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Timothy M. Leonard's books on Goodreads
A Century Is Nothing A Century Is Nothing
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Subject to Change Subject to Change
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Sunday
Sep082013

Duende

She had duende, a fundamentally untranslatable Spanish word, literally meaning possessing spirit.

It signified a charisma manifested by certain performers - flamenco dancers, bullfighters, shamans and weavers overwhelming their audience with the feeling they were in the presence of a mystical power.

The Spanish poet Garcia Lorca produced the best description of duende: “Years ago, during a flamenco dance contest in Jerez, an old woman of eighty, competing against beautiful women and young girls with waists as supple as water, carried off the prize by simply raising her arms, throwing back her head, and stamping the platform with a single blow of her heel; but in that gathering of muses and angels, of beautiful forms and lovely smiles, the dying duende triumphed as it had to, dragging the rusted blades of its wings along the ground.”

She’d followed a tribal trail to Lacilbula where, after weaving morning pages, she returned to the Rio Guadalete below Grazalema flowing from the Sierras to Cadiz.

The battle of Guadalete was fought on July 19, 711 when 7,000 Yemenis and Berbers led by Tariq ibn Ziyad defeated the Visigoth King Roderick.

Rio needed cleaning. Thick autumn yellow, green and brown leaves trapped between rocks clogged river sections. Liquid backed up to mountains beneath fast gray storm clouds. Using her walking stick, she clamored down a slippery slope and worked her way up the Rio clearing sticks, leaves and stones blocking the flow.

One leaf could do a lot of damage.

There were green maple, silver aspen, brown oak leaves. Old black water logged decayed colors danced with fresh green and orange pigments.

She was the unimpeded flow. A child playing near water in her dream world. Serenity and sweet water music with rock stepping-stones, small pools and meditation zones where she felt peaceful. Bird music darted up the canyon.

She cleared leaves long past twilight, staggered up the muddy incline facing the Rio in silent gratitude and performed healing chants next to a bare Aspen tree. She passed a ceramic Virgin Mary statue behind a locked gate illuminated by melting red candles in a rocky crevice.

Mary’s blood flowed over jagged dolomite gray stones flecked with green moss. She collected a hemoglobin sample for weaving, crossed a stone bridge and returned home. She lit candles, started a fire, enjoying a deep breath before bleeding river words dyeing loom fabric.

The loom was her instrument of transformation and wool the hair of the sacrificial beast which women, by a long and cultured tribal process, transformed into clothing. Weaving skirts the sacred and the violent. 

Her power at the loom was both derided and celebrated, transforming like birth into a language and symbol, a metaphor with new, positive ends and duende.

A Century is Nothing

Subject to Change

Wednesday
Sep042013

Puppet Masters in Tibet

Chinese-Tibetan puppet leaders in Lhasa informed monks they would increase patriotic education classes in monasteries. Re-education through Reform, ideology, propaganda and thought control is the way comrades. We use Power to Control using fear and intimidation.

The Chinese, after destroying and looting monasteries and killing millions in Tibet and main land China during the 10-year Cultural Revolution, restricted the number of monks at the three major Lhasa monasteries, Sera, Drepung and Ganden. They recruited Tibetans to live and work in monasteries as spies and informers.

This system proved effective during the Cultural Revolution when family members reported on each other, neighbors and wild capitalist running dogs. It was a practical peoples campaign of fear and suspicion creating paranoia and ideological control.

Monks and nuns in monasteries who resisted or questioned this form of subtle patriotic education risked imprisonment, torture and death. They knew what happened to monks and nuns at the notorious Drapchi Prison outside Lhasa.

“There are two kinds of suffering,” said a girl weaving wool carpets in her yurt on the Tibetan plateau near rivers and mountains. “Suffering you run away from and suffering you face.”

Inside Drapchi, Chinese guards beat Tibetan nuns and monks with rubber hoses filled with sand. They applied electric cattle prods to skin, sending wire-cranked juice into skeletons, extracting screams.

“Denounce the Dalai Lama!” screamed a young illiterate soldier from Human Province. He tightened metal screws around a nun’s wrists, bending them at a horrendous angle until she screamed in broken pain.

“Never!”

He wiped her blood off his broken glasses and increased pressure. It was a job.

“Save my face,” sang a Chinese girl, an innocent ignorant victim of the national one-child genocide policy, wringing out a mop of spider webs inside water rainbows.

She was in a large bland cavern classroom at a private business university in Fujian. All the students had failed higher-level exams for more prestigious universities. They settled for this. No choice. She cleaned crumbling uneven cement floors with strands.

A Century is Nothing

 

Saturday
Aug312013

Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer, and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Born at Mossbawn farmhouse between Castledawson and Toomebridge, County Derry, he resided in Dublin until his death.

From "Digging"

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Death of a Naturalist 1966
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