The fantasy and the truth.

Pagans1.jpg

Winter solstice, in your dream fantasy, is a rowdy pagan affair.  Naked young flesh pulsating in the flickering light of heathen torches.  Bare breasts heaving with excitement, gooseflesh skin tingling with anticipation as the winter sun crests the ancient stones.

So you drive for hours and fuss over the parking arrangements.  Dress warmly, for the wind over Salisbury plain is a scour in winter.  You tramp your way to the stones and arrive well after sunrise.  Is that Mrs Neville, the butchers wife?  Must remember to say Happy Christmas.

Pagans2

Toward the Winter Solstice; by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
it dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
and cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
a dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
the cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
will accent the tree’s elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
and call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
we all are conscious of the time of year;
we all enjoy its colorful displays
and keep some festival that mitigates
the dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
but UPS vans now like magi make
their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
are gaily resurrected in their wake;
the desert lifts a full moon from the east
and issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
and valets at chic restaurants will soon
be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
the fan palms scattered all across town stand
more calmly prominent, and this place seems
a vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
the tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
and ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
it’s comforting to look up from this roof
and feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
to recollect that in antiquity
the winter solstice fell in Capricorn
and that, in the Orion Nebula,
from swirling gas, new stars are being born.

Truth is a voyage of exploration

Vasco

On December 16th in 1497 Vasco da Gama passed the mark set by Bartolomeo Dias in 1488 and rounded the Cape of Good Hope, sailing into the Indian Ocean and history.

Each Portugese explorer tried to build on the knowledge and achievements of his predecessor and stretch the boundary of the known world further with each voyage.

The outcome of decades of exploration was to open the door for da Gama to exploit the Indian Spice Route.

Academic research adopts the same approach. When you write a research thesis you begin with a review of all the available literature in your field. You establish the base of existing knowledge and then you seek to expand it further with your research project. If we do not know what already exists then we waste time reinventing the wheel.

When we educate oppressed people to the possibilities that exist in other societies we open the door for them to liberate themselves. A regime that limits knowledge is a regime ruled by fear of the possible. An open information policy is a sign of a healty regime.

In the modern world you can quickly identify which regimes are open by looking at their approach to regulating the internet. That will give you a very strong indication of how they control freedom of the press and the education of the people.

A nation that shrouds itself in a blanket of ignorance is protecting the vested interests of the current regime. No such nation can sustain this stance into the long term. The truth will emerge and will set the people free.

The child is not dead; by Ingrid Jonker

The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart

The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath
of righteousness and blood
in the streets of his embattled pride

The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain

The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa

the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
Without a pass