Under Fire

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After watching a unit of Moroccan soldiers pass by—black Africans who will cut off a man’s head in combat—Henri Barbusse writes:

‘No doubt they’re a different race from us .. In fact, they’re real soldiers.”

“We are not soldiers, … we’re men.”

They are men, good fellows of all kinds, rudely torn away from the joy of life. Like any other men whom you take in the mass, they are ignorant and of narrow outloook, full of a sound common sense—which some-times gets off the rails—disposed to be led and to do as they are bid, enduring uder hardships, long suffering.

They are simple men further simplified, in whom the merely primitive instincts have been accentuated by the force of circumstances—the instinct of self-preservation, the hard-gripped hope of living through, the joy of food, of drink, and of sleep. And at intervals they are cries and dark shudders of humanity that issue from the silence and the shadows of their great hearts.

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Français et Musulmans

imgres.jpgThe American Taliban was a novel about a young man seeking a fuller, more spiritual life, who through a series of seemingly harmless events ends up training and presumably fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11.

Submission by Michel Houellebecq is the near-future story of how, through an unforeseen string of political events, the Moslem Brotherhood comes to power in France. Many of the changes the new Moslem government make are commonly understood but the results of those changes are interesting to contemplate: cut off a few hands and crime goes way down; remove all women from the workforce and unemployment is solved; grant pesky intellectuals a pension three times greater than they might hope for and the opposition retires to the countryside to raise goats.

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Capitalism Is Over

capitalismI have been reading a lot on the internet, catching up with the holidays where I tended to veg-out under the covers. This article in Salon originally appeared in the TomDispatch written by Rebecca Solnit. The article makes a strong point for what I will conclude is a reactionary capitalistic oligarchy having gone too far in the pursuit of vast profits at the expense of the health of this planet and the whole concept of truth and empathy, opting instead for lying, corruption, and strong-arm tactics to subdue the country and have it bow to their wishes.

Rebecca Solmit assesses our poisonous fossil fuel dependency — and why we’re on the verge of a paradigm shift. I think there’s an old adage in history: if you go too far, someone will invent a guillotine (or something to that effect).

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The Remarkable Raymond Federman

FedermanRaymond Federman is one of those authors whose personal story is equally as fascinating as anything most writers come up with. It’s so interesting that Federman uses it as the basic of most of his own writing, with one caveat: Federman insists that he cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. So, this Federman who is the hero of all the novels … is he the real Federman, an embellished Federman, based on Federman, Federman-like, what Federman wishes Federman was, just a horny French Jew who tells a lot of stories?

The reality is that Raymond Federman grew up in Paris as a very recognizable Jew (he calls attention to his nose constantly) until the Nazis marched into Paris and he was initially hidden and eventually smuggled to the relative safety of Vichy France. His family—mother, father, and two sisters—stayed behind and went to their deaths in the Nazi camps. Raymond, of course, did not know the fate of his family and expected to be reunited with them in Paris after the end of the conflict.

Federman’s novel, Return To Manure, tells the story of his three years working on a farm in the south of France.

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