Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poem for Thursday, Deer, A Dangerous Method

No Alternatives
By Rachel Barenblat

I don't want to write about the girl
    killed by an Israeli bulldozer while
        trying to protect a Palestinian home.

Don't want to write about mentioning it
    in casual conversation and finding myself
        weeping uncontrollably into my dishtowel.

Don't want to write how politics
    have infected every email list I'm on,
        how poets across the nation are arguing

whether those who voted Green
    in the year 2000 got us into this mess
        instead of debating the merits of form

and free verse like we used to. I thought
    those arguments were dull, repetitive, but
        today I'd pay to see my inbox overflowing

with impassioned pleas for a return
    to iambic pentameter, diatribes about
        how "women's poems" differ from whatever

the alternatives are. I don't know what
    the alternatives are. I keep lending out
        that article about healing through "dark" emotions,

the one that says anger and sorrow
    aren't the problem, the problem is
        when we stamp and tamp them down

so the pressure of our denial shapes
    the slicing stone-edges of despair, but
        I can't see the darkness around us lifting.

I've always said hopelessness
    isn't an option, if we don't believe
        in tikkun olam we might as well be dead, but

I don't know how to get through this.
    This is not a poem about "them" or what
        they're doing to "us," this is not a poem about

politics or regime change, this isn't even
    a poem about the horror of Iraqis hissing
        that the mothers of the American soldiers

will weep tears of blood, or the shame
    of Americans braying that those people
     are animals, not like us, don't respect life.

This is a poem about forestalling despair
    by taking a breath and diving as far as I can,
        wishing that I could surface in a kinder world.


From The Velveteen Rabbi, which totally resonated with me today. I could not watch any RNC coverage except on The Daily Show -- thank God for Jon Stewart, remarking on things like GOP attempts at banning all gun restrictions and banning women from combat because the battlefield is the one place women shouldn't have guns. I can't even talk about the anti-choice, homophobic, flat-out racist platform without wanting to smash someone's face in.

Adam had his first cross country meet of the year on Wednesday and did very well -- well enough to go to the invitational relays -- so that made it a good day, though it was otherwise pretty uneventful for me! Political coverage was literally making me nauseous at times so I stuck to news about rare sand cats born in Israel -- well, thanks to Daniel I did read Obama's Reddit AMA -- and did relaxing things like work and folding laundry! My favorite line of the day came from Futurama's season finale, in which a shot of the New Jersey Turnpike revealed a warning sign: "Highway Jammed with Broken Heroes On a Last Chance Power Drive"!

My laundry folding movie was A Dangerous Method, which I watched with trepidation because Cronenberg is sometimes so violent and misogynistic that I can't finish his films. This one was quite good, though Mortensen and Knightley both could have used a few more weeks working on their accents. I didn't know anything about Sabina Spielrein until I Googled her midway through the movie and it was worth watching just because I now know who this extraordinary woman was, though unsurprisingly the film treated her nearly as badly as Jung and Freud did (it sure sounds like they both stole her ideas and published them as their own).

I was surprised at how much I laughed -- at Jung thinking Freud is too fixated on sex and sexual terms and this causes rejection of his work by patients and doctors alike, at Spielrein saying "Suicide! Interplanetary travel!" when asked her career interests, at Freud smoking his cigar feverishly while listening to Jung talk about his sex dreams, at Jung being completely oblivious to his money and privilege, his first-class staterooms, the fact that he's Protestant whereas Freud is Jewish in a Vienna that holds Jews in suspicion.

But of course Cronenberg has to exploit Spielrein -- perhaps I should say Knightley, since it's her nipples on display -- presenting female sexual disorders as titillating and showing two orgasmic spanking scenes even while his characters are telling audiences to take female sexuality seriously. Jung lies to Freud about his affair with her, presents her as a hysteric, and when he is forced to confess the truth, Freud writes Spielrein a breezy "sorry" rather than considering the depth of damage that may have been done to her (the film's opinion is that being screwed by Jung is part of Spielrein's path to self-knowledge and therefore a good thing).

Some of this summer's deer in the neighborhood (photos taken with my mobile phone, excuse the quality please):

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