About Me

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Armchair theorist, poet, and occasional IT manager, Sascha B. is equipped with a Master's Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and is not afraid to use it. His work has been published by the University Press of America, Edwin Mellen Press, University of Texas Press, and a variety of small journals nationwide. He is also the proprietor and baker for 3141 Pie, of which you should eat many.

The Deal

I stopped blogging in 2013, when life overtook me. My father became ill and died shortly thereafter, and my mother was left with increasing dementia. I became the primary caregiver, and now orchestrate my mother's care and our family estate.

Now, I am coming up for air again.

Looking for the next book to read. All suggestions welcome.

My reading list is over here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Day Of Omens

OK. So you've probably already heard the news that Berlusconi's Italy looks to be at an end, in favor of his rival Prodi by the slimmest of slim margins. You've probably also heard the announcement by Ahmedinejad that Iran has successfully begun uranium enrichment, in defiance of the demands by the US and the West. And that would have been enough to me to ponder what today will look like as a turning point five years from now, particularly in the Mideast and the eastern Mediterranean. But then you add this bit of news from AP, and I start to ponder even more.

It's no surprise that the UN is changing its stance toward the Palestinians; there is pretty much universal international support for the governments of nations to recognize their neighbors, honor past treaties, and renounce....well, ok. Not to renounce violence, but certainly to renounce terrorist tactics and random acts of violence. And since that is exactly what Hamas has been unwilling to do, their pariah status will only continue to grow.

So: Adriatic instability, Levantine irascibility, and Persian playing with fire. Sounds to me like the price of oil is going to go way up.

U.N. Changes Policy With Palestinians
Gospel of Judas

There's been a lot of press on the recent publication of this gnostic document; I have been mildly curious, but just as I am uninterested in making a pilgrimage to all the hidden secret spots outlined in Dan Brown's fiction, I am unfazed by a new document of a known heresy in a religion which isn't even mine. Still, it's an interesting thing, historically speaking. I am happy now to find someone using this discovery to say something sensible; read the whole article if you have any interest in this at all. Adam Gopnik's review is both informed and entertaining.

The quote of pertinence:
"it is useful to be reminded, in a time of renewed fundamentalism, that religions actually have no fundament: that the inerrant texts and unchallenged holies of any faith are the work of men and time."
Read it here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ascetic Beauty: Gotta Love It

Or, as McDonalds would say: "I'm lovin' it!" From a Reuters article on the commodification of yoga practice in the west:
"Even so, several entrepreneurs stressed that they are able to adhere to yoga's healing principles while also turning a profit.

'It's about beauty and ascetics, not about opulence,' said Joan Barnes, the former CEO and founder of children's apparel chain Gymboree Corp., who runs a small chain called Yoga Studio in Northern California." [emphasis added.]
Now, I don't know if this is a typo from the copy desk, or a mishearing by the reporter, or a malapropism by the interviewee. But the misconstruing of aesthetic for ascetic is brilliant, ironic, and ultimately captures everything that is troubling about the capitalization and commodification of a spiritual practice based in the negation of ego.

Read it all here.