Note from the Editor

Daniel Okrent, the public editor of The New York Times, assures the readers of the august paper that its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fair, neutral and balanced...and, by all means, it is not anti-Semitic. Wow, one breathes easier! Next, Mr. Okrent will swear by the independence of Judith Miller's reporting in Iraq... Iraq? Iraq? What's that? With the shy and funny BXVI installed in the Vatican, who needs Iraq in the news? Would Mohammed Ben Jelloun's thoughtful and creative solution to the current Iraq disintegration, based on patriotic consociationalism and the full withdrawal of occupation forces, see the light of day in the pages of the Gray Lady? Not a bit of chance, notwithstanding Mr. Okrent's perorations on the fairness of his employer. Yet, people in the region are quite capable of devising their own independent future. Ben Jelloun's paper deserves wide dissemination...and bring the troops home!

Back in Americana, Phil Rockstroh ponders our gradual acceptance of proto-fascist tendencies; our acceptance of being observed and controlled in an empire where "the harsher the economic consequences are for the laboring classes to risk defiance the more obedient we will grow." More money for the military; less for health care, education and all social services (except the "faith-based" ones!); and we keep traveling the path of barbarity like obedient lemmings. Milo Clark continues his questioning on whether this barbarity is genetic or cultural. While in Cuba the minimum wage was just doubled, in the U.S. social decline carries on unabated -- with, among many consequences, its direct impact on film and culture, which John Steppling and David Walsh discuss in the conclusion of their insightful conversation. Richard Macintosh reflects on the need to plant seeds in peoples' minds to, in Gandhi's words, "be the change that you want to see in the world..." Change, however, won't come about through the recurring ad hominem attacks on Israel's critics, as explained by Philip Greenspan. Nor will change be made by stay-the-course-in-Iraq Howard Dean, to whom Michael DeLang recently wrote, asking him to bury the already dead Democratic Party to allow for an opposition party. Wanna place a bet?

In the culture corner, we have Shakespeare aficionado and scholar Charles Marowitz's review of Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt; a tale from the not-so-glamorous side of Hollywood by Joe Davison; Gerard Donnelly Smith's poem for the petty bourgeois; stories in contrast and other Virgin Mary tales in the blips; and, we close, as always, with your letters.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


Middle East

Mohammed Ben Jelloun:  What's Consociational Patriotism?

Consociational patriotism is national power-sharing and national self-determination, simultaneously. In the case of Iraq, it is partly premised on a timetable for US evacuation with international guarantees for the withdrawal of all forms of foreign presence and partly premised on a politics of national unity and power-sharing for major, ethnic and confessional, communities in the country. It is premised on patriotic reconciliation between Kurds and Arabs in the first place.   More...


America: Myths and Realities

Phil Rockstroh:  Of UberCulture And The River

How did it all get away from us?   More...


Milo Clark:  Cholera: Again, Genetic Or Cultural?

Cholera is preventable with minimal sanitation facilities and rudimentary medical services. Control vectors (rats and fleas), provide safe water, protect water table, isolate and process sewage. Minimally sanitary facilities, isolation wards, fluid replacement, dysentery control and such will minimize suffering of the afflicted and maximize survival probabilities.   More...


Arts & Culture

John Steppling & David Walsh:  The Art And Politics Of Film -- Part III

[ed. Conclusion of this three-part series. See Part I and Part II.]

John, I'll be briefer this time too. It is impossible to leave the question of religion without citing the beautiful and truthful passages of Marx from 1844 (from Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right):   More...


Patterns Which Connect

Richard Macintosh:   Making Meaning

In a time where outrageous behavior both by individuals and the political class seem to overwhelm thoughtful people it is time to pause and reflect, but also to ask what can be done.   More...


Philip Greenspan:  Deliberate Misstatements Of Anti-Semitism Are Counterproductive

The possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the bitter confrontations over the evacuation of the settlers from Gaza are among the current Israeli news stories generating headlines. Meanwhile, claims of anti-Semitism simmer on the back burner.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book

Charles Marowitz:  Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World

Stephen Greenblatt's extended flight-of-fancy entitled Will in the World appears to have roiled many of his scholarly colleagues in the Shakespeare community.   More...


Short Story

Joe Davison:  Days Of Decay In LA-LA Land

So, yes, my daily routine consisted of getting up around seven, doing my thing in the bathroom, eating a quick breakfast, then going straight to the computer to start work (or what I liked to call work).   More...


Activism under the Radar Screen

Michael DeLang:  Open Letter to Howard Dean

Dear Dr. Dean, as Chairman for the Democratic National Committee, you are, logically, the least likely person in the country to whom I should be addressing an appeal soliciting help in carrying out my project. The sole objective of this project, you see, is the total destruction and elimination of the Democratic Party.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Escape From The Petty Bourgeois Lifestyle

Leave this messy house behind:
the arguments piled up like dirty dishes,
the denials hidden like dust bunnies,
beneath the polished floors of our daily routine.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #17

"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again."
—André Gide, Le Traité du Narcisse, 1891.

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: from the tragedies of poverty to the obscenities of wealth; the Virgin Mary in Chicago and the swallows in Boonville; and a few tidbits about Pope Rat in between.   More...


Letters to the Editor


John Steppling's idiosyncratic insights; smelling a rat and puking on a bush; more on George Kennan's infamous "quotation"; critics from South Africa to Argentina; and an impatient fan of David Walsh.   More...



– If you wish to receive an e-mail regarding each new rendition (twice a month) with the Note from the Editor and the URL to each article, please send an e-mail with "Subscribe Swans" in the subject line. Please also include your first/last name in the body of the message.



« Previous | Current Issue | Next »


Created: May 2, 2005