I'll just add to this thread from time to time for the next couple of days.
Saturday: We had a considerable amount of rain last night and some thunder and lightning. There was hardly any wind. It looks as if Ana veered too close to the mountains and got messed up. It is still very hard to predict what hurricanes will do here for lack of historial information.
Here is what it looks like at 10:30 a.m.
Today we are going to the electronic waste center, the supermarket and the transfer center. Good times!
Speaking of waste: The Big Island has 40,000 cesspools. Driving along the Bay this a.m. and looking at the brown Wailuku River, and smelling the smell of sewage, I can well believe that! And yet every single candidate for Governor assured people at the debate I went to that they would not have to replace their cesspools with septic systems!
Our location means that this will all be cleansed in a few days and it will be safe for swimming, etc. but I think it means that people here are just taking that for granted. And I also think that people who can fly here and there, send their kids to private schools, drive all over the place, etc. can damn well afford decent sanitary systems in their homes. And the perpetual complainers might start demanding sewers and proper drainage and municipal garbage collection in their neighborhoods, too, instead of going on about how they don't want to pay for such improvements. It's disgraceful, and the capitulation of politicians to the situation is pitiful.
Straightforward as this seems, many people I know think it's unreasonable of me to believe that the Big Island needs these things. But our population is growing pretty fast, and we are way beyond the point where people can dispose of their various wastes as they please without seriously contaminating the environment.
Will the picture of Paradise be a disposable diaper floating in a filthy tide pool? I've seen that!
I'm not a particulary compulsive or even especially fastidious person, but I am fed up with the carelessness of some of my fellow Big Islanders.
Update. This is Ana at 9:30. She won't go away. Guess she likes Hawaii too!
But she's also not very dangerous any more, although there could be more flooding on Oahu and Kauai.
The constant state of emergency around here is definitely getting to me, and I'll be glad to be away from it all for a while on the Mainland. Family, friends, celebating Halloween: I'm looking forward to it all!
As to the eruption: It looks as if the lava is stalled, but I don't think Pahoa Town will be spared. It may take weeks or months or even years to reach the water. But it's relentless. That stuff is coming all the way up from the earth's core, and our puny efforts to deal with it are of no interest to Mother Nature.
. .. political theorists have yet to grapple with the problem of collaboration. Or of careerism, which is a related topic. One day, when I’m in my dotage, I’d like to write a book, a kind of political theory of careerism and collaboration. Arendt thought we should take our theoretical cues from actual political experience; political theory was first and foremost an attempt to understand what we are doing. That’s why she wrote books and essays on totalitarianism, revolution, action, and other political phenomena. But when it comes to careerism and collaboration, we have yet to understand what we are doing.
The movie I mentioned here, a while ago, Omar, features a character, a Palestinian, who collaborates with the Israelis. I found the ending of the movie very gratifying. It's available on streaming Netflix.
This week a majority of your Seattle City Council has decided to attend a retreat at the upscale Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum. The event is run by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and, according to former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, it's a good example of how "powerful interests use their money and influence to obtain a very high level of access to elected officials."
Event sponsors include Boeing, Alaska Airlines, Weyerhauser, and Bank of America.
And yet they are not really evil, just weak.
Here Dan Savage reacts with glee to the downfall of the Mars Hill Church minister, Mark Driscoll. [Fixed earlier wrong link.] Profanity alert. He does like to play up to his audience of presumably sexually liberated followers but this is prurient and scatological and adds to general nastiness of public discourse. [revised] The trouble in my mind is that he is too much into shocking the rubes with his graphic portrayals of things like assaultive sex and picking corn out of people's shit, using them as metaphors for the chicanery of people like Driscoll. It's offensive, to me anyway. Still, he makes good points.The comments range from sympathy to scorn where Mars Church followers are concerned.
I think we completely overlook the interplay of character and power that defines society. There are many varieties of power. I think Corey Robin would believe that I’m broadening the categories here too much. But we see careerism and collaboration everywhere.
And there is charisma and the people who are susceptible to it. Charismatics can range from romantic charmers to evil opportunists. There is the charisma of institutions, such as universities or the military or high tech corporations and their gadgets, or sports teams. These ask us to give up part of ourselves as we identify with them.
Collaborators in everyday life can be, for example, women who support dubious men without doing any direct evil deeds themselves. They can come down hard on other women as a way of currying favor with men. Careerists involve themselves in intrinsically evil enterprises with excuses such as the need to support their families or to save their own lives. Or they may become collaborators as politicians, completely capitulating to powerful corporations, as in the example above.
This interplay of character and society goes on all the time. It’s not much talked about. We prefer to divide the human race into the good people (us) and the bad people (them)
The hurricane is staying south of us. We are in the outer band as I write this at 6:30 a.m. It is very overcast and it’s raining but not dumping rain, and there is no wind.
Typepad is down for the time being, so there must be a cyberattack going on. The Internet has been iffy for several days now. This may have to be posted later.
Update: It's now 8:30 and Type Pad is in business again. It has stopped raining here and is overcast. Looking over to the southeast from my perch I see what looks like light rain, and the eruption activity is not visible. There is a light breeze from that direction that I expect will pick up strength as Ana passes by. I'll update through the weekend. The biggest impact here should be on Saturday.
Many people, both pro and con the current government and policies of Israel vis a vis the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Gaza, conflate the State of Israel with the Jewish people. It should be pretty clear for anyone interested that I do not make that mistake. So those who want to call me an anti-Semite get on my list in a big hurry. Especially people who resort to direct insults, and you know who you are. Luckily for you, it's never too late to grow up and learn a thing or two.*
The weakest argument (and really, there are no good arguments) for continued belligerence is that well, after all, everybody's doing it, so that makes it OK for Israel to do it. To smite the people they have made enemies out of and who have the nerve to retaliate. But evil is evil. Why persecute the Palestinians, I argue. Why not persecute the Germans instead, if you are killing people and destroying their stuff in the name of protecting the Jews? It wasn't the Palestinians who murdered the Jews in WW II. Now Israel is lovey-dovey with Germany! That makes no sense to me.
Hilo has an annual Walk for Palestine. I'll be phoning a few people and passing out flyers but won't be able to attend, because I'll be on the Mainland. Hope for a good turnout and that the fanatical anti-Muslim pro-Jesus guy (bet he doesn't know that there are many Palestinian Christians) and the guys carrying Israeli flags will be able to refrain from harassing the marchers. If they do, however, that could make the event newsworthy. If you are in Hilo Town, you might want to show up for this one.Yes, Palestine's a hot issue here, even as the lava flows.
Looks as if the hurricane will bypass us though, dumping a lot of rain, but we are use to rain dumps.
(You can enlarge these, as always on my blog.)
*I was reminded of that today. We are going through stuff stored in the basement. I'm reading a lot of letters I wrote that I sent to relatives and am totally embarrassed at the ones in which I did nothing but brag about my daughters. It's so gratifying that I can just send these letters to the paper shredder. Nowadays, thanks to Blogs and Facebook, etc. such writings will live forever.
I want to scale up this free-form ceramic. Photos isolate and bring into focus pieces like this, but in "real life" people don't even see them. They are not colorful and showy.
My style does not lend itself to color effects. I don't care for the shiny and smooth things that people seem to favor these days. Below is an example of what happens when I try color. There is such a proliferation now of shiny and hypercolorful stuff that maybe producing more such things is counterproductive. The low fire clays are stiffer and harder to work with, too.
I will leave the color to natural things, like the orchid below.
This orchid was here when we moved in. I relocated most of it onto a tree fern and have some other plants from the original one in in the shade house,too..
Assange is conflicted about The Intercept. It concerns him that this venture is being financed by Pierre Omidyar. That worries me, too. However, I don't know how certain journalists would be able to get information out if not for this resource.
We are due to fly out of Honolulu on Monday. At this point, it looks as if Honolulu will take a hit from Tropical storm/Hurricane Ana on Sunday. The center of the storm is predicted to stay south of the Big Island.
I wonder if they will be delaying flights out of Honolulu Airport. We don't mind hanging around there, since we can stay in the Hawaiian Airlines lounge, where we can get Wifi. And the food situation there is much better than at most airports, with reasonably priced local-style offerings. We avoid the Burger King. Fast food does not entice us.
Current predictions for Ana are of a direct hit on Kauai. I hope it's not going to be as strong as Hurricane Iniki. Actually, it resembles the 1982 Hurricane Iwa, which did a lot of damage on Oahu. The Big Island will have a lot of wind and rain on Saturday but nothing we can't handle. We are taking a few precautions: filling the gas tank, turning up refrigerators and freezers to their highest cold setting, etc. We have a few gallons of drinking water.
The problem here is the lack of historical records of storms, so predictions are much harder than they are in the case of Gulf storms. Of course what is happening here is nothing compared to the big typhoons hitting heavily populated areas in East Asia. Honolulu is a worry, though, because it is so overpopulated with a lot of drainage problems and really nowhere for people to go and the town full of tourists. Shelters can accomodate only 20% of the population, I have read. They really aren't prepared.
However, here on the Big Island, we feel as if we are getting a breather. Both mountains, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, are covered with snow. I swear I saw small pieces of hail bouncing off the tarp on our deck during the thunderstorm we had on Saturday. The lava has slowed down, which is giving people time to figure out what they are going to do. The real estate agents report that requests for housing in Hilo Town are way up.
We are in transition, revising our way of life in accord with the reality of our situation. Terry put in an extensive drainage system around our house. We have our personal little "offset" deal where we compensate for air travel and owning a condo in Seattle by consuming very little at home. Naomi Klein, once a hard-core consumer herself, makes it clear that it is the consumer patterns of people like us that are killing the planet. That is the half billion or so of us who can afford to live well.
We had a fierce thunderstorm today, and there seems to be a hurricane developing that is headed right for the Big Island and might even impact the other islands. It is forming closer to us than usual, out to sea instead of near the Mexican coast . The sea is 3-5 degrees warmer than usual, and this is fueling more storms and stronger storms. Yes, we are now getting the effects of global warming, which is destabilizing our climate. On top of that, we have the eruption, ongoing and now within a kilometer of the transfer station (the dump) in Pahoa. I don't think it is safe for anyone to be that close to the active flow, because the wind could shift and overwhelm people with toxic emissions. I was at the dentist today and the receptionist, who lives in Mountain View, a small town a few miles from the crater, said she has to close up the whole house but can't keep the smell of sulfer out, and when she goes outdoors the stinky vog is unbearable.
We are having another guest room put into our basement. Terry and Jim will be working on it. This is in order to have comfortable accomodations for our family, who are coming at Christmas, but we might be putting up other people too.
What to my wondering eyes did appear but a long piece in The Nation on Walter Kempowski, a writer who participated in the Deutsche Sommerschule am Pazifik, (German Summer School on the Pacific) which I attended for two summers in the 80's. A friend I made there, the late poet and journalist Niki Berwanger (sorely missed), hated Kempowski and looked upon him as a rank opportunist. Which he was, no doubt about it. But Kempowski had his reasons, as did so many Germans who got into bad trouble during the years of the Third Reich and after WW II as well. He was thrown into full survivor mode from a very young age.
His mission in life became to acquire assets, build a family home and archive, and cement his reputation as a great novelist. Which he is, actually. I know he will eventually have to be acknowledged as such, once the dust has settled, so to speak. At this point he is being praised for the wrong things, such as his giant project, dasEcholot, in English Sonar, which strives to re-create the German experience of the Third Reich and the war through archiving narratives of "ordinary" Germans. But his strongest work is in his family chronicles, especially the first one, the untranslated Tadelloeser & Wolff.
Kempowski was reasonably honest about himself but with a sardonic undertone, always. I don't think Kempowski was aspiring to sainthood. And after all, he was just a young person during the years of the Third Reich with little control over his circumstances. Nor do I think he damaged his family with his revelations. They were damaged enough without any help from him.
His mother, by my standards, as he depicts her in Tadelloeser & Wolff, was an awful woman who cloaked her selfishness in a rhetoric of self-sacrifice. And she never let Walter kiss her on the lips. She was a bleiche Mutter. (Pale Mother)Yes, I think she was as horrible as that. And his father, though terribly amusing, often inadvertantly, was a shouter and a bully and had crews of enslaved Russians working for him. I think of that little detail in this autobiographical novel of how the father stole art works from Belgian homes as a soldier in WW I. These were not nice people at all. They were narrow and mean and grasping. Although smart and talented, musical especially and linguistically gifted with an incredible talent for invective, they were not thinking people. This all had to be hard on a hypersensitive person like the young Walter.
There is Hannah Arendt's well known phrase, "the banality of evil," and the Kempowskis were exemplars of that. Nothing was too petty or mean to be beneath their notice, especially true of the holy martyr of the family, his mother. Kempowski at his best was saying just this. But until there is a translation of Tadelloeser & Wolff, which chronicles his difficult early years, I don't think non-German readers can make a fair assessment of his work. Nor can Germans, either, at this point. It is too embarrassing.
My next Kempowski project is to watch the 1975 television adaptation of T & W, now available on You Tube. Too bad it lacks subtitles, because I think it would be a really good way of accessing this work, better than the book itself, which is dense and full of outdated slang. It would be of general interest. But it does reveal aspects of life in Germany during the Third Reich that I'm sure many would rather not put into the foreground these days. Germans have worked very hard on their image, and this sort of stuff subverts their whitewash totally. A lot of commenters really hated it, could hardly watch it, etc. [Correction: I read a few negative reviews. Reading further, I discovered that the reviews were overwhelmingly positive.] My only objection to the TV series is that one starts to feel sympathy for the family, but they really don't deserve it. They had precious little sympathy to spare for anyone but themselves.
MORE: THE VIDEO ADAPTATION IS FANTASTIC! IT NEEDS ENGLISH SUBTITLES. LOTS OF PEOPLE WOULD BE INTERESTED IN WATCHING IT. IT SAYS MORE ABOUT THE NAZI STATE THAN 100 HISTORY BOOKS.
More more: Evidently somebody subtitled at least the first episode for a New York film festival of director Eberhard Fechner's work, but I don't know how or where to find it.
I also discovered from a comment that Kempowski is one of Angela Merkel's favorite writers.
As Brecht put it so well in Deutshland, bleiche Mutter (Germany, Pale Mother):
In deinem Hause Wird laut gebrüllt, was Lüge ist. Aber die Wahrheit Muß schweigen. Ist es so?
In your house Lies are roared aloud. But the truth Must be silent. Is it so?
That could be the epigraph for Tadelloeser & Wolff.
To be honest, I can't get into Kempowski's later stuff, like Sonar. I don't care what every German carpenter, hausfrau and sanitary worker had to say about the Third Reich and the War in this compilation, or "collective diary." Why should their opinions be of interest to me? It's OK for them, if that is what they want, I guess, but it would bore me to hear of their hardships and all the rationalizations and excuses and how they were victims too. I heard enough of that when I lived in Germany in the 70's.
Anyway, I have written some things about Kempowski. I wrote a piece as part of my Masters' thesis that I did at Reed College and a follow up piece on Tadelloeser & Wolff. In the process of re-reading T &W for the tenth time or so, I at this point think that while I had some good insights, I also "got away with it" because the book was not of much interest to anyone, just considered to be a piece of popular literature and not accessible to non-German readers. But it is a masterpiece. Right up there with Buddenbrooks and Sons and Lovers. Not like them, but equal to them. I think my first assessment is more accurate than the second one, which was an apologia because I was feeling so bad that Kempowski was terminally ill.
Niki bitterly regretted having been a committed Communist in Rumania and was especially heartbroken about the treatment of women under the Ceausescu regime. He was a petted intellectual and editor of the German language newspaper. But when he left the country on a trip, he was not allowed to return because he had published things unflattering to the regime. He was quite honest about all of this. There is a lot more to say about him. Maybe when I get some time...
I am sorry he died so young.
Laureen Nussbaum was the director of the DeutscheSommerschule for one of the sessions I attended, and she was also my advisor at Portland State. Professor Nussbaum's sister was a friend of Anne Frank. Prof. Nussbaum's family got out of Holland in a timely fashion, which was a very lucky thing. I believe there is a photo somewhere of her wedding that has Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, in it. I found this lecture she gave on You Tube. For anyone who is especially interested, it is quite good. It takes some patience to watch, of course. It's an object of serious study. She gives a vivid picture of the harrowing experiences of the Franks and her own family. Interesting to contrast that with the Kempowskis and to reflect that these two people from such different families were colleagues, although there was a lot of fractiousness. And it was fascinating for me to be around people who were still processing all this horror, which was the time of their youth. Prof. Nussbaum is a very warm and giving person and a Respektsperson, as they say in German, a person deserving of great respect. Funny how my perspective on all this keeps changing, too. I think it's important to examine the perpetrator mentality as well as the victim mentality. People choose to be perpetrators, but they do not choose to be victims. And when the perpetrator declares himself or herself to be the victim, we are on very shaky moral ground. So that's where I stand now with all this. But I am now faced with so many backed-up projects! Where, oh where, is that quiet retirement I had envisioned? Well, at least I don't have to show up for a job every day, and that is great!
This is what the eruption looks like today at 7: a.m. from Honolii Pali. It is inexorable. If predictions are correct, it will reach Pahoa in two weeks.
Still waiting for a new camera lense! I think I will put pressure on Terry today to attend to that.
From last night's candidates' debate. It was hands down the most boring debate I have ever witnessed. Overcontrolled, lots of blather, little content.
Isn't that about the lamest campaign slogan ever? He's running as an independent because he couldn't get the Democratic nomination. Come home to the middle! Punchy! He kept saying that he has experience. So what? We all have experience. That vagueness may work in Honolulu, where so many are not really paying attention to much beyond their own navels, but it's not going to do the job around here. From Candidate Ige we get his slogan repeated and repeated: Trust, Respect, Balance. Republican Iona, of course, is all for business and protecting the little guy. Ho hum. It was insulting.
Only substantive issues discussed with any degree of specificity: Bringing the Superferry to Hawaii, enlarging the harbor in Kona.
These are packaged, managed candidates. I do think Hanneman's slogan nails it. Be smug and mediocre. It's the Hawaiian way. At least for Oahu-based politicians. It was very clear that they consider Hawaii Island issues to be a minor matter and that they could just fob a lot of pre-digested campaign fodder on us. I guess they felt it was gracious of them to show up at all.
Couple of links:
My favorite philosopher, Alain de Botton, on Anna Freud, and a discussion of defense mechanisms. Great photo of Anna Freud with her father, Sigmund, which I have never seen before.
A new book, How Many Roads, by Jonathan Sa'adah about the late 60's and early 70's. Photographs and essays. I have ordered it. It has an introduction by Teju Cole. I am very hard to please on this era, having my own point of view and being persistently annoyed by pop interpretations of what to me was a vital lived through experience. Most of us on the left were ordinary, unknown people who really cared about what was happening to our country but who had little power to influence events. We were young, and our lives were full of poignancy. I cried a lot in those days. I never cry any more. Just a little teary-eyed from time to time. I could be a guy.