“Where words fail, music speaks.” — Hans Christian Andersen
Binding of a Divan of Hafiz, from April 5, 1842 in Iran. Original lacquer “gul-u-bulbul” (flower-nightingale) motif with gold, red, and black decorative frame. The metaphorical relationship of the nightingale (active lover) and flower (passive beloved), frequently used in Persian poetry, especially by Hafiz, serves as an appropriate theme for the binding covering this manuscript.
The French musician and composer Camille Saint-Saëns wrote incidental music in 1901 for a play called Parysatis, based on a novel by the French archaeologist and explorer, Jane Dieulafoy. The play, about an ancient Persian queen and produced in 1902 for a summer festival in the southern French town of Béziers, has not stood the test of time as well as Saint-Saëns’s music.
“Le Rossignol et La Rose” is a musical piece for wordless voice in Act II. The title in English is “The Nightingale and The Rose”, and refers to Persian symbolism around love. There is a peculiar 1888 short story by Oscar Wilde titled “The Nightingale and The Rose” which is unrelated to music for the play Parysatis or to the play itself. Wilde wrote his story ostensibly for children, but its deeper themes are really beyond their understanding. Reading Wilde’s story is nonetheless instructive about love because of how he frames respect as an integral part of love.
Natalie Dessay sings “Le Rossignol et La Rose”, by Camille Saint-Saëns. Is the song sorrowful? Joyful? That probably depends on the mood of the listener. The pacing lends an air of melancholic contemplation. The song contains within it, in other words, the varied emotions of love itself. Incidentally, Ms. Dessay has sung the lead role in Igor Stravinsky’s 1914 opera Le Rossignol (The Nightingale), notably for a trippy French film adaptation in 2005 which aired on American public television. Stravinsky based his opera on an 1843 story by Hans Christian Andersen.
Without respect there is little in love beyond shallow self-interest and the words spoken sound out hollowly, like an echo. Giving respect to another is as essential as giving love, indeed is at the heart of love. Where there is little or no respect, there is little or no love, no matter the words uttered. Respect is demonstrated, is shown to another as well as to oneself. Understanding and remembering this is crucial if love is to deepen and widen beyond the initial merging of two souls, where the two converge to form a third part all its own, its own world composed of and known only to the two lovers, like two circles partially overlapping. With respect comes trust, and with trust comes the will to acknowledge fears and the courage to not run away. And then there is music, bringing love ’round full circle by singing directly to the heart and soothing fears.
— Vita “Music fills the infinite between two souls.” — Rabindranath Tagore
Investigative journalist Robert Parry, founder and editor of the website ConsortiumNews, died on January 27 after a series of strokes precipitated by pancreatic cancer. He was 68.
Adding “investigative” to Mr. Parry’s job description of journalist gives an insight into the principles he applied to his work. Aren’t all journalists investigators in some way or other? No. Some are content rewriting press releases. Robert Parry was not one of those, and for that he paid a price in getting pushed out of working for mainstream media outlets. He would never be one of those television talking heads claiming journalist credentials while making millions of dollars for asking trivial questions of celebrities about their plastic surgeries. He came by his credentials through hard work looking into things that matter.
President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on November 25, 1986, with Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of State George Shultz, Attorney General Ed Meese, and Chief of Staff Don Regan, discussing remarks he intended to make at a press briefing on the Iran-Contra affair.
Robert Parry was best known for breaking the story in the second term of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s that eventually became known as the Iran-Contra affair. The Contras were Nicaraguan rebels or terrorists, depending on point of view, who sought to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Earlier in the decade, the United States Congress had passed legislation making it more difficult for the Reagan administration to meddle in Nicaraguan politics by supporting the Contras. The administration circumvented the law by selling arms to Iran, a purported enemy, and funneling the profits to the Contras.
Mr. Parry also wrote about how the CIA appeared to be enabling drug trafficking by the Contras in order to give them more material support, though it was another investigative journalist, Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News who explored the story in greater detail in 1996. In the early 1990s, Mr. Parry wrote about another aspect of the Reagan years that remained in shadows, which was the possibility of a deal between Reagan’s campaign team and the Iranian government to delay releasing the 52 American hostages Iran had held from November 4, 1979, until after the U.S. presidential election in 1980. Iran released the hostages on January 20, 1981, when Reagan was sworn in as president. Jimmy Carter lost his bid for re-election in large part due to the poor economy, and at least in small part due to the continuation of the hostage crisis.
Because of Mr. Parry’s habit of pursuing stories like that, he wore out his welcome with the corporate media outlets he had been working for, such as Newsweek and the Associated Press, and in 1995 he started Consortium News, possibly the first independent online news site written and edited by a reputable, professionally trained journalist. Since then online news sites have proliferated, which has been both good and bad for readers. It has been good for the obvious reason that more choice means a discerning reader is likely to find a trustworthy site delivering quality journalism, and bad because more choice means the non-discerning reader is likely to find a site masquerading as news that serves up opinions which reinforce existing prejudices. Add to that the algorithm of a social media platform like Facebook which ensures readers see more of what they want to see, and it’s an uphill battle for the truth.
Cover of the Kerry Committee December 1988 final report of an investigation by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations into the possible role of the Nicaraguan Contras in drug trafficking.
Robert Parry surely understood the maxim that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. He also understood that some facts, known collectively as the truth, were unpleasant for all kinds of reasons, chief among them that they afflicted the comfortable, another maxim. And to underscore how old school was his journalistic integrity, never mind his early appearance on the digital frontier, Mr. Parry knew his first job was to tell the truth, and if that meant he wasn’t invited on the Washington, D.C. cocktail club circuit, then so be it. People like him don’t end up making millions of dollars, and don’t realistically expect to, but to the readers who valued his services he was one in a million.
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
― words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 7:3-5, King James Version of the New Testament.
The second half of the schoolyard taunt in the title is “But what am I?” What, indeed, are you, Mr. President? On Tuesday, the current president of the United States addressed the United Nations General Assembly for forty-five minutes, and the results were an embarrassment to the country he purports to represent before the world.
After some preliminary stroking of his own ego, the current president launched into the main part of his speech, and for much of it, when he was excoriating other nations he may as well have been referring to the current iteration of the United States as people in other nations might very well see it.
The April 15, 2017, Tax March on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., included this inflated rooster in the likeness of the current president, borrowed from a sculpture by an American for a Chinese shopping mall to mark the Year of the Rooster. Photo by Mike Licht.
“Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists, but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.”
“Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.”
“International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders. And new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.”
“We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.”
“It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime [North Korea], but would arm, supply and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.”
“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos.”
“This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.”
“And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.”
“It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.”
“For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the UN Human Rights Council.”
By his own words you shall know him. He speaks of others but he may as well be talking about what his own country has become and how it behaves in the world. There is one more notable part of the speech, in the middle where he talks about North Korea and ad-libs the “Rocket Man” insult line.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.
Rocket Man [Kim Jong-un] is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.
The United States is ready, willing and able. But hopefully, this will not be necessary.
That’s what the United Nations is all about. That’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.”
The current president appears to have the emotional maturity – or immaturity – of a teenager. He fails to understand, however, that unlike the outcome in this scene from the 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, there will be no safety valve for either of the belligerents in his game of nuclear chicken with North Korea. James Dean stars as Jim Stark (in the red jacket), Natalie Wood is Judy, and Corey Allen plays the ill-fated Buzz Gunderson.
Oh, really, that is what the United Nations is for, to rubber stamp the will of the President of the United States, however unhinged he may be? We know what the 45th president of the United States is, and we also know what his counterpart, Kim Jong-un of North Korea is, and in terms of schoolyard threats and insults they have achieved parity. What’s difficult to comprehend is that these two malevolent idiots hold the fate of so very much of humanity and the Earth in their child-like hands and don’t appear to grasp the gravity of the situation beyond their own little sandboxes.