I happened on this speech by Cornell West quite by accident, but I saw that he was holding forth on a panel at the historically famous Riverside Church in NYC, so I took the opportunity to watch him in action. I knew that we had both been at Yale at different times, that he had argued with (then) President Larry Summers of Harvard (I have always despised Summers), resigned from a posh Harvard professorship as a result, and eventually moved to Princeton where he continues to teach. He is a very dynamic man, a preacher, prophet and rabble-rouser, a visionary, and a keenly intelligent observer of the American scene who's not afraid to call it like he sees it.
This particular discussion was held to commenorate the 40th anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising in 1971 (for a history of that event see http://libcom.org/history/1971-the-attica-prison-uprising).
West likens our situation in America today to that of the prisoners at Attica in 1971--deprived of our civil rights, crushed by the greedy oligarchs who run the country, etc. He is angry and, I think, justly so. I find the parallels intriguing, and his passion, logic, and enthusiasm captured my brain and heart. I found myself excited by his erudition, moved by eloquence and guts, and becoming increasing enraged as I listened to observations which I have believed in and shared (in other places with a different set of credentials and dialect to be sure) for many years. He puts it better than I ever could have.
What do you think?
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The same day, I came upon this commencement address by Steve Jobs ("How to Live Before You Die" delivered at Stanford 2005) via a recommendation from my daughter. Listening to Jobs brought my blood pressure back to "near-normal." The speech is brief and demonstrated to me that Jobs has a giant heart accompanying and informing his humongous intellect. Jobs speaks his truth directly out of his personal experience, and does so with love, intensity, and a commendable wisdom , unusual today in a world that seems to cater to, and applaud, mediocrity, avarice, cynicism, and BS on all fronts.
I'd be interested in your take on Jobs and what he has to say. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html
I confess that both of these presentations inspired me to try to ennoble my own life in the remaining time allotted to me and, at the same time, to be more sensitive to the ways I can best use my personal gifts and American freedoms to enhance and enrich life for others.
I also commend to your attention a vast reservoir of speeches by famous, talented folks on an incredible array of topics. Check it out. TED.com
A welcome to readers
As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime: