Saturday, May 29, 2004

I need to get back to theology

Just a quick thought. I've put up so much news and the like on this site I must refrain.
I'm writing a paper comparing the narritive of Judges 4 to the poetry of Judges 5. I'm thinking Judges 5 may well be an older, feminine, oral tradition.
I have 3 papers which need to be written by the monday after this one, and I have to get ready for a test on the martyrdom of Ali in the Shi'ite Islamic tradition.
The fan is still broken on the computer, or at least it is still making really funny sounds, so this is about as long as I'll go.

PS Here is a paper I wrote about Emma Goldman.

The ideas and deeds of Emma Goldman
By Chris Halverson
There is a phrase that may or may not have been coined by Barbara Tuchman “the idea and the deed.” This term expresses a discontinuity in anarchism; there is a huge chasm between the ideas supposed by Anarchist theorists and the deeds committed by Anarchist practitioners. An example of these disconnects between anarchist intelligentsia and propaganda of the deed can be found by contrasting the message of Emma Goldman with the Attent├Ąte of Leon Czolgosz. When all is said and done, while Emma defends Czolgosz’s murder of President McKinley, she saw his actions as “impelled, not by the teachings of Anarchism, but by the tremendous pressure of conditions.” In this essay I will use the term the idea and the deed as well, but I will use it with a slight twist, and an ironic edge. My use of the idea and the deed can be best exemplified by the Attent├Ąte of “Sasha” Berkman, one of Emma’s lovers. His idea was to kill the chairman of the board at Carnegie Steel, Henry Clay Frick, to set off a workers revolution, but his deed failed and the very workers who he intended to liberate subdued him. As the old joke goes the difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference, but in practice there is.
Emma Goldman’s life can be summed up as the clash of her ideas and ideals against her realities and deeds. Her life straddled the line between theory and practice. In short, she dreamed dreams, yet still had to wake up, look beside her, and see that her lover, Ben Reitman, was sleeping next to her, or more likely was away sleeping with another woman.
Emma Goldman wrote many essays and gave many speeches. She advocated many ideas and championed many causes, yet the ideas which stood the test of time were not her radical political ideas, such as being anti-suffrage and anti-property, but her radical, now we might call them modern, social views. The two defining ideas of Emma Goldman were the idea of free love and the idea that women should use contraceptives so they would only have children that would be loved. Born out of these public ideas, or maybe more appropriately, aborted from these ideas, were her private deeds. Emma advocated free love, yet was plagued with a weak and unfaithful lover who she was beholden to. While she endorsed contraception she seems to have yearned to be a mother and never became one.
Emma’s feelings about the relations between the sexes were formed very early. Her father was an uncompassionate and cold man who went so far as to blame her for being raped. She was also influenced by Vera Pavlovna, a character in Chernyshevsky’s novel What Is to Be Done?, who was “unencumbered by the restrictions of her sex, who could love freely outside the confines of marriage.” With this kind of upbringing there is little wonder her ideas would one day come to focus on free love.
Emma started off her essay “Marriage and Love” writing, “Marriage and love have nothing in common.” She sees the institution of marriage to be a bastardization of love. It changes love from a thing full of freedom, as well as a thing freely chosen, into an economic bargain leading to capitalistic bondage; a girl’s “dreams are not of moonlight and kisses,” but of “shopping tours and bargain counters.” Emma also sees a definite double standard between men and women. Men can “follow the call of the wild,” but women must keep chaste. Her solution to both of these problems is free love, an open, unfettered, and uninstitutionalized coupling where both sexes could love multiple partners.
How did her private life, her deeds, live up to this idea of free love? She did have many lovers, but so often she found herself in love with one person, Ben Reitman, and loving him, “with the intensity of life itself,” yet he was unfaithful to her, and it hurt her. Not only did she end up seeing herself as weak she also began to loathe one of her most popular lectures, “Marriage and Love” because it “emphasized the distance between her vision and reality.” She also ended up refining and redefining free love as something different than promiscuity. This disconnect between her ideas and her deeds was definitely obvious, even to Emma. It was a lot more obvious than the divide between her want of motherhood and her ideas about contraception.
Emma’s idea of the “unloved child” comes from her own childhood. Her father, Abraham Goldman, had wanted a boy, and was therefor disappointed with the birth of Emma. Augmenting this feeling of alienation and being unloved Emma was sent away to live with her grandmother at age eight. Her grandmother then abandoned her to her cruel aunt and uncle. Unsurprisingly, all of this caused Emma to carry, “the fear of abandonment into the rest of her life.”
Responding to her experience of being an abandoned and unloved child Emma Goldman decided the solution was the idea of free motherhood. To empower women, and keep other children from being born unloved and feeling the alienation she felt, women needed to use contraception. Through free motherhood they were refusing “the indiscriminate breeding of children,” and instead producing, “fewer, better children.”
Her idea leans toward the rejection of motherhood, or at least a choice of motherhood on the mother’s own terms. Emma’s deeds, though, tells a story of a longing for motherhood. She played the role of a surrogate mother to a plethora of people. Ben constantly referred to her as “mother” or “his blue-eyed mommy,” as did, a lover of both Ben and “Sasha,” “Fitzi,” Almeda, a prostitute, and Senya Fleshine, an anarchist photographer, and Mollie Steimer, his companion. She also sees Mother Earth, the title itself suggesting her motherly attributes and longings, as “a child born of love,” and “my love child.” Finally, some things in Emma’s life are very suggestive of a want of children; they almost seem like huge Freudian slips. For example, one time to escape from police Emma claimed to be pregnant. Further, Ben named his son Brutus, because he felt he had betrayed her ideals by settling down and having a child, yet Emma “loved Brutus as if he” was her own. Finally, Emma said of the Spanish Anarchist movement’s loss, “It’s as though you had wanted a child all your life, and at last, when you had almost given up hoping, it had been given to you—only to die soon after it was born.” It seems, to err on the side of caution, quite probable, that Emma wanted children. Still, it is not as if there is no continuity between her theory and her practice, her idea and deed. She decided to choose quality over quantity, and, knowing that her life was too chaotic to ensure that the child would be loved, she chose to have no children.
Publicly Emma Goldman went throughout the country advocating her ideas of free love and free motherhood to thousands of people. Privately though “she would ‘be torn between the yearning for a personal life and the need of giving all to [her] ideal.” Her deeds were just as real as her ideas. She could, condemn “the institution of marriage for stifling love in a misguided attempt to enforce stability and fidelity,” yet find herself, “bruised from all the wounds of the lack of stability” with Ben. She could promote contraception and still yearn for a child. Emma Goldman rejected Sasha’s assertion that he was a revolutionist first and human second. Instead, for her, “the two aspects of life were intertwined, although occasionally at war.” Like the situation between “Sasha” and the workers at Carnegie Steel the idea and the deed diverged.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The questions from last night

The Questions
1. If Islam is the writing down of a mixture of Christian, Jewish, and other near eastern oral traditions do Muslims worship the same God? For that matter what level of spiritual authority does the Qur’an have?
2. “Fear the one that can destroy both body and soul.” Is this fear the devil, or fear GOD?
3. Are there any values and morals that are acceptable and “true” that come outside of scripture? Can the human mind reveal non-biblical divine truths?
4. Fate or free will?
5. Is Protestant Christianity more than the worship of a book? Do Protestant churches need ecstatic experiences to elevate themselves beyond letter worship? Traditions? What?
6. Is the Bible a text which affirms the rich and oppresses the poor or a text which protects the poor and offends the rich? Of course there is a middle ground, but which is closer to the central message of the Bible?
7. How does one become a spirit person? (heart of stone to flesh that kind of stuff)
8. How can three be one?

The blog may be down for a while

The cooling fan on my computer quit working. One of my AEPi brothers is going to help me install a new one, until then I'm going to keep the computer off as much as possible as to make sure it doesn't overheat and do something bad.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I'm feeling really good

I ended up pulling an all-nighter (my first I might add) to write paper about Emma Goldman. Then this morning I wrote a speech for the college Dem's "Bush Bash." I gave it, the end was a bit impromptu, sort of Howard Deanish.
What follows is the speech.

Friends. Come November we will be faced with a stark choice. A choice between George W. Bush and John F. Kerry. A choice between two visions of America. A choice between two American Dreams.
A vote for Bush is to dream a dream that affirms a policy of voodoo economics founded on ballooning our budget for the sake of corporate welfare. A dream which uplifts the prosperous and throws the poor down to the gutters.
A vote for Kerry is to dream a dream in which tax cuts aren’t used to get re-elected, but to target specific soft spots in our economy. A dream where our tax dollars will be spent educating our children, making sure people don’t die for want of healthcare, and keeping America strong.
A vote for Bush is to dream a dream were national forests are simply resources, rivers are dumping grounds, and the sky is the limit when it comes to smog and other pollutants.
A vote for Kerry is to dream a dream were hydrogen, the wind, and the sun will replace wrecking ANWR for oil. A dream in which forests, rivers, and the air we breath will be protected.
A vote for Bush is a vote for a dream of a world of black and white, where the enemy of our enemy is also our enemy. Where you are either American, or a terrorist. His is an American dream where diplomacy and rule of law does not apply to the powerful. His is an American dream where millions of people around the world, myself included, protesting against a dangerous policy of needless death are called nothing more than “focus groups.” His is an American dream that refuses to admit mistakes.
A vote for Kerry is a vote for a nuanced and realistic foreign policy that sees the world in gradients of gray. This is an understanding that Americans make up only a small percentage of the world population. His is an American dream of coalitions that truly are willing, and allies who are amiable. His is an American dream of a country that will fight not because it wants to, but because it has to. His is an American dream that is willing to admit when we are wrong, and fix the problem.
On this coming November 2nd you, God willing every one of you, are going to do one of most significant things in your life. You are going to vote to end this American nightmare! Years for now you will be able to tell your children, and your grandchildren that you stood up and stopped the squandering of America’s resources, as well as it’s good will abroad. You will be able to tell them you saved America’s trees, and American lives. You will be able to tell them you lived through an America on the brink of madness. You will be able to tell them when fate gave you the vote, the power to change thing, you, you lived the American dream.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Telegraph | News | A true scientific breakthrough: the blue rose

This looks kind of cool. Within a year scientists will have a blue rose on the market. They injected the rose with liver enzymes.