Bombs Without Borders : Smoke and Mirrors in Afghanistan

Fracture by Philip Edmondson

Fracture by Philip Edmondson

In war, truth is often the first casualty”. (Aeschylus)

War is peace” (George Orwell, 1984)

War in one form or another appeared with the first man. … The capacity of human beings to think up new ways of killing one another has proved inexhaustible, as has our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. (Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech)

Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problems. It merely creates new and more complicated ones.” (Dr. Martin Luther King)

So, here and now within our increasingly upside down (“war is peace“) corporate owned, media-driven Orwellian world, we learn that one recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize has just bombed another recipient of the same Nobel Peace Prize; resulting in a disastrous number of casualties, as well as a predictable aftermath of shame, blame and confusion. So far, the basic story is that early Saturday morning on October 3, 2015, US/NATO aircraft unleashed a deadly airstrike on an essential care hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, operated by the humanitarian association, Doctors Without Borders.They are a medical charity, established in 1971 and known internationally in French as Médecins Sans Frontiers or by the acronym, MSF. This volunteer organization is widely known for its courage, compassion and its “first in, last out” approach to saving lives, and easing the suffering of people caught in acute crises; thereby restoring their ability to rebuild their lives and communities. (

This murderous attack continued, in 15 minute waves, for over an hour despite frantic calls to both pre-arranged NATO and Washington contacts, to plead for them to make it stop. These appeals were to no avail, even though MSF had long since given these “authorities” their GPS coordinates, and as a result, their attackers knew very well both the exact nature and location of their medical-surgical trauma hospital established in 2011; and the only facility of this kind for the entire province of Northeastern Afghanistan. Our officially sanctioned bombing attack succeeded in killing at least 22 people; 12 medical workers, and 10 patients, three of them children. Currently, 24 staff and 9 patients are still unaccounted for, so the death toll, euphemistically known as “collateral damage”, is likely to rise. (Dave Lindorff,, October 8,2015).

The first of many of the bombing waves targeted an intensive care unit where a horrified nurse reported that “patients were burning in their beds”, while another hospital worker said that he heard women and children crying out for help while the entire facility was consumed in flames and reduced to rubble. This unconscionable aerial atrocity carried out by AC-130, huge ,slow flying, fixed wing aircraft nicknamed “Angel of Death”, involved not only bombs, but rockets, as well as deadly spraying of intense fire by low altitude gunships, designed to annihilate anything within range of a target. While these aircraft are required to employ both audio and visual records of their attacks, we can only expect that this crucial forensic evidence will disappear into some designated black hole of documents; highly classified in the interest of “ national security”.

Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 and then, newly elected U.S. President, Barack Obama, was awarded this honor in 2009 during the time when he was preparing to expand the war in Afghanistan. While one could surmise that as Commander in Chief of the Joint Armed Forces, who bombed this hospital , Obama could hold the dubious distinction of being the first recipient of the Peace Prize to bomb another recipient of the same award. However, as journalist Dan Sanchez points out, this has actually happened before. In 1973, Dr. Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which prompted humorist Tom Lehrer to quip; “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize”. Perhaps some of you may remember that as U.S. Secretary of State, Kissinger masterminded and reportedly ordered the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, during which hospitals were routinely targeted for B-52 bombing. On another occasion, Red Cross buildings were also targeted for annihilation.

Since then, the Red Cross has also been awarded three Nobel Peace Prizes. Those interested in a thoroughly documented account of Nobel Laureate Kissinger’s multiple war crimes and human rights violations, will find abundant material in the documentary film, The Trials of Henry Kissinger (2002) based upon the 2001 book by Christopher Hitchens, which maintains that Kissinger should be prosecuted for warcrimes against humanity.

For those of us who study social trauma and other historical events and look for patterns that connect within apparently random, anomalous, or simply ironic phenomena, Nobel Peace recipients being involved in attacks involving war, as either victims or perpetrators, is not so surprising. Consider, if you will, that the founder of this award, ostensibly established for an “outstanding contribution to peace”, was the Swedish industrialist and inventor, Alfred Nobel (1833 –1896),who was a highly successful global armaments manufacturer. Further ironies become apparent in the identity of many recipients of this Peace Prize, other than warmongers Obama and Kissinger, there was Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzak Rabin, and Menachem Begin. (“war is peace”). Mohandas Gandhi apparently never qualified as a recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Dan Sanchez,,October 6, 2015).

Given the world wide support and prestige of the MSF, and the horrific imagery and eyewitness accounts which soon went viral on the internet; our U.S. fact-challenged chain of command scrambled to find a way to contain the international outrage. No surprise, therefore, that their resident cabinet of spin-meisters soon came up with at least four shapeshifting and conflicting accounts of what actually happened, as well as spurious justifications for yet another warcrime against humanity.

While harsh criticism and skepticism continues to surround speculation as to the motivation for what clearly is emerging as a deliberate attack upon an MSF humanitarian facility, targeted for destruction; there remains some credible speculation that MSF has been targeted as especially vocal critics of an impending, secretive and controversial Trans-Pacific-Partnership. MSF has expressed deep concern as to the potential for increasing the cost of life saving drugs, since this “partnership” would limit access to generic pharmaceuticals and would present an immediate threat to the health of millions. This compassionbased objection placed MSF in direct conflict and opposition to the White House, (trans-national), profit-oriented TPP agenda.

At this juncture within a still unfolding narrative, we can expect online conspiracy theorists to speculate that some all powerful trans-national cabal will pressure MSF into accepting a generous “offer that they can’t refuse”, in exchange for compromise geared toward either accepting spin or silence in regard to their accusations that they have been victims of a politically motivated war crime. For the rest of us, less complicated and still concerned citizens, we might consider Medea Benjamin’s perspective which argues that this Kundoz incident offers an opportunity to reflect upon the fact that this and many other inhumane,violent, incidents are an integral part of our endless air wars; raging across an increasing number of supposedly sovereign countries, during 14 years of our U.S. “intervention” fully sanctioned by our supposedly Democratically elected (trans-national, corporate and military controlled), Congress. (Medea Benjamin, opednews. October 8, 2015).

Our “intervention” in Afghanistan now stands, unopposed, as the longest war in U.S. history, costing the precious lives and well-being of at least 2,350 of our own service personnel, in addition to the lives and health of thousands of participants from our NATO partners, as well as untold levels of trauma and heartbreak for families and other loved ones,which will likely continue on down throughout any number of subsequent generations. (epigenetics) .

To any sane person, this tragic foreign and farflung fiasco, initially launched as a result of hysterical and Machiavellian calls for 9/11 vengeance, (based upon seriously dubious pretexts), has cost our American tax payers over a trillion tax dollars, which would have been much more wisely spent in the service of our own crumbling infra-structure and other urgently needed, socially oriented, domestic issues. At this point, I am with Glen Greenwald and his summation as to the war crime in Kundoz as follows: “The question is whether that’s something we want to continue to tolerate; that our own government is singularly exempt and permitted to commit war crimes?” (CNN, October 8, 2015)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bombs Without Borders : Smoke and Mirrors in Afghanistan

Separation Consciousness


Who are all these people ?” (Robert C. Koehler)

The children of our empires are now coming ‘home’ to Europe ”. (Bert Hellinger)

Don’t just talk about it. Do something”. (His Holiness, The Dalai Lama)

Once in awhile, an image breaks through the noisy, cluttered global culture and hits people in the heart and not the head”. (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University)

Over the years, during my many visits to the Louvre Museum in Paris I have paused to marvel at Theodore Gericault’s monumental (5mx7m) and terrifying masterpieceThe Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819). As an art historian, I saw this painting as an icon of French Romanticism, depicting the aftermath of the wreck of a poorly navigated French naval frigateMedusawhich ran aground off the west coast of Africa on July 2, 1816.

An international scandal erupted as soon as the public became aware that as the vessel foundered, the fortunate were off-loaded into lifeboats and at least 147 of those considered to be less worthy were cast adrift upon a hastily constructed, barely seaworthy, makeshift raft.

Empathetic outrage ensued, as it became known that all but 15 of those unfortunates, literally cast off because they existed at the lower echelons of society, died from exposure, were killed or threw themselves into the sea from despair, during the 13 agonizing days before their chance rescue by the Argus. The French government had made no specific effort to rescue the raft. Gericault chose to depict the moment when the remaining survivors spotted the approaching ship in the far distance. By this time, these wretched survivors had endured starvation, dehydration and cannibalism; as deep and terrible waves relentlessly buffeted their partially submerged raft. Societal uproar escalated as the tragedy was determined to have been caused, at least in part, by the blatantly political appointment of an incompetent aristocratic captain who had barely sailed in 20 years.

In the foreground of the painting, a despondent father holds the body of his dead son, and to add to the drama of this tragedy, Gericault foreshortened the scene in such a way that the pallid, prostrate, crazed tangle of dead and dying bodies, appear as if the ocean is about to upend the doomed raft in our direction so that this horrifying mess will shortly be ours, as well.

Now, as a social traumatologist, I view this iconic painting from a new perspective. Here in 2015, I understand Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa as not only a masterful and groundbreaking depiction of a historical tragedy with profound political implications, but also as a nearly timeless depiction of the shipwrecked everywhere.(Michael Glover,, February 4, 2011). The image of this Gericault masterpiece also came to mind in the human tragedy and political scandal surrounding “The Raft of Lamedusa”, along with a reminder of the power of such images to impact and shift public opinion. Last October’s tragedy off the coast of the Sicilian island of Lamedusa briefly hit the headlines as some 360 men, women and children drowned in the Mediterranean during a failed night crossing. While this incident drew international attention to the failure of the EU’s migration policy, there was not much impetus for change. (, February 4,2014)


Then on September 2nd, 2015, the photo of a lifeless three year old boy named Aylan Kurdi went viral, igniting a global outpouring of outrage and sorrow. This photograph taken by Nilufer Demir shows little Aylan in his long shorts and red tee shirt, hiked above the waist, exposing his midriff, still wearing his black sneakers, without socks, lying face down in the rocky sand. Soon thereafter Nilufer spotted his five year older brother Galip, lying close by. Words are only that which reach one part of our brains, and this was exactly the image that was needed to break through the collective silence. During the past several years of warfare and flight, more than 200,000 Syrians have died with many having suffered horrible deaths in bombings and chemical weapon attacks, while attempting to flee their homeland …their bodies have been found in trucks, in the snow, and now along the beaches. At present, the number of displaced Syrians has mounted to more than 11 million. (Anne Barnard, Karam Shoumali, NY Times, September 3, 2015).

For an exorbitant fee, smugglers had promised Aylan’s father Abdullah Kurdi a motorboat trip from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos; and had instead provided only a 15 foot rubber raft for the group of twenty three desperate migrants. This raft tipped over in the high waves tossing out into the sea12 people who drowned along with Mr. Kurdi, his wife and two sons ….from the Kurdi family only Abdullah only survived. (Justin Wm Moger,, September 3, 2015).

So what can done? No more silence, willful ignorance,lies and media spin. We’ve had enough of that, and this massive human tragedy is not going to go away. Conflicts that bring chaos, now spreading across the planet, continue to defy any easy solution; and yet a strong international, grassroots, humanitarian response, might succeed where military interventions, “clandestine aid to rebels “, nofly zones and “non-intervention policies” have failed. Truth is, that in our increasingly inter-connected world, nothing is very far away. Never before has John Donne’s meditation “ No Man is an Island “ rung more true… “… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee”.

Compassion is needed and this can provide strong medicine for confronting social issues as well as cultivating and promoting an attitude that all others matter. While universal compassion sets a high standard, beyond the reach of most of us, we can nevertheless move in that direction by expanding our circle of caring. The challenge here is being able to overcome the, at least partially biologically determined and culturally conditioned, “tribal consciousness” which dictates loyalty only to “our own”… gender, family, race, tribe, class, political party,flag, religious affiliation and so on.

Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Rauscher offers a practical way, through which we can transcend our tribal limitations and aspire to a more universal and inclusive heart based consciousness. He reminds us that, as humans we are a unit, a large family, and with this basic attitude toward life we have a chance to solve the current refugee problem and also other major human questions confronting us today; by placing ourselves within the “circle of all.”

To be willing to place ourselves within the “circle of all” is to be willing to give up every devaluation and look at refugees as brothers and sisters…and from this inner attitude alone, our necessary actions will naturally follow. Our lives can become much richer through others, and within the “circle of all” everyone gives what they have, (talents, ideas, money) to the center of the circle for the benefit of all and in this way, everyone will be enriched. Dr. Rauscher’s recommended exercise is as follows :

Take whatever time you need and ask yourself: “Where in the world do I still consider another human being to be a stranger, as someone who does not belong to us?” If you find someone, take him or her into your “circle of all”; and by doing so, you are entering into the circle yourself by giving up devaluation and exclusion. Now, stay within this consciousness throughout your day and observe what is happening within you. Consider yourself a citizen of mankind. (

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Separation Consciousness

More Death From the Sky: September 11th Lightning Strikes Mecca

On being Muslim: “These virtues do not have ineffable meaning but offer a sense of morality…a way to be, and a way to behave, as a member of the human family”. (HM Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Kingdom of Jordan)

When the shouting is over, the grim silence of facts remains”. (Joseph Conrad)

We’re an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality….we are history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do”. (Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to George.W. Bush Administration)

On September 11th, 2015,during severe weather, a massive crane owned by the Bin Laden family, was struck by lightning and crashed through the roof of Saudi Arabia’s Great Mosque in Mecca, resulting in large numbers of dead and wounded. While many chose to view this tragedy on this date and at that place, as an unlikely co-incidence, others saw the carnage as divine retribution for September 11th, 2001; allegedly carried out by Muslim terrorists.

From my perspective, these viewpoints overlook the admittedly complex dynamics of self replicating traumas, as fractal phenomena. (St. Just, A., Trauma: Time,Space and Fractals, 2012). During many years as both historian and clinician, I observed that individual and social traumas tend to repeat on the anniversary of other traumas, on something like fractal iterations along a non-linear time line. My first attempt to understand and describe this phenomenon took place in 1989 in an analysis of a combat trauma session done by Peter Levine, using his Somatic Experiencing technique, (originally titled: “A Developmental Approach to Combat Trauma”, which we later changed to “Under the Lilac Bush”).Peter’s client presented with what he described as “a whole string of things”; patterns of trauma throughout his life, which were all somehow connected. This description brought to mind an image of a string of Chinese firecrackers with their linear arrangement of clusters of potentially combustible material. Similarly one can picture trauma as a potentially explosive event that is one of many, arranged in a linear pattern along the course of a lifetime, and this I then hypothesized was something like a “Chinese Firecracker Syndrome”. (St.Just, A.,Relative Balance in an Unstable World, 2006)

Over time, I realized that while these self-replicating patterns of trauma do exist; the repetitions can also be non-linear as well as trans-generational. Then, as I moved into the field of Social Trauma, it became increasingly clear that while traumas tend to happen on the anniversary of previous traumas, this was also evident on the social level as well. In general, it can be observed that many replicating social traumas tend to occur on the anniversary of previous social and collective traumas, especially those involving broken connections and various forms of loss. Politicians, activists,the media and terrorists know this, and they often strive to orchestrate events on an anniversary of over whelmingsocial and political lifeevents. These specifically dated occasions are designed to bring attention to something unresolved, which often contains elements and various levels of denial, lies and cover-ups. Absence of accountability is also a factor in many patterns which are perpetuated when something, or many things, remain interrupted or otherwise unfinished. On a national scale, Americans would see this manifest in the horrors of September 11th, 2001, which can be seen as both the cause and a result of other cycles of violence.

In A Question of Balance, (2008), I explored some of the dates surrounding the now totemic date of September 11th,using biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s notion that places have “Fields of Memory” that can also play a role in traumatic repetitions. A series of events which took place on or around that date, now compressed into digital shorthand as: 9/11, were immediately blamed on Muslim, (mostly Saudi Arabian) terrorists and a “clash of civilizations”. This perception, laced with religious overtones, served as justification for a series of unending wars beginning in Afghanistan; followed by a Second Gulf War invasion of Iraq. Since then, war has been the single organizing fact of our society and we now garrison over a thousand military bases in 153 countries throughout theglobe. And still, the possibility that there could be foreign bases located on our own U.S. Soil, remains absolutely unthinkable.

September 11th was also the eleventh anniversary of the “New World Order” speech that the former CIA director and then U.S. President, G.H.W. Bush senior made to a joint session of Congress, to announce his administration’s decision to launch the First Gulf War. It is also interesting to note that the construction of the Pentagon, which was also a target on 9/11, began on September 11th, 1941.

Soon after the 9/11 attack, Internet rumors suggested that September 11th 2001 echoes that date in 1683, of the Battle of Vienna; considered to be a final turning point in the battle of the Christian West and Islamic Ottoman Empire. In September 1697, the Ottoman Turks lost a large amount of East European territory, following another devastating defeat by the Austrians. However, the exact date of these temporal correspondences cannot be altogether certain since the dates of the Islamic lunar, and western Gregorian solar calendar are not the same.

Another “clash of civilizations”, along with the theme of “imperial overreach”, began on September 11th, 1906, when Mahatma Gandhi announced his plans for a non-violent resistance to British imperial rule. Then in Chile, on September 11,1973, the American CIA backed a coup which resulted in the overthrow and controversial death of democratically elected President Salvador Allende. The subsequent fascist regime of General Augusto Pinochet, swiftly launched the terrors of Operation Condor; which resulted in the “disappearances” of thousands of people, domestic surveillance, secret police, and firing squads.At the same time, Nazi-style concentration camps and torture chambers opened up throughout Chile, as well as in many other LatinAmerican countries.(John Dinges, The Condor Years: 2004).

September eleventh has a tragic resonance in the Middle East as well . On that exact date in 1922, ignoring Arab grief and outrage, the Imperial British government issued a mandate in Palestine which promised European Zionists a national homeland for the Jewish people. Thisin turn, set the stage for ongoing conflicts, terrorist attacks, and wars. Again, on September 11th, 1972, a Palestinian terrorist group named Black September killed eleven Israeli hostages at the Munich Summer Olympic Games; where date, place, and number of victims were part of the message.

Now on September 11th, 2015, the latest iteration of this ongoing fractal appeared when a crane owned by the Bin Laden family, deployed to a construction project in Mecca as part of a massive project to increase the area of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque;(already the largest in the world), to be able to accommodate 2.2 million people at a time. During an unexpectedly severe electrical storm, over the the holiest site in all of Islam, the massive construction machinery was struck by a bolt of lightning and crashed through the upper floors and roof, along the east side of the sacred structure. Apparently, an unsecured hook from a massive red and white (German Liebherr Group) mobile crawler crane, began to sway during strong winds and heavy rain; and together with a reported lightning strike, began to move the massive machinery with it until the boom toppled into the great Mosque filled with people preparing for evening prayers. At least 109 devout worshipers were killed and some 238 or more were wounded. Some of the survivors were also killed or wounded during the subsequent stampede which occurred when the doors were reportedly locked. (, September 11, 2015).

This kind of storm is rare for that region of the Middle East, which is normally dry during this season. The Holy City was inundated with pilgrims, just days before the start of the annual pilgrimage.One of Islam’s five Pillars of Wisdom requires every able-bodied Muslim man to undertake the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in his lifetime; if they have the means to do so. This event, which comprises one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, has been plagued by chaotic organization, and a series of disasters and tragic episodes; such as the massive stampede of 2006. Sadly, this pattern was also to repeat in September 2015 in 40+ degree heat, giving rise to dehydration and exhaustion; as harsh policing and aggressive hordes led to a horrific stampede, which killed at least 769 pilgrims and injured hundreds more in a large valley in Mina, where over-sized crowds carry out a symbolic stoning of the devil, which has also been the site of stampedes in years past.

As news of this shocking catastrophe reached the West, and the American mainstream media in particular, the response from many was to view this tragedy with some measure of satisfaction, as some kind of “act of God” in vengeful retribution for the events of 9/11, especially since it took place in the holiest site in Islam and involved machinery owned by the Bin Laden family. One blogger went so far as to suggest that the German crane owned by Bin Laden was manufactured using the steel from the World Trade Center and Building Seven rubble; that the U.S. sold to China.

Shortly after posting the initial version of this blog an email arrived from reader Korhan Tekin, calling attention to the close ties between the World Trade Center’s architect, Minoru Yamasaki and the Bin Laden and Saudi Royal families. The Japanese-American architect practiced an architectural style merging the modern together with traditional Islamic influences. The Saudi Royal family’s admiration for Yamasaki’s design for their King Fahd Dhahran Air Terminal is pictured on one of their banknotes. Just a year after the completion of the Dhahran Airport, Yamasaki was awarded the commission for the World Trade Center, which he conceived of as a kind of “Mecca”. His design sought to replicate the pattern of Mecca’s courtyard by creating a vast delineated square with low colonnaded structures, capped by two minaret-like square towers. Yamasaki’s courtyard also replicated Mecca’s assemblage of holy sites; including the Qa’ba (cube) containing the sacred stone and the Holy Spring, represented by a fountain within an architectural composition in a radial, circular pattern similar to that same configuration in Mecca. At the base of the Twin Towers, Yamasaki employed stylized pointed arches derived from Islamic designs. (Laurie Kerr,, December 28, 2011).

Unless you care to speculate about some HAARPengineered, weaponized weather involvement, I have another perspective which might be worth some serious consideration; especially since these ongoing historical fractals seem to be propelled by lies, cover-ups and denial and an ongoing lack of resolution. Along with nearly half of our American population, I do not give any credence to that Orwellian myth of an evil Osama Bin Laden as any kind of cave sitting mastermind, who sent Arab boys with box cutters to topple our ever expanding empire. However, this insidious, socially engineered propaganda has nevertheless persisted as an ongoing “they hate us for our freedom”, anti-Islamic meme, which seems to have taken on an energy of its own. They are something like end times prophesies….which only serve to foster tribalized warfare and apocalyptic visions of death and destruction. I am now amazed, that these matrixgenerated memes, which may or may not have anything to do with actual truth, can actually foster such life-negative fractals as the unfortunate energies surrounding the date of September Eleventh.

If this might even possibly be true,what now? We have many choices of course, including the option to remain awake,aware and conscious of the powerful forces which are known to benefit from the many levels of skillfullycrafted deception which have been operational throughout history. From my perspective, any message that incites, promotes or supports “us versus themdivisiveness, should be deeply suspect; as not being in the best interest of our muchneeded human healing and harmony. While we are living in increasingly dark times, this is not the first time that humanity has faced formidable challenges, and while some maintain that these 21st century days are doomed to be our last, I do not agree. While we still have a measure of choice, we can decide to reject those negative and probably untruthful memes about “them”, constantly fostered by a monstrous and manipulative matrix; and return to the deeper truths of a compassionate love which connects us all; to find our collective path toward healing from there. There really is no “them”…and that, in reality, leaves only…….just us. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on More Death From the Sky: September 11th Lightning Strikes Mecca

“Terminal Beach”


The last to leave the beach by Philip Edmondson

Diamonds are forever but radiation lasts even longer”. (Chautauqua Hunter)

 “To destroy your planet’s ecosystem for imaginary wealth is highly illogical”. (Mr. Spock, Star Trek Science Officer)

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” (George Orwell)

Runit “Cactus” Dome is leaking and this is not good news. First a bit of background history in order to establish some context for the creation of this environmental time bomb, located in the Marshall Islands; halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the geographic area of Micronesia. Runit is an island on the eastern fringe of the Enewetak coral Atoll, which is part of the chain of 40 islands surrounding a lagoon measuring some 50 miles in radius. It is the setting for master science-fiction writer, J.G. Ballard’s short story “Terminal Beach ”. Humans had inhabited this remote atoll since about 1,000 B.C. Spanish explorer Alvaro de Saavedra was the first European explorer to arrive in 1529 and later in 1794, British merchant ships came along , and then this territory became a German colony in 1885. Enewetak was captured by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I. In 1944, during the Battle of Enewetak U.S forces captured the island after a five day amphibious operation and thereafter it remained under U.S. Control and became part of our Pacific Atomic Proving Grounds. (Francis X. Hezel, The First Taint of Civilization: A History of the Caroline and Marshall Islands in Pre-colonial Days, 1521-1885, 2000).

Local residents were evacuated (forcibly re-located) from Enewetak after World War II and then from 1948 until 1958 forty-three nuclear tests were fired upon this atoll. As a consequence of the irradiated debris, including plutonium 239, Runit Island will not be habitable for the next 24,000 years, which is why it was chosen as a site for a 25 foot high, nuclear waste repository. Beginning in 1977, U.S. Service personnel simply scraped off the island’s topsoil,mixed it with radioactive slurry from other islands and buried 111,000 cubic yards (85,000 cubic meters) of this deadly poison into an unlined 350 foot (110m)wide atomic blast crater, left by the bombblast, code named, “Cactus”,30 feet (9.1m)deep. They sealed this crypt under 358 concrete panels, each supposedly 18 inches (46cm) thick. In truth,some of these panels were as thin as 12 inches and placed without any internal reinforcement or expansion joints. Officially known as Runit Dome; locals call it The Tomb. This ominous, unlined structure, completed in 1979, does not even meet the most basic American standards for landfills containing non-toxic household trash. From the air, the vast dome resembles some Sci-Fi or CGI downed and stranded flying saucer, partially sinking into sands which sit upon a coral foundation severely fractured by numerous nuclear blasts. (Michael B. Gerard, NY Times, December 3, 2014).

We now learn that this vast monument to human insanity was never intended to last and only constructed as a temporary fix until a more permanent solution could be found. Allegations of shortcuts and errors during the construction of this deadly dome include; the mysterious disappearance of up to 19,000 cubic meters of radioactive, seriously “hot” contaminants, destined for the Cactus crater which were reportedly dumped down into the clear sapphire waters of the adjacent lagoon; supposedly to create an artificial reef that was clearly not needed. At present, allegedly substandard Portland Type 2 concretecracks, riddle the surface while rising levels of Pacific waves lap along its edges.

According to a 2013 report by the U.S.Department of Energy,underground radioactive waste is leaching out of the crater and the soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents. (John Green, Intelligence: Creating Environments that Protect Human Health, 2009).

Locals, scientists and environmental activists are understandably concerned that a stormsurge, typhoon or other cataclysmic event, brought about by climate change,terrorist attack, or some other unknown, is likely to tear the weakened concrete panels open, or even inundate the entire island; releasing its lethal contents into the Central Pacific and far beyond,in view of the fact that the Pacific Ocean covers something like a third of our home world. To date, we know that according to a 2014 study published in Environmental Science and Technology, plutonium isotopes from the Enewetak nuclear tests have been detected in China as far as the Pearl River Estuary in Guangdong province.

A 2013 report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, acknowledged that radioactive contaminants are leaching out of the dome; while downplaying any possibility of serious environmental damage or threat to human health. Nevertheless, the DOE said that they were planning to repair some “cosmetic cracks” in order to restore public confidence. By now, if you are reading this, you are probably more than familiar with their predictable litany of bureaucratic spinglish in regards to matters of radioactive contamination and public safety: .low or minimal dosages, (spurious) dilution solution, exposure no more than a banana or dental x-ray…and my personal favorite “We are unaware of any immediate danger at this time”. Never mind that hundreds of tons of radioactive materials are emitted every day from Fukushima’s three damaged reactors, directly in to the same Pacific Ocean, with no end in sight.

At present, Runit Island is uninhabited but receives a steady stream of desperate visitors from neighboring islands searching for scrap metal to salvage, as well as those seeking to explore and profit from its abundant (hot) fishing grounds. (C. Jose, K.Wall, J.H. Hinzel. UK Guardian, July 3, 2015)

Soon, I imagine that Runit dome will be included on a list of destinations for the growing field of atomic and disaster tourism, a relatively new “vacation experience”, in which travelers learn about Atomic History as well as a window into the American psyche. Musthave travel accessories would probably include a Geiger-counter (Hazmat suits optional). More on the atomic aftermath in this region is available in “Bikini Atoll”: Waking to the Sound of Thunder: Trauma and The Human Condition II, A. St. Just, 2013).

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on “Terminal Beach”

Our House Divided

On the occasion of the July 4th 2015 national holiday and in view of the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina I am posting this except from  Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals.

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”                                                                                   — (Abraham Lincoln, 1858)

“…and soon now we shall go out of the house and go into the convulsion of the world, out of history into history and the awful responsibility of time.”                                                         — (Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men).

Historians, terrorists and media-savvy politicians know that anniversary dates of events involving unresolved trauma can serve as temporal markers for whatever remains unfinished from the past. In the view of Southern novelist Shelby Foote, “If you look at American history as the lifespan of a man, the Civil War represents the great trauma of our adolescence. It’s the sort of experience you never forget.” This conflict which raged from 1861-1865, killed at least a half million, maimed countless others; and traumatized families and devastated a humiliated South for generations. Now, as we are in the midst of events commemorating the 150th anniversary of this American tragedy, echoes of our blood-stained fratricidal conflict continue to reverberate throughout our politics and culture. Until today, there is still no agreement as to what this war was really about.

By way of disclosure, I grew up in the Northeastern US, where Calvinist roots still fed the public faith that our government had the ability to do good; and a middle class work ethic still prevails.  More specifically, we lived just outside of New York City, modeled on its original namesake New Amsterdam. From the start, this area served as an international commercial trading society; multi-ethnic, multi-religious and materialistic, where no one ethnic or religious group has ever been truly in charge.  This region has a profound tolerance for diversity, an unflinching commitment to freedom of inquiry and a great respect for intellectual achievement.

Most public schools taught that the American Civil War was fought to preserve the Union and free the slaves. While there was mention of the fact that factories and marketplaces of northern industrialists profited from commodities delivered by slave labor such as cotton, rice, indigo and tobacco, this was not the emphasis. While I am glad that the Northern forces won and our Union preserved, I remain saddened by the excesses and atrocities visited upon our southern brethren who held distinctly different values.

The culture of the Deep South was founded and developed, in a large part, by Barbados slave lords; and the region continued as a bastion of authoritarian white supremacy where democracy was the privilege of the few. Southern society was militarized, caste-structured and deferential to authority. There remains a deeply rooted, faith based distrust of secular education. This area was also the wellspring of African-American culture, whose obedience to their Caucasian overlords was enforced by state sponsored racism. As a schoolchild, my only exposure to a southern view of the war was of a beloved aunt taking me to see the epic production of, Gone With the Wind (1939) with its picturesque plantation-lands of gentility, romantic Cavaliers and cotton fields; masters and slaves. Southern aristocrats, isolated from the realities of war, hope for, glamorize and welcome their rebellion against the North. Any who dare to disagree are branded as cowards or traitors.  Mounted upon their magnificent steeds, Confederate soldiers ride off to war dressed in ribbons and silk sashes, after promising loved ones that they will soon return unharmed and victorious.

I still remember being alternately enthralled and then horrified by the epic cinematic sweep through the Old South, Civil War and the bitter aftermath of the Reconstruction Era. This three hour and forty-five minute version of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize winning (1,037 page) novel, (first published in 1936), was made in a time when segregation was law in the South and reality in the North. After the Bible,this novel is still the most popular book in America and the film is considered to be something of a national treasure. Gone With the Wind has re-appeared in a series of revivals featuring a gauzy patina of antebellum luxury, soon followed by a broken and bleeding Confederacy. A number of these now classic scenes, and memorable dialogues, have become an integral part our national psyche. Many of us remember them now, exactly as they were penned, by a novelist’s dream of a fantasized civilization … gone with the wind.

In our region it was generally agreed that the Civil War was long over, and brave Northern Yankees had won a moral and political triumph. This aspect of our history was most certainly not a topic of daily conversation. In the South however, where this conflict is known as, “The War of Northern Aggression”, regional and cultural perceptions are very different. Mark Twain’s contention that in the South, “The war is what “AD” is everywhere else; they date from it”, may be an exaggeration, but not by much . The “scourge of the Damn Yankees” is still a daily topic which lives on in their collective folk-memory. Un-reconciled Southerners maintain that the main thrust of this war was to establish Northern domination in commerce and culture. This also meant that Yankees intended to deny them their “way of life”, which happened to include owning an inferior race of slaves. African Americans take a dim view of this self-serving revisionism. From their point of view, the South fought for the freedom to enslave their fellow men, women and children.

These vastly differing views recently surfaced with a sharply focused view of Charleston, South Carolina’s December 19th, 2010, “Secession Ball”. This fancy dress gala and other events were organized to celebrate the glory days of secession, when eleven states declared their sovereignty under a banner of state’s rights and broke from the Union to form their rebel Confederacy. The Palmetto State was the first to secede declaring that “All are united now with few exceptions, in the belief that a stand must be made for African slavery or it’s forever lost”. Ninety percent of delegates attending this secession convention were slaveholders.

Even so, this inconvenient subject of slavery was dismissed during an hour long anniversary play organized by the sponsoring Confederate Heritage Trust in order to re-enact this convention of December 19, 1860. “Secession delegates”, their narrator concluded, “did not act for glory, riches, honor, or to preserve the institution of slavery. They acted for freedom alone”. At their glittering evening gala (for the price of a $100 a ticket, an invitation promised a joyous night of food and drink) many of these 300, all white attendees donned antebellum attire. As the liquor flowed, Cavalier planters and hoop skirted, corseted belles were inspired to join the chorus in a rousing rendition of the Confederate anthem; Dixie (a synonym for the Southern United States):

I wish I was in the Land of Cotton, Old times there are not forgotten…
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixieland.

The overall mood of this “Look Away”, rose colored , denial-laced costume gala,  was festive, and defiant. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that the whole town of Charleston had travelled back in time. Outside of South Carolina’s commemorative ball the mood was anything but festive and there was no mistaking the time as any other than the 21st century. More than a hundred, mostly black protesters, carried signs saying, “Don’t celebrate Slavery and Terrorism” and, “It’s not About Heritage”. “Slavery is what you defend when you have a party, a celebration, get drunk, holler loud like a rebel, and talk about how you’re celebrating your heritage,” said National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leader Reverend Nelson B. Rivers III. “No matter how you dress it up, it is still slavery.” I can only imagine what kind of celebration they would have if they had  won”, added Lonnie Rudolph, President of the South Carolina NAACP. As darkness fell, protesters lit candles and sang, We Shall Overcome, an old gospel song from the Deep South that became an anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968).

In writing about what she terms Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Joy Degrury Leary, describes our former slave based economy as a kind of African-American Holocaust involving an estimated 20 to 30 million blacks captured and sold into captivity.

The distance between these two realities underscores how divisive the topic of the Civil War has remained. These two sides can’t even agree on something as basic as the names of battles. Southerners tended to name battles after nearby towns such as Manassas, which the North refers to as Bull Run. One could imagine, and in fact it was the hope of many, that the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States could go a long way toward the healing of this long standing national wound. In his inaugural address Mr. Obama acknowledged the change his election represented, describing himself as the son of an African father, who less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a restaurant. After taking the oath of office on the same Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural in 1861, President Obama emphasized his determination to unite Americans in meeting the challenges facing our nation. Obama has often referred to Lincoln, the great emancipator and nemesis of the Confederate South, as an ongoing source of inspiration.

The ascension of a black man to the White House was indeed historic in light of the fact that back-breaking black slave labor was used in its construction, twelve of his presidential predecessors held slaves and some brought them along as servants. Michelle Obama, our new First Lady has both white and Native American ancestors and is descended from South Carolina slaves. Mrs.Obama now has a staff of 26 attending to her needs. While Mr. Obama identifies himself as black, his mother was white. These mixed race people, and their children, taking up residence in the White House was received as an insult and a provocation by southern and other white supremacists.

Not surprisingly the Ku Klux Klan was swift to react. The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan ,  one of our nation’s earlier terrorist organizations, was founded during the aftermath of the Civil War as a white supremacist insurgency of former Confederate rebels. Best known for vigilante violence, hooded, white sheeted hangmen, disguised as ghosts, cried out for societal purging. These racist zealots launched terrorizing night rides through dark forests, bull whips cracking, eager to gather in local pastures for ceremonial burning of their hate filled crosses of warning. While in present time the media-savvy face of the contemporary incarnation of the Klan has changed, their organized bigotry has not. As long as this mindset exists, it will find some means of expression. This modern Klan has close ties with neo-Nazis and other radical right hate groups and they remain a political and societal force to be reckoned with. Membership in these groups has grown exponentially since the candidacy and election of Barack Obama and they maintain a bold presence on the internet.

Neo-Nazi, former Grand Wizard of the KKK , former Louisiana State Representative, and candidate in both Republican and Democratic presidential primaries; David Duke describes himself as a “nationalist” and “racial realist” who maintains that “all people have a basic human right to preserve their heritage”. In response to Obama’s meteoric rise in national politics, Duke rallied his supporters with an essay entitled, “A Black Flag for White America”:

“Obama is like that new big dark spot on your arm that finally sends you to the doctor for some real medicine….Obama is the pain that lets your body know that something is dreadfully wrong. Obama will let the American people know that there is a real cancer eating away at the heart of our country and Republican aspirin will not only not cure it, but masks the pain and makes you think that you don’t need radical surgery.”

For white supremacists, especially in the South and Southwest, having a black man in the White House represents an insult to their honor. The relationship between cultures of honor and violence is a subject in itself which is here limited to its relevance to the history of our country. According to Psychology Professor Richard Nisbett, the South radiates a “culture of honor” where any affront or sign of violence is to be avenged. A key aspect to this culture is the importance of the insult and necessity to respond to it. An insult implies that the target is weak enough to be bullied. Since a reputation for strength is the essence of a culture of honor, any individual who issues the insult must be forced to retract. If the instigator refuses he must be punished with violence or even death.  This is particularly important if an insult involves a woman. In Bill Bryson’s memoir of the Fifties he cites this following example of “southern honor” avenging a lady in segregated Alabama:

Mobile: The Alabama Supreme Court yesterday upheld a death sentence imposed on a Negro handyman, Jimmy Wilson, 55, for robbing Mrs.Estelle Barker of $ 1.95 in her home last year. Mrs. Barker is white.

Although robbery is a capital offence in Alabama, no one has been executed in the state for theft of less than $5. A court official suggested that the jury had been influenced by the fact that Mrs. Barker told the jury that Wilson had spoken to her in a disrespectful manner.

A spokesman for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called the death sentence “a sad blot on the nation” but said the organization is unable to aid the condemned man because it is barred in Alabama.
— The Des Moines Register, August 23, 1958

The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture is replete with accounts of feuds, duels, lynching, ambush and bushwhacking. The South evolved this way, Nisbett argues, because it was settled by a number of swashbuckling Cavaliers of noble and landed gentry who coveted “knightly medieval standards of manly honor and virtue”. Next to arrive was a wave of Scottish and Irish immigrant herders. These newcomers were tribal, pastoral and warlike who steadfastly upheld an ancient tradition that a man’s reputation is central to his economic survival.   During and after the Civil War many of these immigrant Celts spread out to settle the territories of the western frontier. Out there in the Old West, the culture of honor continued onward in a colorful guise of cowboy To this day, western regions maintain a strong attachment to all manner of firearms, deep distrust of Federal Government and widespread suspicion that Obama is planning to take away their guns. Bumper stickers such as “You can have my gun, bullets first” are fairly indicative of the regional mood. There are many similar messages out and around our national highways, “Gun control is not about guns, its about control”, “ ll those in favor of gun control raise both hands”, “Stick to your guns” and my personal favorite, “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead hands” . And yes, many of these people are willing to die rather than give up their guns.They don’t trust any centralized authority and “there might be another civil war.”

Lincoln’s “house divided” analogy was perfect for our country in a time of crisis. Our sixteenth president offered an image that evokes the psychic architecture of a nation as a collection of rooms under one roof. Yet, his profound commitment to an authentic, family-like, post-war reconciliation was not continued by his successors. If the United States of America is a family, it has come to resemble one that has resolved to never speak with much openness or honesty about the terrible things that have transpired within our divided house. On a recent trip through the South where Civil War culture was presented as “authentic”, journalist Peter Birkenhead observed that it was indeed, all very interesting, but not authentic. While their okra was outstanding, black-eyed peas delicious, and  hospitality gracious, he couldn’t help noticing that they just left out “the slavery part”. Upon reflection, he asks, “what is willful forgetting of slavery if not cover-up of a crime, an abdication of its victims and to ourselves?” In unresolved trauma, the past is always with us. The path toward historical resolution entails a cultural  necessity to acknowledge and integrate, the good, the bad and the mythic, if we are to be fully present with our current crises.
— A.St. Just: Trauma, Time,Space and Fractals (2012, pp.173-184)

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Our House Divided

Trauma and Relationship : Hannah Arendt . Martin Heidegger

We are so accustomed to the old opposition of reason and and passion, of mind and life, that the idea of passionate thinking, in which passionate thinking and being alive become one, can be a bit startling. (Hannah Arendt: “Martin Heidegger is Eighty Years Old”, 1969)

He who thinks great thoughts often makes great errors”. ( Martin Heidegger)

Love has reasons which reason cannot understand”. (Blaise Pascal,Philosopher, 1623-1662)

Relatively recent revelations concerning a passionate and clandestine love affair between two of the most prominent intellectual giants of the 20th century, political theorist Hannah Arendt and German philosopher Martin Heidegger; is likely to challenge an image of Heidegger as an austere and abstract thinker and of Arendt as a consummately independent, selfassured personality. Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was a seminal thinker within the fields of existential phenomenology and philosophical hermeneutics, best known for his ground breakingBeing in Time (1927). This masterwork,deeply rooted in both Eastern mysticism and German Romantic tradition, is widely considered to be one of the most influential philosophical works of the 20th century. (Elzbieta Ettinger Hannah Arendt. Martin Heidegger, 1995).

Johanna “Hannah” Arendt (1906-1975), a secular Jew born in East Prussia, into an economically comfortable and thoroughly assimilated leftist family, was one the 20th century’s greatest and most original political theorists. While she has been also characterized as a philosopher, she made clear her distrust of the pure thinking of philosophy as being isolated from moral and political judgment. Among her many writings was her first major workThe Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) followed byThe Human Condition: Men in Dark Times, and the highly contentious, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), recently featured in the German filmHannah Arendt (2012), directed by Margarethe von Trotta.

Both Heidegger and Arendt were highly controversial figures in relation to their personal and professional lives, as well as their vastly different responses to events during and after the multiple horrors of the Third Reich. Heidegger was an avid,unrepentant Nazi and Arendt an anti-fascist refugee and lifelong supporter of Jewish causes; and still they maintained an unlikely bond which lasted for more than 40 years, during some of the darkest moments of 20th century history. Hostile critics of both scholars have sought to dismiss, trivialize, condemn,and even presumeto diagnose their relationship as a result of childhood trauma, psycho-pathology, (victim/perpetrator bond); a study in denial, morally reprehensible, adulterous, perverse (sado-masochistic Jewish submission to manipulative Aryan master) and all in all, a sadsordid affair. (Judith Shulevitz, NY Times, January 10,1995). Many of these dubious judgments have since been held out as evidence that none of their intellectual achievements are worthy of further study.

This is not so surprising given our human proclivity to attempt to exclude, pathologize, and even persecute, all that does not fit comfortably within our often narrowlydefined, politically generatedconsensus reality. In contrast, I would offer a possibility that even the word “relationship” might prove inadequate to describe the depth of this admittedly, mysterious bond, which is in itself worthy of study for those of us interested in social trauma, relatedness and our all too Human Condition.

We begin in 1924, when at the age of 18, Hannah Arendt, a strikingly beautiful German of Jewish origin, appeared as a devoted student in the intensely charismatic Professor Martin Heidegger’s philosophy class at Marburg University; at a time when he was a rising superstar in prestigious academic circles. Heidegger initiated their affair and they quickly became lovers. Secrecy was imperative, given that Heidegger was the married father of two sons. His wife Elfride, a zealous Nazi and outspoken anti-Semite, had recently had an affair of her own; resulting in the birth of a second son Hermann, which Heidegger, to his credit, took as his own. This passionate liaison between teacher and student continued for four years, during which Hannah made herself available to him anytime and anywhere that he so designated. (Daniel Maier-Katkin, Stranger From Abroad2010).

Those with a modern day feminist perspective have been highly critical of Arendt’s “slavish” devotion to her mentor. Yet, her apparent obedience and passivity cannot be judged by modern day standards and was quite consistent within the norms of behavior for students at German universities who related to their professors as masters. The professor literally stood upon a pedestal, classroom atmospheres were solemn, etiquette obligatory; and rules for conduct, dress, manners and appearances strictly observed. Small wonder that Arendt experienced a degree of culture shock 30 years later, when she arrived as a visiting professor at the U.C. Berkeley campus.Being among the unkempt and easy going students,with their give and take of classroom discussions, felt completely alien to her. (Ettinger, 1995).

Heidegger’s affair with Hannah was a serious risk to his professional reputation and image of respectability; and in time, with the fear of discovery and public scandal, he began to distance himself. A distraught Arendt left Marburg for Heidelberg in order to complete her dissertation, later published as Augustine and Love, with Karl Jaspers. While Hannah had left Marburg, she did not leave Heidegger; and contact and letters continued.He wrote to her in 1933sarcastically denying her suspicions and widespread rumors of his anti-Semitism.

Nevertheless, the facts are such that when Heidegger was appointed as Rector of the University of Freiburg, he joined the Nazi party, and lectured while wearing a brown shirt, thus lending his considerable academic prestige to Hitler’s cause. Soon thereafter, he zealously purged this venerable institution of Jewish faculty and students .Moreover, records reveal that he closely collaborated with Gestapo agents during their investigations of his colleagues suspected of communist sympathies. Many of his former friends and colleagues were rendered almost speechless by this treachery, including his elderly Jewish mentor Edmund Husserl, who had regarded Martin almost as a son. (Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt: For Love Of The World,1982).

Hannah Arendt barely escaped the Holocaust.After a brief arrest and imprisonment by the Gestapo, followed by a period of internment in France, she immigrated to America and finally broke off contact with Heidegger. Enraged and confused by his having embraced the Nazi cause, she blamed his ambitious careerism and Elfride’s negative influence. In time she even called Heidegger “a potential murderer” and then decided to take back those words. Now married to Marxist scholar Heinrich Bluecher, a German refugee like herself; both brought their nightmares into exile and these nightmares brought them close.

Bleucher understood love as “a galvanizing physical and spiritual force that also required that partners leave open spaces for each other to develop, act and create”, “and so will I”, he wrote in 1937; and as such agreed to be faithful “in his own fashion”. (Maier-Katkin, 2010).

In spite of her growing success as an international, influential public intellectual, Arendt suffered from her long estrangement from Heidegger and with Bluecher’s encouragement decided to initiate contact. During a post-war visit to Freiburg ,she sent an unsigned note on hotel stationary summoning him and he came immediately for their meeting. In her words, “it was as though we spoke to one another …for the first time in our lives”. Martin was still Martin, his actions were despicable and still she recognized his humanity and admired his genius. Deeply moved by the profound honesty inherent within their reconciliation, upon returning home Heidegger, notorious for lying about just about everything, finally confessed to his wife that Hannah Arendt had been “the passion of his life” and the inspiration for his work. Elfride responded with a jealous rage forbidding further contact….to no avail.

Eventually Frau Heidegger swallowed her pride and allowed the relationship; as she realized that it was essential for her husband’s wellbeing. Heidegger was suffering from ill health and a nervous breakdown, and something like a depression in 1946, with both of their sons interned in Soviet prisoner of war camps under very harsh conditions. Elfride also hoped that Hannah‘s prestige could deliver him from the disgrace brought about by de-Nazification programs, whereBrown Shirts were now out, and Heidegger was forbidden to teach. (Maier-Katkin, 2010).

At risk and with some damage to her reputation, Hannah did lobby for Heidegger’s academic rehabilitation and was widely questioned and criticized for having “forgiven” Heidegger. In reality this delicate process between them was not one of forgiveness, since Heidegger never apologized for any of his actions nor ever recanted his allegiance to the Nazi party. Moreover, Arendt felt that forgiveness produces an imbalance within a relationship, whereby the forgiver claims the moral high ground and thus a separation remains.

For Heidegger and Arendt, their reconciliation came about through a mutual willingness to understand. While one can never truly know what really transpires within an intimate relationship, it does seem that these two highpowered public intellectuals, who lived out their allegiances and consequences on opposing sides of the political spectrum, still managed to remain connected through an intensely private passion of the heart. For Arendt,love is inherently not only anti-political, but apolitical, and by its very nature unworldly. Empathy, passion and sympathy are not of this world but reside within the realm of the heart. (T.G. Pavel, (1998) “The Heidegger Affair”,MLN 103 (4):887-901). From this perspective, their unlikely bond serves as a clear testimony to the essential nature and power of love.

Together with her defense of Heidegger and her criticisms leveled against Zionism as a dangerous ethnocentric movement, the apparent collaboration of the European Jewish councils (Judenrat) before and during the war, as well as some aspects of Israel’s theatrical conduct of the Eichmann trial, Arendt was again vilified by outspoken members of the international Jewish community as a “self-hating, anti-Semitic Jew. In addition, her relationship with Heidegger was held forth as clear evidence of that “fact”. In short, she was deemed guilty of a serious lack of Ahabath Israel, (love of the Jewish people). Arendt who always self-identified as a member of her tribe, repliedwith another statement about love. “I have never in my life ‘loved’ any people or collective…or anything of that sort. I indeed love only my friends and the only kind of love I know and believe in is the love of persons”. (Daniel Maier-Katkin and Nathan Stolzfus, theamericanscholar .org, June 10, 2103).

As Hannah and Martin continued on with their special relationship, the aging philosopher expressed his wish that since he loved both Hannah and Elfride that his two women should also love each other. This was, of course, not possible, since each of these fierce women was intensely territorial in regards to him and each was determined to prevail as the one and only most important woman in his life. Moreover, the roles of wife and mistress are necessarily quite different. Eventually, these bitter and determined rivals arrived at an uneasy and also necessary truce. Heidegger and Arendt continued to correspond and she visited with the Heideggers during her yearly journeys to Europe. His last letter written to her in July 1975 was warm and caring and expressed his joy in seeing her soon; and she came to see him in mid-August.

Hannah Arendt died of a heart attack in New York in December 1975 and during the following spring Martin Heidegger died of unknown causes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Trauma and Relationship : Hannah Arendt . Martin Heidegger


We have not overcome. We are not post-racial , there is no place that Black folks are safe… History has shown that white supremacist violence is grossly systemic”. ( Lawrence Broca, June 19, 2015)

Freedom, equality and the pursuit of happiness, that’s what Church is all about…Sometimes, you may have to die, like Denmark Vesey, in order to do that”. (Clementa Pinckney)

Way down South in the Land of Cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten…
Look away, look away, look away, Dixieland”. (Lyrics from Confederate Anthem)

Social traumas and other overwhelming life events tend to happen on the anniversary and sometimes even the exact location of previous and unresolved traumatic events. A recent example of this phenomenon appeared with the June 17th, 2015 mass shooting of African Americans . On this occasion a 21 year old white male entered a Bible study and prayer group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and shot to death 9 members of that congregation including their beloved senior pastor, State Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Both the date and location of this American tragedy indicate yet another iteration in an ongoing racist and political fractal that dates far back into our history of slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction Era , segregation , Jim Crow discrimination laws ,as well as the often violent Civil Rights struggle during our turbulent nineteen sixties.

The scene of this crime was the Emanuel A.M.E. Church ,affectionately known as “Mother Emanuel”, a historic landmark of African American freedom which has stood in its present location since 1872. This oldest Black church still standing, south of Baltimore, was founded in 1816 by a Black pastor named Morris Brown . This church also served as a spiritual refuge for Denmark Vesey, a former slave , who joined the congregation in 1817 . This charismatic leader , literate as well as fluent in English,Creole and French , often preached a messianic crusade for freedom there and later became a symbol of the abolitionist movement. Vesey was reportedly born in the Caribbean, on St. Thomas in 1757 and was brought to the Palmetto State at age 14 by a slave trader ship’s captain . Aboard the ship Vesey was given the name Telemaque which was gradually corrupted into Telemark and finally Denmark. In 1799 he bought his freedom after winning the state’s lottery but was unable to purchase freedom for his wives and numerous children. (Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “ The Story of Denmark Vesey,, June, 2015)

In 1822 Vesey planned a slave rebellion originally scheduled for July 14th, Bastille Day, and then moved the date back to midnight June 16th in an operation designed to free the slaves , who together with some 9,000 armed Blacks, would then fight their way to the docks and escape to Haiti. June 17th, therefore ,would have been the day that the fighting would have broken out, all Whites killed, and the entire city of Charleston torched . This revolt failed when a troubled slave informed his master of the rumors of insurrection. Vesey was arrested , tortured , given a secret trial and hung along with five co-conspirators. By early August the total executed had grown to 35 and many others were imprisoned or shipped off to slave traders. While Whites still refer to Vesey as a terrorist , for Blacks he was a freedom fighter. Soon after the trials, Mother Emanuel was razed to the ground by White Supremacists and then re-built at a later time, with the help of one of Vesey’s sons. (Yoni Applebaum,, June 18,2015 and David Robertson, Denmark Vesey

Since those early times, Black churches , born out of protest, have continued to remain symbols of African American community and culture. Viewed with suspicion by many Whites, because they built schools, taught literacy and helped families raise their children these houses of worship have been forbidden, dismantled terrorized and burned. Nevertheless, and to this day, Black churches have carried on as centers of social and political life and opposition to their existence has carried on, as well, with nearly endemic campaigns of overt and covert intimidation. In the South, White privilidge has traditionally been maintained through any number of violent means.

Given that identified gunman Dylan Roof was a high school drop out ,one might be tempted to reason that he had little interest or knowledge of history and therefore his specifically choosing the iconic Emanuel A.M.E. Church on the historic date of June 17th for his racist rampage was co-incidental. However, photos on his Facebook page , often together with the Confederate flag, reveal an avid interest in slavery, Civil War and White Supremacist doctrine. Roof later stated that he chose Charleston “ because it is the most historic city in my state and at one time had the highest ratio of Blacks to Whites in the country”. He also visited some of the South’s most notorious slave plantations, Confederate landmarks and cemeteries along with day trips to Sullivan’s Island port which was the point of entry for nearly 40% of Northern America’s slaves. ( Wills Robinson,, June, 20th, 2015)

As Dylan Roof opened fire in the Bible study group, he clearly verbalized his fears that “Blacks are taking over the country”. While he may have acted alone , he was clearly not alone in his sentiments. As our demographic shift toward a majority of people of color, there exists a growing fear that these and other minorities, including homosexuals, transgender citizens, immigrants, the massively incarcerated, dyslexics , physically and intellectually disabled and differently-abled are erupting into a wave of rebellion that has been seething under under the surface for a very long time. Their growing sense of newly discovered support for outlier entitlement has become a recent and growing process that is belatedly transforming our political landscape. Whereas many within these disadvantaged and minority communities are experiencing hope , and some degree of empowerment, there are also others from more entitled and entrenched populations who have reacted with resentment ,fear based anger and hate crimes. (Alicia Garza,, June 19, 2015)

In our current reality ,we also have the widely promoted views of perhaps well meaning analysts ,who choose to ignore or minimize any larger context or historical and societal factors contributing to this shooting event and attribute Dylan Roof’s actions solely to a mental illness crisis induced by psychotropic medication which have admittedly played a major role in so many other mass shootings. By now you have perhaps noticed that White shooters are often described as “mentally ill”, whereas the media often characterizes shooters of color as “terrorists” and “thugs”. ( Amanda Butler,, June 19, 2015)

This tragic Charleston event was also perceived by many observers as political, not only in regard to race relations but also within a context of ongoing and divisive debates around issues of both free speech and gun control. National Rifle Association Board Member Charles L. Cotton wasted no time in blaming Clementa Pinckney for his own death ,as well as that of his parishioners, because as a State Senator he did not support legislation that would have allowed concealed weapons in places of worship. (Texas ). Never mind the glaring reality that there is no evidence whatsoever that civilians with guns either limits or prevents mass shootings. ( Daniel Marans,, June 19, 2015)

While we are on the subject of anniversary fractals ,the month of June is important in African American history. This year of 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the June 19th, 1865 when news of emancipation and Civil War’s end finally reached America’s last group of slaves, in Galveston Texas. In Black communities, Juneteenth (combination of June +19th ) is recognized as a holiday in over 40 states. ( Chase Madar,, June 19, 2015).

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Charleston

Cousin Jack

Artist  Kurt Jackson

Artist Kurt Jackson

This land is barren and broken,
Scarred like the face of the Moon,
Our tongue is no longer spoken
And the towns all around face ruin…
If I tunnel way down to Australia,
Oh, will I ever escape…
I’ll leave the country behind, I’m not coming back,
Oh, follow me down, Cousin Jack.

(Cornish folk song lyrics by Steve Knightley)

Hirethek: (n.) Cornish for a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was, the grief for the lost places of your past.

While recently being honored with an invitation to serve on the faculty of the Third Australian Constellation Intensive, in February 2016 in Sydney, Australia, (, I also unexpectedly uncovered a long-standing generational family-fractal involving home and homesickness. While I am looking forward to my first trip Down Under, an admittedly long swim, and connecting with familiar and new international colleagues, this invitation also prompted me to look deeper into a rather obscure episode in our Cornish family history. Family stories, while sometimes colorful, are admittedly unreliable and can unfold along something like a game of Chinese Whispers which re-iterate upon each re-telling.

In short, it seems that my Grandfather, William John Thomas (b. 1873) and his brother Marshman (b. 1878), either left or were deported to Australia, for reasons unknown. Some cousins say that they went in search of employment after the mines closed and other cousins maintain that there was some scandal concerning poaching. Most agree that he worked for a time as a sheep herder until word came that his hometown sweetheart, Ellie, now in America, was pregnant and the brothers booked passage for the USA. My grandparents married and my great uncle continued on to California. Given the morality of the times, all of this was kept quite secret and secrecy is a Cornish value for reasons set forth in my previous “Treasure Map” blog.

My Grandparents bought a small farm in rural New Jersey surrounded by a landscape similar to southern England, and I spent my early childhood years there.

By all accounts my Grandmother was always homesick and when my mother, the youngest of five, was a small child, she took her with her back to St. Just, and she grew up there. My Grandmother eventually returned to the farm in New Jersey, and had passed away by the time I arrived. Grandfather took her ashes back to St. Just. However, I do remember being taken to meet her four surviving, Cornish sisters who had never married and always lived together.

As a child, I experienced them as shy and ancient old ladies, smelling of lavender, (who were in reality probably somewhere in their fifties), known to smoke unfiltered cigarettes, despite family disapproval. All of these great-aunts had served together as nurses in a British field hospital in France during World War I. (The horror and the stench must have been awful). Our brief little visit took place during the 1940’s and no one was thinking much about war trauma then, except maybe for a few soldiers. Like my Grandmother, my great-aunts were often homesick, crossed the Atlantic many times, and finally resolved to return home to Cornwall. Mother was also beset by a longing for Cornwall, and barely managed one more adult and prolonged visit. Her consolation she said, was arrangements to be buried there in the town’s Wesleyan cemetery, yet, in the end, her husband who was not Cornish, could not agree to such a distant resting place.

While these stories do not seem all that remarkable, given my systemic perspective on family systems and trans-generational trauma, I decided to review this and other aspects of our clan’s history within the larger context of what is now known as the Cornish Diaspora. It was within this tribal history, that I felt that there might finally be answers to why so many of our clan have always been uneasy living too far from any scent of the sea; and also a possible source for a mysterious, all pervasive, ill -defined and familiar longing, that was integral to nearly all of my childhood memories. Somehow it was collectively understood that our family “home” was in in Cornwall, in and around the small mining town of St. Just, located along the southwest coast of England.

And so, in looking into the history of this Cornish Diaspora, I hoped to find some understanding of this collective pull to return “home”, that was so strong in my maternal Grandmother, her sisters, my Mother and to a lesser extent, myself. In general, those who work with trauma, understand that a compelling need to return and repeat an experience, often has something to do with an interrupted movement or incomplete response; often involving a shock and/or tragedy and possibly a cover-up. More recently, a study of epigenetics has revealed that biological, (epigenetic) markers, can and do retain ancestral memories. With this in mind, I arrived at the salient question: “Who longed to return home to Cornwall and was prevented from doing so?”

Emigration was one of the main factors that shaped Cornwall as it is known today. In each decade from 1861– 1901, the County of Cornwall lost at least 20% of its male population following a decline of the mining industry. In total, the county lost over a quarter of a million people between 1841 and 1901. My Great-Great Grandfather Benjamin Thomas, was among those who left St. Just in search of work in the South African diamond mines; reluctantly leaving behind a wife and eight children. We have his letters from that time when he wrote home weekly, from the time of his departure from Lisbon in February 1888, until his death in July of that same year. He loved the sea and wrote about his long voyage, the beauty of Madeira and spotting of whales. However, he didn’t go ashore for lack of funds; sailing past the Canaries, across the Equator and on into port in Johannesburg.

While the family letters to him are lost, his letters are filled with responses to their news and his clear affection for his family;[ adjusting to sleeping alone while missing his wife’s “warm back”, along with special notes of encouragement and fatherly advice for each of his eight children. Throughout his correspondence it is painfully evident how difficult the economically necessary separation was from both his wife and children, for him and for them, and how deeply he longed to return, along with much needed funds.

One of our family ghost stories maintains that my Great-Great Grandmother, Emma, knew that her husband was dead long before an official letter arrived with the tragic news from the mining company. Down in South Africa, the local news carried reports of a fatal accident on July 10, 1888 in the De Beer’s diamond mine in Kimberley; due to management flaunting safety regulations, which resulted in the death of over 200 workers. (University of Cape Town Judge Papers, B 47, Commission of Inquiry into De Beer’s Mining Disaster, August 4, 1888). As a newly shocked and grieving widow, Emma never believed that fire story. Sometime afterward, she related. and only to close family, that late one evening, days before that awful letter, she had clearly “seen” her husband trying to warm and dry himself beside their coal stove. Dripping wet, he briefly appeared, to tell her that he was so sorry and that he had drowned in a flooded mine shaft …and so she already knew.

Cornish people who migrated to various parts of the world were often known as “Cousin Jacks”, especially in the mining communities. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Cornish led the world in mining technology and Cornish expertise in hard rock mining was highly valued. This term apparently evolved from a story that these immigrants were often asking for a job for their “Cousin Jack” back home; “Jack”, being the most popular name for Cornish boys, christened John. Their diaspora can found throughout the USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Latin America and Australia; where they brought along their wrestling competitions, saffron buns, meat pasties, brass bands, carols, love of nature, and Wesleyan Methodist chapels.

Since I am soon headed to Australia, I did a bit of research which turned up the fact that Moonta, in South Australia, hosts the largest Kernewek Lowender (Cornish Happiness) Cornish festival in the world; which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Recent ethnographic studies reveal that something like 4.3 percent of Australians identify as Cornish, which makes them the fourth largest Anglo-Celtic group in Australia; after the English, Irish and Scots…never mind that the Anglo Saxon English are not necessarily Celts and we find no mention of the Welsh. In any event, I am looking forward to this entirely new adventure.

And while we are on the subject of Cousin Jack, of the several versions of this Celtic ballad available now on You Tube, one can find Steve Knightley’s heartfelt rendition offered at the Cambridge Folk Festival, as well as a performance filmed in Port Isaac Cornwall; setting for the delightful BBC series, Doc Martin, about contemporary village life in fictional Portwenn. Listening once again to “Cousin Jack” with something like my intuitive “third ear”, I now wonder if my puzzling homesick meme is something more than personal, to me and my own family clan, or more likely something intrinsic within the wider Cornish collective. This elusive, often unspoken feeling of homesickness, may even dwell within world-wide emigrant systems in general. A wider question then becomes: to what extent has voluntary or forced emigration shaped our family systems; and influenced our understanding of choice within the tribal loyalties down through the generations and on into our individual lives?

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cousin Jack

Spirit of Place : Tlatelolco

The spirit of place is a strange thing. Our mechanical age tries to override it. But it does not succeed. In the end, the strange, sinister spirit of place…will smash our mechanical oneness to smithereens – and all that we think . The real thing will go off with a pop, and we shall be left staring.” ( D.H. Lawrence)

The city is not just a geographical or spatial place. It is an essential process of our lives and our history. The city is us and where we come from. To take back the space of the city is to recover for all of us a territory that transcribes our lives. (CuauhtemocCardenas, First elected Mayor of Mexico City)

In the Old World’s classical religions the concept of genius loci referred to a presiding deity or “spirit of place” and now in the New World and in contemporary cultures, the term refers more to a location’s distinct place-ness that is its past, current and future essence, rather than a necessarily protective entity. In keeping with Rupert Sheldrake’s research into morphogenetic fields, and his notion that places also have “fields of memory” that often have to do with unresolved trauma, it seems that Mexico City’s Tlateloco provides an interesting case in point.

Also known as Xaltelolco, which translates from Nahuatl, known informally as Aztec, as “ little hill of the land”, Tlateloco is located in an area of the Cuauhtemoc borough of Mexico City and centered upon the Plaza des Tres Culturas . The three cultures that are represented in this plaza are from the Pre-Colombian Aztecs, who called themselves Mexicas, the Spanish catholic conquering colonizers, and a modern office and Nuevo Leon housing complex of contemporary “ Mestizo” culture of the independent nation.

This district of Mexico City which arose as a Pre-Colombian city state , was eventually taken over by the ascendant Aztecs who commandeered this territory as part of their empire during the 13th century. The site subsequently became a setting for tribal warfare, and a partially excavated temple site has revealed practices of ritual torture, human sacrifice as well as a market in slave trade. During the Spanish conquest , a war between the Conquistadores and the Aztecs in 1531resulted in the slaughter of some 40,000 Aztec men, women and children, thought to have taken place in one single day. The deaths from this battle, which was in truth a massacre, left a deep scar within the collective psyche of the newly established colony. Centuries later a plaque was set up on the site that reads: “ The battle was not a triumph, nor was it a defeat. It was the painful birth of the Mestizo nation that is the Mexico of today”.

After the Spanish conquest, the Aztec temple dedicated to their War God Huitzilipochthli was demolished and the plaza re-named Santiago de Tlatelolco after the militant Spanish patron Saint James whose mythic crushing of the Moors was widely credited with the subsequent victory of the Latin American conquest. Building stones and other ruins from the War God’s temple were used in the construction of the Franciscan Church of Santiago de Tlateloloco commissioned by Hernan Cortes in 1524, which stands there to this day, together with the remains of a Franciscan convent. (

Tlatelolco‘s age- old and violent fractal of conquest, destruction, repression, and bloodshed has continued on through several more iterations in modern times with no end in sight. In 1968 the government was preparing to host the Olympic Games, as an opportunity to elevate the stature of a prosperous and stable Mexico in the eyes of the global community. In opposition, a coalition of leftist high school and college students sought to use this same opportunity to bring attention to their country’s social ills , especially the violent overreach of police and military against the citizenry. The students were also demanding immediate release of classmates jailed in previous protests. In response, the Mexican government prepared an Olympic Battalion; a paramilitary squad to insure that protesters would not be able to interrupt the games.

The confrontations began on October 2nd, 1968 as protesters gathered at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas for an afternoon rally, 10 days before the opening ceremonies. At the same time, that activists gathered, snipers from the battalion assumed strategic posts up on the Neuvo Leon housing complex, which gave them a clear view of the citizens below. During these peaceful protests, Mexican army and police infiltrated the crowd and blocked off all of the exits from the square. Although no one is certain where the first shot came from , likely from an agent provocateur , at 6:10 PM the Plaza became a living hell and yet another massacre occurred. Other security forces joined in and fleeing protesters were easy targets with as many 300 to 2,000 killed, exact numbers remain unknown, and many others wounded, arrested and “disappeared”. This Night of Tlatelolco has left a lasting memory in Mexican politics and especially among this country’s student population.

Two decades later, on September 9, 1985, these and other painful memories concerning this site re-surfaced with the 8.1 magnitude earthquake that caused major damage in Mexico City. The Tlatelolco Complex was hit particularly hard as two of the Neuvo Leon housing units collapsed, killing all of its residents inside. This tragedy was made even more painful by the revelation that this collapse was exacerbated by a lethal combination of illegal cost cutting during construction and lack of proper maintenance. The final toll was somewhere between 200 and 300 fatalities . Due to earthquake damage, eight other buildings in the complex had to be demolished and four more had their upper floors removed. A persistent aura of danger remains as poor maintenance continues and this high crime area is under virtual curfew by night fall. (Drew Reed,, May 2015)

The latest iteration in the Tlatelolco fractal occurred in September 26th disappearance of 43 leftist student teachers from the Raul Isidro Burgos Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa in Tixla who were part of bus convoy headed for Mexico City to demonstrate on the anniversary of the October 2, 1968 Night of Tlataloco at the Plaza des Tres Culturas. These students were last seen in the custody of police ,government security and army personnel in Iguala. As of now, the official government story is that the local drug cartels were responsible for the kidnapping and cremation of the students in a garbage dump in the town of Cocula, near to the abduction site. Locals scoff at this explanation given the fact that there was heavy rainfall all night on the date when this cremation supposedly took place. Funerary and other forensic experts maintain that a cremation of that many bodies would have required a degree of heat only possible in an indoor facility. Massive nation wide protests have ensued with the incident remaining unresolved and thus likely to give rise to yet another cycle of violence.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spirit of Place : Tlatelolco

Field of Memory

Show me a fantasy novel about Chernobyl – there isn’t one. Because reality is more fantastic. (Svetlana Alexievich, Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster)

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our thinking. Thus we are drifting toward catastrophe beyond conception. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive”. (Albert Einstein)

The nuclear industry is waging a war against humanity”. (John Gofman, M.D. Ph.D. former Manhattan Project scientist and Associate Director, Lawrence Nuclear Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley 1963-1969)

Social traumatologists, media, politicians and terrorists know that individual, family and social traumas tend to occur on the anniversary of previous and unresolved traumas. Over the years and in several of my books, I have explored biological researcher Rupert Sheldrake‘s idea that places also have “fields of memory” that can play a role in traumatic repetitions. One of those places is located in war-torn northern Ukraine; at the site of their damaged reactor Unit Four at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. As the world now knows, despite initial efforts of a cover-up, (while this area was still part of the former USSR); on April 25,1986, something went terribly wrong. For some reason now lost to history, the site’s nuclear engineers decided to turn off the safety systems in their uncontained reactor in order to “see what would happen”. As a result, there was, in fact, a lot to see, which we will continue to see and feel, far into our foreseeable future and possibly even far beyond that. (St. Just, Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, 2012)

A steam explosion, graphite fire and nuclear meltdown-event, expelled a volcanic release of highly radioactive particles into our planetary atmosphere carrying levels of radiation 300 times greater than our fire-bombing of Hiroshima. As a result, those of us here and visiting in our entire Northern Hemisphere have been experiencing an ongoing international human and environmental catastrophe. During the immediate aftermath of this nuclear folly, more than 400,000 citizens in the nearby town of Pripyat were uprooted from their homes. Given only three hours notice, these evacuees were unaware that they would never be able to return to what became a 30 km (18.6 mile) exclusion zone.

Over the course of the following summer, an unusually intense round of forest fires served to further the spread of highly radioactive isotopes.

At the time, much of this catastrophe was new and unexpected since there had never before been a radiological disaster of this magnitude. Unfortunately, this nightmare scale has been necessarily updated. While Chernobyl ranked seventh at the top of an existing scale for nuclear accidents, a new category was needed since the disaster at Japan’s seaside, Fukushima Daiichi complex with four damaged reactors, (three in meltdown); spewing ongoing leaks into the air, ocean and underground water supplies. As a result, Fukushima now seriously out-ranks Chernobyl with an intensity rating of eight. (, August 13, 2012) Let us hope, pray and rise up in protest, so that there will never be the necessity to update this scale to anything like a nine or even a ten.

The site chosen for Ukraine’s first nuclear power plant has a long, dark history of fiery death and destruction. The plant was named for the nearby town of Chernobyl which dates from the 12th century onward , which was in turn, named for another kind of plant. In Ukrainian, the herb called chornobyl with the botanical term Artemesia vulgaris has been confused with its close cousin Artemesia absinthium, a bitter herb with medicinal properties use to flavor absinthe and vermouth, also known as wormwood. Mary Mycio, addresses this confusion in her “In Wormwood Forest” (September 9, 2005), since both herbs are common to the Chernobyl region. Shortly after the 1986 disaster a religious meme appeared warning that the name Chernobyl translates to wormwood thus fulfilling biblical prophesies in the Book of Revelation; as this herb is a frequent biblical symbol for bitterness, calamity and sorrow. In reality, the Russianized Chernobyl from the Ukrainian chornobyl, translates as “mugwort” and not it’s botanical cousin wormwood. In Medieval Europe mugwort was used as a protective charm.

Prior to the 20th century, the Chernobyl region was inhabited by Ukrainian and Polish peasants and a relatively large number of Jews. The Jewish population suffered greatly from fiery pogroms where whole villages were burned to cinders and inhabitants raped, beaten, kidnapped and slaughtered. These pogroms were especially severe in 1905 and again from 1919-1920. The region also suffered from mass killings during Stalin’s ruthless collectivization campaign and the horrendous famine that followed. The local Polish community was forcibly deported to Kazakhstan in 1936 during Stalin’s Frontier Clearance.

The Chernobyl region was also the site of some of the most heinous Nazi atrocities in 1941 and was occupied by the German army until 1943; during which time the entire Jewish population was systematically murdered. (Norman Davies, Europe: A History, 1996).

In the years since the April 1986 nuclear disaster, the highly contaminated surrounding forests have been subjected to a series of fires, due to climate change and drought in 1992, 2002, 2008 and now in 2015. Extensive woodland death, due to radiation, has created an excess of tinder with dry leaves; and trees that desiccate but do not decay; thus giving rise to further nuclear devastation via radioactive wildfires. These dying, mostly pine, plantations surrounding the exclusion zone, cannot be decontaminated and are considered to be too dangerous and expensive to clear. (Kevin Kamps, Russian Insider, May 6, 2015). When ignited, they spread deadly radioisotopes through smoking foliage, pine- needles and cones, as well as air born pollens which continue to cycle through the planetary ecosystem.

This latest iteration in Chernobyl’s long fiery fractal of destruction erupted with yet another wildfire that broke out in April, 2015, exactly on the 29th anniversary of the initial fire and explosion. Arson is suspected, in view of the date and the fact that this conflagration broke out on both sides of the nearby River Vuhz. While information was hard to come by, for political and other logistical reasons, satellite images revealed that tree-top flames and strong winds combined to enable a rapid spread of wildfire over some 10,000 hectares of contaminated areas around and within the exclusion zone. As the fire spread toward the power plant’s crippled installations, flames reportedly came within 3 miles of buried nuclear waste. (, April 29, 2015).

Ukrainian police, National Guard and firefighting units were all on high alert while government officials insisted that everything was under control. Such a statement is hardly credible, given video footage of their brave front line firefighters manually batting down radioactive flames, with sparse equipment and for many without any protective gear whatsoever. Nevertheless, it was announced that these exclusion zone fires were out in early May, without mention of the still smoldering, airborne, potentially death-dealing smoke. As the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks, Dr. Christopher Busby explains:

“The potential danger in this fire comes from radioactive contaminants that burning plant materials have absorbed through a process of bio-accumulation. At least some deadly contaminates would have been incorporated into the woods. In other words, they land on the ground in 1986 and they get absorbed into the trees, plants and then all of the biosphere. And when they burn, the toxins just become re-suspended. It’s like Chernobyl all over again. All of that material that fell on the ground will now be burned up into the air and available for people, and all living things, to breathe and absorb. (, April 2015).

“The exact trajectory of this latest fire-generated radioactive plume, will depend upon which way the winds blow; and these can be expected to circle our planet every 40 days or so. Residents downwind from the immediate fallout, are advised to remain indoors and avoid contact with subsequent rainfall.”

The unfortunate truth remains, that Chernobyl‘s latest wildfire crisis is a natural part of what is now a centuries-long disaster-cycle which will continue to repeat over and again.

The crippled Unit Four reactor continues to leak lethal toxins, and the hastily-built sarcophagus currently in place is seriously cracked and rapidly deteriorating. Efforts to replace this faltering containment structure have stalled due to lack of funding and Ukraine’s political unrest and instability. If and when this massive new structure is completed and in place, it too will have to be replaced, because these radionuclides will remain dangerous, in some cases, for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of years. As long as we have these long-lived hot particles, they will simply cycle through our planetary ecosystem and be taken up by plants and other living things and then released through fires for further and ongoing deadly recycle.

So now, Ukrainian officials, dutifully reading from the by now, all too familiar and spurious, international, nuclear industry playbook-script, assure all concerned that this fire is out; problem solved, radiation levels are not increased in the affected area and there has been and will be no danger to human health. (Please go back to sleep). If you are reading this blog, chances are that you have heard these self-serving bromides parroted by the minions of this much too powerful, death-dealing, nuclear industry. To add to the insult of our collective intelligence, there is a nuclear-industry funded YouTube documentary, gone viral, purporting that the radioactive Chernobyl exclusion zone has become a kind of idyllic wildlife renewal refuge. As long as a trusting public is willing to swallow this toxic swill, these death dealing, time-bomb, perpetual death machines, will continue to infest and threaten our planet.

It is well beyond time for us to face the fact that nuclear power, in any form, is not and never was “safe”, clean, nor inexpensive. Such Neo-Orwellian statements have been categorically proven to be utterly false and diabolically manipulative. Moreover, it is my conviction that no technology that has been weaponized can ever, truly be either life-positive or “safe”. Instead of holding clandestine symposiums about how to safely” dispose of our deadly nuclear waste, how about people being invited to explore the self-destructive mind-set that found it somehow necessary to create these death-dealing, radioactive horrors?

Probably it is not news that our current, life threatening predicament has to do with a misguided, anti-life, mindset that created these nuclear threats to all life upon our planet and that any far reaching solutions are absolutely not to be found anywhere within the realm of any military, industrial , energy magnates.

Perhaps it is too much to hope for in these increasingly dark and difficult times, and still I have a persistent vision that there exists, now or somewhere in our near future, something like an alchemical technology that has the ability to transform these deadly nuclear particles into a more life-positive form. And, I also feel, that this will not be possible until we can find a way to choose and authentically embrace a more peaceful and inclusive frame of consciousness toward ourselves, each other and all living things. Meanwhile, to whatever degree possible, it is probably best to stay out of the rain.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Field of Memory