Monday, July 31, 2006

The Wisdom of Auden

One of the most depressing aspects of the current war between Hezbullah and Israel is the way in which it has caused the promising dialogue between Israeli and Arab bloggers to all but collapse. Moderate Arab bloggers who once despised the machinations of Hezbullah now reserve their hatred for Israel.

I was compelled to re-read Auden's melancholy masterpiece, "September 1st, 1939" written at the beginning of the Second World War. My eyes fell upon the following passage, which seems to speak to Arab and Israeli bloggers across the decades...

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
Keep talking to one another. To survive, keep talking...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Remembering Spinoza

Given the latest round of ethnic/religious violence wracking the Middle East, I applaud the NYT times for acknowledging one of the people who reminded us that the ultimate source of wisdom lies in humanity's capacity for reason.

350 years ago Baruch Spinoza was excommunicated by his fellow Jews. He then went on to shock the rest of Europe with his ideas:

Spinoza argued that no group or religion could rightly claim infallible knowledge of the Creator’s partiality to its beliefs and ways. After the excommunication, he spent the rest of his life — he died in 1677 at the age of 44 — studying the varieties of religious intolerance. The conclusions he drew are still of dismaying relevance.

Read the whole article here.

Was Nietzsche Right?

Recently, it came to my attention that Jordanian national television does not broadcast "The Simpsons" but does carry "The View."

In a recent press release, the International Association of Atheists have asserted that this is conclusive proof that there is no God.

Said group spokesman Pierre Duvenal, "The idea of a compassionate and just deity having control over the universe is not compatible with the fact that an already overstressed Arab population is denied the comic relief of Bart Simpson, but must endure the blatherings of a coven of witless bitches."

This is Not News

Lance Bass of 'N Sync has come out of the closet and it is being covered extensively by the global media.

I submit that this does not meet the crtieria for "news" anymore than a plane landing on time qualifies as news. Mr. Bass is a member of a "boy band" a group of young men who wear make-up and prance around on stage.

If such a group was composed solely of heterosexuals, that would constitute news.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The War Next Door

I've called my latest post "The War Next Door" despite the fact that the conflict I'm referring to, the as yet unnamed Israel-Hezbullah miniwar, is half a world away because, in that neighborhood of cyberspace known as the blogosphere, the anguish of fellow bloggers initmately involved can be heard as if they were in the next room.

My own involvement has been limited to checking on the status of friends and, when I can contribute/facilitate continued discussion among bloggers affected by this tragedy. It is, as Lisa Goldman puts it, the first truly blogged war.

Will that make any difference I wonder?