The wisdom of Roger Waters
Roger Waters — singer, songwriter, composer, anti-Semite — gave an interview to Frank Barat, published in Counterpunch. Some extracts are re-published below.
On artists playing in Israel:
The situation in Israel/ Palestine, with the occupation, the ethnic cleansing and the systematic racist apartheid Israeli regime is un acceptable. So for an artist to go and play in a country that occupies other people’s land and oppresses them the way Israel does, is plain wrong. They should say no. I would not have played for the Vichy government in occupied France in the Second World War, I would not have played in Berlin either during this time. Many people did, back in the day. There were many people that pretended that the oppression of the Jews was not going on. From 1933 until 1946. So this is not a new scenario. Except that this time it’s the Palestinian People being murdered.
The parallels with what went on in the 30’s in Germany are so crushingly obvious.
On why more artists don’t boycott Israel:
Well, where I live, in the USA, I think, A: they are frightened and B: I think the propaganda machine that starts in Israeli schools and that continues through all the Netanyahu’s bluster is poured all over the United States, not just Fox but also CNN and in fact in all the mainstream media.
The Jewish lobby is extraordinary powerful here and particularly in the industry that I work in, the music industry and in rock’n roll as they say.
On Max Blumenthal:
I have nearly finished Max Blumenthal’s book “Goliath: Life and Loathing in greater Israel”. It’s a chilling read. It’s extremely well written in my view. He is a very good journalist and takes great pains to make sure that what he writes is correct. He also gives a voice to the other side.
On the rabbinate:
They believe some very weird stuff you know, they believe that everybody that is not a Jew is only on earth to serve them and they believe that the Indigenous people of the region that they kicked off the land in 1948 and have continued to kick off the land ever since are sub-human.
On the Israeli government:
The lie that they have told for the last 20 years is “Oh, we want to make peace”, you know and they talk about Clinton and Arafat and Barak being in Camp David and that they came very close to agreeing, and the story that they sold was “Oh Arafat fucked it all up”. Well, no, he did not. This is not the story. The fact of the matter is no Israeli government has been serious about creating a Palestinian state since 1948. They’ve always had the Ben Gurion agenda of kicking all the Arabs out of the country and becoming greater Israel. They tell a lie as part of their propaganda machinery whilst doing the other thing but they have been doing it so obviously in the last 10 years.
Amos Oz Returns to the Kibbutz
“NO, I DO NOT believe there is any such thing as a ‘kibbutz literature,” Oz wrote in his 1974 essay, The Kibbutz at the Present Time. “There are poems and books that have a kibbutz setting, and there are poets and writers who live in a kibbutz, but the kibbutz has not inspired any ‘mutation’ of Hebrew literature.” Perhaps this is true, but as the kibbutz is a unique utopian, ideological and social experiment with its own characteristics, tragedies and charms, stories set in a kibbutz occupy a unique literary category. With his new novel-in-stories, Between Friends, Amos Oz has returned to the kibbutz, although one could argue he never really left. Even when set elsewhere, his stories are haunted by the parochial and familial atmosphere of the kibbutz. His characters, on and off the kibbutz, struggle for individuality and self-expression, experience restlessness, and confront the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams.
Considered one of the three tenors of Israeli literature alongside David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua (who are as much prophets and social critics as novelists), Oz began his career writing stories about the kibbutz. A resident and member of Kibbutz Hulda on Israel’s coastal plain from the age of 15 until he moved to Arad out in the desert in 1986, Oz completedWhere the Jackals Howl and his first novel Elsewhere, Perhaps on the one day off per week he was permitted for writing (he worked Saturdays in the dining hall as recompense).
Between Friends brings Oz full-circle, dragging him back to the period between the Wars of Independence and the Six-Day War, the earliest years of statehood when the kibbutz was a younger, stronger, and more nakedly ideological institution than it is today. Set on his imagined Kibbutz Yekhat, Oz explores through a series of interwoven vignettes the disagreements, disappointments, and disillusionment felt in a compact and insular community where everybody lives on top of one another, there are no strangers, and gossip and intrigue abound.
The kibbutz was borne out of a fantasy of those who, as Oz once wrote, “lost their religious faith and abandoned the religious commandments but they had not given up their devotion and drive and their thirst for the absolute” — immigrants from Europe and North America who gave up the Talmud and took up Marx. By turning over the soil, by planting trees and building homes, schools and factories, by creating a more communal and equitable society, the founders of the kibbutzim dreamt of becoming “the vanguard of a worldwide transformation.” As the product of a dream, however, the kibbutz was bound to disappoint. The socialism of the kibbutz did not account for human nature — as Oz puts it, “‘Life’ burst through with its infinite complexity that shatters the most acute and rounded and all-encompassing of ideologies.” There was depression, despondency, and jealously among the kibbutznikim. Some didn’t make it and took leave for an easier, larger life beyond the boundaries of the kibbutz, and the generations quarrelled with one another over the future of the experiment.
Other James Taylor essentials
Followers of this tumblr, my twitter comrades, facebook friends — pretty much anyone who has ever read anything I’ve ever said on the internet — will know about my obsession with James Taylor. Other than that I’m a WASP and apparently the only people who like JT are other WASPs, I wish I had a more comprehensive explanation for why I love his work so much.
Some examples. The line, “Ten miles behind me, and ten thousand more to go,” from “Sweet Baby James” used to lead off this blog, for example, which says something about youthful anticipation. As someone who spends a good amount of time travelling (or thinking about travelling), I’ve always felt a connection to “Country Road” — “Mamma don’t understand it. She wants to know where I’ve been. I’d have to be some kind of natural born fool to want to pass that way again.” — “Riding on a Railroad”, “That Lonesome Road,” “My Travelling Star” (the live arrangement from One Man Band, not the inferior album version), and so on. “Shame on me for sure,” he sings, “for one more highway song.”
I could go on. “Carolina in My Mind”, I feel, speaks to the universal experience of longing for the familiar and mentally escaping from what is difficult. “Carry on without me — I’m gone.” “You’ve Got a Friend,” often seen as sentimental and mawkish, hit me like a ton of lead one afteroon on a bus back to the airport which I was leaving the kibbutz. Of late, I’ve been dwelling a lot on “Never Die Young”, but more “Shower the People,” and the lyrics:
You can run but you cannot hide
This is widely known
And what you plan to do with your foolish pride
When you’re all by yourself alone
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel
You can feel it beginning to ease
I think it’s true what they say about the squeaky wheel
Always getting the grease.
Now, James Taylor, in time for Christmas one might note, has another volume of greatest hits out (although I think the album has more to do with the record company than with him). I say another, because if you wanted to listen to JT’s greatest hits, you can already by the perfectly fine two volumes of greatest hits albums already on the market. I have a bit of a problem with this particular collection, mostly the way it treats the latter half of his career.
Is it really the case, for example, that the “The Water Is Wide” — a song he didn’t even write — is more essential than “The Frozen Man”, a classic from the same cut, New Moon Shine? And what about the dissection of Hourglass, where “Another Day” (a song I like, by the way) is considered more essential than, say, “Jump Up Behind Me” or “Enough To Be On Your Way”. Similar questions might be asked about That’s Why I’m Here or October Road, among others.
Rather than re-write the tracklist entirely, however (since it does have its redeeming qualities), I’d like to post a selection of tracks that I consider essential — or, maybe, that I listen to all the time, ceaselessly — but did not make it onto Essential James Taylor. For shame.