion...and discussion can go anywhere. So: members don't have to read any designated books to enter this weekly discussion. We're more of a discussion space than a regular book club. (my own book is always just hanging out there in the "Featured Title" spot.)

That said, I would love to enter into your club for a week or so if you do read my book. That would be fun. And I do hope to see you around here.

Ilana



Goodmom wrote:
Hi Ilana,

I am very pleased to tell you that five women in my family from various spots in the country have formed a virtual book club which we'll conduct through emails. There are six of us so far in the Sisters Book Club (we have sisters, cousins, and nieces) from New York, Florida, California and South Carolina. We've selected the B&N Literature & Life book club as the one we'll follow, reading your monthly pick as our book club selection. We then plan to discuss it at a virtual book club meeting on the first of the month, as well as check out what our next read will be in the Featured Title section of your page.

We're looking forward to reading your book!

Does anyone on this discussion board ever talk about the book itself? I can't find any discussion of it.



Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 01-15-2008 08:13 AM



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Everyman
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

I made a post over in the Community Room on " Flushing Free Speech further down the drain" which might -- or then, might not -- be of interest to some here. Seemed more appropriate there than here since it's based on my views, not Ilana's, but maybe it's a subject some would find worth discussing.

Or not.

Being modest and shy, I don't want to presume.
_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Sunltcloud
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

Everyman,
it doesn't happen very often, but it happened today - I left this board and went over to the Community room to take a look at your post. Can't argue with it. You are absolutely right. Flushed down the drain. Don't be shy.
 
As for the Reverend's comments, I want to make a comment here. I, a white woman, was married to an African American man for ten years and have seen racism on and from both sides. I came to the conclusion that family gatherings are very different from "politically correct" public gatherings. In both races. It is my belief that, as a society, by becoming politically correct we have sent many sentiments underground. It remains to be seen if, in the long run, it was a wise course of action.
 
If the Reverend's words were read in a normal voice and not preached in a loud and threatening manner, they would say: Obama has experienced blackness and Clinton has not. That's how I see it.
 
Just my opinion. I know that this is not the place to debate racial issues and I am sorry if I have offended anybody or if I have used this board for something other than what it is intended for. The issue is "free speech" and I have, instead, voiced an opinion and "spoken freely."
Gisela
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KathyS
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Free Speech

[ Edited ]
Gisela, you haven't said anything that would cause me to feel offended.  This board, as I see it, is what free speech is all about. You have every right to say what you feel about this situation.   It certainly is the 'topic of the day'.   And the more it's talked about, maybe then there will be some understanding come from it.
 
As you've said, it is not a place for debate, but it certainly is a place to discuss  your true feelings without taking it to extreme hurtfulness.  Which I know you would never do.  You always give a perspective I've enjoyed reading - both intelligent, and informative [and beautiful].  I haven't read Everyman's comments in the Com. Rm....but please discuss it here, for me?  I am interested in reading both you and Everyman's [and everyone's] comments.
 
Thank you for thoughtful contributions.
 
Kathy S.


Message Edited by KathyS on 03-18-2008 10:55 PM
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Choisya
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

I am also a white woman who  was married (for 20 years) to an Afro-Caribbean. I experienced very little racism within my own family or his but quite a lot in the public arena.  I have been spat upon many times and we were frequently pushed off the pavement when walking together.  I did not experience this In the Caribbean (Lesser Antilles). However, I was married in 1978 and things had improved by the time my husband died 20 years later.
 
As to free speech, I do not think it is acceptable to use hurtful words or phrases about any person in the name of 'freedom'. I think we have a duty to consider how our words may affect others and to speak/write accordingly. In the UK we have different attitudes and laws about this - freedom of speech is not given carte blanche and you can be sued for libel or slander if you transgress.  I thought the Rev Wright's speech was very undiplomatic and that he should have considered his words, and perhaps the way in which he delivered them, more carefully. Other speakers have said the same things without causing so much offence         

Sunltcloud wrote:
Everyman,
it doesn't happen very often, but it happened today - I left this board and went over to the Community room to take a look at your post. Can't argue with it. You are absolutely right. Flushed down the drain. Don't be shy.
 
As for the Reverend's comments, I want to make a comment here. I, a white woman, was married to an African American man for ten years and have seen racism on and from both sides. I came to the conclusion that family gatherings are very different from "politically correct" public gatherings. In both races. It is my belief that, as a society, by becoming politically correct we have sent many sentiments underground. It remains to be seen if, in the long run, it was a wise course of action.
 
If the Reverend's words were read in a normal voice and not preached in a loud and threatening manner, they would say: Obama has experienced blackness and Clinton has not. That's how I see it.
 
Just my opinion. I know that this is not the place to debate racial issues and I am sorry if I have offended anybody or if I have used this board for something other than what it is intended for. The issue is "free speech" and I have, instead, voiced an opinion and "spoken freely."
Gisela



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Everyman
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

I do not disagree with you, Choisya, about the virtue of self-censorship of hurtful speech. Nor of the disavowment of some speech, as long as that disavowment does not extend to trying to prohibit the right to make the speech.

Where we perhaps differ is in using the power of the state -- police, prosecutors, judges, courts, fines, prisons, and ultimately, as Mao pointed out (and as we are seeing today in Tibet), the power of the gun -- to decide what speech will be legally punished and what will not.

This is not to say, of course, that some speech cannot be made unlawful -- fraud, libel, yelling Fire in a crowded theater, telling the passengers on a plane "I have a bomb" can obviously be limited. But we are not talking about that sort of speech here, but about speech which is not a part of a criminal act, but is condemned merely because it is offensive to some person or persons. As you say, "hurtful words and phrases."

The phrase "Free Tibet" is considered hurtful by many Chinese. Should your government ban the phrase in Britain to avoid hurting the feelings of these Chinese?

I think giving to the government the power to threaten to (or actually to) put me in prison for uttering words the government considers hurtful to another person's feelings is much more dangerous than any harm which such speech may do.

But then, I recognize that Europeans and Americans have quite different attitudes toward the willingness to let government tell people how to live their lives. This is perhaps an example of that difference.


Choisya wrote:
I am also a white woman who was married (for 20 years) to an Afro-Caribbean. I experienced very little racism within my own family or his but quite a lot in the public arena. I have been spat upon many times and we were frequently pushed off the pavement when walking together. I did not experience this In the Caribbean (Lesser Antilles). However, I was married in 1978 and things had improved by the time my husband died 20 years later.
As to free speech, I do not think it is acceptable to use hurtful words or phrases about any person in the name of 'freedom'. I think we have a duty to consider how our words may affect others and to speak/write accordingly. In the UK we have different attitudes and laws about this - freedom of speech is not given carte blanche and you can be sued for libel or slander if you transgress. I thought the Rev Wright's speech was very undiplomatic and that he should have considered his words, and perhaps the way in which he delivered them, more carefully. Other speakers have said the same things without causing so much offence

Sunltcloud wrote:
Everyman,
it doesn't happen very often, but it happened today - I left this board and went over to the Community room to take a look at your post. Can't argue with it. You are absolutely right. Flushed down the drain. Don't be shy.
As for the Reverend's comments, I want to make a comment here. I, a white woman, was married to an African American man for ten years and have seen racism on and from both sides. I came to the conclusion that family gatherings are very different from "politically correct" public gatherings. In both races. It is my belief that, as a society, by becoming politically correct we have sent many sentiments underground. It remains to be seen if, in the long run, it was a wise course of action.
If the Reverend's words were read in a normal voice and not preached in a loud and threatening manner, they would say: Obama has experienced blackness and Clinton has not. That's how I see it.
Just my opinion. I know that this is not the place to debate racial issues and I am sorry if I have offended anybody or if I have used this board for something other than what it is intended for. The issue is "free speech" and I have, instead, voiced an opinion and "spoken freely."
Gisela






_______________
I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
Frequent Contributor
Fiction4Sale
Posts: 125
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

Free speech in life and literature makes a wide open volatile topic, here in the land of the free and elsewhere. Generally as a fiction writer I don't expect to have a fatwah (death sentence) brought down on my head, but you have only to remember the miserable attack on Salman Rushdie's fiction almost twenty years ago. And this threat continues on an informal basis to today. I've had family and friends warn me not to write about Islam or anything really controversial or inflammatory...Stay away from sex, politics and religion. Some whack job may appear on your doorstep one day and do just that: whack you!
Okay, so what's left to upset people...stupid pets, favorite books, driving habits (road rage), money...pillow talk? Fact is really if we pretend to  have freedom of speech we have to have a very broad interpretation of this or else we're running around in fear. We don't even want to think privately about such controversial topics. Minorities who have been the subject of genocidal abuse are probably still angry despite concessions made in just the past generation. America has a long history of genocidal activity. We're currently an empire operating around the globe intruding where we want, when we want and in what manner. It's not surprising we have enemies in the world. What's really surprising in some ways is just how few attacks have been made against this society. What's saved America in the past was just how far away physically some of these enemies are. But that's not the case now with air travel and a determined, technically educated small band of attackers. The safest path toward peace in the world is open discussion. The more we can air out the differences of opinions, the more we can agree to disagree, the greater will the be tolerance and respect offered to each other. I think that applies in life and in literature and here in our bulletin board opinions. Take a deep breath of free speech air, exhale slowly.
Jim Stallings: (Peruse published fiction ):
http://www.jimstallings.com

All books available through B&N also.
"Literature is humanity's deep gossip."
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KathyS
Posts: 6,893
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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The Freedom to say what we feel

[ Edited ]
Amen, Jim, and to everyone, for this discussion - contributions without condemnation. 
 
There are certain words which set people off, and whether we are married to, or have relatives, or relations, or relationships, with minorities, or majorities, we live in a world that has to recognize not only the differences between us, but the similarities...we are all humans, wanting to live in some sort of reasonable world, with tolerance.  The unfortunate thing is, not everyone is reasonable, or rash, or thinks the same way that we would like them to, to reflect our own thoughts.
 
When I, personally, heard the excerpts of these speeches by both of these presidential candidates, I had to know what prompted it.  I heard the *highlights* of the reverend's sermon.  It did take my breath away...the forcefulness of it, alone, was enough to set me back on my heals.  It didn't matter what his race.  I don't tolerate being *spoken to, or sermonized to*, no matter the words which are used, when given with such force.  I criticize first, and ask questions later.  But taking anything out of context, as the media tends to do, colors the thoughts that are behind these words. 
 
No American wants to hear anyone *damn* our country...or use words which we know will cause strife -  It inflames the senses; it causes me, for one, to want to say...what was this man thinking?  I see what he was thinking, now. 
 
It's all in the way some words are presented to us.  How does it give back to us some intelligent understanding of what that person is trying to convey to the *world at large*, to me?  I think this is the key issue with any discussion, or debate, it's all in how these thoughts [through words] are presented to us. 
 
It may seem *buttery*, or *soft*, to some people, to pick and choose words, instead of saying it outright, and with force, but sometimes it's in the understanding of others feelings, before we *blurt out* these thoughts, that makes the difference in the long run as to how well these words come across, and are accepted.  I'm as guilty as the next person in offending people with my words.  I admit this.  But I hope we do learn from these talks and discussions, as well as from these presidential candidates.  I hope we can apply them to our own lives.
 
It's an unusual time for our country, right now.  It's a good time.  It's a real time.  It's *about* time!
 
Kathy




Message Edited by KathyS on 03-19-2008 07:53 PM
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Sunltcloud
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Frantz Fanon

Going back to "Literature and Life" perhaps some older black men have not forgotten the battles of the last century and address modernity with old wounds festering below the surface. Perhaps they act out their memories in churches, because God's house is supposed to be a safe house. And while I don't like sermons, don't approve of violence, don't like speeches that incite violence, I have a soft spot for Jeremiah Wright, the pastor. Maybe because I read Frantz Fanon and many black writers in the sixties and seventies. Maybe because I listened to my father-in-law describe his early life. Maybe because I think that it is almost impossible to close doors on the past without keeping some of the the anger festering inside. And when the doors open to a new world....can a tumultous intermingling of now and then really be avoided?
 

Frantz Fanon (1925 – 1961) “Black Skin, White Masks” excerpt:

The black man among his own in the twentieth century does not know at what moment his inferiority comes into being through the other. Of course I have talked about the black problem with friends, or, more rarely, with American Negroes. Together we protested, we asserted the equality of all men in the world. In the Antilles there was also that little gulf that exists among the almost-white. The mulatto, and the n…r. But I was satisfied with an intellectual understanding of these differences. It was not really dramatic. And then…

 And then the occasion arose when I had to meet the white man’s eyes. An unfamiliar weight burdened me. The real world challenged my claims. In the white world the man of color encounters difficulties in the development of his bodily schema. Consciousness of the body is solely a negating activity. It is a third-person consciousness. The body is surrounded by an atmosphere of certain uncertainty. I know that if I want to smoke, I shall have to reach out my right arm and take the pack of cigarettes lying at the other end of the table. The matches, however, are in the drawer on the left, and I shall have to lean back slightly. And all these movements are made not out of habit but out of implicit knowledge. A slow composition of my self as a body in the middle of a spatial and temporal world – such seems to be the schema. It does not impose itself on me; it is, rather, a definitive structuring of the self and of the world – definitive because it creates a real dialectic between my body and the world.

………………

On that day, completely dislocated, unable to be abroad with the other, the white man, who unmercifully imprisoned me, I took myself far off from my own presence, far indeed, and made myself an object. What else could it be for me but an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage that spattered my whole body with black blood? Bit I did not want this revision, this thematization. All I wanted was to be a man among other men. I wanted to come lithe and young into a world that was ours and to help to build it together.

But I rejected all immunization of the emotions. I wanted to be a man, nothing but a man. Some identified me with ancestors of mine who had been enslaved or lynched: I decided to accept this. It was on the universal level of the intellect that I understood this inner kinship – I was the grandson of slaves in exactly the same way in which President Lebrun was the grandson of tax-paying, hard-working peasants. In the main, the panic soon vanished.

In America, Negroes are segregated. In South America, Negroes are whipped in the streets, and Negro strikers are cut down by machine-guns. In West Africa, the Negro is an animal. And there beside me, my neighbor in the university, who was born in Algeria, told me: “As long as the Arab is treated like a man, no solution is possible.”

“Understand, my dear boy, color prejudice is something I find utterly foreign…But of course, come in, sir, there is no color prejudice among us…Quite, the Negro is a man like ourselves…It is not because he is black that he is less intelligent than we are…I had a Senegalese buddy in the army who was really clever…”

Where am I to be classified? Or, if you prefer, tucked away?

“A Martinican, a native of ‘our’ old colonies.”

Where shall I hide?

“Look at the n…r!…Mama, a Negro!…Hell, he’s getting mad…Take no notice, sir, he does not know that you are as civilized as we…”

My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly; look, a n…r, it’s cold, the n…r is shivering because he is cold, the little boy is trembling because he is afraid of the **bleep**, the **bleep** is shivering, with cold, that cold that goes through your bones, the handsome little boy is trembling because he thinks that the **bleep** is quivering with rage, the little white boy throws himself into this mother’s arms: Mama, the n…r’s going to eat me up.

 

 

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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Free Speech

Thank you, KathyS!


KathyS wrote:
Gisela, you haven't said anything that would cause me to feel offended.  This board, as I see it, is what free speech is all about. You have every right to say what you feel about this situation.   It certainly is the 'topic of the day'.   And the more it's talked about, maybe then there will be some understanding come from it.
 
As you've said, it is not a place for debate, but it certainly is a place to discuss  your true feelings without taking it to extreme hurtfulness.  Which I know you would never do.  You always give a perspective I've enjoyed reading - both intelligent, and informative [and beautiful].  I haven't read Everyman's comments in the Com. Rm....but please discuss it here, for me?  I am interested in reading both you and Everyman's [and everyone's] comments.
 
Thank you for thoughtful contributions.
 
Kathy S.


Message Edited by KathyS on 03-18-2008 10:55 PM


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Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: Frantz Fanon

Yes, with memories of the atrocities like those of the Ku Klux Klan festering in their minds it must be difficult for those affected to put such things behind them.  With over 3,500 lynchings of Afro-Americans having taken place  between 1870 and 1951 (plus 1,500+ white people) there must still be folks alive who have very bitter memories.  How can anyone forget scenes like these for instance:smileysad::smileysad::-
 
 
I still think the pastor has a duty not to use inflammatory language though. 

Sunltcloud wrote:
Going back to "Literature and Life" perhaps some older black men have not forgotten the battles of the last century and address modernity with old wounds festering below the surface. Perhaps they act out their memories in churches, because God's house is supposed to be a safe house. And while I don't like sermons, don't approve of violence, don't like speeches that incite violence, I have a soft spot for Jeremiah Wright, the pastor. Maybe because I read Frantz Fanon and many black writers in the sixties and seventies. Maybe because I listened to my father-in-law describe his early life. Maybe because I think that it is almost impossible to close doors on the past without keeping some of the the anger festering inside. And when the doors open to a new world....can a tumultous intermingling of now and then really be avoided?
 

Frantz Fanon (1925 – 1961) “Black Skin, White Masks” excerpt:

The black man among his own in the twentieth century does not know at what moment his inferiority comes into being through the other. Of course I have talked about the black problem with friends, or, more rarely, with American Negroes. Together we protested, we asserted the equality of all men in the world. In the Antilles there was also that little gulf that exists among the almost-white. The mulatto, and the n…r. But I was satisfied with an intellectual understanding of these differences. It was not really dramatic. And then…

 And then the occasion arose when I had to meet the white man’s eyes. An unfamiliar weight burdened me. The real world challenged my claims. In the white world the man of color encounters difficulties in the development of his bodily schema. Consciousness of the body is solely a negating activity. It is a third-person consciousness. The body is surrounded by an atmosphere of certain uncertainty. I know that if I want to smoke, I shall have to reach out my right arm and take the pack of cigarettes lying at the other end of the table. The matches, however, are in the drawer on the left, and I shall have to lean back slightly. And all these movements are made not out of habit but out of implicit knowledge. A slow composition of my self as a body in the middle of a spatial and temporal world – such seems to be the schema. It does not impose itself on me; it is, rather, a definitive structuring of the self and of the world – definitive because it creates a real dialectic between my body and the world.

………………

On that day, completely dislocated, unable to be abroad with the other, the white man, who unmercifully imprisoned me, I took myself far off from my own presence, far indeed, and made myself an object. What else could it be for me but an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage that spattered my whole body with black blood? Bit I did not want this revision, this thematization. All I wanted was to be a man among other men. I wanted to come lithe and young into a world that was ours and to help to build it together.

But I rejected all immunization of the emotions. I wanted to be a man, nothing but a man. Some identified me with ancestors of mine who had been enslaved or lynched: I decided to accept this. It was on the universal level of the intellect that I understood this inner kinship – I was the grandson of slaves in exactly the same way in which President Lebrun was the grandson of tax-paying, hard-working peasants. In the main, the panic soon vanished.

In America, Negroes are segregated. In South America, Negroes are whipped in the streets, and Negro strikers are cut down by machine-guns. In West Africa, the Negro is an animal. And there beside me, my neighbor in the university, who was born in Algeria, told me: “As long as the Arab is treated like a man, no solution is possible.”

“Understand, my dear boy, color prejudice is something I find utterly foreign…But of course, come in, sir, there is no color prejudice among us…Quite, the Negro is a man like ourselves…It is not because he is black that he is less intelligent than we are…I had a Senegalese buddy in the army who was really clever…”

Where am I to be classified? Or, if you prefer, tucked away?

“A Martinican, a native of ‘our’ old colonies.”

Where shall I hide?

“Look at the n…r!…Mama, a Negro!…Hell, he’s getting mad…Take no notice, sir, he does not know that you are as civilized as we…”

My body was given back to me sprawled out, distorted, recolored, clad in mourning in that white winter day. The Negro is an animal, the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly; look, a n…r, it’s cold, the n…r is shivering because he is cold, the little boy is trembling because he is afraid of the **bleep**, the **bleep** is shivering, with cold, that cold that goes through your bones, the handsome little boy is trembling because he thinks that the **bleep** is quivering with rage, the little white boy throws himself into this mother’s arms: Mama, the n…r’s going to eat me up.

 

 




Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

[ Edited ]
Some very wise sentiments here Jim - thanks!  On these boards I think most folks carefully edit their opinions so as not to offend because we know that we are addressing an unseen world audience. What we say in the privacy or our own home or amongst friends about not liking this race or that, this religion or that, this sex or that is different to what should be said in public IMO. Controversial opinions are best phrased as carefully and as kindly as possible.  Only in that way will our hard won right of free speech make headway in the world at large.  I am a member of the Fabian Society which is named after the Emporer Fabius a successful Roman general famed for his strategy of 'gradualism'. 'Softly softly catchee monkey' is another phrase which comes to mind - shouting the odds, using inflammatory speech etc. does not, as Dale Carnegie famously said, 'win friends and influence people'.    The Pastor being criticised is, I believe, a friend of Barack Obama and wishes to promote his cause but his 'free' speech has not achieved that.  I would not call for his speech to be censored but maybe an apology is warrranted so that he thinks twice about the way to express his controversial opinions in future?       

Fiction4Sale wrote:
Free speech in life and literature makes a wide open volatile topic, here in the land of the free and elsewhere. Generally as a fiction writer I don't expect to have a fatwah (death sentence) brought down on my head, but you have only to remember the miserable attack on Salman Rushdie's fiction almost twenty years ago. And this threat continues on an informal basis to today. I've had family and friends warn me not to write about Islam or anything really controversial or inflammatory...Stay away from sex, politics and religion. Some whack job may appear on your doorstep one day and do just that: whack you!
Okay, so what's left to upset people...stupid pets, favorite books, driving habits (road rage), money...pillow talk? Fact is really if we pretend to  have freedom of speech we have to have a very broad interpretation of this or else we're running around in fear. We don't even want to think privately about such controversial topics. Minorities who have been the subject of genocidal abuse are probably still angry despite concessions made in just the past generation. America has a long history of genocidal activity. We're currently an empire operating around the globe intruding where we want, when we want and in what manner. It's not surprising we have enemies in the world. What's really surprising in some ways is just how few attacks have been made against this society. What's saved America in the past was just how far away physically some of these enemies are. But that's not the case now with air travel and a determined, technically educated small band of attackers. The safest path toward peace in the world is open discussion. The more we can air out the differences of opinions, the more we can agree to disagree, the greater will the be tolerance and respect offered to each other. I think that applies in life and in literature and here in our bulletin board opinions. Take a deep breath of free speech air, exhale slowly.





Message Edited by Choisya on 03-20-2008 03:09 PM
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
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Re: The Freedom to say what we feel

A good, thoughtful and kind post KathyS - thanks!

KathyS wrote:
Amen, Jim, and to everyone, for this discussion - contributions without condemnation. 
 
There are certain words which set people off, and whether we are married to, or have relatives, or relations, or relationships, with minorities, or majorities, we live in a world that has to recognize not only the differences between us, but the similarities...we are all humans, wanting to live in some sort of reasonable world, with tolerance.  The unfortunate thing is, not everyone is reasonable, or rash, or thinks the same way that we would like them to, to reflect our own thoughts.
 
When I, personally, heard the excerpts of these speeches by both of these presidential candidates, I had to know what prompted it.  I heard the *highlights* of the reverend's sermon.  It did take my breath away...the forcefulness of it, alone, was enough to set me back on my heals.  It didn't matter what his race.  I don't tolerate being *spoken to, or sermonized to*, no matter the words which are used, when given with such force.  I criticize first, and ask questions later.  But taking anything out of context, as the media tends to do, colors the thoughts that are behind these words. 
 
No American wants to hear anyone *damn* our country...or use words which we know will cause strife -  It inflames the senses; it causes me, for one, to want to say...what was this man thinking?  I see what he was thinking, now. 
 
It's all in the way some words are presented to us.  How does it give back to us some intelligent understanding of what that person is trying to convey to the *world at large*, to me?  I think this is the key issue with any discussion, or debate, it's all in how these thoughts [through words] are presented to us. 
 
It may seem *buttery*, or *soft*, to some people, to pick and choose words, instead of saying it outright, and with force, but sometimes it's in the understanding of others feelings, before we *blurt out* these thoughts, that makes the difference in the long run as to how well these words come across, and are accepted.  I'm as guilty as the next person in offending people with my words.  I admit this.  But I hope we do learn from these talks and discussions, as well as from these presidential candidates.  I hope we can apply them to our own lives.
 
It's an unusual time for our country, right now.  It's a good time.  It's a real time.  It's *about* time!
 
Kathy




Message Edited by KathyS on 03-19-2008 07:53 PM


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Choisya
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Registered: ‎10-26-2006
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Re: A Welcome from Ilana

[ Edited ]
No reasonable person, including myself, would condone what is happening in Tibet at the end of a gun.  I don't believe in arming police or anyone at all!  I doubt that the words 'Free Tibet' 'hurt' anyone in China but they are controversial in a political sense, especially in a country which has suppressed protest for decades. I seem to remember police being pretty rough on both sides of the Atlantic when many of us were shouting 'Get out of Vietnam'.   Being at the end of a policeman on a horse wielding a baton felt like being at the end of a gun! Tibet has nothing to do with freedom of speech, it is to do with the abuse of political power in the face of militant protest.
 
It has been my experience (and I was at the receiving end during my second marriage) that our laws against racial and sexual discrimination have made people think twice about what they say in public.  I would be less likely to be spat upon or verbally abused if I walked down the street with my late husband now than I would have been before their enactment.   I think UK homosexuals would say the same.  Governments are there to guide people and laws such as ours can be a 'warning shot across the bows' when things get out of kilter.  Once we were free to drive on either side of the road.  I believe that spitting in public was freely done in America (it certainly caused Dickens distress!).  People were free to defacate in the street and to throw urine out of their windows.  Men were once free to physically abuse their wives.  Fortunately all of these things have now been changed by various pieces of legislation both sides of the Atlantic.  I think it should be the same with verbal abuse, that's all.  In the time when Henry Fielding was writing public language and behaviour was obscene and often abusive but by the time Jane Austen came along Beau Nash had made an impression on the manners of society in Bath which began to affect the rest of the country. Beau Nash and Queen Victoria and some helpful laws helped to transform Britain into a polite society though alas! I fear that is changing:smileysad:.
 
The times they do change.  Words which were uttered in small drawing rooms or in villages now travel all around the world in a micro-second and can offend more than our great-aunts - they can cause diplomatic incidents which could start wars or inflame terrorists. With freedom comes responsibility - we should be circumspect in our use of free speech and if we are not then IMO our governments have a duty to send a warning shot across our bows:smileyhappy:.   

Everyman wrote:
I do not disagree with you, Choisya, about the virtue of self-censorship of hurtful speech. Nor of the disavowment of some speech, as long as that disavowment does not extend to trying to prohibit the right to make the speech.

Where we perhaps differ is in using the power of the state -- police, prosecutors, judges, courts, fines, prisons, and ultimately, as Mao pointed out (and as we are seeing today in Tibet), the power of the gun -- to decide what speech will be legally punished and what will not.

This is not to say, of course, that some speech cannot be made unlawful -- fraud, libel, yelling Fire in a crowded theater, telling the passengers on a plane "I have a bomb" can obviously be limited. But we are not talking about that sort of speech here, but about speech which is not a part of a criminal act, but is condemned merely because it is offensive to some person or persons. As you say, "hurtful words and phrases."

The phrase "Free Tibet" is considered hurtful by many Chinese. Should your government ban the phrase in Britain to avoid hurting the feelings of these Chinese?

I think giving to the government the power to threaten to (or actually to) put me in prison for uttering words the government considers hurtful to another person's feelings is much more dangerous than any harm which such speech may do.

But then, I recognize that Europeans and Americans have quite different attitudes toward the willingness to let government tell people how to live their lives. This is perhaps an example of that difference.


Choisya wrote:
I am also a white woman who was married (for 20 years) to an Afro-Caribbean. I experienced very little racism within my own family or his but quite a lot in the public arena. I have been spat upon many times and we were frequently pushed off the pavement when walking together. I did not experience this In the Caribbean (Lesser Antilles). However, I was married in 1978 and things had improved by the time my husband died 20 years later.
As to free speech, I do not think it is acceptable to use hurtful words or phrases about any person in the name of 'freedom'. I think we have a duty to consider how our words may affect others and to speak/write accordingly. In the UK we have different attitudes and laws about this - freedom of speech is not given carte blanche and you can be sued for libel or slander if you transgress. I thought the Rev Wright's speech was very undiplomatic and that he should have considered his words, and perhaps the way in which he delivered them, more carefully. Other speakers have said the same things without causing so much offence

Sunltcloud wrote:
Everyman,
it doesn't happen very often, but it happened today - I left this board and went over to the Community room to take a look at your post. Can't argue with it. You are absolutely right. Flushed down the drain. Don't be shy.
As for the Reverend's comments, I want to make a comment here. I, a white woman, was married to an African American man for ten years and have seen racism on and from both sides. I came to the conclusion that family gatherings are very different from "politically correct" public gatherings. In both races. It is my belief that, as a society, by becoming politically correct we have sent many sentiments underground. It remains to be seen if, in the long run, it was a wise course of action.
If the Reverend's words were read in a normal voice and not preached in a loud and threatening manner, they would say: Obama has experienced blackness and Clinton has not. That's how I see it.
Just my opinion. I know that this is not the place to debate racial issues and I am sorry if I have offended anybody or if I have used this board for something other than what it is intended for. The issue is "free speech" and I have, instead, voiced an opinion and "spoken freely."
Gisela











Message Edited by Choisya on 03-20-2008 04:06 PM