28 August 2011


Recently, those who have criticized the actions of the U.S. government (myself included) have been called "anti-American." Anti-Americanism is in the process of being consecrated into an ideology.

The term "anti-American" is usually used by the American establishment to discredit and--not falsely, but shall we say inaccurately--define its critics. Once someone is branded anti-American, the chances are that he or she will be judged before they're heard and the argument will be lost in the welter of bruised national pride.

What does the term "anti-American" mean? Does it mean you're anti-jazz? Or that you're opposed to free speech? That you don't delight in Toni Morrison or John Updike? That you have a quarrel with giant sequoias? Does it mean you don't admire the hundreds of thousands of American citizens who marched against nuclear weapons, or the thousands of war resisters who forced their government to withdraw from Vietnam? Does it mean that you hate all Americans?

This sly conflation of America's culture, music, literature, the breathtaking beauty of the land, the ordinary pleasures of ordinary people with criticism of the U.S. government's foreign policy (about which, thanks to America's "free press," sadly, most Americans know very little) is a deliberate and extremely effective strategy. It's like a retreating army taking cover in a heavily populated city, hoping that the prospect of hitting civilian targets will deter enemy fire.

Arundhati Roy, "Come September," in War Talk, pp.48-49

01 August 2011


As he sat now on the hard broad root of a ringtree at the edge of the Meeting Pool, he thought of Nana, of the cat, of the silver water of Lake Serene, of the mountains above it which he longed to climb, of climbing the mountains out of the mist and rain into the ice and brightness of the summits; he thought of many things, too many things. He sat still, but his mind would not be still. He had come here for stillness, but his mind raced, raced from past to future and back again. Only for a moment did he find quiet. One of the herons walked silently out into the water from the far side of the pool. Lifting its narrow head it gazed at Lev. He gazed back, and for an instant was caught in that round transparent eye, as depthless as the sky clear of clouds; and the moment was round, transparent, silent, a moment at the center of all moments, the eternal present moment of the silent animal.

The heron turned away, bent its head, searching the dark water for fish.

Ursula LeGuin, The Eye Of The Heron, pp.50-51