Commonplace: Caroline Levine, Forms


Music of the Resistance

So if you need a break from constant Hamilton and Hamilton mixtape replays, and you’re not sure that the Les Mis man the barricades song is the right soundtrack for the resistance, may I suggest hoping over to Bandcamp on Friday and buying some music from international musicians from countries effected by the travel ban and the other anti-immigration order. All proceeds go to the ACLU. If you need some listening in the meantime, Four Tet has an amazing playlist with music by people from some of the countries effected by the ban and more over on Spotify. The resistance will have a soundtrack because dance is a form of rebellion. 

Commonplace: Elie Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest 

A Hasidic Parable 
When the great Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov saw misfortune threatening the Jews it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished and the misfortune averted. 

Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Magid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: “Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer,” and again the miracle would be accomplished. 

Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more, would go into the forest and say: “I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient.” It was sufficient and the miracle was accomplished.

Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his armchair, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: “I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient.” And it was sufficient.

God made man because he loves stories. 

~ Elie Wiesel, The Gates of the Forest 

TV ratings, alternative facts, and political reality 

Great piece from one of my favorite TV critics, James Poniewozik, on Trump’s need to inflate numbers and how he’s used to the bubble celebrities can live in. Key point:

Mr. Trump’s tendency to treat truth as negotiable was idiosyncratic in a TV star. In a president, it’s disturbing. Alternative facts are what they use in alternatives to democracy.

It’s definitely worth the whole read. And yes, this constant need to feed ego through fake information is a threat to democracy. 

Cancun kitsch of the trip 

We’re leaving today, winding our way back home and to winter, although I’m fairly sure the same cold front that dumbed snow back home brought rain and high seas here. The last two days have been reminding us that we’re not going back to sun and sand. 

The hotel has all these Greek inspired statues everywhere, as if the Elgin marbles were copied for pool ornaments. While the two atop the turrets have both arms stretched out, the way you see this one is only with one arm pointing north, where we’re headed. Back to our regular lives and the new semester.