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Hedges writes: "It is the imagination that makes possible transcendence. Chants, work songs, spirituals, the blues, poetry, dance and art converged under slavery to nourish and sustain this imagination."

Journalist Chris Hedges. (photo: Nation Institute)
Journalist Chris Hedges. (photo: Nation Institute)

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+9 # reiverpacific 2013-01-22 18:03
"Chants, work songs, spirituals, the blues, poetry, dance and art converged under slavery to nourish and sustain this imagination".
Right on!
I'm a Flamenco Guitarist (and VERY occasional intuitive dancer when given a shot), play jazz and blues on various instruments, and have traveled extensively globally to find that the, most moving, truth seeking and telling sounds, verse and movements come from oppressed peoples.
From the various types of bagpipes, the "Siguyeras and Tarantas" of Andalucia and the flamenco "cante con voz rajo", the raw Blues of the Deltas, Jazz (especially the real New Orleans forms), the Appalachian miners and farmers, the Great Plains Drum with chants and howls of the Lakota and other tribes, Aussie Aboriginal chants and Didgeridoo, The fierce Maori "Hakka", deep drums and chants of central Sumatra and many others, have all moved me to tears more times than I care to remember.
Corporately-produced so-called music has a chilling lack of any substance to me and classical, which I grew up with, is so controlled but the people who gave us the voices, sounds, tales and movements of the oppressed have true guts and "Duende" (no real translation to English) as the Flamencos say.
In fact in my opinion, Jazz and Blues are US-America's most significant exports and contribution to global culture and spiritual significance, as great music is decidedly spiritual in it's most sincere outpourings.
 
 
+5 # Smokey 2013-01-22 19:16
Lots of theology and religion talk in Hedges' essay. You can kick against it, if you like, but it's a reminder that "something spiritual" is what motivates many social reformers and prophets. Martin Luther King understood the point.
 
 
+3 # reiverpacific 2013-01-23 16:52
Quoting Smokey:
Lots of theology and religion talk in Hedges' essay. You can kick against it, if you like, but it's a reminder that "something spiritual" is what motivates many social reformers and prophets. Martin Luther King understood the point.

Right and don't forget that hedges was in Seminary before he became war correspondent and lived dangerously in conflict zones, from which sprang his book "War is a force that gives us meaning".
He is writing from experience and passionate belief, unlike most of his critics, who have never been outside their own comfort zone.
 
 
-9 # brux 2013-01-22 19:23
I resonate more with Chris Hedges values than I do with his writing.

He says things like ...

> And it was the human imagination that allowed the survivors in the Nazi death camps to retain the power of the sacred.

This is absurd, even disrespectful to all human beings, there is nothing sacred in a place where people do not have their freedom, and to show how far away from it we are most people cannot even define freedom, there is no GPS for it, it is found only by developing as a person, and anyone who is having their life and their human legacy stolen from them unwillingly does not have the power of anything, the power is given to us when we hear the stories of people long gone.

Suffering and death do have the last word.


Hedges' writing is sincere of course, it just sounds like it being written for a beginning college English essay.

No that this is bad, it's just that there is no way to reach our though words and make people or give people options when there are no options.
 
 
+7 # EternalTruth 2013-01-22 20:39
[quote name="brux"]

> And it was the human imagination that allowed the survivors in the Nazi death camps to retain the power of the sacred.

>This is absurd, even disrespectful to all human beings, there is nothing sacred in a place where people do not have their freedom

Freedom is a state of mind. In Any state of physical existence one can maintain ones own freedom or be completely enslaved. Someone chained to a wall in a dungeon can be more free than someone walking the streets of America, enslaved to corporate consumer culture and the "American dream".
It is you who disrespect human beings by stating that there can be nothing sacred in the death camps. It is through maintaining our own connection to the sacred that we can overcome those who would oppress us with greater strength. If, as you claim, this were not possible, we would have no hope at all.
 
 
-5 # brux 2013-01-22 23:58
> In Any state of physical existence one can maintain ones own freedom or be completely enslaved.

That's nonsense on a par with believing in a supreme being that is looking after you and protecting you ever moment of your life.

There is nothing sacred in a death camp, or war, or murder, or most of the babbling that goes on here.
 
 
+5 # Majikman 2013-01-22 20:48
Brux, you miss the entire point. The body may be enslaved, but not the spirit.
In pedestrian terms, St Ronnie my have played "The Gipper" and tried to steal his legacy...didn't work.
 
 
-5 # brux 2013-01-23 00:00
No I did not miss the point, there is no point, no point.
All the misery has no point to the people who are suffering, do you think they wanted to be symbols to you of the pathetic?
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-24 14:10
Brux; This is a quotation from Chris Hedges' book 'Days of Destruction Days of Revolt' . In it he quotes Michael Red Cloud, an Oglala on his experience of sweat lodges in prison: 'Those are some of the most powerful sweats I have ever been to.Thirty,40 men praying for their families,prayin g for people out here.Your life is in shambles.You're totally detached from your family. From everything in society. And you've got people controlling everything you do every hour of the day. They can take away your freedom. They can take away everything in your life. But they can't take away this relationship from your heart to your mind. And that's where spirituality exists.'

You might keep that in mind and heart, should you find yourself in some similar situation.
 
 
-2 # brux 2013-01-24 18:36
Hey Anarchist, you're full of it.

Because one person in RETROSPECT, because he survived and is probably OK now, has come to terms with what happened in his life does not mean there is something sacred in a prison, or death camp, and the fact that you get are teary eyes and poetic about someone's writing seems to take your eyes off reality.

Don't worry, everyone has that in them, that is why we are nature of nonsense BS programming on TV and in the movies.

The sacred is in ourselves, and it ain't even there all the time or in everyone.

Fricking people here do not even understand what the subject being discussed is, they are are, you are, reacting to just words ... meaning you are in your head, and in the world, not being realistic. Peolpe are comfortable with that though I guess, more than being challenged on it.
 
 
+1 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-01-23 03:47
So sorry to disagree, brux, but Chris Hedges understands a great many things on a different level than do most of us, particularly our universal seeking of what is goodly/Godly. And, in his writing, he 'outs' and challenges the evil that, since our beginnings on this earth, very few humans, including the wisest of theologians, have been able to comprehend. Hedges, like the wisest of the wise, comprehends that control (a.k.a. power) is an illusion, and all too often, those seeking such control/power are evil losers, while those enslaved, in concentration camps, (i.e. the Mannings and Assanges) are the winners.

Another name for prophets is truthtellers, and a truthteller is Hedges, by and through his writing.
 
 
-1 # brux 2013-01-23 09:22
> particularly our universal seeking of what is goodly/Godly.

The godly and the human come in a distant place compared to security, freedom, nutrition, education, opportunity, a job, a place to live, protection from criminals and those who want to take advantage of you, and all the other things people need to live ... then maybe if they are raised with enough care and some intelligence they might get around to thinking about god - really. i'm not saying god exists or not, but just that in real life people worry about the real things really, whatever they may say.
 
 
0 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-01-24 18:24
Wow--you're really bumming me out.

There are always options! That's the point...isn't it? Do you really think we're just screwed and that's it?
 
 
-4 # MidwestTom 2013-01-22 20:18
CAPITALIST GREED is destroying the planet? I suggest that skyrocketing global population, and the resulting demands for space, food, and fuel, is a far larger contributor to our declining planet.
 
 
+5 # goodsensecynic 2013-01-23 06:49
The two are not mutually exclusive. There is such a thing as ecosocialism.
 
 
0 # Anarchist 23 2013-01-24 14:12
Hey Midwest: then why isn't contraception for women given out free? and promoted world-wide. It is proven that if given the opportunity, women will limit their number of offspring. But this country and many of its people totally oppose this. So why is that with over population such a danger?
 
 
+6 # SOF 2013-01-22 20:51
Thank you Chris Hedges for another thoughtful -and soulful- piece of writing. Seems there is very little hope for us until we understand the dehumanizing assault is on the soul, spirit, godliness, basic morals or higher aspect of People (not to mention the threat to survival). Just saw 'Les Miserables" which I read long before I really understood its timeless themes.Wow! Creativity, Art, by image, word, music... can bypass the mental response -goes deeper to levels where we understand with other facilities. At this point all us arty types who experienced rejection, now reject the art authorities narrow perspective. Trends change. Jamming with a joyful noise around the fire, writing to clarify and express, sculpting sand at the beach, making a garden or camping with kids, Trying to feed and serve a hundred hungry folks -- all creative acts done with fearless curiosity and love speak to the soul of all the world.
 
 
+2 # cordleycoit 2013-01-22 20:56
Hedges lives in the right place the front lines. That strange area between the demonstrators and the police where the rocks fall and the bullets pass close. Sacred ground hallowed by blood.
 
 
+3 # goodsensecynic 2013-01-23 06:47
Hedges displays the passion of the zealot and the soul of the martyr. He is to be applauded for his choice to bear witness to evil, without hope of success or even of redemption for his compatriots and, indeed, for his species.

The drama is palpable ... but, I vividly recall the words of another religiously inclined observer of the follies of 1965 by the name of George Grant (1918-1988)who told an assembled multitude of several thousand hippies and yippies in Toronto in 1965: "Moral fervour is to precious a commodity to be used in the service of anything but reality."

Grant would have endorsed Hedges in thought, word and deed; but, he also knew that the quest for transcendence can be fleeting, and that the eagerness for martyrdom can be premature.

Lacking the Christian fervor of both men, I hope that Hedges also inspires a multitude, but that they temper the "spiritual" with plenty of practical political organization and mobilization.
 

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