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AQC Release for Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Words: Ron Hirschbein, Charlie Vázquez, James Miller, Raúl Hernández Garrido, Lora Rivera, and Lisa Alvarado, Fernando Sabido Sánchez, and Xánath Caraza.

Visuals: Leslie Ditto, Steven Thomas, Horacio Bustos, Megan Bachant, Brent Becker, Sergey Martyuk, Baron Norris, and Scott Wilson.

Films: Joseph Heller part 1 - Moyers Interview, A Lovecraft Dream - short animation film by Michele Botticelli and Leonardo Manna, and a trailer for Writ Writer (Independent Lens/PBS).

[ previews and content links below ]


Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Works by Leslie Ditto, Steven Thomas, and Horacio Bustos.

Ron Hirschbein

The moral question in Afghanistan is clear. Civilian casualties are certain. The outcome is uncertain. No one knows what the bombing will accomplish—whether it will lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden (perhaps) . . . or an end to terrorism (almost certainly not).
—Howard Zinn (1)

George W. Bush condemns the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon as terrorism—deliberately killing defenseless civilians.(2) This deed, he insists, cannot be justified. His adversary-apparent, Osama bin Laden urges that the attack was justified: “Our terrorism is a blessed terrorism to prevent the unjust person from committing injustice and to stop American support for Israel which kills our sons.”(3) Not surprisingly, bin Laden condemns the American military response in Afghanistan since it kills defenseless civilians: He declares that The Bush administration believes that it “is their right to annihilate people so long as they are Muslims and non-Americans.”(4) Bush and bin Laden, however, do agree on one point: Any attempt to assign moral equivalence to their respective actions—any suggestion that killing defenseless Americans and defenseless Afghanis belongs in the same moral universe—is the worst sort of obscenity.

In short, both men claim their actions are justified—killing enemy noncombatants is somehow necessary, permissible, even laudatory. Not surprisingly, however, there are differences in their strategies of justification. These differences are the subject of this essay. What moral gravity should be assigned to these differences is, to say the least, controversial: it is inconceivable that some authoritative tribunal could resolve the controversy to the satisfaction of all concerned. Accordingly, it must be left to the reader to draw moral distinctions between these respective justifications. Let’s spin our moral compasses.


Works by Megan Bachant and Brent Becker.

By The Edge of the Jungle

Charlie Vázquez

San Ginorio was the most beautiful city I had ever known, though I had been lost in larger metropolises and had been to smaller towns that were more accurately villages. It was a city that struck a fondness in my heart that did not compare to the cymbal crashes of San Sebastián or the suspicious humming of nighttime Perla. Built of Greek and Italian marble (brought long ago by Spanish galleons) and Mexican limestone, it was a classical and earthy utopia of eroded, watchful Cupids, chipped and cracked Roman columns, and pompous, dried-up fountains filled with leafy debris—all of this close to the jungle’s edge. I never once heard music there, that is, unless the natives chanted it.

It was a town choked by dark legends.

Built on the sands of the somber Mancha River, San Ginorio was like no other settlement I had ever known; not a birth, death or heartbreak went unnoticed in that forsaken place. Much legend gripped its history; it was woven into the vines and bricks of the village like forgotten secrets. It was also a place of unexplainable phenomena: Few fish lived in the river waters and electrical storms ignited over the skies of the town like no other in the country. Established by white men after the discovery of silver ore, it was a town built for commerce—an ocean-facing port erected for the exploitation of the local natives and the enrichment of overseas royalty.

I had met men who doubted the existence of curses and dark magic—there had always been such people—but one week in San Ginorio would’ve turned any unbeliever around. I saw many of the godless convert to such pious religiosity there that one wondered if they themselves had been subjected to some such curse. To say it was only a haunted town is not accurate either; San Ginorio was not just haunted, it was cursed. Such towns have always existed, all over the world, and were often built on mass graveyards or other such sites of human death, misery, and disaster.


James Miller
Fragment from his forthcoming novel 'Sunshine State'

They drove all night to the outskirts of hell, a hospital in a once grand country house nestling in the cool, grey English countryside... they left him in starched white rooms that smelled of burned medicine, the acrid odour of anti-depress-ants and the velvety smother of tranquillisers. They left him to remember the funeral: ‘… a great man … what a loss to us – to the world …’ The hospital, a place of cruel and absurd mysteries where they left him in rooms filled with newspapers and magazines with certain words underlined and he knew that if he could just make the necessary connections, read the words in just the right way then it would all be clear to him, the history of his entire life, past and present. There were parts of the hospital he was never allowed to go, abandoned weapons-testing facilities, studios for pornographic movies and anatomical examinations, rooms with strange plastic objects like sex toys or prosthetic limbs for mutilated aliens … People watching behind the one-way mirror … Dreams of the beautiful doctor … a boy again in the high cold fields … boughs of trees dark in twilight gloom … ‘Very good,’ she said, and he would like to die for such a smile but such noble gestures were not for him to make. ‘We all have to do bad things,’ they said. ‘We were surrounded,’ he told them as they wrote their report. ‘We were cut off, we were taking enemy fire.’ They nodded as he spoke. Eyes watching behind the walls and the one way mirror...


Dios y Sandra en el desván.

Raúl Hernández Garrido

Dios está arriba escondido en el desván. Por la noche le oíamos removerse y nos entraba el miedo, no fuera que mamá o la abuela lo fueran a descubrir. Robábamos comida para él. Sandra era quien se la subía.

Aprovechábamos la siesta, cuando los mayores se iban a trabajar y nos dejaban solos en la casa, en el cuarto, con las persianas bajadas. Afuera hacía un sol de matar y oíamos los ronquidos de la abuela, llegando desde el salón. Ahora, decíamos, y salíamos tras Sandra al pasillo. No subíamos. Sandra nos decía que no debíamos subir, que no debíamos acompañarla. No sabíamos si era porque Dios nos tenía miedo o porque a nosotros nos daría miedo verle la cara a Dios. Los domingos, en la iglesia, Flora me daba un codazo para que viera a Dios, allí colgado de la cruz. Y aunque ése era Dios, bien: no era Dios del todo. Quizá fuera Dios hace tiempo, porque yo también, en algún libro, le había visto con una larga barba blanca, sentado sobre un planeta y rodeado por las estrellas y los ángeles. También se aparece en el momento en que el cura levanta los brazos para meterse dentro del pan bendito.

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Works by Sergey Martyuk and Baron Norris.

A Childhood Sestina
Lora Rivera

You’re mixing dirt and water, making mud,
and watching insects climb in narrow patterns
the peaks and valleys of your toes and fingers,
with which you’re preparing to gather a handful
of wet dirt to slop over them and watch the scattering
of biting red bodies with cool interest.

They say that other things should interest
little children more than buckets of mud,
castle building and birdseed scattering,
the flight of gray birds in alphabet patterns,
or counting each bead in a handful,
not watching them slip through your fingers.


Lisa Alvarado

I dust off the cinders
after thinking about you.
Ashes, ashes, everywhere.
These words bind my wounds,
like a salve to scorched flesh,
charred but still here.
Memory is a scar;
a ritual marking, a thing of value.


Lisa Alvarado

I don’t want some young boy
rife with bad French poetry,
trying to give me le petit morte.
Come and get me, Boneshaker.
Baby, you know who you are.
The one who’ll grab it by the throat before it’s gone.
Honey, I’m a Soul-eater.
Dark with shadow,
I’m the Reaper, and it’s harvest time.
Armageddon in your arms?


Fernando Sabido Sánchez

Persiste el dolor, un dolor de perros,
ha nevado toda la noche y no espero
que te compadezcas o me muestres
al despertar una sonrisa desdibujada
Recuerdo que en la cumbre del amor,
mis sentidos eran agujas que marcaban
la libertad en un reloj inmóvil de sigilos,
tus pechos, lunas en llamas que se cimbraban
entre detonaciones dulces de sangre

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Fernando Sabido Sánchez

Presiento que estamos enterrando
las viejas canciones de amor,
que el viento de la umbría
va deshojando nuestro libro
verso a verso
sin demorar el arribo de la muerte

Recuerdo los gemidos del ensueño,
el ungüento invisible que nos salvó
a veces del naufragio sin juramentos apócrifos,
la infidelidad desprovista
de estigmas, las ascuas

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Hijos de Lautaro*[english translation below]
Xánath Caraza

He pensado en las adversidades del pueblo chileno
En el día en que la tierra habló en voz alta.
La ola violenta que sacudió la tierra.
Imágenes apocalípticas
Me impactan
Me alcanzan a través de la pantalla
Tiemblo en mi asiento
Escucho el canto triste del pueblo
Distingo los restos de casas esparcidos por los campos
Las luces grises

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[english translation]

Children of Lautaro*
Xánath Caraza

The adversity of the Chilean people I have thought of
On the day the earth spoke aloud.
The violent wave that shook the earth.
Apocalyptic images 
Hit me
They reach me through the screen.
I tremble in my seat
Listening to the sad chants of the people
Observing the remains of houses scattered over fields
The gray lights that flash across the telly.


Showing: Joseph Heller part 1 - Moyers Interview, A Lovecraft Dream - short animation film by Michele Botticelli and Leonardo Manna, and a trailer for Writ Writer (Independent Lens/PBS).

Work by Horacio Bustos and Scott Wilson.


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