Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Juxtaposing Memories

From this wonderful collection of historic Canadian photos, some Cyril Littlebury scenes from the Capilano Valley, our Charles' favorite neck of the local woods (site of many of the photos he publishes here):

From the poem Coast Range by Pat Lowther (1935-1975):
Just north of town
the mountains start to talk
back-of-the-head buzz
of high stubbled meadows
minute flowers
moss gravel and clouds

They're not snobs, these mountains,
they don't speak Rosicrucian,
they sputter with
billygoat-bearded creeks
bumsliding down
to splat into the sea

they talk with the casual
tongues of water
rising in trees

They're so humble they'll let you
blast highways through them
baring their iron and granite
sunset-coloured bones
broken for miles
The land is what's left
after the failure
of every kind of metaphor

The plainness of first things
naive root atom
of philosophy's first molecule

The mountains reject nothing
but can crack
open your mind
just by being intractably there
And now, if you believe that First Things are really to do with the human, with the birth of the esthetic effect that lets us love the mountains, let's have a look at the conclusion to the poem, Vancouver, I love you, by Stanley Cooperman, who killed himself, in sight of those mountains:
There's no figuring this
town, anything
can float in with
the logs: used books and
ecstasy majors, Indians,
kosher salami and Danish
pastries: hookers
who wait
for French rolls
in the Italian cafe, where Luigi
imports wives and cheeses
for Sicilian brick-
with money or dreams
in their pockets.

How did it get here, this
perched like a neon
on the edge of nothing?
Listen: whatever nightmare
you carry with you
whatever tongue you use
to reach your private
remember that men have built
a magic moustache
under the nose of the Big Snow,
a trick
bigger than all the icicles
on the other side
of despair.
In this spirit, let us remember the tragedies of the generation of 1968, of romanticism and modernism finally done to death. Let us also recall past victories in the art of the covenant, that we may revive and seek out new ways to remember and to covenant for the future we cannot know until we take the leap and convert to it. As Arthur Lower wrote in the preface to his history of Canada, Colony to Nation (1946):
The main association which Canadians themselves have had with their own history has consisted in the terrifically boring stuff shoved at them in their school days.

The school teacher, however, is mainly effect rather than cause. If Canadians were able to realize themselves as a people and to lavish their profoundest loyalties on their own country, instead of dissipating them in half a dozen different directions, then interest in their own past would come readily enough and the invincible determination to remain in ignorance of all except its superficial aspects would disappear. French Canada, it is true, finds in its history much of the spiritual sustenance that enables it to go on existing, but little of this can pass over to English Canada. There are, as yet, two Canadas, inhabited by two peoples who, as often as not, are at outs...

Writing Canadian history remains an act of faith, the substance of things hoped for.
No doubt if Lower (who was not an advocate of mass immigration and endless racial mixing) could have anticipated the age of "multiculturalism" and its "many Canadas" (ideas which are really a singular and simple imperial ideology that today's schoolteachers shove down students' all-too-homogeneous, largely-ignorant-of-any-but-a-simple-syncretic-pop-culture, throats) he would have had to build an even stronger faith that we, the new Canadian multitude, can still covenant together, building our shared political future ourselves, without need of righteous minders to dictate how we must behave with each other. And yet, if we wish it, we can still learn to understand and write our history in a way to make it so...

Here's the concluding thought from Adam Katz's latest essay:
Our capacities for dealing with reality from any other standpoint than that of the special prosecutor looking for Watergate-style conspiracies in every nook and cranny of existence have significantly atrophied. A fully human reality is based upon mutual promises and covenants and upon keeping faith with them. This means we are obliged to follow 'Abraham, the man from Ur, whose whole story, as the Bible tells it, shows such a passionate drive toward making covenants that it is as though he departed from his country for no other reason than to try out the power of mutual promise in the wilderness of the world, until eventually God himself agreed to make a covenant with him' (Hannah Arendt). The retrieval and extension of firstness is the exercise of this power; it is all that can be holy for all of us today, and all that we need.
Or, we can choose today's current "British" form of oblivion:
Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.
And a final thought from another essay on the spirit of the covenant, lest we forget the importance of overcoming the prejudice that will, if it is not overcome, eventually destroy all nations, leaving the peoples in the chains of an anti-American and Judeophobic empire of post-national, dhimmi bureaucrats:
In the unified way of life that is Judaism, liberation and remembering are inseparable. The problem of the West is that it is in flight from its past, the Jewish root it appropriated only to despise, and thus lusts for the future, for the green light at the end of the dock, for the fantasy image, the digitalized virtual ‘reality’ not the living presence of life simple and abundant. “But the future is empty, a void” Kundera notes correctly. It does not, cannot, will not exist without a present firmly rooted in remembrance of the past, — the essence of identity.
The powers and interests that rule the world East and West want to destroy Israel for many reasons and have attempted and continue to attempt to do this in brutal synchronicity. As they gather against and war over Jerusalem (Zechariah 12-14; Zohar 32a on Exodus, portion Vaeira) it becomes more and more clear that the war against the Jews is a war on remembrance as the essence of genuine freedom, continuity, honor and faith which is buried by “security measures” as well as bombers. The bonds of the generations that the Modern West has done so many things to trivialize, damage and break reflects its war on Judaism and the Jews, — and its suicidal tendencies.

Remembrance, the sages emphasize is the foundation in holiness, yesod haTiferet, holiness in and through the generations that Esau and Ishmael each in their way corrupt and destroy, the way of peace and joy in a world lost and lusting for war and terror (ibid 200, 203b), lost in pursuit “of the fantasies of its own heart (Proverbs 18:2); and so the earth fills with profligacy and Hamas (Genesis 6:1-13).

The bonds between the generations and the intertwining of grace-education (chinuch from chein the root of Chanukah, “dedication,” also intrinsic to freedom and remembrance) with freedom and memory are at the heart of Passover when fathers are commanded to teach their children the story of metzias Mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt as the primary manifestation of the Eternal One’s faithfulness, remembrance, and desire for ordered liberty, dignity and responsibility as the human state of freedom with teaching and grace through the generations entwining it in a threefold cord.

But the modern world wants to go “beyond freedom and dignity.” Their progressive cult is profoundly regressive, a dead-end street, a lust for chaos and the abyss.
If you are in Vancouver, consider joining us as we remember and seek new covenants for our nation, every Thursday, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, central branch. We're in the blue scarves, in front of Blenz Coffee.

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