Inauguration 1-20-09

January 21, 2009

And in that bright transcendent morning, the once unthinkable was, suddenly and inevitably, done. Who could resist the embracing magic of that moment?

The poet Elizabeth Alexander invoked the common people “repairing the things in need of repair.” In a bleeding world marked by so much unnecessary pain, a world so precariously out of balance, we must find ways to come together in vast missions of repair. “A teacher says, ‘Take out your pencils. Begin.”’

And so it begins.

Years from now the magic will survive or not—and that judgment will rest largely on questions of war and poverty. Martin Luther King Jr’s conscious and courageous connection of racial justice to economic justice and peace is a legacy to embrace in “the fierce urgency of now.” Will this moment be ruined in the furnaces of war, or can we hammer swords into plowshares and become a nation among nations? Can we learn to really live by the principle that anyone’s suffering diminishes us all?

The president’s speech looked in both directions: a return to past glory, a new awakening of peace and justice. A page is turned, and it’s now up to us write the next chapter.


January 19, 2009

I recently read City of Glass, Paul Auster’s smart and provocative 1985 novel of identity and consciousness, in conjunction with the 1994 graphic adaptation with Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli, introduction by Art Spiegelman. Each is brilliant in its own right, and reading them side by side is an entire education in the complex and multidimensional challenge, as well as the unique, sweet rewards of comic books. The graphic is no more an illustrated version of the original than Coppala’s “Godfather” is a linear set of moving pictures aside Puzo’s text. Comic books—a medium not a genre, a third thing with its own history and idiosyncratic opportunities and demands— have come into their own, and this double-dip shows how and why.

Arundhati Roy says:

January 1, 2009

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.