The Saturday Blind Spot

(Gaston Bussiere – Deux Enfants Aux Couronnes De Fleurs)

My brother-in-law Peter blew through town last night coming back from a conference out in Hood River… We had a nice time, and a very good talk. He was picking up Rowan’s cousin Jake, who was down visiting his lady friend, Willow. Quite the item lately!
Weather is odd in Portland, lots of clouds, not much rain, but just enough to keep projects outdoors at bay.
Some good stuff on Turfing today, take your time, read, listen and enjoy! Check out the radio!
Bright Blessings,


What’s On The Menu:

Radio Free EarthRites

Shpongle Spores

Earth Democracy Thrives In Nandigram

Antonio Machado Poems

Antonio Machado Biography

Art: Gaston Bussiere

Liberate Your Speakers! Radio Free EarthRites

Now adding hours and hours of new music for your listening pleasure! More Poetry soon on the Spoken Word Channel!

Shpongle – Shpongle Spores


Earth Democracy Thrives In Nandigram

By Vandana Shiva
Nandigram a little known corner of Bengal, near the mouth of the Ganges river suddenly entered the nations consciousness in early 2007.
The fertile land of Nandigram had been identified as a Special Economic Zone (Zone) for a chemical hub to be run by the Salim Group. The Salim group is named after its founder Liem Sior Liong, alias Sordono Salim. In 1965, when Suharto overthrew Saekarno, Salim emerged as a crony who helped build Suharto’s $16 billion assets. In the 1980′s and 1990′s during Indonesia’s oil boom, Salim set up the Bank of Central Asia. He set up noodle, flour and bread businesses. He set up Indomobil Sukses Interantional to make cars, Indo cement Tunggal Prakasa to make cement. Altogether he held 500 companies in Indonesia. This is the group that was trying to grab the land of farmers in Nandigram.
Nandigram was chosen because it is next to Haldia, a major port. SEZ’s are tax free zones, where no law of the land applies – no environmental law, no labour law, no Panchayati Raj law for local governance. SEZ’s were created in 2006 through the SEZ Act of 2005, which allowed the government to appropriate farmers land and hand it over to corporations.
But the small and landless peasants of Nandigram stood up in revolt. They formed the Bhoomi Uched Pratirodh Samiti (the Movement against land grab) and refused to give up their land. In January, 2007 the first violence against the movement took place. On March 14th, 17 people were killed. On 29th April, another five lost their lives.
I was in Nandigram on 28th and 29th of April to pay homage to the martyr’s of Nandigram and to work with the farmers to give them Navdanya seeds for setting up seed banks and starting organic farming. The farmers of Nandigram had succeeded in driving out Salim’s chemical hub. I felt it was appropriate that we work together to make Nandigram a chemical free organic zone and the local communities were willing. All day we sat together and made plans while shootouts and bombing was taking place a few miles away. And during my visit to Nandigram I witnessed the practise of Earth Democracy in its most sophisticated form.
Nandigram’s Living Economy
Nandigram is rich in soil, water and biodiversity, the real capital of communities. Each village has its ponds, making for water sovereignty. Each farm is a multi functional production unit, producing “paan”, coconut, rice, bananas, papaya, drumstick and the richest diversity of vegetables I have seen or tasted. In fact, during our meeting, the village square blossomed into a farmers market – with farmers selling four kinds of potatoes, eight kinds of bananas, gur (sugar) made from date palm and Palmyra palm.
Farmers markets like the one in Nandigram need no oil, no Walmart, no Reliance, no middlemen. Farmers are traders, sellers and the buyers. The market is self organised. The community organizes itself for trade. There is no Government license raj, no corporate control. This is the real free market, the real economic democracy.
The rich biodiversity of Nandigram supports a rich productivity. In conventional measurement, based on monocultures, industrial agriculture is presented as being more productive because inputs are not counted, nor is the destruction of biodiverse outputs and the soil, water and air. In a biodiversity assessment, the biodiversity dense small farms of Nandigram are much more productive than the most chemical and energy intensive industrial farms.
The lunch the community cooked for us was the most delicious food we have eaten – greens from the fields, dum-aloo made from indigenous potatoes, brinjal that melted in the mouth – and of course for the fish eaters the inevitable fish curry of Bengali cuisine. All other meals we had in Calcutta or on the way to Nandigram in fancy restaurants were costly but inedible.
Nandigram has a food richness that big cities have lost. These are not impoverished, destitute communities but proud and self-reliant communities. In fact their self reliance was the ground of their resistance.
Nandigram is a post oil economy. Cycles, and cycle rickshaws are the main mode of transport. That is why when the Government unleashed violence against the people of Nandigram, they dug up the roads so no police or Government vehicle could enter. Their freedom from oil allowed them to defend their land freedom. Their living economy allwed them to have a living democracy. This is the practice of living economy, of Gandhi’s “Swadesh”.
Living Democracy
The living democracy in Nandigram allowed the communities to resist. Many farmers used to be members of CPM but in their resistance to land they transcended party lives. The Land Sovereignty Movement in Nandgram is totally self organised. There has been an attempt to present the land conflict a party conflict.
However, it is a conflict between global capital and local peasants, and the peasants have got organised because defending land is not a new issue in Nandigram. Peasants of the region participated in the revolt against East Inida Company in 1857. Nandigram is a celebration of 150 years of India’s first movement of independence from corporate rule with a new movement for freedom from corporate control. Nandigram was also the site of the Tebhaga Movement for Land Rights after the Great Bengal Famine. One can only enter Nandigram as a guest of the community – with their consent and their clearance. There is a high level of self-organisation, with women and children, old and young all involved in keeping watch for unwanted outsiders. Real democracy and living democracy, Gandhi’s “Swaraj”, is the capacity of self-organise.
Living Culture
The real strength of the people of Nandigram is their living culture – an agrarian culture, the culture of the land. This culture is common to the Hindus and the Muslims. Nandigram is strong because these community has not been divided by communal forces and the forces of religious fundamentalism. Hindus and Muslims practise their diverse faiths, but are part of one community. Even in the struggle against the SEZ and Salim, they have fought as one. Their identity with the land, their earth identity binds them together.
I have come away from Nandigram humbled and inspired. These are the elements of Earth Democracy we need to defend and protect from the violence and greed of corporate globalisation.
(Gaston Bussiere – Exotic Dancers)

Antonio Machado Poems

Fields of Soria

Hills of silver plate,

grey heights, dark red rocks

through which the Duero bends

its crossbow arc

round Soria, shadowed oaks,

stone dry-lands, naked mountains,

white roads and river poplars,

twilights of Soria, warlike and mystical,

today I feel, for you,

in my hearts depths, sadness,

sadness of love! Fields of Soria,

where it seems the stones have dreams,

you go with me! Hills of silver plate,

grey heights, dark red rocks.

The Wind, One Brilliant Day

The wind, one brilliant day, called

to my soul with an odor of jasmine.
“In return for the odor of my jasmine,

I’d like all the odor of your roses.”
“I have no roses; all the flowers

in my garden are dead.”
“Well then, I’ll take the withered petals

and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain.”
the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:

“What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?”


Who set, between those rocks like cinder,

to show the honey of dream,

that golden broom,

those blue rosemaries?

Who painted the purple mountains

and the saffron, sunset sky?

The hermitage, the beehives,

the cleft of the river

the endless rolling water deep in rocks,

the pale-green of new fields,

all of it, even the white and pink

under the almond trees!

Has My Heart Gone To Sleep?

Has my heart gone to sleep?

Have the beehives of my dreams

stopped working, the waterwheel

of the mind run dry,

scoops turning empty,

only shadow inside?
No, my heart is not asleep.

It is awake, wide awake.

Not asleep, not dreaming—

its eyes are opened wide

watching distant signals, listening

on the rim of vast silence.


Biography: Antonio Machado y Ruiz

Machado was born in Seville one year after his brother Manuel. The family moved to Madrid in 1883 and both brothers enrolled in the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. During these years, and with the encouragement of his teachers, Antonio discovered his passion for literature.
While completing his Bachillerato in Madrid, economic difficulties forced him to take several jobs including working as an actor. In 1899 he travelled with his brother to Paris to work as translators for a French publisher. During these months in Paris he came into contact with the great French Symbolist poets Jean Moréas, Paul Fort and Paul Verlaine, and also with other contemporary literary figures, including Rubén Darío and Oscar Wilde. These encounters cemented Machado’s decision to dedicate himself to poetry.
In 1901 he had his first poems published in the literary journal ‘Electra’. His first book of poetry was published in 1903 with the title Soledades. Over the next few years he gradually amended the collection, removing some and adding many more, and in 1907 the definitive collection was published with the title Soledades. Galerías. Otros Poemas.
In the same year Machado was offered the job of Professor of French at the school in Soria. Here he met Leonor Izquierdo, daughter of the owners of the boarding house Machado was staying in. They were married in 1909: he was 34; Leonor was 15. Early in 1911 the couple went to live in Paris where Machado read more French literature and studied philosophy. In the summer however Leonor was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis and they returned to Spain. On 1 August 1912 Leonor died, just a few weeks after the publication of Campos de Castilla. Machado was devastated and left Soria, the city that had inspired the poetry of Campos, never to return. He went to live in Baeza, Andalucia, where he stayed until 1919. Here he wrote a series of poems dealing with the death of Leonor which were added to a new (and now definitive) edition of Campos de Castilla published in 1916 along with the first edition of Nuevas canciones
While his earlier poems are in an ornate, Modernist style, with the publication of “Campos de Castilla” he showed an evolution toward greater simplicity, a characteristic that was to distingush his poetry from then on.
Between 1919 and 1931 Machado was Professor of French in Segovia. He moved here to be nearer to Madrid, where Manuel lived. The brothers would meet at weekends to work together on a number of plays, the performances of which earned them great popularity. It was here also that Antonio had a secret affair with Pilar Valderrama, a married woman with three children, to whom he would refer in his work by the name Guiomar.
When Francisco Franco launched his coup d’état in July 1936, launching the Spanish Civil War, Machado was in Madrid. The coup was to separate him forever from his brother Manuel who was trapped in the Nationalist (Francoist) zone, and from Valderrama who was in Portugal. Machado was evacuated with his elderly mother and uncle to Valencia, and then to Barcelona in 1938. Finally, as Franco closed in on the last Republican strongholds, they were obliged to move across the French border to Collioure. It was here, on 22 February 1939 that Antonio Machado died, just three days before his mother.
Machado is buried in Colliore where he died; Leonor is buried in Soria. Geoffrey Hill has hailed him as Montale’s ‘grand equal’.
His phrase “the two Spains” — one that dies and one that yawns — referring to the left-right political divisions that led to the Civil War, has passed into Spanish and other languages.

(Gaston Bussiere – The_Nereides)

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