Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


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This is on my syllabus

I’ve put this on some of my syllabi this semester:

_______________________________

E-mail etiquette:

E-mail is a convenient tool to help us communicate. It is NOT, however, a free-for-all. You should be courteous when you e-mail your professors. Please write in complete sentences and in actual English; do not fill your message with SMS jargon or slang. If you don’t have time to write a respectable, readable message, you should not write it at all but seek some form of communication that fits your schedule.

Appropriate topics

1.) I have a question about the reading or about a writing issue.

2.) I do not understand what you said in class about a discussion topic.

3.) I cannot come to your office hours this week but would like to see you at a different time or arrange to talk to you on Skype.

4.) I will have to miss class next week and would like to arrange something.

5.) I have a scheduling problem or a conflict.

 

Inappropriate topics (I will ignore these messages)-

1.) Please tell me what you covered in the class I missed.

2.) What’s the homework?

3.) U have 2 (something something) 4 me.

4.) Imma gonna b goin 2 a gr8 fam vaca next week so u need 2 (something something) 4 me pronto.

 


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The power of the imagination

I took these photographs in Nida, Lithuania, on the Curonian Spit.

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Striking, yes? Imagine those people who saw this Christ when he was first hoisted up into the air at the pathway of the church. This church here, built on a sandy hill in Nida:
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These people, late 19th Century Lutherans, most of them having lived their lives in the peace of the Curonian dunes, had no access to the sorts of visuals we take for granted: Saw III or even photographs of the dead. People among them who knew violence had seen it with their own eyes on battlefields and in torture chambers. But even they had minds clean of any iconic violence, any representation of it, save in books. But the concept of iconic violence, the kind of artifice we know in Reservoir Dogs or even ER, was utterly inconceivable to them.Those people came upon this cross and were told: “This is God.” This. In the trauma of this sight, I imagine them cured, at least temporarily, of their petty concerns: Does my spouse love me? Will there be enough rain this season? Shall I find my daughter a husband? Will my knee ever heal? Will my death be a painful one or will I simply fall asleep one moment, never to wake up again? I must pray with all my might for the latter. And I certainly won’t complain, not by raising my voice, at any rate.

Such is the power of art. Of the human imagination. It takes imagination to create images and myths. And it takes imagination to consume, to turn an image carved from innocent wood into a series of emotions and ideas.

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The swastika near your train station

Hey, Kaunas. Yes, you, the temporary capital of Lithuania, the city that screams pride over your nationalism and how purely Lithuanian you are. Some asshole painted a swastika not 150 meters from your train station.

I’ve only been to your city twice since 1992, so I can’t tell you how long that thing has actually been there. I photographed it, but I’ll admit I’m ashamed to post it on my blog. I’m also frightened. I know a lot of people whose families the nazis targeted. Many of them are good friends. I want to maintain those friendships. They’re important to me.

I’m going to guess, just from how worn that wall is—some old storage and admin building to the west of the main station’s entrance—that it has been there long enough to endure some rain erosion and sun bleaching. In other words, it was not spray painted yesterday. Ironically, it’s right next to other graffiti. A yin/yang symbol. A goofy face, half-aggressive and half-comical, painted above the caption “Fuck You”.

Yes, those responsible are children, youths. And perhaps you feel there is no battling these powers. If you sandblast the swastika, another will replace it in only one night. I don’t know. But I could not help but feel horrible and disgusted while walking past it, utterly ashamed. It was not on a bridge or in a toilet stall, on the back door of a bar or the side of a dumpster. It was on the property of your main train station, in plain view, right before the station’s parking lot.

I’d say get rid of it, but you’d misunderstand me. It’s actually rather amazing that no one feels any shame about it, that no city official takes action, no neighbor complains. Putting that kind of shamelessness on display is phenomenal, and it points to one very serious need. The swastika on the wall is not the one I’m worried about. It’s the bonfire of hatred, fear and denial burning in your consciousness that scares the living shit out of me. It leaves me confused, defeated and speechless.


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If this doesn’t kick your ass….

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Okay, if this doesn’t do it, nothing will. You look at this and your ass isn’t kicked? Retreat from the human race immediately. Go eat a hotdog, pack your fucking suitcase and jump in in the Danube. Get washed down past Linz.

This is Leonardo Da Vinci, who died in 1519, imagining how the Val di Chiana landscape would look to a bird flying way overhead. This is the power of the human imagination, the imagination of someone who wanted to fly. This is the power of genius. This is the real fucking deal, and it should make you want to love everyone you meet.

Leo was half a millennium ahead of his time. He took shit out to space, to god damn space; he was a satellite of the earth. The most intelligent person on the planet right now exists between curves on a 4d grid, contemplates the nature of wormholes relative to black holes. Leonardo WAS the damn grid. He knew he was the universe. He was a zen master, and he didn’t even know it, which makes him a hyper-zen master.

I apologize for not knowing whom to credit for this extraordinary image. I got it off of Mikhail Iossel’s Facebook page. I’m not making any money by posting it. I’m just kicking everyone’s ass with it.