Sunday, September 22, 2013


I went to experience the James Turrell exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum yesterday. I couldn’t believe how badly this show was botched - the wonder and awe and majesty sucked out of this magnificent art by a wrong headed presentation of the work. I understand that this may not be the fault of the museum, the curators, or any of those who likely worked very hard preparing the show; but having seen Turrell’s work twice before under better circumstances, I felt really bad for James (and the folks who were there to experience his work for the first time). It is the discovery and the transcendent quality of this work that makes it such a powerful experience. This was made all but inaccessible at the Guggenheim show, in multiple instances forcing one to experience the work solely through the description of museum guards rather than through one’s own individual exploration. After waiting close to an hour in an interior line (after waiting as long outside the museum) we were allowed a minute or two to view the last piece before the guard explained to us that Turrell was an “illusionist,” explained to us what we were supposed to see (and not see), and why we could not approach the piece ourselves - because someone had gotten hurt falling through an opening in a piece in another show…

The piece in the rotunda (Aten Reign - one of only five light pieces in the show) was gorgeous, but even there we were told to get up off the floor (“on the mat or on the benches only”). Thank goodness they are keeping us safe from James Turrell.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chemical weapons don’t kill people...

The gun lobby (weapons industry) has pushed the phrase “guns don’t kill people - people do” so hard that it has become a common axiom in American culture, shifting responsibility away from those that manufacture and sell weapons to those who use them. Talking with friends and neighbors, I find many folks are disturbed by the prospect of standing by while a leader gasses his own people. But when I ask them the simple question “who manufactured the chemical weapons in question (and who has manufactured chemical weapons in the past)?” they have no answer. If I take this line of questioning a bit further asking “how are chemical weapons acquired?” I find they don’t seem to have much information beyond that which has been provided to them by the Obama administration (and the media) as justification for a military strike. My third question will not seem unfamiliar to those who read my blog with any frequency - “who stands to profit from (the continuation and escalation of) the crisis?” I asked this question repeatedly in the run-up to the Iraq War, hoping that Americans would be outraged by the prospect of an administration filled with those who stood to profit from the war seizing the power to go to war (unconstitutionally and unilaterally). I have written a number of posts of late pointing out similar failings with referencing the gun lobby, weapons industry, and the politicians that represent those interests as separate entities. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, many people questioned how the outcome might have been different if Zimmerman did not have a gun, the choice to use a gun limited by whether one has a gun to use. The Geneva Protocol prohibits the use of chemical weapons, but it does not address their production, storage, or transfer. The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. Syria is a signatory of the Geneva Protocol, but not the CWC. The United States and Russia (and other countries) continue to have stockpiles of these weapons despite being signatories of the CWC. When John Kerry condemns the use of chemical weapons as “moral obscenity” is he also condemning their production, storage, and transfer (sale)? Would such a blanket condemnation point fingers at other players outside of Syria? Is this developing into a US vs Russian national interests proxy war? If that is the case, are we concerned about “our” leaders capitalizing on the crisis in Syria at the expense of the innocents they claim to want to protect? Perhaps we should take a few steps back to focus on how and why proliferation of chemical weapons occurs rather than relying on our standard conditioned response - using weapons to destroy weapons to make sure that weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Photo by Michele Equality Kaplan

If there was a gang war going on in your neighborhood, putting your family in danger, and the police suggested that the only way to stop the violence was to attack the gangs and rid them of their weapons - would you go along with their plan? What if you found out that the police were supplying weapons to the gangs, making a profit at both ends of the pipeline collecting tax dollars to pay for weapons to battle the gangs they themselves had armed?

Can we really afford to discount the possibility that the events we see unfolding in the media have been specifically designed to influence our course of action? Even if the events themselves are real, the narrative concerning those events may be fabricated. The most persuasive lies always have some truth embedded in them...


Related articles:
Dennis J. Kucinich - Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria
David Kashi - Syria Chemical Weapons Program Helped By Western Companies Selling Precursor Nerve Agents
David E. Sanger, Andre W. Lehren and Rick Gladstone - With the World Watching, Syria Amassed Nerve Gas
Josh Lederman and Seth Borenstein - In U.S. Arsenal, Lessons For Syria Chemical Weapons