August 3

Amber pages

Rupert Brooke, poet, born today in 1887

Leon Uris, author, born today in 1924

Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, today in 1492

And Lenny Bruce, comedian...

but wait, we have entered the month of August, more than half-way through the year, and, like every human action, it tends to go into auto-pilot and cruise-control after a while, routines becomes established, laziness creeps in where fastidiousness marked the opening; and a need to re-assess the criteria, the values, the very goals and methodologies. Step back and reflect, then resume better informed - is that not the key to all good writing-thinking?

So let me reconsider this list, the four who alone were gleaned from almanacs whose names ran into the dozens; all the others rejected because they did not even fit the baseline rubric.

But then, beyond the baseline, do I really care about the first two, care in the sense of truly meaningful, significantly life-changing, at some moment of encountering them, and therefore meriting the time it takes to research them, and write about them? Or are they simply names I know, books I read, 2nd-tier celebrities of the worlds of poetry and literature - not 3rd rate, by any means, but if you want books about the Jewish experience in Europe in the 20th century, "Mila 18" is not "Forged In Fury" and "Exodus" is not "The Source", let alone the crafted masterpieces of Amos Oz and Yehudah Amichai or the witness-testimonies of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel...

Likewise Brooke; fine poet, very skilful, but the one poem that everyone knows is actually a celebration of death in war, a nauseating piece of patriotic scoundrelism, and circa 1915 too, when Kitchener was still press-ganging the naif into pointless deaths; a poem that should have been left to die of mustard gas poisoning in the trenches where precisely that Brookian delusion was being rubbished in the magnificent rebellion-poetry of Owen and Rosenberg et al.

No, I have named and dated them, but fastidiousness requires me to say no more - even though I have. Even though I have.

And then there is the Christopher Columbus date, which hopefully will be recalled, a thousand years from now, alongside Elon Musk's setting out, when it finally happens, as one of the biggest stupidities ever carried out by humankind, with probably the most catastrophic consequences. Stay home, Elon. Please stay home! Too late to make that request to Christoforo Colombo or Cristóbal Colón.

And as to that "cock-sucker", that "schmuck", that "blah-blah" comedian Lenny Bruce - my personal tribute to him will not be placed here, on his tragically young death-date, but on October 4th, the date of his first arrest (in 1961), the start of the vicious campaign that led to that premature death, today in 1966

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