“I’ll go too, I’ll go too”
That’s what he’d say and what he’d do
“Don’t go alone I’ll walk with you
I’ll go too.”
…Someday we all will understand
And we’ll walk right into the Promised Land
But I hope an angel takes me by the hand
And tells me “I’ll go too.”
— Carrie Newcomer (thanks to Sadie Forsythe)
From my journal while on the road, 6 weeks in October and November 2008, Alaska to California and back to Portland Oregon, then home to Cambridge Massachusetts—with 3 new slide shows about Palestine/Israel, “My Trip to Gaza,”, “Bethlehem the Holy,” and “The Hydropolitics of Israel-Palestine.” In early December and again in February 2009 I’ll be touring with these and other shows in the southern sections of the US. You can find more information here.
No relevant photos for this post.
Juneau Alaska, part 3:
Cool, still, solid fog.
Slow progress with finding gigs here, somewhat equivalent to finding gigs in Israel-Palestine when I’m offering my photography and few respond. Slow to come, have faith. D ran the announcement to the Juneau World Affairs Council list, he agreed to host me for a brief informal talk after Quaker meeting on Oct 12, concentrating on Quaker matters in Israel-Palestine. I might slide in some photos, prints, not slides. The Unitarian Universalists’ might be interested, Father Tom might be willing, I’m still awaiting a reply from Judy S at the Methodist church, we’ve yet to contact someone at the university. For some school dates, Judy M may substitute me for a man from Syria who may not arrive because of denied entry. Not good for him, or our country, but maybe I am an adequate sub. So it goes, glacially slowly.
While progress on Bethlehem goes superbly well. Inch by inch, slide by slide, new thoughts and images along the way. Recently, I added a scene about Mubarak Awad, featuring him and his ideas about nonviolence, his connection with holy land trust and Sami Awad, his nephew, also referencing both Palestine and Israel concerns at the beginning of the show by using historic photos of the Nakba and the immigration of Jews, the founding of the state. Now to tackle the audio challenge.
Today I should wean myself from editing Bethlehem (much to be said about returning to the same project day after day, engrossed in the process) and focus on Hydropolitics. I have many new ideas for this show, and must plow thru the stage of imagining I have no upper limit on show length, before arriving at the painful stage of cutting.
I began reading Bob’s book about archeology and Palestine/Israel, Facts on the Ground, Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-fashioning in Israeli Society, by Nadia Abu el-Haj. Published in 2001, as Bob noticed, it might be an expansion of a doctoral dissertation. It is stuffy, and theoretic, the trappings of academia. But I vow to ramble thru it. After reading the grounding chapter, which was highly theoretical, proving one’s bona fides, I turned to the chapter on Jerusalem which was livelier. That information ties in perfectly with my fascination with historic Jerusalem.
Not only do the Israelis do irrigation well, and symphony orchestras, they are tops in archeology. I’m reminded that one of the major media pieces promoting Israel is The Source, a novel by Michener—and it is based on archeology.
There is little color in the foliage here, mostly a pale yellow. Most trees are coniferous, so even if bright color were possible, few trees would exhibit it. I miss the splendor of New England fall, the fresh picked Macs, the crisp nights. One of my sacrifices for the greater good.
From the mortality conference at the Boston Research Center I am left with this question, what is my essence and how do I discover and laud the essence of the intimate other, before it’s too late.
Mine: to serve, to address and remediate injustice, to love, to develop my craft skills, specifically in teaching, photographing, writing, and designing. To be a full human being, to live fully. I am in essence a floundering, imperfect, struggling, often pained individual. I’m confused about whether to find a partner, or go solo. I am a family man, at heart.
And yours, dear reader? Or yours, dear M? One reason I seem focused on her Jewishness is to plumb that side of hers, mostly hidden, not fully acknowledged. And more broadly, this conversation we’re having about deity, ultimate matters—another attempt at excavating essences.
I should ask this question of M, when we arrive at the appropriate point: What do you feel your essence is?
Today is Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. Today is also one week from Yom Kippur.
An example of word play, quoting from my Mac’s onboard dictionary:
nonplussed (also nonplused)
1 (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react: he would be completely nonplussed and embarrassed at the idea.
2 informal (of a person) not disconcerted; unperturbed.
USAGE In standard use, nonplussed means ‘surprised and confused’:: the hostility of the new neighbor’s refusal left Mrs. Walker nonplussed. In North American English, a new use has developed in recent years, meaning ‘unperturbed’—more or less the opposite of its traditional meaning: | hoping to disguise his confusion, he tried to appear nonplussed. This new use probably arose on the assumption that non- was the normal negative prefix and must therefore have a negative meaning. Although the use is common, it is not yet considered standard. The preferred spelling is nonplussed.
verb ( -plussed, -plussing) [ trans. ] (usually, be nonplussed)
Surprise and confuse (someone) so much that they are unsure how to react: Diane was nonplussed by such an odd question.
Either, I am nonplussed by her offer to bed me. Or, her advances nonplus me. Meaning, in case 1, I am embarrassed by the idea of rapid intimacy with her. And in case 2, I am unperturbed, not shaken by her advances. Great word, in either case, a classic instance of one word with two diametrically opposed meanings. Conclusion: never use the word. Who would know what I mean?
—October 2, 2008, Thursday, Juneau, Elaine & Bob’s home
As if the entire night were dreams, solid and thick with them, and not the usual boring quotidian ones, all merging together and hard to sort out:
I was crafting some sort of birthday greeting for someone close, maybe M. It was to consist of a film or video, the first shot from a hovering craft like a helicopter, the next a tangle of vegetation. Mixed into this was something erotic that awoke me with an erection, maybe a couple fucking. At some point I learned the object of my attention, maybe M, had died and I was grief-stricken.
In another dream I was once again teaching a workshop in photography to adults, high level, highly committed, high functioning adults (another recurring theme for me). The session had ended, many were lingering, I was trying to lock up, a few had placed their photos on a wall and were remarking about them. I joined, thought at first, oh, the usual mundane scenics, and then saw something less ordinary—a group of young people on the beach with their feet and legs intertwining. A man who apparently had made the photos was explaining. He wore a bobbing top hat, as if held on his head by some sort of invisible wire.
In yet another dream I was with a partner, a woman, maybe Lynn, in Chicago. We’d met with a little boy who we’d not seen in many years, we noted his growth. He was visiting his grandma who was Gail C, in reality living above me. The house was 9 Sacramento St, my home, but the city was Chicago. We hesitated to bring the boy upstairs because of possible abuse. Sure enough, in the hallway waiting for the lad was a drunken man who might have been Gail’s partner.
We left the boy and in 2 cars, me driving my mother Pearl’s old 1952 or so Dodge, the gas tank nearly on empty, me leading. We attempted in the waning light—nightfall—to reach some site we barely knew, maybe my grandparents’ house on the north side. At a turn I lost my partner. I then was faced with 3 choices: wait for her, circle to find her (had she gone back to protect the boy?), or try to find the house on my own. The latter, and I was rapidly and frightenly lost.
This is more or less an approximation of what I dreamt. The reality is more like my slide show editing stage when I’ve assembled much material, too much material, and then have to arrange it into some sort of coherent narrative. I don’t claim that what I’ve just written mirrors my dream experience; I claim it incorporates the elements I remember. Pieces may not have been sewn together as they occurred to me in dreamtime, but I’ve not fabricated any of them. I’ve used artistic license, I might say, to write this in a way that makes some sense.
Aside from editing Hydropolitics the major event of yesterday was watching the vice presidential debate with about 40 others at KTOO TV station. The crowd groaned tellingly at several points: Palin’s assertions about being tough on oil companies in Alaska, her unswerving support of Israel (she used the identifier, “I support a US embassy in Jerusalem,” which translates as, “we should recognize the total sovereignty of Israel over Jerusalem”), which by the way was 100% matched by Biden, her use of the phrase, proudly, “drill baby drill,” and a few others. Admittedly, the crowd in the TV station is left of center, as Juneau is left of center considering the politics of the state, largely Republican.
Biden seemed to trump Palin on the self-revelation front when he teared up talking about raising his kids as a single parent. Apparently his wife was killed in a car accident. Palin, by contrast, seemed glossy, faux, all pretence. I like Biden for this—a man with a heart—plus his experience and knowledge of government.
2 other challenging questions in a session largely devoid of those: what do you consider to be your Achilles’ heel? Palin dodged it completely and reverted to campaign platitudes, Biden seemed to make an attempt but didn’t address it fully. The second question was, have you ever experienced a major change of heart? Palin admitted she sometimes “caved,” her word, to legislative will to get legislation passed and Biden spoke about assessing supreme court nominees, coming to realize the candidate’s political perspectives are important in considering approval.
Early polls show Biden slightly favored over Palin nin the debate. Many commentators agree that Palin did better than many expected, smooth, confident, attractive, “staying on message.” We, Bob and Elaine and I, also agreed that she was more inclined than Biden to duck the questions.
I imagined a platitude meter hovering over their heads, cumulative. So that each time one uttered an empty phrase, such as “we will do what is best for the American people” the arm notches up slightly. I would predict in this race Palin would win.
Later, Elaine claimed Palin lied, repeatedly. That if one examined her record and put it against her claims in the debate, one would observe notable discrepancies. This might be a way to gauge her candidacy. For those who might wish to do the research.
A serious omission from the debate: deep discussion. For instance, about taxes. Palin advocated lowering taxes, claimed Biden and Obama voted or proposed to raise taxes. No one questioned what is intrinsically wrong with raising taxes. After all it is what funds government, and ideally government serves the people. As governor of Alaska she cut state taxes; what happened to state services? How is the war in Iraq funded, or the current bailout of financial institutions? Or Medicare and Medicaid, or Social Security?
Similarly with the notion of war. What is implicitly correct about killing people with whom we have differences? For another day, for another era.
Both Elaine and Bob seemed intent on assessing the opinions of others, reviews, instantaneous feedback. I find myself less interested in this.
Elaine and I had a delightful relaxed time yesterday putting up posters for Nadia Hijab who will be speaking in Juneau soon about the election and Israel-Palestine. And checking that my Gaza posers were in fact hung by the service she paid $25 to. So we scoured downtown Juneau, all available boards and widows. Compared with Boston and Cambridge, Juneau is a wide-open space for postering. We found about 15 open spaces for info. If were to calculate space per capita I’d guess Juneau outpaces Cambridge by about 50 to 1. Why is this, I wonder?
Concluding our romp we stopped in a small coffee shop near the water opposite The Hanger restaurant where their son Nathan works. The coffee shop attendant offered us 2 free cupcakes, left over from the day, and as many refills as we wished. Would we mind watching the shop while he does an errand?
Editing Hydro proceeds. Luckily at the last minute before leaving home I thought to include files of new hydro-related images, mostly Salfit, Nablus, and Gaza, and to bring with me older Hydros. This show has gone thru so many iterations that I’m not able to remember what I did when. I’ve brought back the Jerusalem section, one example showing how hydro worked historically, at least in the case of the water tunnels. I’ve reinserted the southern Hebron hills as a distinctive example of hydro. I now plan to begin the show with reference to the ongoing drought; some say the most damaging in recent memory. And extending across the region.
In researching the drought I discovered the website, waterfortheages.org, put up by a young woman, Abby, living in a valley in Oregon. My train might pass thru her home site. She is deeply committed to water issues and has a very effective site. Another fellow traveler.
Regarding the tour, Judy S has turned me down, mostly, she claims, because she can’t stir much enthusiasm from her council. Also maybe discord among the community. She mentioned people leaving. I checked the audio equipment at Northern Light church, finding nothing that I can easily use, but Elaine remembered she has a sound system. Hooking this to my computer I find I have an adequate broadcast method, if now I can only finesse the sound properly.
My house duty this drizzly dark morning is to set out the garbage, so I shall do this now.
—October 3, 2008, Friday, Juneau, Elaine & Bob’s home