Too many farewells

R.I.P. Adrienne Rich (1929-2012).. This is from a letter of hers written in July 1997:

… [T]he meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. … There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art–in my own case the art of poetry–means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.

–Adrienne Rich, Letter to Jane Alexander Refusing the National Medal for the Arts (July 3, 1997). In Voices of a People’s History of the United States (eds. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove), p. 580.

And this is from one of her poems, On Edges (1968).

… Crossing the bridge I need all my nerve
to trust to the man-made cables.

The blades on that machine could cut you to ribbons
but its function is humane.
Is this all I can say of these delicate books, scythe-curved intentions
you and I handle? I’d rather
taste blood, yours or mine, flowing
from a sudden slash, than cut all day
with blunt scissors on dotted lines
like the teacher told.

–Adrienne Rich (1968), On Edges

R.I.P. Earl Scruggs (1924-2012). This is from Crispin Sartwell’s blog:

earl scruggs was among the handful of great instrumental innovators in twentieth-century american popular music. comparable figures are people like louis armstrong, little walter, jimi hendrix. the banjo in his hands yields an amazing combination of rhythm and melody: it’s the most percussive of the string instruments, and scruggs created the role of the banjo virtuoso in bluegrass: during his solo, he drives the band faster and faster, like an accelerating train….

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  1. Gabriel

    I think you must be a fan of DN!, because I heard the host recite the first quotation from Adrienne Rich at the same time as I read it!

    • Rad Geek

      Gabriel,

      I am a fan of Democracy Now! but this must have been a matter of coincidence, or synchronicity, rather than direct influence. (I was reading through the open letter on Google, and I do not — alas — have a good way to listen to DN! live and locally. (I don’t do RealPlayer, and the nearest Pacifica affiliate does … not quite make it out to Auburn, Alabama. I do try to catch it on WRFG whenever I have cause to pass through Atlanta.)

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