A Day of Joy and Sorrow 2020

February 21, 2020

 

Today would have been Nina Simone’s 86th birthday.  She gave us such joy and passion and most importantly a withering and uncompromising understanding of the black condition in America. This review of a Simone biography is well worth reading. She was fierce in her joy and I love her for it.

Also, fifty-five years ago today, the revered Malcolm X was murdered by adherents of the Nation of Islam (NOI). At his funeral, Ossie Davis called him “our shining black prince”.

After years in the NOI’s leadership, Malcolm renounced the inherent racism of that organization and the alleged financial, political, and moral corruption of Elijah Mohammed. Without ever caving to white power, and maintaining his belief in the ultimate weapon of armed struggle, he sought, through Sunni Muslim beliefs, to raise the self-esteem of blacks in America.

Malcolm X’s Autobiography stands with Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and Nelson Mandela’s speech on his release from prison as the most influential statements of civil rights in the twentieth century.


Grandview 21st February 1920

February 21, 2020

 

“Province”, 19200221, p.26


Gibran’s The Prophet on Laws

February 21, 2020

You delight in laying down laws,

Yet you delight more in breaking them.

Like children playing by the ocean who build sand-towers with constancy and then destroy them with laughter.

But while you build your sand-towers the ocean brings more sand to the shore,

And when you destroy them, the ocean laughs with you.

Verily the ocean laughs always with the innocent.

But what of those to whom life is not an ocean, and man-made laws are not sand-towers,

But to whom life is a rock, and the law a chisel with which they would carve it in their own likeness?

What of the cripple who hates dancers?

What of the ox who loves his yoke and deems the elk and deer of the forest stray and vagrant things?

What of the old serpent who cannot shed his skin, and calls all others naked and shameless?

And of him who comes early to the wedding-feast, and when over-fed and tired goes his way saying that all feasts are violation and all feasters law-breakers?

What shall I say of these save that they too stand in the sunlight, but with their backs to the sun?

They see only their shadows, and their shadows are their laws.

And what is the sun to them but a caster of shadows?

And what is it to acknowledge the laws but to stoop down and trace their shadows upon the earth?

But you who walk facing the sun, what images drawn on the earth can hold you?

You who travel with the wind, what weather vane shall direct your course?

What man’s law shall bind you if you break your yoke but upon no man’s prison door?

What laws shall you fear if you dance but stumble against no man’s iron chains?

And who is he that shall bring you to judgment if you tear off your garment yet leave it in no man’s path?

People of Orphalese, you can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?


Night Music: Israel

February 20, 2020


How The English Found Cannabis

February 20, 2020

The always interesting Public Domain Review today has an essay on how the English found cannabis by Benjamin Breen:

“In the 17th century, English travelers, merchants, and physicians were first introduced to cannabis, particularly in the form of bhang, an intoxicating edible which had been getting Indians high for millennia. Benjamin Breen charts the course of the drug from the streets of Machilipatnam to the scientific circles of London.”

Thomas Bowery arrived in Machilipatnam in 1673, as a merchant and was quickly attracted by the effects of an unfamiliar drug

“The Muslim merchant community in the city was, as Bowrey put it, “averse [to]…any Stronge [alcoholic] drinke”. Yet, he noted, “they find means to besott themselves Enough with Bangha and Gangah“, i.e. cannabis. Gangah, though “more pleasant”, was imported from Sumatra (and as such was “Sold at five times the price”), whereas Bangha, “theire Soe admirable herbe”, was locally grown.”

From this beginning, Breen traces the spread of the drug to the English middle class.  Bowery and his merchant friends gathered privately to enjoy the weed, knowledge of it spread and its medicinal benefits touted, and Robert Hooke lectured on it to the Royal Society in 1689:

“Hooke’s assessment was positive. The drug, he explained, “is so well known and experimented by Thousands, and the Person that brought it has so often experimented with it himself”, that “there is no Cause of Fear, ‘tho possibly there may be of Laughter”. Hooke concluded by noting that he was currently attempting to grow the seeds in London.”

Despite Hooke’s support, the use of cannabis in medicine did not catch on in England.  There was a revived interest in the 1840s when cannabis tinctures were marketed for “removing languor and anxiety,” but it didn’t last.

This is a very informative and entertaining essay on early western interaction with cannabis.


Grandview 20th February 1920

February 20, 2020

 

“Vancouver World”, 19200220, p.7


Those Teenage Years!

February 20, 2020

Today, our youngest grandchild, Lewis, becomes a teenager.

 

Hard to fathom how quickly they grow.