Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gene Kerrigan wrote this in the Irish Independent on Sunday, July 29. (Croke Park is a sports stadium that seats 82,300.)

"Imagine a million dollars. Imagine it sitting on a seat in Croke Park. Imagine every seat in the stadium had a million dollars wrapped and stacked on it. Altogether, that would be upwards of $82bn. Now, imagine 12 Croke Parks, each seat similarly decorated with money. Now, you've got a trillion dollars.

Now multiply that by 21. We're looking at over 250 Croke Parks, each holding $82bn. Now, unless the batteries on my calculator are dodgy, we're looking at something approaching the amount of money hidden offshore by the super-rich in 2010.

The figure of $21trn is the conservative estimate (it could be up to $32trn) in a report published last week by the Tax Justice Network (TJN). The research for the report was done by the former chief economist of McKinsey, a consulting firm that's hired by major corporations and governments."

I didn't know this. Did you know this? There is plenty of money out there, isn't there? For things like malaria tents, clean water, low cost housing, FOOD!

What are these people who have hidden all this money made of? I think they are aliens. I admit, when I was a kid, I thought I might grow up to be Sister Saint Nonnie, but I became more realistic about the chances of that happening long before I discovered sex, alcohol, drugs and assorted behaviors that go along with the aforementioned. However, even if I abandoned my try for sainthood, I always shared my chocolate bars, metaphorically, with my friends.

My mother, and yours probably, used to tell us to eat our vegetables because there were starving children in China (or somewhere) that didn't have any. (Never mind the logic regarding the "how" of this Motherism-we all argued with Mom but had to eat our string beans anyway.) The point was that there were others, not just our best friends, who needed pieces of our chocolate bars. There were invisible others in the world who had less than we did and our mothers wanted us to think, or better, care about them.

In spite of my career choices, which have been sort of anti-wealth-accumulation (dancer, teacher, poet) I've earned enough to be taxed by the government and I've paid. On time, even. I figured that was how parts of life worked. I couldn't build a new school, but I could pay my property tax and so do my part. And so on and so on. I have also thought that , on the whole, most people have a heartstring that tugs the "fairness," principle that was lodged in their brains by assorted adults when they were very young. We feel a good firm yank, or the slightest possible tweak, but, if we're sane, we live somewhere in the land of people who try to have a "good conscience" in their behavior towards their fellows. We struggle with this, of course.

Damn. I keep saying "we." I've slowly, over a lifetime, been absorbing the truth that "we" is an idiotic pronoun to use when talking about values. Those guys with the 21 to 32 trillion in hidden accounts? They don't use that money to share, help, support, etc., etc. anyone.  They keep it for themselves. If you've already forgotten how much money is in these black money holes, re-read Gene Kerrigans's excellent imagery.

Dylan Thomas wrote,"I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.” Thomas exhorted us to "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."  We need (there's that "we" again) to rage against these aliens, these super-rich, so that they cannot consume our light. They are bastards.

Link for Kerrigan article:


Friday, July 20, 2012

After Another Reading of Raymond Carver's "All of Us"

Young, strong, brave me, doing all that!
Dancing, teaching, performing, making this,
making that. I drank great draughts
of art, all kinds, you name it.
Used the fine work out there
to define, refine, defend my being,
my sincere effort to soar. And let
me tell you it was almost glorious.

There was, of course, a catch. For many
of those potentially triumphant years,
I helplessly slogged through a swampy mess
each night.Yes, every night. I'll stand by that.
Same old, same old. So and so loved me, but
I wanted you and you wanted her, then her.
And for all that time I couldn't get free,
couldn't toss you off, over, away, used Scotch
to dull my fury and so became more pitiful.

From here, out of all that, well-rested,
I can see that awful catch of mine
has a place at the table, in fact, near
the head, across from the almost glory.
My foolishness can be read, watched,
listened to, painted. And it has been.
Will be. Now it's time for some lunch.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Nonnie's 2nd Obsession (1st is one post back, if you are interested)

Kittens aside, (Gracy is doing fine, by the way) the other obsession in my life is TV. Not TV TV, but Roku TV. I bought this charming little device a couple of months ago and it somehow lets me stream movies, miniseries, and episodes of TV shows directly onto one of our televisions and it's dead easy. So, that's what I've been doing a lot of lately. My brother Drago joins me sometimes, but he has more of a life than I do, so I mostly watch alone, except for Sam, Blossom, or Gracy. (See previous post for pictures of them, if you like.) I was on a BBC miniseries kick for awhile, and Drago would drop in to the porch room where I watch and make fun of the upper class English accents, but that was about all of his participation until I started on The Tudors. That one got him too.
Four seasons! We got through all the episodes in about ten days. Drago missed a few, because, as I said, he has a life, but I'd catch him up on those over supper. We know a great deal more about the first half of the 16th century in Europe than either of us knew we didn't know, if you get my drift. I'd just read Hilary Mantel's excellent books, Wolf Hall, and Bring Up the Bodies, so I was fairly well-versed up until Ann Boleyn lost her head, but the series went much further-all the wives, the nobles, the clerics, the ladies-in-waiting, the diseases, the ghosts, and Henry VIII himself and his remarkable conscience, his redoubtable powers of rationalization, his lusty ways, and his astonishing clothes. I felt closest to Thomas Cromwell, because I'd looked through his eyes while reading the Mantel books, and I hated the clerics and nobles who conspired against him. I don't mean in the usual way you hate someone in a movie or book. For a few days I positively ached to revenge him! I'd find myself plotting the undoing of Bishop Gardiner and his cronies while I cooked or brushed my teeth or what have you.

I am, and always have been, grateful for the imagination of others-for books and movies of books, for the people who dream up Roku devices and their ilk, for kittens who unfailingly entertain with their mysterious games and ability to make such adventure out of thin air. I have rather bad heart disease, and this other weird thing called Myasthenia gravis. Hot weather aggravates both conditions, so I don't go out much in the summer and I suppose I spend most of my time living in stories. (Oh, sure, I try to stay informed, although I've slipped a bit lately.) But, you know, I'm older than I've ever been, and I have had a pretty colorful life, so I'm fairly content, except when I hit a restless patch.

Our kitten is giving herself a thorough scrubbing, (she's especially determined to have clean feet) Blossom is working in the garden with Drago, hoping to get to play with the water hose, Sam is blocking the hallway as best he can, and I've just been writing. So…it's all good. A pleasure.