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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