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Monday, August 06, 2007

Speak up!

From NY Time's Paper Cuts book blog:
[U.S. Poet Laureate Charles] Simic has also written, in a 1995 essay called “In Praise of Invective,” these ringing words: “There are moments in life when true invective is called for, when there comes an absolute necessity, out of a deep sense of justice, to denounce, mock, vituperate, lash out, rail at in the strongest possible language.” (bold is mine)

Those words could applied to many things today. Been ruminating on how we live in a society that talks about free speech, but does not really hold it as a fundamental value. How many times do we hear the words from well-meaning family members, friends, colleagues: "keep the peace," "hold your tongue," "it is what it is," "you can't change their mind," "it won't matter." Makes me want to scream. Dwight Garner continues:
Simic has, among this country’s poets, a singular kind of moral authority on issues of war and peace.

Born in Belgrade in 1938, he knew war as a child. “Germans and the Allies took turns dropping bombs on my head while I played with my collection of lead soldiers on the floor,” Simic told The Cortland Review. “I would go boom, boom, and then they would go boom, boom.”

And he said in the Times today: “I’m sort of the product of history; Hitler and Stalin were my travel agents.”

War and morality are subjects Simic has spoken about often, and according to a 2005 interview in The Paris Review, they are always on his mind: “The use of murder to improve the world, for instance, is popular in American intellectual circles as if there had never been any historical precedents. I think about these things all the time.”

It would be a shame if he stopped thinking about them now.

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