Actualities

Joseph Natoli:

How and to what degree Trump himself is misrepresented is as meaningless to me as the personalizing of determining conditions, which is our present mindless approach to everything. If we represent the actualities that bring Trump to presence, he vanishes.

In short, we may not have another generation of humanity to experience new conditions and narratives of reality. This is an age of misrepresentations different and more frightening than any in the past but it is the one we must work our way out of as quickly as possible. The path is not divided here but one and clear if we can as Blake advises clear the lens of our perceptions.

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Facts

Guardian:

In a post-fact age, painstaking evidence surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance is slowly winning the day, the only glimmer of good news in an extraordinarily grim few weeks.

This last line of an article on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Istanbul in connection with Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance appears below a video clip of Pompeo answering journalist questions with the caption quoting him ‘I don’t want to talk about any of the facts’.

Facts are very much what I’d like to talk about. It is strange to me to see international news presented as a collage of debate about the extent to which the US president is lying or is just ignorant, discussion of the depth of his narcissistic crudeness, articles seeming to take seriously the thoughts of his Slovenian model wife, the announcement that a pop music singer has declared herself for the Democratic Party, a bromance involving a black rap singer, an article declaring that a large fraction of the world’s species are dying off. How is it that we continue in this state? Why is it that people exchange videos or “meme” graphics rather than have conversations involving linear argumentation? How do we work our way out of this place?

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Užupis

Užupis reminded me a bit of Christiania, but the open-air hash market in a squatted military base in 2001 seemed a challenge to authority in a way that 2018 wannabe-poetic trite musings for tourists are not. If I were in my 20s and a worldly narcissistic hipster this would be the place for a beer and selfies. When I last walked by the Rauch-Haus in May or so the graffiti included large signs prohibiting photos and I think that’s more my style.

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Bohlen

Reading Plokhy I am astounded to learn Charles Bohlen, and so Roosevelt, was privy to the full Molotov-Ribbentrop terms only a day after the Pact was signed.

Why is drivel from Kanye West and Melania Trump international news? Mysteries abound.

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Šiauliai

The young MP came over, holstered automatic on hip, to inquire what it was I was doing approaching the base entrance, and was unsatisfied with my suggestion that I’d just turn around and be on my way. I ended up having a conversation more thought-provoking than the various sights I’d seen. I’ve no photos to post. I was glad to get to the airfield. M-4s were based here. The guard probed me for what I was looking to find, what it was I was interested in seeing, alert as he was to protect NATO secrets. I’m not sure I could communicate to him, or the extent to which he believed the truth, that I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in the NATO presence. I tried to tell him as best I could that when I was a child like other American children I lived to some extent in daily terror of nuclear war with The Soviets. I remember reading Heinlein and Bradbury’s stories, remembered the imagining of the evil behind the iron curtain. Šiauliai was one of the places where death might take off from. This guy not much older than my younger son knew of what I spoke only from the stories of his elders. He complimented me on my Lithuanian, which I thought was sweet, since his English was obviously better. His perspective, that “everybody knew” about the Soviet presence at this base, when I doubt I could find a San Franciscan who’d heard of the city; when I said I found Vilnius a little small his initial honest surprise with this assessment until he corrected himself, “you are coming from the United States”, are not images I would be able to capture in a photograph. I’m not a photographer.

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Hill of Crosses

What, exactly, is said about the faith of the people of this land is not clarified. The scene at the Hill of Crosses reminded me very much of Medjugorje – a road lined with cars, tables full of cheap religious trinkets, parents explaining to six-year-olds how depictions of a man being tortured to death 2000 years ago express their deepest beliefs about their place in the universe.

Atop the Hill of Crosses is the lesser-known but to my way of thinking equally inspiring Slab of Plaster Cherubs and Fifty-cent Coins.

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Anykščiai

The tallest church in Lithuania is to tall churches as Podgorica’s Niagara Falls of Montenegro is to waterfalls. I had a pleasant visit, and enjoyed the ambiance with small groups of others out on a bright, cool, breezy autumn afternoon. I poked my head in the entrance to where I could pay 1 € to climb one of the steeples. People were happily traipsing up and down the broad metal staircase and I wondered why exactly I’d bother climbing to the top. To look out over Anykščiai? Decided to go on and drive to the Hill of Crosses and the old Soviet air base at Šiauliai instead.

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Liudiškiai Mass Graves

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Partisan Hill, Salakas

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Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

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