Archive for February, 2012

Response to Wordle 45

February 28, 2012 2 comments

folks: another fine poem from Margo Roby….    RT


Response to Wordle 45.

Icelandic Interior: Guesthouse 1×6 in Reykjanesbær / Islandiškas interjeras: svečių namai 1×6 Reykjanesbær

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment


gorgeous images from iceland…that have (no joke) a japanese feel to them…check them out!     RT

Icelandic Interior: Guesthouse 1×6 in Reykjanesbær / Islandiškas interjeras: svečių namai 1×6 Reykjanesbær.

One Who Lived

February 28, 2012 2 comments

Osborne Perry Anderson was one of five blacks to join John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. He is the only black raider to have survived–the others were either killed during the raid or in its immediate aftermath.

Anderson was born free in Pennsylvania in 1830. He attended Oberlin College and subsequently emigrated to Chatham, Canada, very possibly the unofficial capital of black America at the time. There he apprenticed as and became a printer.

Anderson met John Brown during the Constitutional Convention that Brown arranged in Chatham in 1858. He was immediately attracted to Brown, both by his radical commitment to action in order to free the slaves and by his love of words.

Anderson managed to evade capture after the raid. In 1861, he wrote an account of the raid, A Voice from Harper’s Ferry, and went on to enlist in the Union Army. He died in 1872.

We still struggle to preserve and broaden liberty, which Osborne Anderson helped bring to birth in the United States. For his insight, his eloquence, and his courage, he deserves a distinguished place in our memory. Happy Black History Month!          RT


Photo: Osborne P. Anderson; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Mexico’s Lincoln

February 24, 2012 2 comments

Benito Juarez (1806-1872), full-blooded Zapotec Indian and five-time President of Mexico, may summarize the differences between Mexico and the United States (especially when compared with his contemporary, Abraham Lincoln). Born in an adobe house to Zapotec peasants, he worked as a shepherd, field hand, and domestic servant before an employer, realizing his gifts, sent him to seminary. He subsequently studied law and was elected governor of Oaxaca. Sent into exile by long-time dictator Santa Anna, he worked at a cigar factory in New Orleans before returning home, where he was instrumental in helping promulgate the liberal Constitution of 1857. Serving as interim president under the new constitution, he was elected in his own right in 1861. The constitution’s liberal slant, which, among other things, mandated education free of religious dogma, plunged Mexico into civil war, during which France intervened, installing the Archduke Maximilian as Maximilian I of a new Mexican Empire.

Juarez resisted the French occupation, and, with military help from U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, expelled the French in 1867. He was reelected President twice more, in 1867 and 1871. He died of a heart attack while in office.


Tough, stubborn, and unstoppable, Juarez is remembered in Mexico today for his belief in democracy, the rights of Mexico’s Indians, and secular government. He is generally regarded as Mexico’s greatest president, and has been called “Mexico’s Lincoln.” He came closer to realizing the dream of an independent, federal, and democratic Mexican republic than anyone before the Mexican Revolution.


RT’s Related Posts: 1) Mexico!! and Its Native Languages


Photo: President Benito Juarez, WikiCmns, Public Domain.


The Question….

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment


It’s 8:08 in the morning, but here goes anyway:

the question is shadow to the answer


So, an unusual but satisfying start to the day…  RT


Photo: Cafe on the River See; User, Mattes; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

The Song of Songs

February 14, 2012 4 comments

Valentine’s Day evokes as many tears as its does sighs of pleasure; love is the most desired, and yet the most difficult, emotion. We fall in love with people who do not love us, or who can’t stand us; or again we see that someone loves us and know that the relationship cannot work for practical reasons; and still other times we marry the person we imagine is right for us, only to find ourselves falling out of love with him or her, sometimes many years later.

We hunger for experience, for intensity, for connection–and nothing beats the sheer exhilaration of falling in love. It is the lifeforce itself, as people all over the world recognize.

Surely with mankind the appreciation of flowers must have been coeval with the poetry of love. 

—Kakuzo Okakura

And I can think of no better love poetry to celebrate this demanding but essential passion than the Song of Songs. Here is its opening:


The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.
A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.
The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.


Happy Valentine’s Day!       RT


Photo: Old Love Letters; Rachel Ashe; WikiCmns; CC 2.0 Generic.

Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II

February 9, 2012 1 comment

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, RT thinks it might be time to turn the blog towards matters of the heart. And what could be more appropriate than the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, surely the most passionate exchange of lovers’ vows ever penned in English. Perhaps what makes this scene so heartbreaking is its freshness and innocence–two qualities not always appreciated in contemporary romance. Enjoy!!

The Same. CAPULET’S Orchard.



Enter ROMEO.


  Rom.  He jests at scars, that never felt a wound.  [JULIET appears above at a window.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?


It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!

Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief,

That thou her maid art far more fair than she:


Be not her maid, since she is envious; 

Her vestal livery is but sick and green,

And none but fools do wear it; cast it off. 

It is my lady; O! it is my love:


O! that she knew she were.

She speaks, yet she says nothing: what of that?

Her eye discourses; I will answer it.

I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks:


Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,

Having some business, do entreat her eyes

To twinkle in their spheres till they return.

What if her eyes were there, they in her head?


The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

That birds would sing and think it were not night.


See! how she leans her cheek upon her hand:

O! that I were a glove upon that hand,

That I might touch that cheek.


  Jul.        Ay me!


  Rom.        She speaks:

O! speak again, bright angel; for thou art

As glorious to this night, being o’er my head,

As is a winged messenger of heaven


Unto the white-upturned wond’ring eyes

Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him

When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,

And sails upon the bosom of the air.


  Jul.  O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father, and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.


  Rom.  [Aside.] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?


  Jul.  ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.

What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,


Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;


So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;

And for that name, which is no part of thee,


Take all myself.

Painting: The Balcony Scene; F.B. Dickersee, 1884; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Cahto Woman (California)

February 7, 2012 2 comments

Another superb image from the seemingly inexhaustible work of Edward S. Curtis….    RT



photo: Cahto Woman (1924); Edward S. Curtis; WikiCmns; Public Domain



February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

powerful poetry by poesie & pockets. Enjoy!    RT


The Ivory House (The Bible & the Z Revolution, Part 6)

February 4, 2012 6 comments

“Now the rest of the acts of Ahab, and all that he did, and the ivory house which he made, and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (II Kings 22:39–KJV)

The Book of Kings records some of the most powerful–and violent–stories in the Bible. In its pages we find Elijah summoning the rain, the death of Jezebel, Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem, and the reforms of the Judean kings Hezekiah and Josiah. Kings is our principle source of information on the history of Israel’s divided monarchy–the period between 922 and 722 B.C., when the twelve tribes were ruled by two different kingdoms–the Northern Kingdom of Israel (or Samaria) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.


The victors write a conflict’s history. 1 Kings and 2 Kings (as the Bible presents Kings) are fine examples of this adage, emphasizing the apostacy of Samaria from the true religion of God. Kings makes no bones about how Samaria veered off course: 1) it rejected the rule of the House of David (mandated by God); 2) it worshipped at the two cult centers at Beth-El and Dan (as opposed to the true center of worship, Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem); and 3) it worshipped the Canaanite god Baal and his images (which were forbidden by the Torah). God eventually gave up on Israel and allowed the Assyrian Empire to conquer the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. (Judah, on the other hand, survived the Assyrian assault.)


Let’s see if we can add some details to this picture. We should begin by noting that the Judeans worshipped Yahweh (or at least the elite did) at the temple built by Solomon. Archaeological evidence has shown that this picture holds true only for the major cities–outside the cities, people continued to worship the old Canaanite gods at local altars–as was the custom throughout Samaria.

In contrast, the Samarians followed two gods–in the south, they continued to worship Yahweh at Shiloh (though David had moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem); in the north, they worshipped Baal at his various altars. This cultural/religious split proved profoundly destabilizing for Samaria and eventually led to its collapse.


But not before the Samarian kings went to extraordinary lengths to eliminate the religious division in their realm. Jeroboam I (r. 931-910), the first king of Samaria, built the “golden-calf” cult centers at Dan and Beth-El as a means of unifying the ritual practiced by northern and southern Samarians and named a new priesthood to each meant to reduce religious tension in his kingdom. Ultimately, he failed; after his death, his heir was murdered and a new royal house took its place, suggesting that a substantial part of the population had rejected his compromise. Several decades passed without a further attempt at resolving the religious split.


Enter Omri and Ahab, the greatest kings that Samaria produced. Omri (r. 876-869), perhaps wanting to imitate David, purchased a steeply sided hill and built an impressive new capital city on it, which came to be called Samaria. The top of the hill was levelled–an extremely demanding and expensive architectural feat at the time–and the city surrounded with walls built of the highest quality ashlar masonry–another expensive item. It appears that the city had a highly cosmopolitan population, including a considerable Syrian merchant community–to satisfy the residents, Omri probably permitted the construction of temples for Yahweh and Baal within the city walls.

And there is the question of where the money to build this new city came from–RT guesses that Ittobaal funded the project, in return for a marriage contract authorized by Omri.


But it is with Omri’s son and heir, King Ahab (r. 869-850), that Samaria came to be associated. Though Ahab was the greatest of Samaria’s kings (bringing his country’s fortunes to their zenith), he is mostly remembered for his marriage to Jezebel (the name means “Baal Exalts”), the daughter of a powerful Phoenician King, Ittobaal (r. 878-847), who managed to unite most of Phoenicia under his rule. Ittobaal was a priest of Astarte before he seized the throne of Tyre, and it seems his daughter was bent on imposing the worship of Tyre’s pantheon, and in particular, of Baal, throughout Samaria/Israel. She honored the prophets of Baal by dining with them, and may have ordered a mass execution of the prophets of Yahweh–a gesture it seems was reciprocated by a massacre of the prophets of Baal.



How did Ahab respond to the appalling religious war in his kingdom? RT thinks he may have ordered the composition of the Elohist (or “E”) text, tasking its author with writing a work that would unite his kingdom under the worship of another, compromise, ancient divinity, El (or Elohim)–who reveals himself in the middle of the story to be none other than Yahweh.

In short, the Elohist text was the first of the four main strands of the Pentateuch to be composed. During a bitter struggle over the worship of Baal and Yahweh, the Israelites took the first step towards forging a new world consciousness.


P.S. What does the Ivory House have to do with all this? Could the reference have been to a winter palace, a favorite retreat of the king’s? It may have been the place where the E source was composed.


P.P.S. For more information on the Elohist Source & a link to the online E text, go here.

Map: Map of the Divided Kingdom, WikiCmns, Public Domain. Photo: Site of Ancient City of Samaria, 1910. WikiCmns, Public Domain. Painting: Adoration of the Golden Calf; Nicholas Poussin; WikiCmns; Public Domain.