July 31, 2010

Israel destroys Bedouin village

From CNN:

Police evicted 200 Bedouins from their homes in a southern Israeli village on Tuesday and demolished their dwellings, an act decried by residents who said they are on ancestral land.

The move occurred five miles north of Beer Sheva in a village called Al-Araqeeb, an enclave not recognized by the state of Israel.

Witnesses told CNN that the Israeli forces arrived at the village accompanied by busloads of civilians who cheered as the dwellings were demolished. They said armed police deployed with tear gas, water cannon, two helicopters and bulldozers.

Also read: "Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli Negev: The razing of a Bedouin village by Israeli police shows how far the state will go to achieve its aim of Judaising the Negev region" — Neve Gordon in The Guardian. Click here (more video, too).

July 27, 2010

If you have a house, you are safe.

Too early for morning, too late for regret, the air veined in lightning, the sun a clouded clot. Thunder. Gods are being born in the sky.

This is why we left the Garden and moved out to Siburbia, as we're always explaining, most of all to ourselves.

My boy, look around you, listen, sniff the air and taste the bread your mother bought, you're sure to understand: this is why we lit out, bringing only the candlesticks with us — why this dispersal to plot, this diaspora of the subdivision, such limitation of the eternal Development.

Witz, by Joshua Cohen

July 22, 2010


Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They've got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen. —Huey Long

(Via The Progressive Review)

July 21, 2010

Nimby wind developer

A New Zealand–based farmer who gave the go ahead for wind turbines to be built on moorland he owns above Rochdale [England] says he would be unhappy if a windfarm were built close to his home.

Jeremy Dearden, Lord of the Manor of Rochdale, told his local newspaper there had been a ‘NIMBY’ – Not In My Back Yard – aspect to the campaign against plans to build a dozen 400ft turbines at Crook Hill and is quoted as saying: “The visual pollution aspect of it … I can appreciate that.

“I have a pretty big view from my place here, and I don’t know that I’d like to see a lot of windmills.”

—Rochdale Observer, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010

Israeli PM Netanyahu: I "stopped" Oslo peace process

Here is the transcript of the translated portion of the video posted earlier (click here):

Netanyahu: Turn off the camera so that we can elaborate on this.

Narrator: A few minutes later... the camera is turned on again and Netanyahu begins to speak without quotation marks and without masks

Netanyahu: Now we're beginning to understand the meaning of the slogan 'Yesha Zeikan Judea, Samaria, and Azza are here'

Netanyahu: Yesha is everywhere, what is the difference.

Netanyahu: What does Arafat want? He wants one big settlement [implies Palestinians see all of Israel as a settlement].

Woman: Yes that's what my daughter in law who came from England says [i.e. they, Palestinians, see Tel Aviv as a settlement also].

Netanyahu: Tel Aviv is also a settlement. From their point of view [Palestinians], our territorial waters are also theirs.

Netanyahu: The fact is that they want us in the sea. Over there... [gestures] in the distant water.

Netanyahu: The Arabs now are preparing for a campaign [or war] of terror, and they think that this will break us.

Netanyahu: The main thing is, first and foremost, to hit them hard.

Netanyahu: Not just one hit... but many painful, so that the price will be unbearable.

Netanyahu: The price is not unbearable, now.

Netanyahu: A total assault on the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu: To bring them to a state of panic that everything is collapsing.

Netanyahu: ...fear that everything will collapse... this is what we'll bring them to...

Woman interrupts: But wait a minute, at that point the whole world will say 'What are you occupiers?' Netanyahu: The world will say nothing. The world will say that we are defending ourselves.

Woman: Aren't you afraid of the world Bibi? Netanyahu: No

Netanyahu: Especially now, with America, I know what America is.

Netanyahu: America is a thing that can be easily moved. ...moved in the right direction.

Netanyahu: They [Americans] will not bother us.

Netanyahu: Let's suppose that they [Americans] will say something [to us - Israelis]... so they say it... [so what?]

Netanyahu: 80% of the Americans support us. It's absurd! We have such [great] support there! And we say... what shall we do with this [support]? Look, the other administration (that of Clinton) was pro-Palestinian in an extreme way. I was not afraid to maneuver there. I did not fear confrontation with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the U.N.

Netanyahu: As it is, I am paying the price in the international arena... So I might as well receive something of equal value in exchange.

Child: But never mind that. We gave them things, and we can’t take them back. Because they won’t give them back to us.

Netanyahu: [Gestures for child to let him speak] First of all, Oslo is a system [or package of things]. You're right, a) I do not know what can and cannot be taken back [from Palestinians]

Woman: He has political opinions, believe me.

Netanyahu: He's right.

Woman: He said such things to Arik Sharon that I told him: that’s not – that’ not a child’s opinion. The Oslo Accords are a disaster.

Netanyahu: Yes, I know that and you know that... but the people need to know

Woman: Right. But I thought that the prime minister did know, and that he’d do everything so that, somehow, not to do critical things, like handing over Hebron, that...

Netanyahu: What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: “Will you act according to them?” and I answered: “Yes, subject to reciprocity and limiting the withdrawals.

Netanyahu: But how do you limit the withdrawals? I interpret the accords in such a way that will enable me to stop this rush toward '67 borders [returning to armistice line]. [So...] how do we do it?

Narrator: The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different stages, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.

Netanyahu: No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.

Woman: Right [laughs]. The Beit She’an settlements. The Beit She’an Valley.

Netanyahu: How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter – to me and to Arafat, at the same time... which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: “I’m not signing.” Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.

Woman interrupts: And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them – for example – Hebron. I never understood that.

Netanyahu: Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: “What would your father say?” I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?

Woman: Yes

Child: No [laughs]

Woman: He'll read in a little while.

Netanyahu: He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: 'Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.'

Netanyahu: The trick is not to be there and break down. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.

Woman: May you say that as prime minister.

Netanyahu: In my estimation that will happen.

Netanyahu: I Deceived U.S. to Destroy Oslo Accords

... At the time [9 years ago] Mr Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics but was soon to join Mr Sharon’s government as finance minister.

On a visit to a home in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank to pay condolences to the family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, he makes a series of unguarded admissions about his first period as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999.

Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process.

He dismisses the US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”.

He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats. ...

The video is now available with English subtitles by courtesy of the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

July 15, 2010

Bruno Vico and Finnegans Wake

From A Word in Your Ear: How & Why to Read James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, by Eric Rosenbloom, pages 29–39:

Saints Giordano and Giambattista

Besides characters, there are a few informing spirits behind the work, most notably Giordano Bruno (of Nola) and Giambattista Vico. Giordano was a determinedly independent philosopher burned in Rome by the Inquisition in 1600 after 8 years of imprisonment. He spent his youth — 13 years — in the refuge of a Dominican monastery. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia characterized his thought as “incoherent materialistic pantheism.” From the Copernican solar system he went on to suggest that the sun is not the center of the universe, that creation is infinite, and further that every living thing contains an infinite universe. He said the earth, too, is a living being. Developing the work of Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464), who said that in God contraries unite, Giordano stated that everything knows itself best in the struggle with its opposite, even creating its opposite for that purpose, or by finding it across time as well as space — or in a mirror — and that no living thing exists except that its opposite exists as well. He envisioned entities in constant flux, exchanging identities, moving farther from and closer to the unity of God. He also worked on a system of memory training, dabbled in alchemy, and believed that Jesus was a magician. He first fled Rome and then many other cities ahead of various church and university authorities, and spent a few very productive years in London as toast of the town. Back in Venice, he was betrayed by his host to the Holy Office. The Nolan’s wide-ranging intellect and varied life (much of it in exile) yet singleness of vision represented for Joyce the spiritual unity of character. As such, he is found in Dublin as the stationers Browne and Nolan (who published the edition of Chapman’s Homer that Joyce probably read as a child).

Giambattista Vico (1688–1744) was a linguist and legal historian who published his New Science, which he described as “a rational civil theology of divine providence,” in 1725 and went mad while perfecting it for further editions. Developing many of Giordano’s ideas, he too rejected the idea of “golden” ages; the New Science examines the course of nations out of Cyclopean family clearings, divine kings, and the offer of asylum for vassals, through alliance of the “noble” fathers in eternal reaction against the growing demands of the vassals, to a certain equity for all, descent into civil wars and anarchy, and salvation under a civil monarchy. The monarchy (i.e., empire) collapses, and, as divine kings rise again in its wake, barbarism returns and the nations are reborn. The cycle began after the universal flood with a flash of lightning and clap of thunder that drove brutish giants to recall their humanity and hide in shame in caves, there beginning the institutions of religion, marriage, and burial that are at the origin of every civilization. A recourse of the cycle began in Europe after the collapse of Rome.

By examining Greek and Roman history, language, mythology, and law, Vico described the course of nations in terms of the Egyptian ages of gods, of heros, and of people. Each age has a characteristic nature (poetic, heroic, human), reflected in its social organization (family, city, nation), natural law (divine, force, reason), government (theocratic, aristocratic, democratic), customs (religion, social ceremony, civic duty), reason (revelatory, political, personal), language and letters (mute gesture and heiroglyphics, heraldry and symbolism, popular speech and characters), and so on. The heroic age is transitional, transferring the rights and property of Adam to more of the people. It is marked by verbal scrupulousness, punctilious manners, violent struggles, suspicion and civil turbulence, and pura et pia bella (pure and pious war, such as the Crusades that ended the “dark” age of Europe’s ricorso).

Each age itself goes through a cycle of rising and falling, recovery and demise, ending with a poet — theological, heroic, vulgar — who culminates the age and ushers in the next by creating a new Jove.

Vico does not limit himself, however, to this 3-stage scheme, describing 5 and 6 stages as well for the unfolding of humanity through necessity, utility, comfort, pleasure, luxury, madness, and “waste of his substance.” His scheme can be described as a flux between divine kings defending the special status of the “heros” and a civil emperor protecting human equity. And just as Vico analogizes individual development to speculate about early humanity, Joyce sees a cycle of history in every person’s childhood, maturity, and decline.

The major part of the New Science establishes the thought of the divine and early heroic ages, their “poetic wisdom.” For example, as a nation’s world expanded, local names were re-used for farther places in the same direction. This (along with Dante’s finding that he and Florence were a central concern of the divine order in his Comedy) provides a model for Joyces’ Dublin-based universe (“they went doublin their mumper all the time” (p. 3)). Vico also discovers the true Homer as the collective voice of the Greek peoples, those of the northeast in the Iliad and centuries later those of the southwest in the Odyssey; this is akin to Joyce’s mystery of Finnegan and his incarnation in HCE, Here Comes Everybody.

Viconian Cycle

It is usually said that the four parts of Finnegans Wake follow a Viconian cycle of gods–heros–people–recourse. Indeed, “vicus of recirculation” is mentioned in the first sentence, there is a flood followed by thunder later on the first page, and thunder words continue to be heard (pp. 3, 23, 44, 90, 113, 257, 314, 332, 414, and 424 — nine of 100 letters each and one of 101 to total 1001 letters). The thunder, however, is like the audible babblings of a fitful sleeper threatening to rise, given form by responses from the players of the book that ensure he will stay down until they are ready, i.e., the book seems to be stuck in the pre-human state of atheist giants, in the Norse Ginnungagap, before (and after) time.

The four parts of Finnegans Wake do not follow the Egypto-Viconian ages. If anything, they go backwards, from the rollicking expansiveness of the first book (of the people), through the set-pieces of the second (the heroic family), to the self-worshipping Shaun of the third (the god-like son). Most problematic with the identification of Joyce’s parts with Vico’s ages is that the recourse (ricorso in Italian) is not a 4th age, but the return of the 1st. Instead of following Vico’s cycle, the four parts of Finnegans Wake may — as Samuel Becket claimed — represent the three institutions (religion, marriage, burial) that move humanity into the light of civilization and, finally, step into history. Kabbalistically, they may represent the archetypal, creative, formative, and material worlds in the process of getting from idea to the manifestation of dawn. They may be simply four different dreams through the deepening night. They may originate from the four parts of the Tristan & Isolde stories.

Joyce, as he does with all his sources, re-interprets Vico to fit his own scheme. He certainly uses Vico, but the heroic age is always in the present, the divine age always in the past, and the popular age in the future; and they are all present simultaneously. Finn Mac Cool with the goddess Brighid is of the divine age, HCE and ALP are of the heroic, and Shem, Shaun, and Issy the popular. Avatars of each of them appear in every age. Cycles spin off from multitudes of events and in myriad lives, overlapping and intertwining and confusing each other. The flood represents the cataclysmic end as well as the pause before going round again.

Nonetheless, Finnegans Wake is full of 3- and 4-term sequences; usually they represent the religion, marriage, and burial at the beginning of history, e.g., “Harry me, marry me, bury me, bind me” (p. 408; all 3 institutions are binding: by piety, shame, sense of immortality). Their regularity emphasizes the universality and circularity of human time that Vico stands for in the book. On page 590, the cycle appears very simply as “Tiers, tiers and tiers. Rounds.” And on page 452: “The Vico road goes round and round to meet where terms begin.” This describes simultaneous opposite movement from a point of unity, joining briefly on the other side and continuing back to the origin. It describes a flux as much as a cycle, a “systomy dystomy” (p. 597) like the beating of the heart or the fall and rise of all human endeavors.

Joyce, although often referring people to Vico, also asserted he did not “believe” Vico’s science, “but my imagination grows when I read Vico as it doesn’t when I read Freud or Jung.” He was perhaps using Vico to think about the subconscious mind in history more than about history itself. Vico provided the idea that mind and history are identical, and that language betrays their secrets. Thus all history could be revealed in a book of a sleeping soul, its crude projections redeemed in the unconscious mind that created them. (As Stephen Dedalus might have said in his dotage, “History is a nightmare I’m dreaming to wake.”)

Hugh Kenner has suggested that the dreamer does not want to wake up, that ALP is a widow resisting the conscious awareness that her husband — executed after the 1916 Easter uprising, he says — is no longer beside her. The hanging scaffold is suppressed by becoming Tim Finnegan’s building scaffold. Her tears become the river in which her dreams flow. The book of history assures us that life always rises from the ashes, but we also know that individual loss is unrecoverable. The incomplete sentence at the end of Finnegans Wake gives the reader a choice: Leave the book and return to life, or return to the book’s first words.

Joyce once likened Finnegans Wake to the Dark Night of the Soul, a treatise by shoeless and imprisoned Saint John of the Cross on the perfection of love and his poem Dark Night. That work is the fourth part of his Ascent of Mount Carmel, and similarly Finnegans Wake as a whole is a separate elaboration of Vico’s cycle through the nightly unrest of dream. As history courses like the rise, glory, and descent of the sun each day, an individual recourse occurs at night. The language of the book reflects this period of transition from — the flux between — decadence and a new beginning. There is a Vico road in Dalkey, a southern coastal suburb of Dublin.

Death and Rebirth

Joyce once imagined his book as the dead giant Finn Mac Cool lying by the Liffey (where swam the salmon, his totem animal) watching history — his and the world’s, the past and the future — flowing through him. This life-in-death dream becomes a sacramental process of rebirth. At Finnegan’s wake, Finnegans wake.

One should also remember that Joyce nearly joined the Jesuits, and that the Christian ceremonial cycle continued to shape his imagination. The mystery of the trinity, for example, three persons (multiplicity) representing unity, is very much in the spirit of Finnegans Wake. At its best, Christianity has been a great syncretizer and humanizer of older myths. For example, the stations of the cross represent a sacrifice ritual in terms of a human procession, the paschal drama of the rise and fall and rise again of human history. At its worst, it is a great beast devouring, Shaun-like, everything before it in the name of salvation after death.

The Christian sacramental meal, the eucharist, the host, is often present. Hoc est corpus (“This is the body”) is another manifestation of HCE (“Here Comes Everybody”; but also High Church of England). As host (“victim” in Latin) at his pub, HCE serves and is mocked by his 12 customers. In Vico, the earlier meaning of host is alien, thief, violator of the clearing — an enemy of the people who is sacrificed in their name. The first cities were identified with the altars that were in the fields, where, for example, Cain slew the more primitive Abel and Romulus slew Remus who jumped over the just-plowed boundaries. It is alienated Hosty who writes “The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly” (pp. 44–47) against the outsider HCE.

Vico called the course of nations a history of piety, and in their recourse they were guided by Christianity, a more human religion. For Joyce, Christianity is more prominent than other religious and mythological systems because it is the one he knew intimately. But the eucharistic meal — the renewing sacrifice — fits the pattern described in James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough of killing and eating a divine king. And it is connected with the Jewish feast of tabernacles, or Succoth, as a turning of the year. Although it is now only theater, the original barbaric act (“He’ll want all his fury gutmurdherers to redress him.” (p. 617)) still erupts into history and continues to reverberate in the human unconscious.


My use of the term is not philosophically rigorous, but Vico and Giordano are important also as humanists. Giordano’s love of God was such that he loved nature as it is. He showed that the infinitude of the divine is within every element and creature of nature and every human being. Vico showed that history was not a matter of destiny or fate, but the operation of divine providence in the human mind; he insisted that “the world of civil society has certainly been made by men, and that its principles are therefore to be found within the modifications of our own human mind.”

July 9, 2010

Bolton Valley's wind turbine underperforming

Promises, promises.

Northern Power Systems says that Bolton Valley ski area's "Northwind 100 [kW] will produce about 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year, the equivalent of the electricity consumed by 40-45 Vermont homes."

Since October 2009, however, it had produced only 114,309 kWh as of 10:00 p.m. on July 9, 2010. At that time, it was producing power at the rate of less than 7 kW, equivalent to the average load of 8 Vermont homes.

Too bad for the other 32!