Saturday, February 05, 2011


Ohio's state color? Lavender, apparently. 

Some may point out that Ohio's colors are red and gray, but apparently lavender is also a state color. 

Red, black, white are of course the colors of the flag of Egypt. I had changed my heading at the top of this blog to a quotation from T. S. Eliot's Little Gidding, the fourth of his Four Quartets:
Where is the summer, the unimaginable / Zero summer?
as a bit of a flippant response to this seemingly eternal winter (I have read that Eliot's 'Zero Summer' refers to the attainment of an eternal earthly Paradise state, or a hankering after the pre-Fall-of-Mankind summertime of the Garden of Eden).

Then I thought this morning after listening to further news from the BBC from Egypt, to change it to touch on the hoped-for fall of Mubarak. I had simply forgotten, if I ever knew, how Egypt's benevolent, pro-Western face was propped up internally with a vicious state security system, taking out teeth, fingernails and grudges at will.

One of my earliest memories is of a radio and a BBC voice intoning the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the last syllable of his name sounding to my little ears as if it ended with an abrupt, harsh gunshot.

I was raised in a household where the KJV Bible was read daily, and so I never remember not knowing the word, the name, Egypt, my associations with it less to do with Mummies and pyramids than with Moses, Aaron, and the lurid story of how they finally got the Israelites out of Egypt. For all the sweating and enduring the Children of Israel had to suffer, God was playing Pharaoh like a cool-headed, detached chess master, each move calculated for the next several, each plague another click-crank-click of the ratchet.

When the Red Sea parts, God's final rebuke to Pharaoh and his armies is, He "took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily"!

Egypt is throughout the Bible, both as a physical land, and as a metaphor for sin, backsliding, the world. Soon after the Israelites finally escape from Egypt, they start to backslide, doubt, and they moan:
We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick.
This verse was an especial favorite of my father's, especially perhaps when my mother cooked up something unusual for mealtime.

Anyway, returning to the present time: I went with Exodus 7, verse 3, which in full reads:
And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
I still think my favorite and most relevant headline for my blog was from Allan Ginsberg, in his poem, Howl:
now you're really in the total animal soup of time...