100th Armistice Day

Today is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of the First World War.  Instead of posting music or artwork, I’ve decided to post clips of All Quiet On the Western Front and poetry from the war.

Here is a clip of the battle.  I haven’t seen this film in more than 10 years.  I didn’t like it when I saw it the first time, but this scene does have a visceral power.

 

This is Easter Monday by Eleanor Farjeon.  All the World War I poetry is found at this site.  

In the last letter that I had from France
You thanked me for the silver Easter egg
Which I had hidden in the box of apples
You liked to munch beyond all other fruit.
You found the egg the Monday before Easter,
And said, ‘I will praise Easter Monday now –
It was such a lovely morning’. Then you spoke
Of the coming battle and said, ‘This is the eve.
Good-bye. And may I have a letter soon.’

That Easter Monday was a day for praise,
It was such a lovely morning. In our garden
We sowed our earliest seeds, and in the orchard
The apple-bud was ripe. It was the eve.
There are three letters that you will not get.

 

That poem has a gut punch at the end.

This is a clip of Paul visiting his former teacher’s classroom.  The teacher had regaled the students with triumphant stories of glorious combat.  At this point, Paul, refuses to tell the students accounts of heroism.  The movie was routinely banned in countries who were fighting wars.  This scene is partly why.

This is a poem I have shared before.  It is one of my favorites, Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Lastly, I found a link online for BYU which contains the texts of documents from the war, and it has the text of the Armistice Proclamation.

https://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Conditions_of_an_Armistice_with_Germany

In the US, we tend to forget the First World War.  We weren’t involved in it that long, so we missed the horrors of the Somme and Verdun.  But this was the first modern war.  It featured chemical weapons.  The death tolls of the battles are simply astounding.

Never forget.

Happy Armistice Day and Happy Veterans Day.

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Things Are Happening – November 6, 2018 — The Balance Beam Situation

A. USAG, please pack your knives and go Can’t a fandom just have one measly second after worlds to decompress? Apparently not. On Monday, the USOC’s new CEO Sarah Hirshland sent an open letter to the gymnastics community in which she announced that she has been in this position for 11 seconds and is already […]

via Things Are Happening – November 6, 2018 — The Balance Beam Situation

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Funerary Monument for the Chapel of the Chateau de la Falaise by Francois Nicolas Delaistre

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In honor of the anniversary of Rodin’s birth, the Cleveland Museum of Art had this statue on display, along with other statues.  I liked it.

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Meditation on Irrational Thoughts Part 5

The idea that emotional misery comes from external pressures and that you have little ability to control your feelings or rid yourself of depression and hostility.

“A flat tire doesn’t upset your stomach.”

I learned that in my Psychology 102 class in college when we talked about cognitive psychology.  The idea is that our feelings are not caused directly by an external event, but rather by the way our brains think about an external event.

I have seen this at the Olympics.

I remember watching a woman (I can’t remember her name) win a silver medal at the Olympics in skeleton.  She had retired and came back at the urging of her husband following a miscarriage.  When she won her elusive Olympic medal, they could not have been any happier.

Contrast that with Viktoria Komova, who won the all around silver medal in the 2012 Olympics.  When she saw her score and that she had finished second, she was broken.  She sat down in a chair and sobbed, and later declared her Olympics to be a 100% failure.

Both of these athletes won the same medal.  And yet, they had very, very different reactions to winning the medal.

We need to practice metacognition, thinking about thinking.  When we feel upset about something, we need to ask ourselves, “Why do we feel upset?”

For example, a few days ago I was thinking about the fact that I am still single.  Like Bridget Jones, I imagined myself dying alone and my corpse being eaten by wild dogs.  Then I remembered how I felt 5 years ago.  I was unemployed, stranded in a strange city (Not Cleveland), and with mounting credit card debt and student loans.  I could not have imagined that I would be where I am today.

At the same time, I also thought about how I would never imagined myself in this place now.  I thought I was going to be a teacher; now I work in software.  I work with technology that I didn’t even know existed at the time.  My social life is also different than I would have anticipated at the time.

It reminded me that just because events don’t turn out the way I anticipate them isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This made me feel less fearful about the future.  My thought patterns actually changed my feelings.

We all have this ability.  The more we learn to use it, the better.

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Amateur Local History Corner: An Introduction

So, my Mom has argued that I should write about history on my blog, because I double majored in history and theater.  I write about movies and theater, but not history.

Part of it was I could not think of way to write about history on my blog.  I didn’t want to simply turn my blog into a Wikipedia page, where I simply list historical facts.  Plus, I also didn’t just want to review history books that I read or have read.

But recently, I have started thinking about producing things.  I watch tons of Youtube videos and try to read books about a variety of subjects.  I consume, but what do I produce?

To this end, I have decided to introduce an Amateur Local History Corner.  I will select a topic in local history and study it in depth.  I will pick recent events so that I can try to find lots of primary sources and review what I am finding in the sources.  Who knows?  I may even interview witnesses, but let’s not go crazy.  I may also try to use different historical frameworks to analyze the evidence, such as psychoanalytical history, social history, environmental history, or even Marxist history, just for kicks.  We’ll see.  I did pick up a textbook Houses of History to review the different interpretive lenses of history.

So, watch for the upcoming Amateur Local History Corner.  Wish me luck!

 

 

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Sweat at Cleveland Play House: A Quick Review

I just want to write a quick review of the play Sweat, which I saw at the Cleveland Play House last weekend.

I had been looking forward to that show ever since this season was announced, and Sweat did not disappoint.

Sweat tells the story of individuals working at a factory which demands workers take a steep pay cut to avert layoffs.  In reaction to this, the workers go on strike.

Sweat is basically why I go to the theater.

The show resonates, in large part because it is topical.  The characters argue about NAFTA, corporate greed, immigration, and who is and is not an American.

The show resonates because of the way the plot slowly builds to its horrifying climax, and because the characters are sympathetic.  The play lacks a villain; the drama comes from watching friendships and communities slowly disintegrate.

Please go see Sweat.

 

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One Year Ago

One year ago, I was really struggling.

I was working at the job I had taken after substitute teaching.  They gave me a chance, and a chance to learn vital skills.  I am very grateful for that opportunity.  But the workload was overwhelming, and the morale at the company was non-existent.  I felt hopeless and trapped.  I was desperate.

The stress was killing me, but this motivated me to go out and find another job.  The money is better, and I am much happier.

I have been thinking about that quite a bit recently, and for much of this year.  I could never have imagined in January of 2017 that I would find another job.

I try to remember this whenever I feel fearful of the future.  A year ago, I could never have imagined I would have found a better job, with a chance to learn new things and develop new skills.

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