Echos From Shadows of The Past…

“The Law was made for one thing alone, for the exploitation of those who don’t understand it, or are prevented by naked misery from obeying it.” – Bertolt Brecht

“A man who sees another man on the street corner with only a stump for an arm will be so shocked the first time he’ll give him six-pence. But the second time it’ll only be a threepenny bit. And if he sees him a third time, he’ll have him cold-bloodedly handed over to the police.” – Bertolt Brecht

In 1933 the Nazis seized power, and like many German dissidents, the writer Bertolt Brecht had to leave. After several moves, he ended up in Denmark where he and his family accepted the offer of a house in a remote village. It was there that he penned an essay which quickly began appearing in different European cities. The journal responsible was Unsere Zeit (Our Times). It was even smuggled into Germany and distributed under a plain cover. The title “Statutes of Reich Association of German Writers.”

The actual title of this work was “Funf Schwierigkeiten beim schreiben der Wahrheit,” which translates to “Five Difficulties in Writing the Truth.

Brecht went on to say that if one chooses to oppose lies and ignorance, and to write the truth, there are five difficulties that you must overcome.

The real title of the essay was “Fünf Schwierigkeiten beim schreiben der Wahrheit,” or “Five Difficulties in Writing the Truth.” Brecht wrote:

“These days, if you want to struggle against lies and ignorance, and to write the truth, you must overcome at least five difficulties. You must have the courage to write the truth when everywhere truth is repressed. You must have the wit to recognize the truth, though everywhere it is concealed. You must have the skill to make the truth into a weapon. You must have the judgment to choose those in whose hands the truth will be effective. And you must have the cunning to spread the truth among such people.”

While the obstacles he faced were epic under fascism, they are also present in the lives of writers who have suffered exile, had to flee their homes and also for those who live in countries that claim to be democracies when they are not. Today we live in a world where fascism is rearing its ugly head. In some countries more than others, it is quickly become the rule of law in some parts of the world.

I believe that it is time to dust of Brecht and to committ to exactly what type of writer each of us will strive to be. Remembering his circumstances and reading his words, I shall endeavor to follow his ideals.

The Courage to Tell the Truth

It seems obvious that, as a writer, you should write the truth, in the sense that you ought not to suppress or conceal anything or deliberately write things that are untrue. You ought not to bow down before the powerful or betray the weak. It is, of course, very hard not to bow down before the powerful, and it is highly advantageous to betray the weak. To displease the possessors means to become one of the dispossessed. To pass up paid work or to decline fame when it is offered may mean being unpaid or unknown forever. This takes courage.

Any truth worth writing is one that those in power do not want you to tell, and the enemies of truth will try to exact a price. They will leak your personal information to the press or to your enemies. They will dox you. They will try to make it embarrassing or frightening or dangerous to tell the truth. A man who corrupts whole countries gets less prison time than a woman who votes by mistake. This is what power means.

In times of oppression, there is usually much talk about elevated matters. To write that you are “in the resistance” feels dramatic and important. You can get the feeling that you are a truth teller, because truth ought to feel dramatic and important. What is this feeling of drama? Surely, it must be the truth. In such times, it takes courage to write of low and boring matters such as food and shelter, access to healthcare, the rights of refugees.

When every channel is blaring the message that strong feelings trump knowledge, and that a man without compassion is more deserving of attention than one who cares for others, it takes courage to ask: Who profits? When all the talk is of who is a real American, it takes courage to ask: Who is unreal?

It also takes courage to tell the truth about yourself, about your own defeat. You lost. They are drinking your tears. Many of the oppressed lose the capacity to see their own mistakes. It seems to them that the persecution they suffer is itself the greatest injustice. The persecutors are wicked simply because they persecute; the persecuted suffer because of their goodness. But this goodness has been beaten, defeated, suppressed. It was therefore a weak goodness, a bad, unreliable goodness. For we cannot accept that goodness must be weak as rain must be wet. Weakness is not goodness. Goodness is not a weakness. It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.

Naturally, in the struggle with lies we must write the truth, and this truth must not be a lofty and ambiguous abstraction. When we say of someone, “She spoke the truth,” we imply that some people said something that was not the truth—a lie or a generality—but she said something practical, factual, undeniable.

It takes little courage to mutter a complaint about the triumph of barbarism in a place where complaining is still permitted, even prized. Many writers pretend that the guns are aimed at them when, in reality, they are merely the targets of influencers, trackers, and ads. They shout their generalized demands to a world of friends and followers. They insist on a generalized justice for which they have never done anything. They ask for generalized freedom: Alexa, make the government change.

These writers think that truth is only what sounds good. If the truth turns out to be difficult or dry, they don’t recognize it as such. Because what they crave isn’t the truth but a feeling and a status: the feeling of truth, the status of being a truth teller. The trouble with them is: they do not know the truth.

Upcoming Post: The Wit to recognize the Truth

Bisous,

Léa

A little Lamb…

” We gain nothing by being with such as ourselves. We encourage one another in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself.”               –  Charles Lamb

“The greatest pleasure I know is to do a good action by stealth, and have to have it found out by accident.” –  Charles Lamb 

“I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.”  – Charles Lamb

The Old Familiar Faces

I have had playmates, I have had companions,

In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have been laughing, I have been carousing,

Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I loved a love once, fairest among women;

Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her –

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;

Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;

Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.

Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood

Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse,

Seeking to find the old familiar faces.

Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,

Why wert not thou born in my father’s dwelling?

So might we talk of the old familiar faces –

How some have died, and some they have left me,

And some are taken from me; all are departed;

All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb 1775 – 1834

Bisous,

Léa

Le deuxième café

“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

“Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” – Pierce Brown, Golden Son

Le deuxième café

There is a second café now, in

Villeseque

C’est petit

Not so grand as the first

Cosy – like that favorite old sweater

Clung to on autumn’s first chill

Across the road, a large wooden table

Around it are six stools – room for twelve (stacked nearby)

Another small table just outside the door

The pattern is repeated inside

Tapas, wine, beer as you like

No extra charge for welcoming service

From your first visit,

You have come home

Bisous,

Léa

L’ete

The veil between my beloved summer and autumn has once again descended. Like last year, it has tumbled earlier than in the past. I’ve learned to find delights in each season but summer is where my heart sings. The quotes below, for me, reflect that sentiment. 

 

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned  that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  –  Albert Camus

“In summer, the song sings itself.”   –  William Carlos Williams

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”   –  F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 

L’ete

Slowing down my mind

Halt the eternal quest

For tomorrow, next week

Or a favorite holiday

Even before summer’s

Waning begins, the

Yearning for it starts

Anew

*

Learning to delight in

Nuances of each season

Colors of gold, red, yellow

Then brown splashes

Across the vineyards to

Les arbres

Soups simmer once again

A late squash-corn chowder,

Black bean or hearty vegetable

Avec pois chiche

*

Le Printemps donne l’espoir

Les fleurs,

Vibrant green leaves

Sur le vigne

Life cycle

Reaffirms herself

Mother Nature bestows her gifts

*

Most difficult

Pour moi

Making peace

Avec l’hiver

Taking my breath away

Lodging its chill

Deep in my bones

Even when sunlight bounces

Across a rare snow

Longing takes over

Summer feels so far away

*

Bisous,

Léa

lumière du soleil

“I desperately want to see the day today and do the best I can not to miss a shred of sunlight. It’ll be over before I know it.”   –  Mandy Patinkin

 

“If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.   –  Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.”   –  Anais Nin

*

lumière du soleil

*

playfully

she slips upon me

as I sleep

nudging me awake

filled with laughter

forcing my eyes

open

*

impishly she creeps

into corners

illuminating cobwebs

chasing shadows

yet they disappear

as she moves on

*

like a torch

her beams

warm the forest’s

thickly needled carpet

peeking between branches

and leaves

*

with a silent smirk

in her wake

she ignites starlight

*

Bisous,

Léa

I Walk A Little Above The Ground

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”  – Carl G. Jung

“The more powerful and original the mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude.”  – Aldous Huxley

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”            – Albert Camus

 

I walk a little above the ground

 

I walk a little above the ground

In that place where birds

Are usually hit.

A little above the birds

In the place where they usually lean forward

To take flight

 

I fear dead weight

Because it is a scattered nest

 

I am slightly above what dies

On that slope where the word is like bread

A little in the palm of the hand that breaks it

And like the silence that attends my writing I do not separate

 

I walk lightly above what I say

And I pour blood into my words

I walk a little above the poem’s transfusion

I walk humbly through the word’s outskirts

a passer-by one invisible step above earth

In that place of trees with fruit and trees

Engulfed by fire

I’m a little inside what burns

Slowly dwindling and feeling thirsty

Because I walk above power to satiate whoever lives

And I squeeze my heart out for what descends on me

And drinks

 

Daniel Faria 1971-1999

 

Bisous,

Léa

 

What Can I Do To Drive Away…

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard, are sweeter.”  – John Keats 

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”  – John Keats

“Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language, and the last, and it always tells the truth.”  – Margaret Atwood

What can I do to drive away…

 

What can I do to drive away

Remembrance from my eyes? For they have seen,

Aye, an hour ago, my brilliant Queen!

Touch has a memory, O say, love, say,

What can I do to kill it and be free

In my old liberty?

When every fair one that I saw was fair

Enough to catch me in but half a snare,

Not keep me there:

When, howe’er poor or particolour’d things,

My muse had wings,

And ready was to take her course

Whither I bent her force,

Unintellectual, yet divine to me;

Divine, I say! – What sea-bird o’er the sea

Is a philosopher the while he goes

Winging along where the great water throes?

How shall I do

To get anew

Those moulted feathers, and so mount once more

Above, above

The reach of fluttering Love,

And make him cower lowly while I soar?

Shall I gulp wine? No, that is vulgarism,

A heresy and schism,

Foisted into the canon law of love;

No, – wine is only sweet to happy men;

More dismal cares Seize on me unawares,

Where shall I learn to get my peace again?

To banish thoughts of that most hateful land,

Dungeoner of my friends, that wicked strand

Where they were wreck’d and lived a wrecked life,

That monstrous region, whose dull rivers pour

Ever from their sordid urns unto the shore,

Unown’d of any weedy-haired gods;

Whose winds, all zephyrless, hold scourging rods,

Iced in the great lakes, to afflict mankind;

Whose rank-grown forests, frosted, black, and blind,

Would fright a Dryad; whose harsh herbag’d meads

Make a lean and lank the starv’d ox while he feeds;

There flowers have no scent, birds no sweet song,

And great unerring Nature once seems wrong.

O, for some sunny spell

To dissipate the shadows of this hell!

Say they are gone,-with the new dawning light

Steps forth my lady bright!

O, let me once more rest

My soul upon that dazzling breast!

Let once again these aching arms be plac’d,

The tender gaolers of thy waist!

And let me feel that warm breath here and there

To spread a rapture in my very hair,
O, the sweetness of the pain!

Give me those lips again!

Enough! Enough! It is enough for me

To dream of thee!

 

– John Keats 1795 – 1821

 

Bisous,

Léa

Salut/Rencontres

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths you Can’t Avoid

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”  – Oscar Wilde

“We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what the are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.

– John Locke

“Language forces us to perceive the world as man presents it to us.”

– Julia Penelope

 

 

Salut/Rencontres

Antoine comes to the café

Each morning

A magazine in hand

Periodicals about small boats

Or great ships

The sea courses

Through his veins

Antoine skims le journal (newspaper)

Drinks his café

Diving deeper into

His nautical world

Pausing to acknowledge

Friends

Today he shows me

A new book “Milk Cows”

U boats of WWII – hardback

En anglais

In turn, I produce my

Latest paperback of French poems

On parting we raise les livres

And laugh

Bisous,

Léa

Defeat

The darker things get, the more I find myself turning to the wise words that are never far away. In fact, I hope you find some below. There is much more on the bookshelf, library, and the internet. Poetry and quotes have long been a refuge for many.

 

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”                       – George E. Woodberry

 “What is defeat? Nothing but education. Nothing but the first step to something better.”  – Wendell Phillips

 

Defeat 

 

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude, and my aloofness;

You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,

And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

 

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge, and my defiance,

Through you, I know that I am yet young and swift of foot

And not to be trapped by withering laurels.

And in you, I have found aloneness

And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

 

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword, and shield,

In your eyes, I have read

That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,

And to be understood is to be leveled down,

And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness

And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

 

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,

You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,

And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,

And urging of seas,

And of mountains that burn in the night,

And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

 

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,

You and I shall laugh together with the storm,

And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,

And we shall stand in the sun with a will,

And we shall be dangerous.                              – Kahlil Gibran

 

Bisous,

Léa

Quotations By Isaac Asimov

Most timely, Charles. We all need to read and heed these quotes. The budget needs to put Education as a top priority. Alas, under the current regime, that won’t happen. One’s head must be buried deeply in the sand to not see the price the nation is paying for ignorance. Thank you for shining some light out into the darkness.

charles french words reading and writing

Isaac.Asimov01

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

“The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.”

View original post