Ursula K. Le Guin’s Blog
122. The Wall by Anita Endrezze
My friend Deborah Miranda sent me this poem by her friend Anita Endrezze, which says a lot of the things that have been struggling in me to get said lately, and makes me cry, and rejoices my heart. I asked Anita if I could post the poem here, and asked her to write a little about herself and about it. Here it is.
Anita Endrezze is from Native American (Yaqui) and European heritage. She has ten published books plus is included in numerous literary magazines and anthologies.
Her most recent book is A Thousand Branches (Red Bird Press), which is a book of poems and art. Her book of short stories, Butterfly Moon, is available from University of Arizona Press. She was given the Governor’s Writers award for Washington State and has received other awards as well. She has a M.A from Eastern Washington University. Her art has been in international exhibitions. One of her projects was a collaborative altered book which is now at the Smithsonian. Her next exhibit is in Seattle in February. It’s a collaborative work about Don Quixote and migration.
She has Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and is mainly housebound.
More info can be found at her website: Anitaendrezze.weebly.com
About the poem:
I asked myself, what should the Wall be made of? Since I'm a poet, I work with imagery and symbols. The Wall itself is a symbol. But I’m a visual artist also so I like to see. A wall of taco trucks, a wall of solar panels. The humorous, the utilitarian, the inventive. And layers of messages. What could be freer than sunshine and renewable energy as opposed to millions of dollars to build a wall? Or tacos, a blend of cultures, to nourish people. I took some images from social networking posts, like the solar panel and Lego ideas in order to connect with the current situation. I also wove my own creative ideas into the poem. The poem seems to resonate with many people because of those techniques.
123. Constructing the Golem
The legend of the golem varies according to the teller, but I will follow the version that tells how in a time of persecution a rabbi made a mighty giant out of mud, a golem, and wrote a sacred word on its forehead — “Truth” — that gave it life. With its frightening size and enormous strength, the golem was to defend and safeguard the Jews. But the golem was not rational, not controllable. It was a danger in itself. So the rabbi removed a single letter from the word on its forehead, which then read “Death,” and the life went out of the giant, leaving only mud.
Sometimes it seems lately that most of the emails I get from my friends are about Donald Trump. Some are laments, confessions of despair; many are witty parodies of him, funny imitations of him, scathing cartoons about him. He is the subject, the object, of all of them.
He is also the subject of most lead stories in most newspapers, which is expectable for a new president, and of endless editorials. I gather that he fills the political news on TV even more thoroughly and is exhaustively, continually discussed, attacked, defended, parodied, etc. on the social media, not to mention his own nightly fits of twittering. I don’t know this firsthand because I rarely watch or listen to any media news any more, don’t follow or read social media at all (though occasionally have posted something from my website), and don’t have a smart phone. If this makes you feel that I am disqualified to comment on modern life and politics, I can’t argue.
As a science fiction writer, I will, however, say that sometimes the view of Earth from another planet can give insights otherwise unattainable.
Looking at the New World from the ancient one I inhabit, I am appalled at the constant, obsessive attention paid to Trump.
He appears to be exactly what he wants to be: addictive.
He is a true, great master of the great game of this age, the Celebrity Game. Attention is what he lives on. Celebrity without substance. His “reality” is “virtual” — i.e. non-existent — but he used this almost-reality to disguise a successful bid for real power. Every witty parody, hateful gibe, clever takeoff, etc., merely plays his game, and therefore plays into his hands.
Reagan was the master of TV, but this guy has a nation full of people with their eyes and ears already glued 18 hours a day to screens and speakers, already habituated to a stream of disparate, disconnected “information” (news/entertainment/commercials mashup) which cannot be fact-checked, cannot be organized into understanding, because it’s so huge, so incessant, and goes by so fast. Exactly the way Trump thinks and talks.
It’s how he won the campaign: keeping in the limelight, flummoxing his Republican rivals, outshouting poor, rational Clinton, silencing thought with a flood of incessant, bullying, meaningless words.
It’s no use wishing the media would stop hanging on him and the press would stop reporting every tweet, but it may be worth saying that they’d do less of it if we stopped watching and listening to him — if we weren’t so literally fascinated by him.
He’s the snake and we’re the chickens.
When he does something weird (which he does constantly in order to keep media attention on him), look not at him but at the people whom his irresponsible acts or words affect — the Republicans who try to collaborate with him (like collaborating with a loose cannon), the Democrats and Government employees he bullies, the statesmen from friendly countries he offends, the ordinary people he uses, insults, and hurts. Look away from him, and at the people who are working desperately to save what they can save of our Republic and our hope of avoiding nuclear catastrophe. Look away from him, and at reality, and things begin to get back into proportion.
I honestly believe the best thing to do is turn whatever it is OFF whenever he’s on it, in any way.
He is entirely a creature of the media. He is a media golem. If you take the camera and mike off him, if you take your attention off him, nothing is left — mud.
124. Refusing to be Bullied
The manic speed and vindictiveness of the Republican attack on American core values and institutions make it all too easy for us, the majority opposition, to feel defeated — hopeless. This article is a good antidote.
It’s appropriate that the city of Santa Ana, with its long, deep Mexican-American heritage, its fourth and fifth-generation Mexican-American families, and its sympathetic State government, achieved this genuine victory over prejudice, this refusal of obedience to a hateful, cruel federal policy.
But don’t think it was easy, even there, to do so. Becoming a Sanctuary City isn’t just a matter of words, it takes real commitment, long and steady resolve, and determined hope, to resist and keep resisting the politicians and interests that seek power by supporting those shameful policies, and the misguided citizens who imagine they will gain profit or status from them.
I wish with all my heart that my city, Portland, Oregon, would follow the lead of Santa Ana — stand by its hard-working Mexican-American population, and let all its citizens share the honor of refusing to be bullied into bowing to the orders of a bigoted administration.
¡Nadie es ilegal!
P.S. I was unfair in this final paragraph. Portland did declare itself a sanctuary city a while back, as our new mayor, Ted Wheeler, reminded us in an editorial in The Oregonian, Jan. 29, 2017
I took this declaration as well-intentioned but little else. To be more than a feel-good announcement, it must be implemented with effective instructions to the police, effective provisions for actual sanctuary for people whose documentation is in question, and so forth — a very big commitment, that will inevitably rouse loud and angry opposition. But I was wrong to assume that my city had not made that commitment, and truly hope that it will make and keep it.
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