Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hope For Iraq/God?/Coletti at Copperfield's


(P1) Poetical


Coletti Reading - 7PM Friday - November 10th - Copperfield's Books
2316 Montgomery Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95405
(707) 578-8938


Here's a new poem by Edward Coletti ("the Bay Area's oldest 'emerging' poet") who will be reading on the Word Temple Series bill with Jane Mead and Brian Teare. Please come to the reading!

Now help me find a title for this poem

Bluest sky moment,
I paint you as words
spring maple yellow.

Photinia bush
redden my flesh, be my sun,
rain memory has fled.

Mirror of sea,
sky unblemished blue,
sing your song.

Copper fields slip
green to cyan,
oxygen’s funny magic.

Black dog come to me.
Tell me what you fathom
beneath this our common ground.

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(P2) Political


Playing Chess With My Friend In Baghdad

I recently heard a radio interview with Rory Smith, OBE, a British diplomat, author, and former interim governor of two provinces in Iraq. Mr. Smith eloquently described the true situation there. What stood out stongest, for me at least, was his firm belief that the current insurgency is not so much Sunnis attacking Shiites as it is insurgents rallying a nationalistic fervor against non-Islamic foreign occupiers. Were the U.S. to withdraw, according to Rory Smith, the insurgents would become impotent, and the canny Iraqi potiticians and clergy would settle their differences in the manner they have for centuries.

This immediately reminded me of the day several years ago when I found myself playing internet chess with an Iraqi engineer in Baghdad. Between moves, I typed questions and received illuminating answers. When I asked about the difficulties between Shiites and Sunnis, this man (who was without work due to the war) responded that the problems have nothing to do with the troubles between Sunnis and Shiites which have existed for well over a millenium. Rather, pleaded this Baghdad professional, "Please try to convince your government to leave, and we Iraqis will solve our own problems quickly. It is your army which is causing the tragedy."

I'll never forget that dialogue, and Rory Smith has reminded me of it, and the wisdom in those words.

*********

Regarding the Kerry Tempest In a Teapot

Kerry also said:

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did…

“Had George Bush and Dick Cheney been in combat one minute of their comfortable lives, they would never have sent American troops to war without body armor or without a plan to win the peace, and they wouldn’t be exploiting our troops today.”

If I had a single criticism to offer Senator Kerry in this regard, it might be that he could strengthen the latter remark by dropping the words following war and inserting a few others, ergo, “Had George Bush and Dick Cheney been in combat one minute of their comfortable lives, they would never have sent American troops to (this stupid) war (they created from whole cloth).”

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(P2) Philosophical

If, by 'God', you mean love

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the author of nine books, including The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker and The Ancestor's Tale. His new book, The God Delusion, published last week by Houghton Mifflin, is already a NEW YORK TIMES bestseller, and his Foundation for Reason and Science launched at the same time (see RichardDawkins.net).

I highly recommend the entire Dawkins piece, but this excerpt is good. I especially like what I've highlighted in bold.

"...Humanity's best estimate of the probability of divine creation dropped steeply in 1859 when The Origin of Species was published, and it has declined steadily during the subsequent decades, as evolution consolidated itself from plausible theory in the nineteenth century to established fact today.

"The...tactic of snuggling up to 'sensible' religion, in order to present a united front against ('intelligent design') creationists, is fine if your central concern is the battle for evolution. That is a valid central concern, and I salute those who press it, such as Eugenie Scott in Evolution versus Creationism. But if you are concerned with the stupendous scientific question of whether the universe was created by a supernatural intelligence or not, the lines are drawn completely differently. On this larger issue, fundamentalists are united with 'moderate' religion on one side, and I find myself on the other.

"Of course, this all presupposes that the God we are talking about is a personal intelligence such as Yahweh, Allah, Baal, Wotan, Zeus or Lord Krishna. If, by 'God', you mean love, nature, goodness, the universe, the laws of physics, the spirit of humanity, or Planck's constant, none of the above applies. An American student asked her professor whether he had a view about me. 'Sure,' he replied. 'He's positive science is incompatible with religion, but he waxes ecstatic about nature and the universe. To me, that is ¬religion!' Well, if that's what you choose to mean by religion, fine, that makes me a religious man. But if your God is a being who designs universes, listens to prayers, forgives sins, wreaks miracles, reads your thoughts, cares about your welfare and raises you from the dead, you are unlikely to be satisfied. As the distinguished American physicist Steven Weinberg said, "If you want to say that 'God is energy,' then you can find God in a lump of coal." But don't expect congregations to flock to your church.

When Einstein said 'Did God have a choice in creating the Universe?' he meant 'Could the universe have begun in more than one way?' 'God does not play dice' was Einstein's poetic way of doubting Heisenberg's indeterminacy principle. Einstein was famously irritated when theists misunderstood him to mean a personal God. But what did he expect? The hunger to misunderstand should have been palpable to him. 'Religious' physicists usually turn out to be so only in the Einsteinian sense: they are atheists of a poetic disposition. So am I. But, given the widespread yearning for that great misunderstanding, deliberately to confuse Einsteinian pantheism with supernatural religion is an act of intellectual high treason.

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10 comments:

Chiara said...

It's a lovely poem, Ed. It gave me a great jolt at the end because I instantly thought of one of the most disturbing novels ever written: Ian McEwan's Black Dogs.

Duncan said...

Nice poem, Eddie. Sorry,not much help with titles. Good luck at the reading.

I like this Dawkins guy. He can say what I believe with eloquence and big words. And I believe you can find God in a lump of coal.

As to Iraq, I wish I had a better grasp of Middle East history, so anyone correct me if I'm wrong, which is most likely.

I seem to remember that the English went into what is now Iraq during WWI to organize the tribes living there to help fight the Turks. I'm not sure about the sequence of events after that, but somehow Iraq was formed out of the many tribes and at least three ethnic groups.

Fast foward to Saddam and we find a man who took control of the country by means that we all know well. During his term (reign?)disagreements between ethnic groups were settled violently by Saddam's government. The Sunni led government just stomped on Kurds and Shia's and that was that.

Mr. Smith believes that when the US leaves Iraq "the canny Iraqi potiticians and clergy would settle their differences in the manner they have for centuries." And we have seen that that manner is violence and bloodshed.

The Iraqi chess player says: "the problems have nothing to do with the troubles between Sunnis and Shiites which have existed for well over a millenium. Rather, pleaded this Baghdad professional, "Please try to convince your government to leave, and we Iraqis will solve our own problems quickly. It is your army which is causing the tragedy."

So, both establish that the ethnic troubles in Iraq have been going for centuries. And, both believe that if the US withdraws from Iraq the Iraqi's will settle their differences. They haven't been able to for thousands of years, but if the US leaves they can do it quickly. If anyone really believes this can happen, I have some beach front property here in Nevada you be interested in.

Now, do I think the US being in Iraq will solve the problem? Of course not. As John Kerry said, if the idiots in Washington (my words not his)had done some homework we may have never gone into Iraq in the first place.

After WWI (I think) the English drew a line on a map, said this is the new Iraq, withdrew and let the tribes go back to fighting each other.

Don Imus had a solution a couple of years ago. Return Saddam to power. Say, here you are, sorry about your boys, but we have to go now. The situation would hardly be worse than it is now, or what it will be when we do eventually leave.

As I see it, we're not doing much good in Iraq now, so it's best to cut our losses. As the song says, you gotta know when to fold 'em. Now is when.

Edward Coletti said...

Right now it appears that the Imus solution was the better solution 3 or 4 years ago. Ironically, had Saddam remained in power, how many hundreds of thousand Iraqi, American, and other lives would have been saved. But I hardly would have considered awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize for having prevented all these deaths! As Vonnegut says, "and so it goes."

Duncan said...

Okay, NOW I've done some research. The following is from Wikepedia and corrects my faulty history.

"Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until the Great War (World War I) when the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. British forces invaded the country and suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (1915–16). British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917. An armistice was signed in 1918.

Iraq was carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the French and British as agreed in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. On 11 November 1920 it became a League of Nations mandate under British control with the name "State of Iraq".

The British government laid out the political and constitutional framework for Iraq's government. Britain imposed a Hāshimite monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the aspirations of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds to the north. Britain had to put down a major revolt against its policies between 1920 and 1922. During the revolt, Britain used phosphorus bombs against Kurdish villagers. Legal experts consider phosphorus bombs chemical weapons. (See Gas in mesopotamia)

In the Mandate period and beyond, the British supported the traditional, Sunni leadership (such as the tribal shaykhs) over the growing, urban-based nationalist movement. The Land Settlement Act gave the tribal shaykhs the right to register the communal tribal lands in their own name. The Tribal Disputes Regulations gave them judiciary rights, whereas the Peasants' Rights and Duties Act of 1933 severely reduced the tenants', forbidding them to leave the land unless all their debts to the landlord had been settled. The British resorted to military force when their interests were threatened, as in the 1941 Rashīd `Alī al-Gaylānī coup. This coup led to a British invasion of Iraq using forces from the British Indian Army and the Arab Legion from Jordan." Wikipedia

So, there you have it. The British occupied Iraq for more than 20 years and maintained control by military force.

Let's see now, the French went into Vietnam after WWII and eventually got their butts kicked by Ho Chin Minh. The US went in right after that and got their butts kicked by Ho Chin Minh.

Now, the US wants to stay in Iraq to bring about peace and prosperity to all in Iraq when no one else has been able to do it for over 1000 years!

Ahhhhgggghhh!

Larry C. said...

Nice poem, Eddie. It reminded me of the view from my bedroom window. With the lone exception of Lady not being there. My title:
"From My Bedroom Window" (not clever but sez it all.)

Sorry I won't be able to attend the reading but it looks like you will be in very good company with your fellow readers. Their bios are heady stuff. Break a leg!

Anonymous said...

Eddie, Thank you for your contribution to my life. A little suggestion. How about reading your stuff. You could put it in a short an audio at the end of the poem so that folks like me that don't get out much can experience your reading(s). Limit them to sixty seconds.
What does everyone else think of this idea?
Your fan and friend, just another ed.

Mike M. said...

Hi Eddie Dude,

Ideas for your poem: probably not!.

Fundamental Wonder

Waxing Ecstatic (I stole that one)

Out of the Void

Why we Be

Before Our Very Eyes

Also, I really like the comments of Rory Smith re: Iraq.. What if we got out of the war in Iraq and the violence ended? I think it is a little simplistic but maybe right on.. I'm concerned about the Kurds. But the Iraqs--Sunnis, Shites, Kurds--may see it as a war of independence. It is funny how simple ideas can be so completely ignored in our media where the manipulation of ideas is so blatant and yet so hard to see. Nice blog, s; Mike

David Beckman said...

I love the poem, Ed. Is "Copper fields" intentional as a play on the venue where you're reding? If so, why not use it as a title?

Edward Coletti said...

Perceptive, Dave. Actually I wrote this some time before I knew I'd be reading at Copperfield's. But not a bad idea, though I'm leaning toward. "Backyard Appeal" as a title. It's already been "Common Ground" and then "Mixing Tints." I like "Backyard Appeal" for it's several pertinent connotations. Thanks for responding. I also read your comment on the earlier Bly poem.

Batja said...

Suggested Title for Poem: Blue Sky Moment

Very lovely calm poems, Ed.

very Zen.
Thanks again