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Some Bellwether colleagues recently shared this article about women in career and family. While I don’t parent, I still found the article’s reminders super useful. A few quotes from the piece about work, fulfillment, and how we manage our time: (more…)

Readers,

I’ve started a newsletter so you can receive monthly updates on my writing life, snarky commentary on what I’m reading, and photos of my dog. If you’re already a WordPress subscriber to my blog, this might be a better way to follow what I’m up to.

Join me! tinyletter.com/tpaperny to subscribe to “A Healthy Mix of the Sacred and Profane.” Or click here to view the first letter I sent out yesterday.

You’ve landed at the internet home of writer|editor|translator Tanya Paperny.

Culturally Progressive is my blog where I write about literature, culture, and politics and share work of mine that has been published elsewhere. Scroll down for new posts. If you want to read more about me, click About Tanya, or click on appearances for upcoming and past events. All my recent published writing is listed on the Writing page. To subscribe to my awesome monthly newsletter, click here. Thanks for stopping by!

the unbearable lightness of being
the unbearable lite-ness of being
the unbearable blightness of being
the unbearable nice™ness of being
the unbearable “like”ness of being

From a recent essay by translator Sean Cotter, about translator-wonder Michael Heim. Heim passed away in 2012 (I wrote an obituary here), and Cotter and others are putting together a book about his life. Can’t wait to read it.

I like this very much, this being a new poem called “Trance Notebook #15” from Wayne Koestenbaum. An excerpt:

__________
“Sempre libera” backwards

like Paul McCartney’s death

revealed by playing

“Revolution 9” backwards—
__________
who taught

me that trick?
__________
rescued or adopted by

a queer on Mission

Street in pursuit of

his perfect éclair,

his Patricia Neal

impersonation
__________

Part of the PEN Poetry Series, which publishes work by emerging and established writers once a week.

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

– See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

– See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

__________

despite the taboo against
cannibalism

__________

              it depends
what fish are used
in the gefilte fish—

__________

             death’s
interpreter, I’m
a fat man leaning on
the same bannister
Kafka’s uptight
virile father
leaned on

__________

                if he’s so famous
why do I need to ask
this question?

__________

the answer is Pink Floyd

__________

– See more at: http://www.pen.org/poetry/trance-notebook-15#sthash.QnGtqn2v.dpuf

 

Inside-the-Rainbow-4

Via The Paris Review: “Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children’s Literature 1920–35: Beautiful Books, Terrible Times is a stunning compendium of illustrations from the twenties and thirties.”

Rainbow over Brooklyn

Photo by Barry Yanowitz; licensed by Creative Commons.

After who knows how many days of a persistent heat wave, the clouds just broke into a thunderous rainstorm. The construction workers on scaffolds outside my window ran into the middle of the street cheering. One man in a white tank top and back brace raised his arms and head to the sky laughing. I can’t help but smile — we’ve all been waiting for this.

Somehow, I <3 you Brooklyn (even as I sit here in my sweat-soaked no-air-conditioning t-shirt).

Police detain an activist during a protest rally by opposition group "Another Russia" in central Moscow Sunday. (Reuters)

For the last two days, Muscovites have been taking to the streets to protest the recent (and rigged) Russian parliamentary election results. They have been joined by many people from other Russian cities who have dropped everything to join these unprecedented protests.

For a summary of the activities that took place on Monday and Tuesday, click here and here. The WaPo also has some good photos. You can also see my Twitter feed, where I’ve been re-tweeting the live tweets directly from the streets.

Here are a few important takeaways:

  1. Many of the participants are first-time protestors. Before this, they considered themselves too cynical to participate in oppositional activism, let alone vote in elections they knew to be rigged. Thousands upon thousands are meeting in the streets despite the heavy (and predictably violent) presence of police and special forces.
  2. People are very active online, on Facebook for events, and on Twitter (the hashtag for Monday was #5dec or #5дек, but I’m not sure what they are using now). Some are drawing comparisons to Tahrir Square.
  3. There are widespread (and deeply-held) rumors that Americans and other foreigners are paying Russians $$ to participate in such protests in order to tarnish Russia’s image. Putin has said things to spread this type of belief in the past. Even activists are wary of American support (as evidence by the tone when I wrote an English-language message of support on Facebook).
  4. Putin’s response has been to organize massive rallies of supporters for the “United Russia” party. People are being bused to Moscow, and one woman, when asked why she was joining, replied: “I don’t know–they just put us on a bus.”

This LiveJournal user (reminder: LiveJournal or Живо́й Журна́л is a serious blogging platform in Russia) posted some great photos. I’ve translated some of the signs in the images:

  • Photo #3: Police attempted to keep #s low by using metal detectors. So many people showed up that they spilled onto neighboring boulevards.
  • Photo #5: “These elections are a farce” and “UnitedRussia in the trash” (except the Russian has great word play that I can’t translate).
  • Photo #4: “Russia Will Be Free” and “We’ll Return Power to the People.”
  • Photo #6: “Gays and Lesbians Against Crooks and Thieves.”
  • Last photo reads “United Russia is the party of crooks and thieves.”

Let’s see what comes of all this. And don’t forget that the presidential elections are coming up in March, when Putin is expected to take back his old job (how convenient).

While I have visited Occupy Wall Street twice over the past few weeks and have supported the movement in various ways, I refer to the movement and its participants as “they,” only because I haven’t invested enough time in it to truly consider myself a part. Here is my take on the infuriating dismissals of the seriousness of the protests and my call to action. Photos throughout this post were taken by me. Please give credit and link back to this post if you use them.

– – –

I’m tired of people dismissing the legitimate concerns of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Together movements. It’s especially hurtful when it comes from people on the left. For example, New York Magazine ran this silly piece in last week’s magazine that insulted the intelligence of partipants using silly pop quizzes. On the next page of the magazine, they took free yoga classes waaay too seriously and explained them using terms like “democratization.” Way to give due seriousness to serious matters, guys. Or even this column in the progressive magazine Mother Jones, where a former Obama staffer, despite supporting the movement’s larger goals, still insists on calling the initiators of Occupy Wall Street “all crazy ones.”

Stop Corporate Greed

But this is old news. Ever since the beginning of the movement, media outlets, politicians, left-wingers, right-wingers, and members of the public have tried to discount the Occupy Wall Street protest activity by accusing participants of not having concrete plans, of being vague and decentralized, and of not streamlining their messaging. The coverage always insists on reiterating the same question: What exactly are you people asking for?

But the burden of proof should not always have to fall on the public. Occupy Wall Street and associated protest movements have identified the circumstances of the crisis and have pointed to the context that drove them to action: no jobs, no affordable healthcare, impunity for the real crooks of the financial crisis, staggering corporate profits and executive bonuses, a widening wage gap, too much corporate influence in our government, and much, much more.

Concrete Ideas

These are the collective concerns, many of which were outlined in the Declaration on September 29, and yet people keep accusing the movement of not having any tangible complaints or proposals for change. Well, I have a two-pronged response.

1.) Coming up with policy solutions and proposals should not be the job of Occupy Wall Street. Protestors should not have to have centralized messaging, single-issue demands, or charts and graphs to demonstrate their rationality and seriousness. Occupy Wall Street and its partner protests around the country have pointed a finger at a crisis. They cannot reverse it or make steps to prevent it from happening again without the collaboration of larger social institutions. It is the work of economists, elected officials, the President’s cabinet, members of government agencies, and nonprofit advocacy organizations to put into motion reforms, laws and regulations based on the people’s demands. The people have cried out for help to ensure that corporations don’t have undue influence over our government, that there are no more predatory lenders or rapid stock trading. Now it’s your turn to act, America.

2.) Of course, Occupy Wall Street protestors aren’t just sitting back and waiting for the world to change. Protest is not just about getting the attention of those in power and hoping that they’ll respond to make lasting change. Occupy Wall Street participants are spending their time actively responding to and shaping an alternative to the moral crisis in this country. Through the consensus-based model known as the General Assembly, people in New York City’s Zucotti Park are creating the world they wish to see. The micro-communities camping out all over the country are modeling themselves after a world that doesn’t exist in the U.S., a world where grassroots democracy is a reality.

Watch this incredible short video to get a taste of the consensus model if you haven’t already seen it in action, or just to be re-inspired if you already know about it:

And that should be enough.

Indeed, many unlikely allies have begun latching onto the messaging of Occupy Wall Street to show that the protest’s concerns are real.

First, there are charts from Business Insider that show how “inequality in this country has hit a level that has been seen only once in the nation’s history, and unemployment has reached a level that has been seen only once since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, corporate profits are at a record high.”

David Weidner, Wall Street columnist for MarketWatchpenned an op-ed arguing that “the bankers who brought us this mess not only walk free, they drive free in Bentleys paid for by money looted through toxic mortgages, trading debacles and derivative madness…The ones outraged by greed run amok, reckless behavior and fraud are getting wrestled to the pavement and arrested.”

So why not stop trying to malign the movement? They are here to stay. Take them seriously.

The Economy Could Be More FairThanks for listening.

Cover of Spring 2010 issue of Fusion Magazine, from Kent State UniversityThe organization where I used to work, Campus Progress, gives funding, training, and mentorship to progressive student publications all across the country. One issue of a Campus Progress-sponsored award-winning publication, Fusion (Kent State University), has finally been released after facing censorship:

The controversial magazine issue includes an eight-page spread featuring cross-dressing models, with the headline “Gender Fuck’d” written in large print above…The three Ohio-based printing companies that rejected Fusion in its final form—Freeport Press Inc. in Freeport, Hess Print Solutions in Brimfield, and Davis Graphic Communication Solutions in Bamberton—cited similar reasons for refusing to publish the magazine.

Read the full story and view the recently-released issue of Fusion over at Campus Progress by my former colleague, David Spett.

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