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Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

The “We” Word


‘WE’ is the word used to steal virtue from the good, to steal strength from the strong and to steal wisdom from the sages.

Ayn Rand in “Anthem:”

For the word “We” must never be spoken, save by one’s choice and as a second thought. This word must never be placed first within man’s soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils on earth, the root of man’s torture by men, and an unspeakable lie.

The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree, and to obey?

But I am done with this creed of corruption.

I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

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Come, come, come …
Let us ponder the America of our memories:
We sang like the birds of the field; we sang of freedom;
When we sought opportunity, we found it awaiting us.
America was a dream, a vision of seekers;
America was a dream that lasted ten score and thirty years.
The dream that was America encountered the anarchy of liberty;
And was felled by the anarchy of immorality.
We beg forgiveness of our founders, our fathers;
We weep for the blood they shed for us.
The America that was their dream is now our master.
Freemen no longer, we are serfs to toil land that is not ours.
We live the lives of the slaves of old, lives of quiet desperation;
We beat our breasts in despair knowing we sold our posterity into bondage.
We still pray, but not to God; We still sing, but not of freedom.
We tell tales to our children and they laugh,
For, as we recollect our remembrances,
Our children hear fairy tales of long, long ago.
We listen to those who sacrificed for freedom.
They ask: “Did we win or did we lose?
Was God with us or were we against God, in those days?
Was freedom worth the blood we spilt?
Or was freedom but a mysterious nothing,
A mere longing of our souls?

We will soon go away too, we who have the memories.
When we are gone, will seekers ever dream that dream again?

~~Edna Barney

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Oh Poor Lady Caroline …

Try as she may to be snooty and dismissive to others, her bewitching beauty and lovely voice betrayed her true feelings. The more she tried to be rude and cold to acquaintances. the more they were enchanted by her natural charms and they loved her even more. Oh, to be so cursed as was Lady Caroline!

So she ignored Mrs. Arbuthnot’s remark and raised forefinger, and said with marked coldness–at least, she tried to make it sound marked–that she supposed they would be going to breakfast, and that she had had hers; but it was her fate that however coldly she sent forth her words they came out sounding quite warm and agreeable. That was because she had a sympathetic and delightful voice, due entirely to some special formation of her throat and the roof of her mouth, and having nothing whatever to do with what she was feeling. Nobody in consequence ever believed they were being snubbed. It was most tiresome. And if she stared icily it did not look icy at all, because her eyes, lovely to begin with, had the added loveliness of very long, soft, dark eyelashes. No icy stare could come out of eyes like that; it got caught and lost in the soft eyelashes, and the persons stared at merely thought they were being regarded with a flattering and exquisite attentiveness. And if ever she was out of humour or definitely cross–and who would not be sometimes in such a world?—she only looked so pathetic that people all rushed to comfort her, if possible by means of kissing. It was more than tiresome, it was maddening. Nature was determined that she should look and sound angelic. She could never be disagreeable or rude without being completely misunderstood.

‘I had my breakfast in my room,’ she said, trying her utmost to sound curt. ‘Perhaps I’ll see you later.’

And she nodded, and went back to where she had been sitting on the wall, with the lilies being nice and cool round her feet.”

“The Enchanted April,” by Elizabeth von Arnim, at the end of Chapter 6.

Perhaps I’ll see you later.

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Evelyn Nesbit on a Bear Rug

I have been listening to an audio book of “Ragtime,” which I purchased because I have tickets to the play “Ragtime” that is scheduled for the Kennedy Center in May. Halfway through the book, I have decided that Evelyn Nesbit and Harry Thaw are featured characters that I should know more about. To learn more about them is quite easy, as, before reading “Ragtime” I had never heard anything of either of them; for all I knew, they were figments of the author’s imagination.

After the author’s coverage of Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt, Admiral Byrd, the famous psychiatrists Freud and Jung, I decided that murderer Harry Thaw, Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit and Evelyn’s lover Stanford White must have been historical characters. In 1906, Harry Thaw’s trial for the murder of White was labelled the “Trial of the Century.” Of course, OJ Simpson had not yet been born, and his trial for murder was fated for the end of the same century.

I find “Ragtime” interesting reading as it covers the historical events of my father’s boyhood. He was born 1901, and came to the U.S. as a teen. Also, my grandmother and my mother had grown up on a Virginia plantation of the family of another Gibson Girl, Irene Langhorne Gibson. I remember my grandmother recounting how she and her siblings played with the discarded drawings of Irene’s artist husband, Charles Dana Gibson. This is all doubly intriguing, as E.L. Doctorow links all of his historical characters with one another, and with his created characters, and I have found that my own family is linked to the very same people of his novel.

Well, back to “Ragtime” and Evelyn Nesbit, I finally Googled her this morning. (I’m not sure if “Google” the verb should be in caps or not.) She and her star-crossed lovers are in Wikipedia as real American characters and she even has her own web page: “The Story of Evelyn Nesbit.”

UPDATE WARNING: I downloaded this audio book from the Apple Store through iTunes. Halfway through the book I discovered that four or five chapters in the middle are missing. This is a defect in the actual audio book that Apple sold me, not a download problem. This is the very first book I have downloaded from Apple, so needless to say, I am NOT impressed.

The image, Evelyn Nesbit, was originally uploaded by westiemom. It is posted here from Barneykin’s Flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Today, January 5th is the Eve of the Epiphany. A Picture from Edna

For our ancestors, who celebrated “Old Christmas,” the night preceding January 6th is the Eve of Epiphany. It was on this night, over 2000 years ago, that the Magi came to Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus.

Today, the Day of Epiphany is still known as “Old Christmas,” which was the day that Christmas was celebrated before the calendar changed in the 18th century. One of the old beliefs concerning the Day of Epiphany was that a person should never lend anything to anybody on Old Christmas Day, because the lender would never get it back again. Also, the Eve of Epiphany is the night when the Holy Spirit manifests Itself upon the earth in many subtle ways. Upon that night, no matter how hard the ground was frozen, elder bushes would sprout from the ground. Even more mysterious is our ancestors’ belief that at midnight on Old Christmas Eve, if they crept silently into a barn or field, they could hear the cattle and sheep praying. At the exact stroke of midnight on Old Christmas Eve, animals would start moo-ing and baa-ing and bellowing as though they were crying, in remembrance of their own ancestors who had been present in the stable at Bethlehem to witness the birth of the Christ Child and His revelation to the Magi.

A wonderful book that I am reading about celebrating Christmas in England of long ago is “Old Christmas” by Washington Irving.

The image, The Epiphany, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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OVER 10,000 Apple Apps and Counting!
Did you know, that in the first 142 days since Apple first started accepting new iPhone/iPod Touch Apps, there have been over 10,000 Apps added to the iTunes App Store?

My grandson told me that he has downloaded five pages of Apps onto his new iPod Touch. My Touch holds twice as much as his and I have only five Apps in toto: Facebook, Crazy Candle (came in handy for a candle-less birthday), Stanza (love it for reading ebooks), Twitterific and DataCase. Actually I have only four, as DataCase, the most expensive of all of them, didn’t work, so I deleted it.

So, thanks to Grandson’s enthusiasm, I went to the Apple Apps Store and downloaded many of the recommended ones at this link: “Top 15 iPhone Apps of 2008,” except for the games, plus a few others I found. Games bore me. I only downloaded the “FREE” Apps, as I know from experience that the Apps that charge oftentimes do not work, and there is little if any chance of getting a refund. Then I went to bed and before falling off to sleep I tried figuring out what I had done. Imagine this – I now have 160,000 recipes on my iPod, the complete works of Shakespeare plus some that scholars are not sure he wrote, Pandora radio, Urbanspoons restaurants, and two more lights, in case I need to see where I’m going at night. Now I need to find time to sync these to my new iPhone.

I am here to report that the favorite of all that I downloaded has got to be Pandora. It works perfectly. I now have my own custom made radio on this little device. It is like the old “Bluegrass Country” at WAMU has come back to life. WAMU kicked “Bluegrass Country” over to HD radio and the Internet, so they could have more “BORING, BORING” talk on WAMU. I’ve not listened to them since. Who needs them anyway? I’ve got an iPod Touch with all my favorite music on it. But I do miss Ray Davis.

The Shakespeare App is incredible, except it is not easy to read. I am used to reading books on my iPod Touch with STANZA, and I feel certain that I can download Shakespeare’s plays from STANZA for reading. But this Shakespeare App is nice for impressing my friends with my “new found” erudition. See, I carry ALL of the Bard’s works in my purse. If there are any quotations that they cannot remember, I can find them all right here on my iPod.

One of the lights was really not worth the price – FREE. I am going to delete that as I cannot figure what it is suppose to do, except click off and on. I like the Flashlight, as it could come in handy at the theater or when trying to find something at the bottom of my black bag (my purse). I’ve not tried the WordPress App yet.

Most of these Apps need WiFI to work, which in the past would have been a problem for me, as the iPod Touch is not always connected. That is probably why I had not downloaded so many Apps to it. Like the Google Maps are great, but I don’t usually need them at home where I have computers and Internet. I need them when I’m away from home – like on the streets of DC where they don’t work on the iPod Touch. Now my iPod Touch stays home and I go abroad with my new iPhone, where I will always be 100% connected to the real world – the Internet.

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Remembering warmer days on the beach at Assateague Island, whilst hoping for warmer days to return again. Remembering days that will never come again, whilst I “shed a bitter tear.”

A Picture from Edna

The sea was wet as wet could be,

The sands were dry as dry.

You could not see a cloud, because

No cloud was in the sky:

No birds were flying over head—

There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Were walking close at hand;

They wept like anything to see

Such quantities of sand:

If this were only cleared away,”

They said, “it WOULD be grand!

If seven maids with seven mops

Swept it for half a year,

Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,

That they could get it clear?

I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,

And shed a bitter tear.

(“The Walrus and the Carpenter” from “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll)

The image, Assateague Island, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s Flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Below is a screen-shot of part of my PortableReading library at Facebook.

A Picture from Edna

I am very skeptical of most applications at Facebook. I have had some bad experiences with them. A music application I tried took over my computer and would not let me escape from its website. Just today, I tried one that a friend sent me, which resulted in a $9.95 charge on my cell phone – unbeknownst to me. So beware with most of them.

However, here is one, totally “FREE,” that I cannot say enough good things about. At Facebook the application is known as “PortableReading” however, its website calls itself “TextOnPhone,” which is somewhat confusing.  “TextOnPhone” is for iPhones and iPods which I have not had much success with on my iPod Touch. For iPod reading I use Stanza, as I have already blogged.

But … “PortableReading” works wonderfully on Facebook. Join Facebook for free, and then sign on for the “FREE” application “PortableReading.” Then you will have your own personal library at your fingertips. You can choose your free books, set the type, colors, and size, so that you can read on your computer screen without scrolling by just clicking the “next” button to go to the next page. I do not know if one can use this application without an Internet connection. I have not been able to do that on my iPod Touch, which is another reason I prefer Stanza for that.

Stanza does not have a Facebook application, so if you want to conveniently read “FREE” books on your computer, PortableReading works great. Give it a try.

The image, My Facebook Library, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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I found this musical creation so beautiful that I had to learn more about it and its meaning. I found it as a CD album at Amazon, which I just ordered: The Irish Tenors / McNamara, McDermott, Kearns, TynanThe Three Tenors. The following is what I discovered about the song entitled Grace. Give a listen HERE.

“As we gather in the chapel here in old Kilmainham jail,
I think about these past few weeks; Oh, will they say we failed?
From our school days they have told us we must yearn for liberty,
Yet all I want in this dark place is to have you here with me.

[Chorus]
Oh Grace just hold me in your arms, and let this moment linger,
They’ll take me out at dawn and I will die.
With all my love I’ll place this wedding ring upon your finger,
There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye.

Now I know it’s hard for you my love to ever understand,
The love I bear for these brave men, my love for this dear land,
But when Padraic called me to his side down in the G.P.O.
I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go.
[Chorus]

Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too,
On this May morn, as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you.
And I’ll write some words upon the wall, so everyone will know,
I loved so much that I could see His blood upon the rose.”

Joseph Mary Plunkett was an Irish nationalist, poet and leader and planner of the 1916 Easter rising. It was largely his plan that was followed in 1916, which ended in military disaster. Plunkett was held in Kilmainham Jail and faced court martial. Hours before his excecution by firing squad, at age 28, he was married in the prison chapel on 4 May 1916, to his sweetheart, a Protestant convert to Catholicism, Grace Gifford.

Grace remained loyal to the republican movement while earning a living as a commerical artist. She voted against the treaty which divided Ireland and during the civil war she was imprisoned in Kilmainham jail for three months. She died in 1955.

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The poem “Ingratitude,” by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), is a lesson from the ages. It should be a part of the education of every child to learn to be grateful. Unfortunately, in America, few parents read Shakespeare and it seems that few parents understand the importance of teaching graciousness to their children. In fact, it is obvious that many American parents actually teach their children “ingratitude” as a “refined” vice. Perhaps for this reason Shakespeare’s poem “Ingratitude” was included in Mary E. Burt’s 1904 anthology entitled “Poems Every Child Should Know,” (#16). Does your child know any of the included poems, such as this one from Shakespeare?

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou are not so unkind

As man’s ingratitude;

Thy tooth is not so keen

Because thou are not seen,

Although thy breath be rude.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,

Thou dost not bite so nigh

As benefits forgot;

Though thou the waters warp,

Thy sting is not so sharp

As friend remembered not.

~~William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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