Sunday, January 31, 2016


Cecile Pineda will be talking about the Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World project and signing books during the month of February:


February 1 – S.F. Occupy Forum at 6 PM
                        Global Exchange
                        2017 Mission St. at 16th Street 2nd floor
                        San Francisco
February 13 - PEN WEST at 3 PM
                        home of Margret Schaefer
                         1 Quail Avenue, Berkeley
                        RSVP & directions:

 February 25 – Ethnic Studies Library at 5:30 PM
                        30 Stephens Hall (downstairs)
                        University of California                   
                        info: 642-3947

FOUR EYES, TWO WAYS OF SEEING                      

There’s nothing like writing a book to allow you to see the world with fresh eyes. Two images: two civilizations. Both have cultures which speak languages derived from Proto-Indo-European, a language not unlike ancient Sanskrit.

One civilization moves eastward, the other charges westward on swift horses, herding cattle, ever on the move looking for new grazing lands. The other culture keeps to vegetarian ways.

Those riding the swift horse, in a hurry to appropriate territory, scatter all who came before them, arming themselves with weapons, governing through hierarchical structures, imposing implacable patriarchy, replacing the rebirthing cycles of the Earth goddess with a male sky god who ends the cycle with death, and reigns in His heaven to this day.

Those living eastward ponder existence. Not in a hurry, they consider the mysticism born of astronomy and mathematics. They write poetry. 

Those sweeping westward drive more peaceful people ever closer to lands end where escape is no longer possible. Those who can’t run fast enough they exterminate.

Those living eastward worship a pantheon of gods, male, female, and elephant for good measure.

What do you see? Two images, two ways of seeing, both deriving from one language.

Long before writing Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World on my two-month-long, 3,000-mile passage through India, I came across a temple, perhaps as far south as Madurai, where in the forecourt (an architectural splendor which in the West might be called a cloister) I came upon 46 side shrines (we might call them side chapels) adorned with exquisite frescoes, each housing the identical sculpture—having about the dimensions of a street hydrant—of the lingam and yoni. It was early morning, and yet long before my arrival, the devout had sprinkled each of the 46 icons with a cascade of warm, liquefied butter, and adorned it with flowers.

Although appearances talking about my previous book, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step took me to the Great Lakes States where thousands of Minutemen silos are still kept on hair-trigger alert, and where recently a major accident damaged one of these to the tune of millions of dollars, and resulted in the demotion of several military personnel, I had never visited such an installation in real life.

Over the past many years, many activists have demonstrated against the use of these weapons of mass destruction—one of the first being Carl Kabat (still at it in his 80s, still risking arrest) with whom I occasionally corresponded during his long months in jail—none of them have thought to adorn any Minutemen with warm, soothing liquefied butter prior to adorning them with petals.

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