I’m in the world again without my mother or father who seem more and more like Russian dolls, as if I could unscrew my mother’s head and then the slightly smaller father’s head and then my brothers and sisters and me and finally the family unassembled as we are meant to be, as in the first days before the planet earth, when God was still gas, wasn’t even a wave yet, a piece of coral, an eye hiding in the head of a fish that would, in one million years, be able to see on its own. I’m walking in the snow because there’s snow on the ground. I’m thinking about snow and brains in brainpans. I’m thinking about you and your hands, your voice, and how it’s exactly the voice of everything warm. I’m loving you as I used to love older boys in my neighborhood, the shade of them and the violence of them, the nunchucks and the silvery throwing stars of the mouth and above all the quiet of their bodies, how they could appear, a tremble of dark light and pollen—that kind of quiet. If only we could bring them all back to life. I have this thing I keep doing with Band-Aids and the third smallest knife I own. I know you know how it feels to be a blister, all that blood and tissue and poison turning into a kind of ultimate, dominant pressure, as if a diamond were being formed. That’s what my body has been getting at, working for—why it’s been renting out its extra rooms, saving up, going forward, marking its calendar like an Advent made out of the broken glass of a cockpit, the long strings of silk that make up your arms, which are also made of water. See how it’s O.K., I can’t even die right without warning you. I know— I’m in Montpelier, the great high seat of Vermont, the trees are all green and the embarrassed ghosts of mosquitoes, dressed in glittering nail polish, are coming to take me all the way home.
What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.
What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination.
The truth of ghettos—what happens when you imprison 1.8 million people in a hundred and forty square miles, about a third of the area of New York City, with no control of borders, almost no access to the sea for fishermen (three out of the twenty kilometres allowed by the Oslo accords), no real way in or out, and with drones buzzing overhead night and day—is that, eventually, the ghetto will fight back. It was true in Soweto and Belfast, and it is true in Gaza. We might not like Hamas or some of its methods, but that is not the same as accepting the proposition that Palestinians should supinely accept the denial of their right to exist as a free people in their ancestral homeland.
… And yet, in America, the discussion ignores this crucial, constantly oppressive context, and is instead too often limited to Israeli “self-defense” and the Palestinians’ supposed responsibility for their own suffering.
In this surreal, upside-down vision of the world, it almost seems as if it is the Israelis who are occupied by the Palestinians, and not the other way around. In this skewed universe, the inmates of an open-air prison are besieging a nuclear-armed power with one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.
“In his 1855 poem “One Word More,” Robert Browning suggested that creative sensibilities are drawn to “art alien to the artist’s” because branching out lets a person “be the man and leave the artist, / Gain the man’s joy, miss the artist’s sorrow.” He meant that the more we master the techniques of our native art, the more our art becomes an expression of those techniques rather than a portal on our individuality. The more fluent we become, the more we become armored in that fluency. The issue is further complicated because arts differ in more than their formal elements; they also occupy different areas of our culture.”—David Orr
“The nature of nostalgia is that it seems to infuse life with a kind of added richness and charge because it’s being processed through memory. And often we sort of wish that present day life had that charge.”—Jennifer Egan
“Toward dusk, the black birds descend, millions of them, to sit in the branches of trees nearby. The trees grow heavy with black birds, branches like dendrites of the nervous system fattening, deep in chittering nerve-dusk, in preparation for some important message…”—Thomas Pynchon
“Images wear me out, they crowd in my head, and I feel as if my brain is pulsing. I have no wish at all that something special should come from me, that I should create some great thing, I simply want to live, to dream, to hope, to keep up everywhere.”—Anton Chekhov