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Previous Issue: Volume 16, No. 1, Weeks of January 27 and February 3, 2003
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Latest Update: February 18, 2003
by Lisa J. Stevens
No, this is not our Lisa J. Stevens, who is just finishing up her M.A. in postmodern therapy. But our Lisa told me on Sunday February 9, that she found herself on the Internet. And, yes, she did. I checked Yahoo and found her comment on Dear Habermas' Forum Access. She's number 2 on the list that came up for me. But right above her is Lisa J. Stevens, Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Arizona State University. I had just returned home from Hal Charnofsky's Memorial Service and Silver Pink seemed so fitting I put it right up. The strangest coincidences of mice and men.
NEW for the Weeks of February 10 and 17, 2003
February 19, 2003: Sorry, kids; it hurts worse today than it did yesterday, but the swelling has gone down, and I'm pretty sure I'll live, but the better part of valor is not to drive in tomorrow, not the way it hurts today. Betty wonders if I'm trying to kill myself. Is that illocutionary discourse? Take my advice and do not fall on Monterey's sidewalks. My doctor says I'm lucky I broke my new sunglasses instead of my bones. I'll be online most of tomorrow, nursing my wounds and bruises. It doesn't hurt when I sit. Though laughing is not advised. After this, I think I'll stick to colds. jeanne
Gordon Fellman's adversarialism and mutuality paradigms came to mind this week end at Professor Harold Charnofsky's Memorial Service. Hal represented mutuality, caring, generosity of spirit, and the kind of love for self and other that Fellman envisions in mutuality. And this is a good moment to ponder such issues as the threat of war grows ever nearer.
Yes, competition motivates us, so long as it does not overshadow the mutual enterprise of putting together a healthy and just world. Lately, that balance seems to have gotten out of hand. Competition requires judging, deciding whose best by some measure we can agree on. Today that's usually money. But money is a rough measure that leaves out much of what we need for health and justice. I can't tell you whether capitalism is at fault, although it's certainly premised on money. These are complex issues. Maybe we could get capitalism right, though I certainly don't think it's right yet. And the capitalist "success" being translated into "globalism," seems still to leave out much of justice and sharing and collaboration and mutuality.
The examples we have watched of communism, based on marxism, didn't do much better. But I wonder if choosing one or the other is a plausible answer. That's adversarial again. As though there were only capitalism as we know it, and marxism as we have known it, to choose from. I like Fellman's suggestion much better. Let's not depend so much on judging any given system as right or wrong, but let's try to discover the best of each against a background of mutuality and social justice.
I don't know how to do that. I certainly believe that war is not the way. But I believe also that it becomes more and more important every day for the Harold Charnofskys of this world to remind us that social issues are complex and always changing, and that we are always faced with staying open to new information, to listening in good faith to the extremes as well as the middle way, for they all express valid claims that need to be heard. War terrifies me, but I am not naive enough to believe that for so long as I adhere to goodness and community and love, Saddam Hussein will, too. There are too many Americans over there now, within striking distance of the man we have defined as our principal opponent. That makes it more complex than it was when the U.S. was pretty much safely out of Saddam's reach.
Some of us are timid. War scares us, for we see it up close and personal. Some of us believe that evil cannot overcome good. That's a philosophical position that none of us can substantiate until the future happens. Some of us believe that we must use violence if good is to survive. Again, no one can know. We judge by history, and nothing quite like this has ever happened before. I think we each have personal preferences. Sometimes one preference, sometimes another, depending on the setting and who we are at the moment. But none of us know. Such "knowingness" is impossible. There is no where near enough transparency for us to see the whole situation clearly, and our perspectives prejudice our view.
So I'd like to focus this week on illocutionary discourse. On trying to hear each other, to see each other as complex humans, who are flexible, stubborn, confused, injured, frightened, angry, just humans with our whole range of emotions and all the emotional instability that brings with it. I'd like to focus on the lived realityof love and hate and fear and strength, that we may find some way to hear each other, not to come to a decision of right or wrong, but just to come to know one another as humans. Maybe that's enough of a start in a crazy world.
Theoretical Musings for Us by Us
- Classical Theory
- February 10, 2003: W.E.B. Du Bois and Double Consciousness Updated teaching essay and online sources.
- February 19, 2003: Arab-Americans and Double Consciousness Conceptual linking of W.E.B. Du Bois' concept of double consciousness to the world of Arab-American writers today. Review of NY Times article.
- Current Events
- February 11, 2003: What Are We To Do Marlene Whittaker's comments on the war, and jeanne's comments on Robert Sheer's analysis of the war. Essay, but no discussion questions yet.
- February 10, 2003: Transforming Discourse: Theories of Non-Violence This is an older file that I am trying to update as appropriate to our current discussions.
- February 10, 2003: Balancing Costs and Social Benefits: Situating Shuttle Flights and Space Stations Discussion questions on social issues that require us to examine our motives, goals and agendas in exploring space, and their cost in human terms.
- Death Penalty
- February 18, 2003: Death Penalty Index
- February 18, 2003: Revised File of letter from Political Prisoner once on death row
- This weekend Arnold and I found a cat book in the Bay Books just across the street from the Double Tree Hotel and the Death Penalty Defense Seminar. Seemed an appropriate break from mitigation and forgivenss discussions. But soon, to my amazement, I discovered that my teenage cat appeared to fit descriptions of serious symptoms of "separation anxiety," even though we had left him and his sister cat with Pat. The author gave us a brief introduction to both Jungian and Freudian therapy modalities, and suggested myriad ways that with intense effort we could help the little cat back to mental health and security. One of these therapy modalities was to spend considerably more "quality" time with the young teenager.
King Tut and Cleopatra took care of that themselves as soon as we got home. They both charged out into the street, over to Racer's house, and came back only when I begged at the front gate. Then Tut made us play "catch me fair and square, or I won't come in." At 11 p.m., after driving all the way from Monterey (with a swollen hand and cracked head.) More quality time, indeed!
And that brings me to the point of this story. Americans, particularly Western Americans, tend to be hardy John Wayne types. If they done ya wrong, whip out your six-shooter and take care of the problem. You don't have to kill 'em, just let 'em know who the boss is. That means that we are far more likely to say "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." That means that we are often insensitive to those who get caught up in our misunderstandings.
As it turns out, we have King Tut because Cleopatra was so depressed when we returned from South Africa that we were seriously worried about losing her. She's 16. That's pretty old for a cat. And yes, she was depressed. No interest in pretty much anything, slept all day, didn't want to go outside, didn't pay us much attention. And she had had someone come in to feed her and keep her company while we were in Africa. But the rest of the time she was alone, and she had grown up with lots of animals who had just died over the years. I'm not sure whether our solution was Jungian or Freudian, but we decided she needed another cat who would live with her and keep her company while we were in China. So home came Tut, at six weeks, as soon as we could rescue from bottle feeding, and lived in pampered style for the four weeks before we left for China.
Cleopatra, in defiance of all expectations, refused to have very much to do with the little guy, other than an occasional hiss and a quick right hook when he got fresh. But she tolerated him, and we figured she'd be glad of the company, especially when we contracted with the cat lady to come more frequently than once a day. To our relieved amazement, they were both reasonably hardy and happy when we returned. Clearly Cleopatra was not depressed, but, wow, had she developed that left hook. Anna, who cleans for us, would just look at Tut, and say "Bad Boy." And Pat told us that the Cat Lady though Cleopatra was wonderful, but that Tut was a "Holy Terror." Obviously, we had yet to discover the appropriate formula to separation anxiety, but we all appeared to be surviving.
I'm sure that attending the death penalty seminar influenced my reaction to the cat book. (Remember interdependence.) We really had worried a lot about how the cats would get along, even though we knew they had Pat and visits from Racer, and should have been fine. Turns out Arnold brought me the book because he had discovered the section on "separation anxiety." All I could do when I found the Jungian and Freudian modality interpretations was giggle. Now I'm gonna try Jungian therapy on a teen age cat??? But I did settle down and read the whole book. It's OK. We bought, so I can share with any of you who have cats suffering separation anxiety or any other distressing mental health reaction. Giggling at cat therapy is appropriate in a society that kills off zillions of animals a year because people fail to provide homes for them and because they're in the way environmentally. This is not a society yet willing to take the emotional confusion and pain of its animals seriously. Hey, I'd even give a lot for schools that would take our kids' emotional confusion and pain seriously.
Neither is this a society willing to seriously consider the pain of those we call "criminals," the flimsy protection we sometimes provide in searching for evidence of guilt, or the appropriateness of the punishment we inherited from the dark ages. We hardly get around to even noticing that they have families who are affected by the punishment quite as much, if not more, than they are. See Ladies in Waiting for stories of such families.
The same way Anna labeled my teenage hunk of cat energy "Bad Boy," real boys are so labeled. Tut just has the additional luck to have someone that reads dumb books about separation anxiety for cats, and concludes that they aren't dumb at all, but just the kind of reading we should be giving our juries about our so-called "criminals."
To follow this story in criminology over the next few weeks link to Mitigation and Forgiveness, uploaded February 18, 2003.
Lived Experience: Emancipatory Narratives
- February 14, 2003: Ladies in Waiting A romance novel about women whose men are incarcerated. Just started to put up the file. I've read the book and will share my copy, shich Marsha Walker so graciously gave me. I'd like to have us do some conceptual linking with the issues. What a neat entry fir Valentine's Day! jeanne
- February 14, 2003: A New Look at "JuJu": The Pope's Apology to Africans by N. Adu Kwabena-Essem. Pat Hamilton is working on a thesis on JuJu. I'd like to validate this on the Vatican Site, if we can, Pat, but no time today. I'd also like to incorporate this into our studies on religions. Also check with the fowler Museum at UCLA. jeanne
Untitled Crotch Potatoes Susan Sternlieb, 1999.
- Fascinating piece of art, reflecting the artist's feelings about aging. You might like to see where it could lead you in your own thinking about the aging of the earth's populations. No, the potatoes aren't real. Made of rubber according to catalogue notation. But they look a little wrinkled, don't they? Especially next to the smooth, soft cloth on which they're placed. What do you suppose Susan Sternlieb is contrasting here? The renewal through regeneration of the new generations that surround the oldsters? The care the younger afford the older? What do you suppose she means by "crotch potatoes?" Don't we generally say "couch potatoes?" "Crotch" refers us back to reproduction, and "couch" refers us to disengagement, retiring from some of life's challenges? What do you supose is signified by the genteelness of the embroidery on the scarf or handkerchief on which the potatoes are arranged? Is gender referred to in the embroidery, if it is embroidery? Are the crotch potatoes of the same gender? Does it matter?
Poet and the Sundial by Parviz Tanavoli, 1998.
- Parviz Tanavoli, born in Iran, says "Of all forms, those interlocking with one another interest me the most. This perhaps originates back in my childhood when I was totally fascinated with locks and their mechanisms." Having read that, I pondered this sculpture for some time. Notice the pointer going off to the right, with the arrow hand? going up in an anatomically unexpected position.Wonder what that says about time. Unpredictable? For time may be going out or coming in to the poet? Conflicting? As the shadow turns, so turns the meaning, the sense of time? Interdependent with the thoughts and actions of the poet, who, coincidentally, could look out into the infinity of space, or drop his head to contemplate his own navel? Notice also the look of malleability of the head. External forces with which time and the internal thoughts and actions of the poet are all interdependent?