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A philosophical, reflective, show this week mixing analysis, poetry and eyewitness testimony. Author Morris Berman likens most of the US population to prisoners in Plato's Cave, nurse Cathy Breen describes her experience of traveling to Iraq just before the US started bombing in 2003, and Peter Dale Scott discusses and reads his poetry on a lifetime's struggle to resist war.
Thanks to Ibraheem for pointing me to the Morris Berman speech. Thanks to Talkingstick TV's Mike McCormick for conducting the Cathy Breen interview.
This show is dedicated to Susan Upton, who taught me the most important lessons I ever learned.
We show the start this week with an arresting keynote speech by Morris Berman. He titles his speech "In Praise of Shadows" after a 1933 essay on Japanese aesthetics by the Japanese author and novelist Jun'ichirō Tanizaki which contrasts Asian with Western thinking - something of an echo of Gish Jen's thoughts as expressed in episode 655. Berman speaks on the hollowness of modern life, describing USA as an experiment in what happens when people are systematically deprived of what they need, given consumer items instead of relationships, encouraged to work for extrinsic rather than intrinsic rewards. How does it feel to live in a country which in its fight against terrorism has a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who, if the New York Times is to be believed, personally selects 1/3 of the targets for assassination?
"Hardcopy, press and television is largely worthless. They are not telling you what is going on. The function of the New York Times is to make a professional middle class comfortable and feel that everything is OK. It's not "All the news that's fit to print", it's "All the news that fits our views". That's the true motto of the New York Times." — Morris Berman
In the Q & A session after Berman's talk, he is asked how he thinks that the transition to a saner way of living will take place. His reply is that his study of history informs him that "the midwife is always force. When you have no choice, that's when you do something different". Berman is not optimistic about the possibilities for fast change directed by the younger generation. Noting that as Nicholas Carr pointed out in episode 514, modern technologies and the fragmentation of modern society have left the young generation basically dysfunctional and incapable of offering.
Next we hear an interview with nurse Cathy Breen from Voices For Creative Non-violence about 10 years of war on Iraq. She who went there before the US attack and found a great depth of understanding by the Iraqi people that the Bush regime was engaged in war crimes against the will of American people. This changed, she reports, after the re-election of President Bush.
We conclude with Peter Dale Scott reading from his recent book of poetry, "Tilting Point". In conversation with one of his students, he reads and interprets some of the poems he has written about half a decade's experience of resistance to war.