“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
“Don’t forget the real business of war is buying and selling. The murdering and violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death’s a stimolous to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try ‘n’ grab a piece of that Pie while they’re still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
― Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Alone
“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita; Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty, and to impress him, takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”
― J. Robert Oppenheimer
Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.
Today’s story, for day 19 – The Pomegranate by Kawabata Yasunari
Read it online here:
The Pomegranate by Kawabata Yasunari
Two weeks or so before, her seven-year-old nephew had come visiting, and had noticed the pomegranates immediately. He had scrambled up into the tree. Kimiko had felt that she was in the presence of life.
“There is a big one up above,” she called from the veranda.
“But if I pick it I can’t get back down.”
It was true. To climb down with pomegranates in both hands would not be easy. Kimiko smiled. He was a dear.
—-Kawabata Yasunari, The Pomegranate
Today’s delicate short story is by Kawabata Yasunari, the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. He wrote several acclaimed novels, including Snow Country and the semi-fictional The Master of Go. But he was also known for his very short works, which he called “palm-of-the-hand” stories.
In Zen there is no worship of images. Zen does have images, but in the hall where the regimen of meditation is pursued, there are neither images nor pictures of Buddhas, nor are there scriptures. The Zen disciple sits for long hours silent and motionless, with his eyes closed. Presently he enters a state of impassivity, free from all ideas and all thoughts. He departs from the self and enters the realm of nothingness. This is not the nothingness or the emptiness of the West. It is rather the reverse, a universe of the spirit in which everything communicates freely with everything, transcending bounds, limitless. There are of course masters of Zen, and the disciple is brought toward enlightenment by exchanging questions and answers with his master, and he studies the scriptures. The disciple must, however, always be lord of his own thoughts, and must attain enlightenment through his own efforts. And the emphasis is less upon reason and argument than upon intuition, immediate feeling. Enlightenment comes not from teaching but through the eye awakened inwardly. Truth is in “the discarding of words”, it lies “outside words”. And so we have the extreme of “silence like thunder”, in the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra. Tradition has it that Bodhidharma, a southern Indian prince who lived in about the sixth century and was the founder of Zen in China, sat for nine years in silence facing the wall of a cave, and finally attained enlightenment. The Zen practice of silent meditation in a seated posture derives from Bodhidharma.
—From his Nobel Prize Lecture
I was riding the DART Green line that runs out from Downtown Dallas Northwest, roughly following I35, and had a nice window seat. I was looking out at an area I don’t get to visit very often, looking for something… anything… interesting. Of course, one thing I always look for is public sculpture.
It was only a quick glimpse and I wasn’t sure what I saw. It looked like a nice little park with a nice little concrete walking trail around it. On the side facing the train tracks it looked like a sculpture, but I couldn’t be sure. Made of dark bronze metal, it spread out in a triangular shape, almost like a draped fabric.
In the split second I had, it almost looked like Batman sitting on a bench.
I made a note.
The other day I was in the area for something else and decided to swing by and to get a closer look at what I had seen. I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing.
I wasn’t too far wrong. It was a sculpture called Poppies, by W. Stanley Proctor. It was not Batman, but a World War Two veteran. He had a long flowing coat and I had seen it from behind.
I have always been interested in art that looks completely different from a different direction. The classic example is the San Francisco de Asis Church in Taos, New Mexico – made famous by Georgia O’keeffe. I’ll never forget visiting it – I was surprised at how cool it looked from the front.