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Thu, 23 Mar 2017 22:03:20 UT
Joanne Kyger, trailblazing Beat poet, dies at 82 Joanne Kyger, a leading poet of the San Francisco Renaissance and a rare female voice of the male-dominated Beat generation, has died. Ms. Kyger died Wednesday at her home in Bolinas, in hospice care, said her husband, Donald Guravich. The cause of death was lung cancer, with complications from osteoarthritis and atrial fibrillation. “Joanne Kyger was a trailblazer, fearless and full of insight,” said City Lights Publisher Elaine Katzenberger. Poems 2005-2014, published by City Lights Publishers, showcased themes informed by her longtime practice of Zen Buddhism and her concern for the environment. Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera — the first in a new interview series by Wave Books — that will be published in September. In addition to her writing, Ms. Kyger taught at Mills College, the New College of California and Naropa University in Boulder, Colo. In San Francisco, she joined a community of poets, living in the communal East West House, where she studied Zen Buddhism. In a 2015 Poetry Foundation interview, she said, There were always women I was friends with associated with these groups. “She was really a California person,” he said, and had an attachment to the Pacific Ocean that drew her closer to Japan and Buddhism. Selected Poems, John Freeman wrote that Ms. Kyger’s best poetry, her “short, imagistic observations of daily life,” drew its inspiration from her Marin County surroundings. Ms. Kyger stayed true to her Buddhist beliefs long after living in Japan. No memorial services have been announced.

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Fri, 17 Mar 2017 22:45:44 UT
For all the popularity of Henry James’ characterization of the novel as being “a loose baggy monster,” there are also novels that don’t feel the least bit loose or baggy, but are taut and meticulously shaped. While the government fights rebel militants in the city streets, and despite curfews and mobile-network shutdowns, Saeed and Nadia find ways to date, try hallucinogenic mushrooms and fall in love. Saeed’s father walks past a group of young boys playing soccer, and is reminded of his own childhood love of the game. [...] exit visas have become unattainable; trapped as they are, it’s no surprise that Nadia and Saeed begin heeding rumors about “special” doors that can spirit people out of the country. Left as rumors, magic doors would have served as an elegant metaphor for visas, but these portals also happen to be literal. Hamid barely mentions the son’s guilt and anguish, an elision made all the more moving when the couple pauses at a Mykonos beach to watch the waves, “the water stopping just short of their feet and sinking into the sand, leaving lines in the smoothness like those of expired soap bubbles blown by a parent for a child.” In London, Nadia and Saeed land in a bedroom so opulent that, at first, they think they’re “in a hotel, of the sort seen in films and thick, glossy magazines, with pale woods and cream rugs and white walls and the gleam of metal here and there.” Hamid notes that 50 migrant squatters end up fitting into the vast, plush house; the gulf between such different kinds of luck is implied. In Mykonos, London and Marin, the influx of refugees leads to conflicts that, in our post-Brexit, Trump-era present, seem all too credible: nativists advocating for the slaughter of newcomers, riots, attacks.

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Fri, 17 Mar 2017 21:41:46 UT
Thu, 16 Mar 2017 19:05:49 UT
A decade later, after Adolf Hitler clawed his way to the top echelons of the German government, many who had viewed him as a buffoon became devoted sycophants. “The majority of the new [Nazi] party members were bandwagon jumpers who joined in hopes of improving their career opportunities, not out of political conviction,” writes Volker Ullrich in Hitler: “Another way of declaring political allegiance was to use the greeting ‘Heil Hitler,’ and ... the people most apt to use the new social address were those who had dismissed Hitler as a ‘clown’ just a few weeks earlier.” Ullrich’s mammoth biography might not break ground in Hitler studies, but this first of two volumes is an assured and engrossing account of how a mercurial and mendacious parvenu became history’s most reviled dictator. Marshaling a vast amount of historical detail whose steady accumulation quickens the pulse and induces a deepening sense of dread, Ullrich paints an indelible portrait of a lowly World War I private and failed artist who transforms himself into a political animal, then a belligerent, genocidal monster. [...] as the German historian writes in his introduction, My aim is to deconstruct the myth of Hitler, the ‘fascination with monstrosity’ that has so greatly influenced historical literature and public discussion of the Führer after 1945. Hitler captivated millions with his hate-filled speeches, and his messianic posturing only boosted his popularity, but, as Ullrich writes, the dictator still lived in fear of looking laughable. Six Nazis and four police officers were killed in his failed Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, but the party leader suffered only a dislocated shoulder. Machiavellian in the extreme, Hitler practiced a supremely calculating form of politics that assured him the continued support of the public. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht — the 1938 pogrom in which Jews were the victims of “an explosion of sadism” — the dictator succeeded, in Ullrich’s words, in “passing himself off as the disengaged statesman far above any such unpleasantness, while delegating responsibility to his underlings.” The active ingredient in this Volksdroge, or “people’s drug,” was none other than methamphetamine, the powerful and long-lasting stimulant that causes brain cells to release neurotransmitters, raising one’s self-confidence and alertness. The Wehrmacht — the armed forces of Nazi Germany — ordered 35 million of the pills to be produced for the army and the Luftwaffe, the air force, thus making it, the author notes, “the first army in the world to rely on a chemical drug.” For the Germans’ surprise invasion of France in 1940 — the lightning-fast “blitzkrieg” through the Ardennes forest — “thousands of soldiers took the substance out of their field caps or were given it by their medical officers,” Ohler writes. According to Otto F. Ranke, the director of the Reich’s Research Institute of Defence Physiology, Pervitin’s only possible negative side effect might put troops in “a belligerent mood” — not necessarily a bad thing for people whose job was to kill other people. “The myth of Hitler as an anti-drug teetotaler who made his own needs secondary was an essential part of Nazi ideology,” Ohler writes. A myth was created that established itself in the public imagination but also among critical minds of the period, and still resonates today. Bolstering his claim with numerous files he found in archives — “meticulous records were required in case anything happened to Hitler” — Ohler makes a strong case that one of the most powerful men on the planet — “Patient A,” as the dictator was known to his personal physician — became a junkie. Soon the doctor was routinely injecting the dictator with ghastly sounding mixtures that included steroids and hormones — by-products and derivatives of uterine blood, bulls’ testicles, and seminal vesicles and prostates of young bulls. All of which made it more possible, in 1943, for Morell to ease Patient A — increasingly beset by anxiety brought on by military losses — onto something stronger: cocaine and Eukodal. The world could sink into rubble and ashes around him, and his actions cost millions of people their lives,” Ohler writes, “but the Führer felt more than justified when his artificial euphoria set in. [...] Hitler’s luck ran out, of course, and so did the drugs. After the ghostly wedding ceremony spaghetti was served, with tomato sauce on the side, hydrogen cyanide for dessert, and a bullet in the brain from a 6.35 mm Walther.

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Thu, 16 Mar 2017 18:17:37 UT

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