Tuesday, December 15, 2015

1977 Egyptian Bread Riots. Will History Repeat?

1977 Egyptian Bread Riots

The Egyptian "bread riots" of 1977 affected most major cities in Egypt from 18–19 January 1977. The riots were a spontaneous uprising by hundreds of thousands of lower-class people protesting World Bank and International Monetary Fund-mandated termination of state subsidies on basic foodstuffs.

Egypt’s bread revolution

Pouring onto the streets in an unprecedented uprising last year, Egyptians toppled their dictator of three decades with resonating, populist chants for “bread, freedom and social justice.”

But while more freedom and social justice remain a possibility for Egypt, bread might be harder to come by.
The country’s growing population, and its loosening grip on the Nile, are threatening its water supply, weakening its capacity to irrigate crops and boosting the desert nation’s reliance on food imports from an increasingly volatile global commodities market.

It’s a dangerous situation many fear could lead to renewed political strife.

“People are scared of going hungry. They’ll give up anything but bread,” said 32-year-old Mohamed Maysara Hassan, an employee at one of the many bakeries that sell Egypt’s subsidized bread — a staple — in the heart of Cairo.
If the ailing government was forced to lift its hefty bread subsidy, which keeps one saucer-sized loaf at just $0.008, “There will be another revolution,” Hassan said.
Egypt, with its long history, is no stranger to food-based unrest.
As far back as the pharaohs, who presided over one of human civilization’s first recorded droughts, food shortages brought on by water scarcity led to a political breakdown, war and depopulation.

More recently, the “bread riots” of 1977 and 2008 — where rising prices or rumors of impending subsidy cuts led to deadly protests in the streets — exposed the dangers Egyptian leaders face when the country’s poor can’t afford food.
“Bread can be the fire-starter or the fire extinguisher of a revolution,” said Noor Ayman Nour, a prominent pro-democracy activist and son of Egyptian presidential candidate.

As much of 80 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people rely on subsidized bread.
“The regime [of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak] was very successful in keeping prices high enough so that people were on just the brink,” Nour said. “They were just insecure enough to remain subdued but not uncomfortable enough to revolt.”
But more than a year after Egypt’s revolution, food prices and the cost of basic commodities, like cooking gas, have hit some of their highest levels.
Egypt imports about 60 percent of its total food supply, because just 6 percent of the country is agricultural land — some of which is used to grow luxury cash crops for export. The rest is hyper-arid desert. The Nile is almost the only source of freshwater.

With rising inflation, a large and swelling population, and the threat of increased use of the Nile by upstream neighbors, Egypt’s capacity to feed itself is under threat. That makes Egypt’s vulnerability to global food shocks more acute than ever.
“After Jan. 25, [the current military rulers] have gone back to the Mubarak tactic of allowing prices to rise,” Nour said. “But blaming those who protest [against them].”

While bread is arguably the most crucial staple of the Egyptian diet, it remains somewhat shielded by the government’s $2.45 billion in annual bread subsidies.
But according to Magda Kandil, director of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies, other important parts of the Egyptian diet are also being threatened.
“[M]any of the food items in the consumption basket of Egyptians — fruit, vegetables — have gone up over the years,” she said. If the price of importing food continues to rise, “it would make the cost of living unbearable.”

Already the price of tomatoes — widely used in Egypt — has risen nearly 150 percent since Mubarak stepped down in February 2011, according to the government-run Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics.

Sayed Radwan goes to the subsidized bakery in his working class Cairo neighborhood every day to buy cheap bread for his family of four, spending just $1.15 to $1.30 per week. But that still gives him cause for concern.

When the prices of other food items or commodities go up, he said he has to buy less food.
“It is a constant worry,” he said. “We can barely sleep at night. We buy less fresh food. You can’t have a decent life.”

Egypt’s foreign currency reserves, which it uses to purchase imported wheat for its government-supported bakeries, fell to $15 billion in March 2012, down from $35 billion in the month before Mubarak resigned.

If Egypt’s post-uprising economy continues to falter, the issue of food security will be pushed to the forefront, analysts said.
“Food has proven a force for revolutionary change in the past,” wrote Christine Anderson, a former associate professor of international water law at the American University in Cairo, in her book, “Climate Change, Water Governance, Law and State Survival in the Arab World.”
And in Egypt, she wrote, “there are no remedies put in place to prevent a future food crisis.”
As Egypt loses its grip on the Nile and its population soars, food and water scarcity are becoming a serious problem


Friday, December 11, 2015

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow wanted to understand what motivates people. He believed that people possess a set of motivation systems unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires.

Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on.

The earliest and most widespread version of Maslow's (1943, 1954) hierarchy of needs includes five motivational needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.

This five stage model can be divided into basic (or deficiency) needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love, and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization).

The deficiency, or basic needs are said to motivate people when they are unmet. Also, the need to fulfil such needs will become stronger the longer the duration they are denied. For example, the longer a person goes without food the more hungry they will become.

One must satisfy lower level basic needs before progressing on to meet higher level growth needs. Once these needs have been reasonably satisfied, one may be able to reach the highest level called self-actualization.

Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, progress is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences, including divorce and loss of job may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of the hierarchy.

Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs.

The original hierarchy of needs five-stage model includes:
1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
3. Love and belonging needs - friendship, intimacy, affection and love, - from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
4. Esteem needs - achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

Maslow posited that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy:

'It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled?

At once other (and “higher”) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still “higher”) needs emerge and so on. This is what we mean by saying that the basic human needs are organized into a hierarchy of relative prepotency' (Maslow, 1943, p. 375).

The expanded hierarchy of needs:
It is important to note that Maslow's (1943, 1954) five stage model has been expanded to include cognitive and aesthetic needs (Maslow, 1970a) and later transcendence needs (Maslow, 1970b).

Changes to the original five-stage model are indented and include a seven-stage model and a eight-stage model, both developed during the 1960's and 1970s.

1. Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, etc.
3. Love and belonging needs - friendship, intimacy, affection and love, - from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
4. Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.
5. Cognitive needs - knowledge, meaning, etc.
6. Aesthetic needs - appreciation and search for beauty, balance, form, etc.
7. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
8. Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualization.

Instead of focusing on psychopathology and what goes wrong with people, Maslow (1943) formulated a more positive account of human behavior which focused on what goes right. He was interested in human potential, and how we fulfill that potential.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth. Self-actualized people are those who were fulfilled and doing all they were capable of.

The growth of self-actualization (Maslow, 1962) refers to the need for personal growth and discovery that is present throughout a person’s life. For Maslow, a person is always 'becoming' and never remains static in these terms. In self-actualization a person comes to find a meaning to life that is important to them.

As each person is unique the motivation for self-actualization leads people in different directions (Kenrick et al., 2010). For some people self-actualization can be achieved through creating works of art or literature, for others through sport, in the classroom, or within a corporate setting.

Maslow (1962) believed self-actualization could be measured through the concept of peak experiences. This occurs when a person experiences the world totally for what it is, and there are feelings of euphoria, joy and wonder.

It is important to note that self-actualization is a continual process of becoming rather than a perfect state one reaches of a 'happy ever after' (Hoffman, 1988).

Maslow offers the following description of self-actualization:

'It refers to the person’s desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially.

The specific form that these needs will take will of course vary greatly from person to person. In one individual it may take the form of the desire to be an ideal mother, in another it may be expressed athletically, and in still another it may be expressed in painting pictures or in inventions' (Maslow, 1943, p. 382–383).

Are you self-actualized?

Maslow (1968): Some of the characteristics of self-actualized people
Although we are all, theoretically, capable of self-actualizing, most of us will not do so, or only to a limited degree. Maslow (1970) estimated that only two percent of people will reach the state of self actualization. He was particularly interested in the characteristics of people whom he considered to have achieved their potential as persons.

By studying 18 people he considered to be self-actualized (including Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein) Maslow (1970) identified 15 characteristics of a self-actualized person. 

Characteristics of self-actualizers:

1. They perceive reality efficiently and can tolerate uncertainty;
2. Accept themselves and others for what they are;
3. Spontaneous in thought and action;
4. Problem-centered (not self-centered);
5. Unusual sense of humor;
6. Able to look at life objectively;
7. Highly creative;
8. Resistant to enculturation, but not purposely unconventional;
9. Concerned for the welfare of humanity;
10. Capable of deep appreciation of basic life-experience;
11. Establish deep satisfying interpersonal relationships with a few people;
12. Peak experiences;
13. Need for privacy;
14. Democratic attitudes;
15. Strong moral/ethical standards.

Behavior leading to self-actualization:

(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;
(d) Avoiding pretense ('game playing') and being honest;
(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;
(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.

The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are shown in the list above.  Although people achieve self-actualization in their own unique way, they tend to share certain characteristics.  However, self-actualization is a matter of degree, 'There are no perfect human beings' (Maslow,1970a, p. 176).

It is not necessary to display all 15 characteristics to become self-actualized, and not only self-actualized people will display them. Maslow did not equate self-actualization with perfection. Self-actualization merely involves achieving ones potential. Thus, someone can be silly, wasteful, vain and impolite, and still self-actualize. Less than two percent of the population achieve self-actualization.

Educational applications
Maslow's (1968) hierarchy of needs theory has made a major contribution to teaching and classroom management in schools. Rather than reducing behavior to a response in the environment, Maslow (1970a) adopts a holistic approach to education and learning. Maslow looks at the entire physical, emotional, social, and intellectual qualities of an individual and how they impact on learning.

Applications of Maslow's hierarchy theory to the work of the classroom teacher are obvious. Before a student's cognitive needs can be met they must first fulfil their basic physiological needs. For example a tired and hungry student will find it difficult to focus on learning. Students need to feel emotionally and physically safe and accepted within the classroom to progress and reach their full potential.

Maslow suggests students must be shown that they are valued and respected in the classroom and the teacher should create a supportive environment. Students with a low self-esteem will not progress academically at an optimum rate until their self-esteem is strengthened.

Critical evaluation
The most significant limitation of Maslow's theory concerns his methodology. Maslow formulated the characteristics of self-actualized individuals from undertaking a qualitative method called biographical analysis.

He looked at the biographies and writings of 18 people he identified as being self-actualized. From these sources he developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of this specific group of people, as opposed to humanity in general.

From a scientific perspective there are numerous problems with this particular approach. First, it could be argued that biographical analysis as a method is extremely subjective as it is based entirely on the opinion of the researcher. Personal opinion is always prone to bias, which reduces the validity of any data obtained. Therefore Maslow's operational definition of self-actualization must not be blindly accepted as scientific fact.

Furthermore, Maslow's biographical analysis focused on a biased sample of self-actualized individuals, prominently limited to highly educated white males (such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, William James, Aldous Huxley, Gandhi, Beethoven).

Although Maslow (1970) did study self-actualized females, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Mother Teresa, they comprised a small proportion of his sample. This makes it difficult to generalize his theory to females and individuals from lower social classes or different ethnicity. Thus questioning the population validity of Maslow's findings.

Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to empirically test Maslow's concept of self-actualization in a way that causal relationships can be established.

Another criticism concerns Maslow's assumption that the lower needs must be satisfied before a person can achieve their potential and self-actualize. This is not always the case, and therefore Maslow's hierarchy of needs in some aspects has been falsified.

Through examining cultures in which large numbers of people live in poverty (such as India) it is clear that people are still capable of higher order needs such as love and belongingness. However, this should not occur, as according to Maslow, people who have difficulty achieving very basic physiological needs (such as food, shelter etc.) are not capable of meeting higher growth needs.

Also, many creative people, such as authors and artists (e.g. Rembrandt and Van Gough) lived in poverty throughout their lifetime, yet it could be argued that they achieved self-actualization.

Contemporary research by Tay & Diener (2011) has tested Maslow’s theory by analyzing the data of 60,865 participants from 123 countries, representing every major region of the world. The survey was conducted from 2005 to 2010.

Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow's model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation (a person's view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress).

The results of the study support the view that universal human needs appear to exist regardless of cultural differences. However, the ordering of the needs within the hierarchy was not correct.

"Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don't have them," Diener explains, "you don't need to fulfill them in order to get benefits [from the others]." Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. "They're like vitamins," Diener says about how the needs work independently. "We need them all."

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Requiem For a Dream (1978) - Hubert Selby Jr.

Requiem For a Dream (1978) - Hubert Selby Jr. 

Hubert Selby Jr. is a freak, an anachronism, a throwback to an era when literature mattered and American writers wrote about something other than Marilyn Monroe’s hairdo or the last time they had sex with their daddies. Cut from the same cloth as such recently deceased legends as Paul Bowles, Charles Bukowski and William S. Burroughs, the 72-year-old Brooklyn-born author of harrowing novels such as “Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Requiem for a Dream” (now a film by hotshot director Darren Aronofsky) seems hopelessly out of place in today’s fiction market. A Kafka lost in La-la Land.

“It’s funny,” says Aronofsky, his generation’s answer to Martin Scorsese, when asked about the man whose nightmare he’s just translated to the big screen with the help of stars Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans, Jennifer Connelly and Ellen Burstyn. “When we went to Cannes to premiere the film, no one wanted to talk to Ellen or to me. They all wanted to talk to Hubert Selby Jr. He was the celebrity over there. Europe, unlike America, recognizes his contribution to literature.”

Indeed, I haven’t met a European yet who is unfamiliar with Selby’s work. Whenever Selby is on the Continent he gets an incredible amount of exposure, whether it’s an appearance on French TV or an interview for a German documentary. But in the States, Selby is routinely ignored. Even those in the literary community who should pay homage to this grand old man of letters, this uniquely American Dostoevski, snub the guy. Pick up any guide to contemporary fiction, and the one name sure to be missing is Selby’s. By comparison, boring old farts like Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer (or boring younger farts like T.C. Boyle) get enough ink spilled about them to almost blot out the fact that they’re so consistently soporific.

“Perhaps it’s that a prophet is without honor in his own country. I mean, even Jesus couldn’t do any miracles in his own hometown,” Selby says with a laugh during a recent lunchtime interview not far from his digs here. “It’s a strange paradox because I consider myself a very American writer. To be fair, there are a lot of people in this country who really like my writing. And a lot of writers respect me. But the so-called establishment? They hate me. I guess I should be flattered, because having the respect of your peers is far more important than being accepted by academics.”

(Of course, the University of Southern California does retain Selby’s teaching services for a graduate course in writing, but after all he’s been through, I’ll cut him some slack on that point.)

America may be paying a lot more attention to Selby with the release of “Requiem” and all the controversy spawned by its hellish depiction of drug addiction, obsession and madness. Aronofsky updates Selby’s tale — originally set in the Bronx of the ’70s (and published in 1978) — to the mean streets of Coney Island in the ’90s. Employing a sort of hip-hop expressionism and lifting dialogue directly from the book, Aronofsky introduces a brand new audience to Selby’s abrasive morality tale involving three young dope addicts looking to finance their dreams with a pound of pure heroin.

Wayans, Connelly and Leto play the addicts — Tyrone, Marion and Harry, respectively. Burstyn plays Sara Goldfarb, Harry’s mom, a pathetically lonely woman hooked on chocolate, TV and diet pills. Set to a soundtrack by the Kronos Quartet, the film exposes the lie behind America’s childish optimism by dragging each of its characters through a hell of his or her own devising. By the end of the film, we’re shellshocked — as if we’ve just traveled through Dante’s Inferno with Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Coney Island’s parachute drop and Brighton Beach as circles of Hades.

“The dream I’m referring to in the book, of course, is the great American dream: prosperity, property, prestige, etc. And the fact that it’ll kill you dead. Striving for it is a disaster. Attaining it is a killer. It takes many forms, and the results are not happy. It’s not a feel-good thing,” Selby says.

“‘Requiem’ is about the cancer of that dream,” he continues. “Of course, there are a lot of people who are successful who work very hard. They’re not all George W. Bush. But the point is they’re misguided. That’s not what life is about. We believe, probably more than anywhere, that life is getting all this material stuff. It’s a case of misguided ambition and desire.”

Aronofsky’s cast members get chewed up by Selby’s meat grinder, and they end up, variously, dismembered, imprisoned, committed or performing in lesbian sex shows for crowds of salivating males. (Thankfully, the lithe Connelly handles this bit.) Supposedly due to these extremes, “Requiem” garnered an NC-17 from the MPAA. In a burst of rebelliousness, Artisan has decided to release the film to theaters unrated. Of course, all the kids have to do is pick up the new edition of “Requiem,” reissued by Thunder’s Mouth Press in time for the opening of the movie, and read the book themselves. Heaven forbid!

(especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.
"a requiem was held for the dead queen"

an act or token of remembrance.
"he designed the epic as a requiem for his wife"

I. Introit
Requiem aeternam 
dona eis, Domine, 
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus in Sion,
et tibi reddetur
votum in Jerusalem;
exaudi orationem meam,
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem aeternam
dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Eternal rest
give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn, O God, becometh Thee in Zion,
and a vow shall be paid to Thee
in Jerusalem;
O Lord, hear my prayer,
all flesh shall come to Thee.
Eternal rest
give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Requiem for a Dream, 1978 Quotes

"The voice so filled with nostalgia that you could almost see the memories floating through the blue smoke, memories not only of music and joy and youth but perhaps of dreams."
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

"The sun was down which made it night time, but Harry and Tyrone were bugged with all the lights that stabbed and slashed and skewered their eyeballs...Daytime is a drag...you look forward to the night when you can get some relief from the assaults of the day and start to come alive."
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

"The voice was so bright and cheery and so enthusiastic and real that she turned toward the TV set to see if the voice was coming from there." 
"For the first time in memory she was unaware of the television."
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream 

“Obviously, I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. WhyThe reason is simple: because Life/life is giving, not getting.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“But you cant shut everyone out. I mean you have to have someone to love. . .someone to hold on to. . . someone--” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“I suspect there will never be a requiem for a dream, simply because it will destroy us before we have the opportunity to mourn it's passing.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“The voice so filled with nostalgia that you could almost see the memories floating through the blue smoke, memories not only of music and joy and youth, but perhaps, of dreams. They listened to the music, each hearing it in his own way, feeling relaxed and a part of the music, a part of each other, and almost a part of the world. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“There's a sorrow and pain in everyone's life, but every now and then there's a ray of light that melts the loneliness in your heart and brings comfort like hot soup and a soft bed.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“For weeks Tyrone thought he was going to die any minute, and there were also times when he was afraid he wasnt going to die.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Sometimes we have the absolute certainty there's something inside us that's so hideous and monstrous that if we ever search it out we won't be able to stand looking at it. But it's when we're willing to come face to face with that demon that we face the angel.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“...and the night was comfortably warm as the soft filtered light continued to push the darkness into the shadows as they held each other and kissed and pushed each others darkness into the corner, believing in each others light, each others dream.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Life was not longer something to endure, but to live. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“There was a sky somewhere above the tops of the buildings, with stars and a moon and all the things there are in a sky, but they were content to think of the distant street lights as planets and stars. If the lights prevented you from seeing the heavens, then preform a little magic and change reality to fit the need. The street lights were now planets and stars and moon. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“He didnt know what was defeating him, but he sensed it was something he could not cope with, something that was far beyond his power to control or even at this point in time comprehend. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“But to believe that getting stuff is the purpose and aim of life is madness. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“i think thats one of the problems with the world today, nobody knows who they are. everyone is running around looking for an identity, or trying to borrow one, only they dont know it. they actually think they know who they are and hat they aretheyre just a bunch of schleppers...who have no idea what a search for personal truth and identity really is, which would be alright if they didn't get in your way, but they insist that they know everything and that if you dont live their way then youre not living properly and they want to take your space away...they actually want to somehow get into your space and live in it and change it or destroy it...they just cant believe that you know what you are doing and that you are happy and content with it. you see thats the problem right there. if they could see that then they wouldnt have to feel threatened and feel that they have to destroy you before you destroy them. they just cant get it through their philistine heads that you are happy where you are and dont want to have anything to do with them. my space is mine and thats enough for me.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Sometimes it seems to stand still. Like you’re in a bag and you can’t get out and somebody’s always telling you that it will get better with time and time just seems to stand still and laugh at you and your pain.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“All the energy of their frustration and fear going into their laughter.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“They held each other and kissed and pushed each others' darkness into the corner, believing in each others' light, each others' dream.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“They luxuriated in the feeling of deep and all pervading satisfaction, a feeling of knowing absolutely that all was well with the world and them and that the world was not only their oyster it was also their linguine with clam sauce. Not only were all things possible, but all things were theirs. ” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Everything about it was wrong. Thats why it worked so good.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“... I started to die 36 hours before I was born, so dying was a way of life for me.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“I was sitting at home and had a profound experience. I experienced, in all of my Being, that someday I was going to die, and it wouldn't be like it had been happening, almost dying but somehow staying alive, but I would just die! And two things would happen right before I died: I would regret my entire life; I would want to live it over again. This terrified me. The thought that I would live my entire life, look at it and realize I blew it forced me to do something with my life.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“I knew the alphabet. Maybe I could be a writer.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“I think the function of suffering is to let me know that my perception is skewed; what I’m doing is judging natural events in such a way that I am creating suffering within myself. For instance, you have pain over certain conditions, certain situations that occur. And if you just say ‘ok, here I am, I’m going to experience the pain,’ you don’t suffer. The resistance and the degree of the resistance to the natural phenomenon of life causes tremendous suffering.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“thats why you cant be worried about the world. theyll just do you in anyway. you can't depend on them because sooner or later theyll turn on you or just disapear and leave you there alone.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“However they may have felt when they left they were now committed, they had passed the point of no return.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“Why did you start to write?
I left at 15.. I started to write becase I was taken off a ship from Germany when I was 18. They said I wouldn't live for 6 months.
I'd been given up for dead many times and I just didn't want to waste my life. I had what I now realize was a spiritual experience.
I realized that I would die,
and that just before I would die,
two things would happen.
number one, I would regret my entire life.
and number two, I would want to live my life over again.
and then I would die.
and that terrified me.
to think that I would live my entire life, look at it, and say oh..I blew it. was such a terrifying thought
that I bought a typewriter
I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I bought a typewriter.
but that is what got me to start writing, was
I did not want to waste my life
I wanted to, and I HAD to, do something with my life” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“she gradually became aware of how dumb the damn show was she was watching and she stared at it, wondering how in the hell they could put anything so absurdly infantile and intellectually and esthetically insulting on television, and she started asking herself over and over how they could do it, what kind of nonsense this is, and she continued to stare and shake her head, more and more of her mind being absorbed by the absurdity she was watching, suddenly leaning back on the couch as a section of the show ended and a commercial came blaringly on and she stared at them too, wondering what sort of cretins watch this garbage and are influenced by it and actually go out and buy those things, and she shook her head, unbelievable, it is simply unbelievable, how can they manage to make so many obnoxious commercials, one right after the other?” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“...and he just sat back and stared at the tube, almost interested in what was happening, trying to find the ability to believe in that lie so he could believe the one within.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., Requiem for a Dream

“But I knew that someday I was going to die. And just before I died two things would happen; Number 1: I would regret my entire life. Number 2: I would want to live my life over again.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

“Time has to pass. But sometimes its so goddamn long. Sometimes it just seems to drag and drag and weigh a ton. And hang on you like a monkey. Like its going to suck the blood out of you. Or squeeze your guts out. And sometimes it flies. And is gone somewhere, somehow, before you know it was even here. As if time is only here to make you miserable. That's the only reason for time. To squeeze you. Crush you. To tie you up in knots and make you fucking miserable.” 
Hubert Selby Jr., The Room

“I need more than the streets. I don’t want to be a floating crap game all my life. I want to be something . . . anything.” 
Hubert Selby Jr.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Favorite Poets - Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith

Florence Margaret “Stevie” Smith was born on September 20, 1902 in Yorkshire, England. Her father left the family to join the North Sea Patrol when she was very young. At age three she moved with her sister and mother to the northern London suburb Palmers Green. This was her home until her death in 1971. Her mother died when she was a teenager and she and her sister lived with their spinster aunt, an important figure throughout her life, known as “The Lion.” After high school she attended North London Collegiate School for Girls. She began as a secretary with the magazine publisher George Newnes and went on to be the private secretary to Sir Nevill Pearson and Sir Frank Newnes. She began writing poetry in her twenties while working at George Newnes. Her first book, Novel on Yellow Paper, was published in 1936 and drew heavily on her own life experience, examining the unrest in England during World War I. Her first collection of verse, A Good Time Was Had By All (1937), also contained rough sketches or doodles, which became characteristic of her work. These drawings have both a feeling of caprice and doom, and the poetry in the collection is stylistically typical of Smith as it conveys serious themes in a nursery rhyme structure.

While Smith’s volatile attachment to the Church of England is evident in her poetry, death, her “gentle friend," is perhaps her most popular subject. Much of her inspiration came from theology and the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. She enjoyed reading Tennyson and Browning and read few contemporary poets in an attempt to keep her voice original and pure. Her style is unique in its combination of seemingly prosaic statements, variety of voices, playful meter, and deep sense of irony. Smith was officially recognized with the Chomondeley Award for Poetry in 1966 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1969. Smith died of a brain tumor on March 7, 1971.

Deceptively simple, Stevie Smith's poems penetrate straight to the heart of life's greatest fears and anxieties. Set in melancholy suburbia, her poems speak of the disappointed, the wretched and the lonely - typified by her most famous poem, Not Waving But Drowning. Her monologues are often gleefully macabre, adopting the voice of a wise child to point out bitter truths.

Not Waving but Drowning
Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.

I Do Not Speak
Stevie Smith

I do not ask for mercy for understanding for peace
And in these heavy days I do not ask for release
I do not ask that suffering shall cease.

I do not pray to God to let me die
To give an ear attentive to my cry
To pause in his marching and not hurry by.

I do not ask for anything I do not speak
I do not question and I do not seek
I used to in the day when I was weak.

Now I am strong and lapped in sorrow
As in a coat of magic mail and borrow
From Time today and care not for tomorrow.

Alone In The Woods
Stevie Smith

Alone in the woods I felt
The bitter hostility of the sky and the trees
Nature has taught her creatures to hate
Man that fusses and fumes
Unquiet man
As the sap rises in the trees
As the sap paints the trees a violent green
So rises the wrath of Nature's creatures
At man
So paints the face of Nature a violent green.
Nature is sick at man
Sick at his fuss and fume
Sick at his agonies
Sick at his gaudy mind
That drives his body
Ever more quickly
More and more
In the wrong direction. 

Away, Melancholy
Stevie Smith

Away, melancholy,
Away with it, let it go.

Are not the trees green,
The earth as green?
Does not the wind blow,
Fire leap and the rivers flow?
Away melancholy.

The ant is busy
He carrieth his meat,
All things hurry
To be eaten or eat.
Away, melancholy.

Man, too, hurries,
Eats, couples, buries,
He is an animal also
With a hey ho melancholy,
Away with it, let it go.

Man of all creatures
Is superlative
(Away melancholy)
He of all creatures alone
Raiseth a stone
(Away melancholy)
Into the stone, the god
Pours what he knows of good
Calling, good, God.
Away melancholy, let it go.

Speak not to me of tears,
Tyranny, pox, wars,
Saying, Can God
Stone of man's thoughts, be good?
Say rather it is enough
That the stuffed
Stone of man's good, growing,
By man's called God.
Away, melancholy, let it go.

Man aspires
To good,
To love

Beaten, corrupted, dying
In his own blood lying
Yet heaves up an eye above
Cries, Love, love.
It is his virtue needs explaining,
Not his failing.

Away, melancholy,
Away with it, let it go

Deeply Morbid
Stevie Smith

Deeply morbid deeply morbid was the girl who typed the letters
Always out of office hours running with her social betters
But when daylight and the darkness of the office closed about her
Not for this ah not for this her office colleagues came to doubt her
It was that look within her eye
Why did it always seem to say goodbye?

Joan her name was and at lunchtime
Solitary solitary
She would go and watch the pictures In the National Gallery
All alone all alone
This time with no friend beside her
She would go and watch the pictures
All alone. 

Will she leave her office colleagues
Will she leave her evening pleasures
Toil within a friendly bureau
Running later in her leisure?
All alone all alone
Before the pictures she seemed turned to stone.

Close upon the Turner pictures
Closer than a thought may go
Hangs her eye and all the colours
Leap into a special glow
All for her, all alone
All for her, all for Joan. 

First the canvas where the ocean
Like a mighty animal
With a wicked motion
Leaps for sailors' funeral

Holds her painting. Oh the creature
Oh the wicked virile thing
With its skin of fleck and shadow
Stretching tightening over him. 
Wild yet caputured wild yet caputured
By the painter, Joan is quite enraptured. 

Now she edges from the canvas
To another loved more dearly
Where the awful light of purest
Sunshine falls across the spray,
There the burning coasts of fancy
Open to her pleasure lay. 
All alone all alone
Come away come away
All alone. 

Lady Mary, Lady Kitty
The Honourable Featherstonehaugh
Polly Tommy from the office
Which of these shall hold her now?
Come away come away
All alone. 

The spray reached out and sucked her in
It was hardly a noticed thing
That Joan was there and is not now
(Oh go and tell young Featherstonehaugh)
Gone away, gone away
All alone. 

She stood up straight
The sun fell down
There was no more of London Town
She went upon the painted shore
And there she walks for ever more
Happy quite
Beaming bright
In a happy happy light
All alone. 

They say she was a morbid girl, no doubt of it
And what befell her clearly grew out of it
But I say she's a lucky one
To walk for ever in that sun
And as I bless sweet Turner's name
I wish that I could do the same.

Do Not!
Stevie Smith

Do not despair of man, and do not scold him, 
Who are you that you should so lightly hold him? 
Are you not also a man, and in your heart 
Are there not warlike thoughts and fear and smart? 
Are you not also afraid and in fear cruel, 
Do you not think of yourself as usual, 
Faint for ambition, desire to be loved, 
Prick at a virtuous thought by beauty moved? 
You love your wife, you hold your children dear, 
Then say not that Man is vile, but say they are. 
But they are not. So is your judgement shown 
Presumptuous, false, quite vain, merely your own 
Sadness for failed ambition set outside, 
Made a philosophy of, prinked, beautified 
In noble dress and into the world sent out 
To run with the ill it most pretends to rout. 
Oh know your own heart, that heart's not wholly evil, 
And from the particular judge the general, 
If judge you must, but with compassion see life, 
Or else, of yourself despairing, flee strife. 

Stevie Smith

I remember the Roman Emperor, one of the cruellest of them,
Who used to visit for pleasure his poor prisoners cramped in dungeons,
So then they would beg him for death, and then he would say:
Oh no, oh no, we are not yet friends enough.
He meant they were not yet friends enough for him to give them death.
So I fancy my Muse says, when I wish to die:
Oh no, Oh no, we are not yet friends enough,

And Virtue also says:
We are not yet friends enough.

How can a poet commit suicide
When he is still not listening properly to his Muse,
Or a lover of Virtue when
He is always putting her off until tomorrow?

Yet a time may come when a poet or any person
Having a long life behind him, pleasure and sorrow,
But feeble now and expensive to his country
And on the point of no longer being able to make a decision
May fancy Life comes to him with love and says:
We are friends enough now for me to give you death;
Then he may commit suicide, then
He may go.

Nor We Of Her To Him
Stevie Smith

He said no word of her to us
Nor we of her to him,
But oh it saddened us to see
How wan he grew and thin.
We said: she eats him day and night
And draws the blood from him,
We did not know but said we thought
This was why he grew thin.

One day we called and rang the bell,
No answer came within,
We said: She must have took him off
To the forest old and grim,
It has fell out, we said, that she
Eats him in forest grim,
And how can we help him being eaten
Up in forests grim?

It is a restless time we spend,
We have no help from him,
We walk about and go to bed,
It is no help to him.
Sometimes we shake our heads and say
It might have better been
If he had spoke of us to her
Or we of her to him.
Which makes us feel helpful, until

The silence comes again. 

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