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1 June 2020
Vol. X, No. 7

1 June 2020: “We Wear the Mask”

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,/It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—/This debt we pay to human guile;/With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,/And mouth with myriad subtleties./Why should the world be over-wise,/In counting all our tears and sighs?/Nay, let them only see us, while/We wear the mask./We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries/To thee from tortured souls arise./We sing, but oh the clay is vile/Beneath our feet, and long the mile;/But let the world dream otherwise,/We wear the mask!”—by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Our June 1st Issue Is Dedicated to John Nolan (1947-2020).

“Woman Wearing Black Mask.”

“Woman Wearing Black Mask.” (Photo: PickPik.)

Portrait of Bojidara Dyulgerova, by Dimitar Hristov.

Portrait of Bojidara Dyulgerova, by Dimitar Hristov.

This 1st of June issue of Weekly Hubris finds all of us, here, there, everywhere, masked. Were still speaking (through folds of fabric); writing, on occasion (with gloved hands), but we are . . . distancing. Were grateful you, our readers, are still with us: we intend, for the duration, to abide with you. This week, we lead with a sermon in honor of Black Lives by the Rev. Robin K. White. William A. Balk, Jr. follows, writing from his Lowcountry garden and busy kitchen. Mark Addison Kershaw sends single-panel toons from Atlanta and environs (mostly environs). Playwright Helen Noakes considers point and counterpoint from San Francisco. Anita Sullivan, from Oregon, considers the pandemic as metaphor, and more. Claire Bateman features, in her own space, the work of poet Tom Sturch. Climate scientist Dr. Guy McPherson, from Florida, continues his final lecture. Assistant Editor Tim Bayer, from New York, admires a mad, mad Photoshopper. Annie Carroll Maffeo, sequestered with husband and toddler-son in Illinois, recalls, wistfully, her work as an extrovert. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, in her Cassandra mask, writes about President Doom from her Pendleton, South Carolina porch.

About the artwork featured on our 1 June Home Page: Our banner image, Woman Wearing Black Mask, derives from the royalty-free images on PickPik. To the right, the portrait of another masked woman was taken by Bulgarian photographer Dimitar Hristov, one of whose portrait collections is titled The Mask.” Follow Hristov, and shop his collections, via his Facebook page.

In this terrible time, marginalized peoplehomeless people, LGBTQ people, old people living in congregant communities, poor people, mentally ill people, undocumented people, simple people, ignorant peopleare all especially at risk. Listen to poet Maya Angelous reading of Paul Laurence Dunbars poem above, We Wear The Mask.

Minneapolis protester carries the carries a US flag upside down, a sign of distress, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez.)

Minneapolis protester carries the carries a US flag upside down.

Wing + Prayer

“I Can’t Breathe: Acts II, By The Reverend Robin White

ANDERSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Pentecost is both a beginning and an ending, both alpha and omega. It is an ending because it concludes the Easter Season with the gift of the Holy Spirit and the fulfillment of the promise of the resurrected Christ. It is a beginning because it comprises the account of the inception of our Church: Pentecost is the Christian Church’s “creation story.” (Read more . . .)

Not a tale of isolation and quarantine.

Not a tale of isolation and quarantine.

Epicurus’ Porch

“Welcome to The Masquerade,” By William A. Balk, Jr.

ELKO South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Like many of us all over the world, I’m exhausted by all the non-stop, ubiquitous ‘Rona stories consuming all the air in the room. Also like many of us, I have managed to remember a few interests and hobbies from “before,” activities to divert from the perpetual threat of depression and the recurring urge to spit on unmasked shoppers on my once-a-week trip to the grocers to quickly stock up on essentials. (Read more . . .)

Fix the mess in Washington.Addison

“Not Quite Beyond The Pale,” By Mark Addison Kershaw

ATLANTA Georgia—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Editor’s Note: If you attend to Mark Addison Kershaw on Facebook, you will encounter a person of very little language, spoken or written, accompanied by a dog, enamored of a cat; someone who, even before the current plague, stuck pretty close to home. He comes armed with a pen (for drawing) and a camera (for preserving Georgia wildlife in situ), and infuses all he does and casts his eye upon with gentle (if sometimes a tad ribald) wit. His cast of characters is familiar; his familiars are familiar. But he stands at an angle to the pale; to the world or situation or predicament as perceived by . . . the rest of us. (Read more . . .)

Hubble telescope image of space. (Photo: NASA.)

Hubble telescope image of space.

Waking Point

“Point/Counterpoint,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Point: So now you know how it feels, waiting for death./Possible death./The fear might be worse than the dying, you finally conclude./The conclusion rising from the shift of time; time gliding from terror to exhaustion, gliding silently, imperceptibly,/perniciously to steal away all hope./And you see the fools who stride towards death, dragging the hapless with them./You see the predators, stealing, betraying, sacrificing the lives of others to appease what? (Read more . . .)

William Blake, “Job’s Evil Dreams,” no. 11 of the Butts Job illustrations. (Morgan Library and Museum.)

William Blake’s “Job’s Evil Dreams,” no. 11 of the Butts Job illustrations.

On the Other Hand

“What Does It Mean to be Alive?” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Buried inside the COVID-19 pandemic there is a powerful and familiar conflict of fundamental needs. The need for life, the need for death. The need for clarity, the need for someone to blame, the need for justice. The need to protect those most vulnerable and the need to preserve the health and sanity of those less vulnerable. Life-wish/Death-wish; Darkness/Light.All of these needs, in constant flux, morph into and out of becoming commitments to or violations of the right to lead a normal, decent lifea life with form and meaning. (Read more . . .)

Poet Tom Sturch.

Poet Tom Sturch.

Speculative Friction

“The Poet Tom Sturch,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—Tom Sturch, husband to his favorite reader and father to adult sons, lives in Tampa, Florida and keeps a small landscape architecture practice. He discovered poetry about eight years ago as another way to enjoy place-making and way-finding. The inhabitants of his messy garden and trips to the beach source his works, which can be found published in St. Katherine ReviewGargoyleRelief Journal, and Jesus the Imagination. (Read more . . .)

“Witches' Sabbath (The Great He-Goat),” by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1821-1823).

“Witches’ Sabbath,” by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes.

Going Dark

“There is Always an Answer,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020— “There is always an answer.” I heard it growing up. I hear it still. Every problem, no matter how thorny, has a solution. If we apply enough knowledge, creativity, and hard work, we can do anything. This idea is false, of course. Some challenges cannot be overcome. The cost, monetary and otherwise, is too great to solve some problems. No expenditure of money will preserve human life without air, water, and food. No expenditure of money or cleverness will undo thousands of years of adding too many people to an overpopulated planet. (Read more . . .)

Making a super hero.

Making a super-hero.

Won Over By Reality

“Fridman Fixing Photos,” By Tim Bayer

FAIRPORT New York(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020— Fridman delivers some very entertaining modifications of photos folks send to him. Here are just 40 of the Photoshop requests hes received. See if you can predict how James will modify any given image. And, if you’re seeking an epic photo-fail of your own, contact the genie at jamesfridman.com. (Read more . . .)

Thousands of people waiting to arrive. My job may never be the same.

My job may never be the same.

Working Through Motherhood

“All the Subtlety We Cannot See (on a Zoom Call),” By Annie Carroll Maffeo

BATAVIA Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—I have spent my life fluctuating between introvert and extrovert. Depending on my age and time of life, I have identified either as minimally extroverted or minimally introverted. My work, trade show director, means I can spend days speaking and interacting with hundreds if not thousands of people. But, at the end of an event, I need days to recover, folding myself back into my tiny little bubble of family, energy sapped by the non-stop socialization.  (Read more . . .)

Panel from the Ludovisi Throne.

Panel from the Ludovisi Throne.

Weekly Hubris

“Cassandra of South Carolina,” By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—From where I sit, virtually housebound, on a still-unfinished and haphazardly built wraparound porch, on a little-used, badly-paved road, in a tiny Upcountry South Carolina town, I look out on a massive oak in full leaf (my neighbor, Davie’s, pride) and a hoary magnolia in full bloom; the latter, one of the primary reasons we bought this acre of land some three years ago. There are bird feeders to which purple finches, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, and all the local varieties of hummingbird are attached, all day long. (Read more . . .)

Salvador Dalí's “Persistence of Memory” displayed at Norrmalmstorg in downtown Stockholm, 2019.

Salvador Dalí’s “Persistence of Memory.”

Speculative Friction

“Dear People of The Future,” By Claire Bateman

GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—Dear People of The Future, Here in 2020, the vast territory of what was allegedly the near-past seems distant, diffuse. The clasp of a hand, the kinetic buzz of a crowd, the lightest contact with a shared surface—these must have been eons ago. Paradoxically, on the other hand, “right now” is extremely constricted, yet it engulfs us so we can’t see beyond it. That’s why we need a designated verb tense for this indeterminate present. What day is this, we wonder, what month? The one thing we’re not foggy about, however, is the time. (Read more . . .)

Companions, on Duke St. (minus one elsewhere Australian shepherd) for the duration.

Companions, on Duke St. (minus one elsewhere Australian shepherd) for the duration.

By Way of Being

“While I Breathe, I Hope?” Via Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—Dear Ones, Even before the virus we’re all calling COVID-19 jumped the hair’s-breadth caesura, the lark-wide hiatus, between some unfortunate prey animal and the animals that hunted it, people, I had gone largely silent. I’d been so stunned by my own long, multifarious illness as to be rendered mute. And that was before the pandemic. Long before. I had two years to practice groveling and trembling before COVID-19. (Read more . . .)

Ray White with granddaughters McKenna and Rachel.

Ray White with granddaughters McKenna and Rachel.

Wing + Prayer

“I Will Take You to Myself: John 14: 1-4, By The Reverend Robin White

ANDERSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Here we are again. Rather, here I am, wishing you here with me. I hope you will take a minute to read the scripture and look at the outline of it included at the foot of this column. If you will bear with me, I want to try to explain something I find fascinating about our Lectionary reading for this week, which comes from Chapter 24 of Luke. (Read more . . .)

Courage in the time of COVID.

Courage in the time of COVID.

Waking Point

“A Letter to the Front Lines,” By Helen Noakes

SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—When you called to tell me not to worry. To stay home, wear a mask, wash my hands, but not worry. I listened, because I knew that your words meant more than all the barking idiots at White House podiums. Because I knew that your level-headed efficiency in dealing with the worst human maladies was famous. I listened because it was you, the lovely little girl who’d grown into a powerhouse of service and a well of compassion. (Read more . . .)

Bee orchid, just one of the four or five different species thriving in the field in March.

Bee orchid, just one of the four or five different species thriving in the field in March.

Eating Well Is The Best Revenge

“Letter From Athens, Greece,” By Diana Farr Louis

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—Dearest E, Please forgive me for not writing sooner. These past few weeks have been so strange. Theoretically, I have more time than ever before—no work, no appointments, no outings—and yet I don’t manage to get anything done. My to do list is endless but it mostly consists of making (or receiving) lengthy phone calls or answering emails, and they get checked off a few at a time, while others are added, so it never gets any shorter. I haven’t started a new project, have read maybe three-four books, and I can’t even pretend that I’ve been spending all this time cleaning the house or sorting out the storeroom in the basement. (Read more . . .)

View of the Thermaic Gulf and Mt. Olympus from my living room balcony.

View of the Thermaic Gulf and Mt. Olympus from my living room balcony.

Imagination’s Favors

“Letter From Thessaloniki, Greece,” By Don Schofield

THESSALONIKI Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—I have to admit that in some ways this staying-in-place is life as usual. I’m retired now (after six years, the words still feel strange in my mouth), so spend lots of time at home, writing, reading, texting with friends. In my everyday social life, I can go for days without talking to anyone, except, when I see my neighbors, go shopping for groceries, or get the occasional phone call. I love being alone, love leading a quiet, slow-paced life, one that affords me the time to go deep into my imagination.  (Read more . . .)

Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.

Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael.

Going Dark

“What I Have Learned,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—15 May 2020—I have learned a lot since I voluntarily left active service as a tenured professor at a major university. I was 49 years old when I cut the monetary cord on 1 May 2009, the day most of the world celebrates workers. I will share some of the hard-earned knowledge I have gained in this short essay. Perhaps doing so will prevent others from making some of the many mistakes I have made. Perhaps I can continue to encourage learning, creativity, and pushing beyond the shackles of the culture into which I was born. (Read more . . .)

Home, minus most of the traffic.

Home, minus most of the traffic.

West Side Stories

“Letter from Manhattan, New York,By Ross Konikoff

MANHATTAN New York—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—I was dumping an extremely large and loud bag full of peanuts into a plastic container when Deborah walked into the kitchen to see what all the noise was about. I said, “I’m just organizing the peanuts.” She said, “By size?” I laughed and then she left. I thought for a minute and then thought, why not? I dumped them all out again and started putting them back in, one at a time, starting with the largest on the bottom, diminishing in size as the pile grew. That took about 15 minutes. Now, I have nothing to do again. (Read more . . .)

Thatched Cottage, Aynho, Northamptonshire. (Photo: AJTooth.)

Thatched Cottage, Northamptonshire.

By Way of Being

“Letter from An Unnamed English Village,” Via Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

SOMEWHERE IN RURAL ENGLAND—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Dear Elizabeth, I’ve titled this piece “Shored Against My Ruins,” and I would prefer that you not publish it under my name. This is not going to be about the virus. It’s not going to be about death or sickness or economic collapse or poverty or plague or social apocalypse. I’m tired of reading about all this, sick of hearing about it, and I have nothing to add to what every journalist and real or would-be writer has already said. Instead, it’s a letter from middle age, which just happens to coincide with all those things.  (Read more . . .)

Grave stele of Hegeso, c. 410 BCE, marble and paint (National Archaeological Museum, Athens).

Grave stele of Hegeso, c. 410 BCE.

Going Dark

“Letter from Maitland, Florida,” By Dr. Guy McPherson

MAITLAND Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Dear Mom and Dad, I know the lockdown is inconvenient for you, as it is for most of us living in this country. I suspect it will get worse before it gets better. Nobody wants to hear it, of course, and I do not want to say it. It is the evidence that makes argumentation so difficult. Our own inconvenience pales in comparison to other locations. We hear from our friends in Belize quite frequently, and the stories are amazing. Banks, pharmacies, and grocery stores are closed indefinitely. These folks know how to implement a lockdown! (Read more . . .)

Cartoon by Andy Marlette.

Pinhead Angel 

“Letter from Gainesville, Florida,” By Burt Kempner

GAINESVILLE Florida—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Dear Steve: OK, it’s time to take the Flori-DUH and Florida Man memes off the shelf again (they don’t stay up there long enough to get dusty, do they?). But this time the humor is running heavily on the gallows side. I sent you a photo a couple of months ago of our hapless governor, Ron DeSantis, holding a press conference wearing only one glove and scratching his nose with the ungloved hand. Last week, he demonstrated that after all this time he still doesn’t know how to put on a mask. At a time when we need an FDR, we get Benny Hill instead. (Read more . . .)

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, King’s Sutton.

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church, King’s Sutton.

Polemicist on Holiday

“Letter from King’s Sutton, South Northamptonshire, UK,” By Michael House, FRGS

KING’S SUTTON England—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—My Dear Elizabeth, I’m not sure who is worse off, leadership-wise, we in UK or our friends in the USA. While your vile nincompoop is in full flow, advising people to inject themselves with detergent, ours is recovering from a bout of COVID 19 brought on by his own laziness, stupidity, and arrogance. In March, he visited a hospital and shook hands with infected patients. Unfortunately, we have our own Mike Pence in the shape of Johnson’s deputy, a man called Dominic Raab. (Read more . . .)

Her name is Emily. She seems nice.

Her name is Emily. She seems nice.

Won Over By Reality

“Letter from Fairport, New York,” By Tim Bayer

FAIRPORT New York(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—In a self-imposed two-week quarantine after possible face-to-face contact with someone infected with COVID-19, I thought I would keep a Stay At Home Log . . . . Stay at Home, Day 1: She seems nice. I get very focused and I have been told that, sometimes, I can miss out on other parts of life. When I get up from my computer and go to the kitchen, there is a woman there. Her name is Emily. She says she is a teacher and is home because schools are closed. She seems nice. (Read more . . .)

The all but deserted campus of Clemson University. (Photo: E. B-Hering.)

The all but deserted campus of Clemson University.

Skip the B.S.

“Letter from Clemson, South Carolina,” By Dr. Skip Eisiminger

CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Social contact is as vital a human requirement as fresh air, water, and food. Strike your thumb with a hammer, and the pain registers in the same part of the brain as isolation. Fast for a couple of days, and your hunger registers in the same place as the pain of isolation. Share some milk-, not bitter-, chocolate with a friend, and the gustatory pleasure becomes more enjoyable. Stick your hand in a bucket of ice water, and the tactile pain increases if a friend is sharing the water. Watch a live demonstration, and you’ll remember more of it than if you watch a taped demonstration. (Read more . . .)

“Emmaus,” by Janet Brooks-Gerloff (1947-2008).

“Emmaus,” by Janet Brooks-Gerloff (1947-2008).

Wing + Prayer

“Letter from Anderson, South Carolina, By The Reverend Robin White

ANDERSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Here we are again. Rather, here I am, wishing you here with me. I hope you will take a minute to read the scripture and look at the outline of it included at the foot of this column. If you will bear with me, I want to try to explain something I find fascinating about our Lectionary reading for this week, which comes from Chapter 24 of Luke. (Read more . . .)

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in mid-March. (Photo: Andrew Garver.)

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in mid-March.

Pawprints on My Ceiling

“Letter from Athens, Greece,” By Judith Lawrence Blish

ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—I live in Greece and my children—stepchildren, legally, but heartwise my own—live in  America. (Remember America? My country ‘twas of thee?) I haven’t seen them for years. We stay in close touch on Skype. Stepmothers, too, see their children by maternal timescope—ever children. My Beth, a very intelligent grownup who has written a popular book on burnout, old enough to be a grandmother herself but still my little girl, has been planning a visit to Greece, touching base with her other connections in Europe. (Read more . . .)

Aerial view of Ghent, Belgium.

Aerial view of Ghent, Belgium.

Trying to Figure It Out

“Letter from Ghent, Belgium,” By Dr. Jozefien De Bock

GHENT Belgium—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—I am writing this letter from the terrace of our tiny but lovely courtyard, with my back to our tiny but lovely 19th-century workman’s house in one of the poorer neighborhoods of Ghent. We are lucky with the set-up for our quarantine. Both working in education and research, we can work from home. Blessed with a one-year-old baby, we are never ever, bored. In Belgium, “lockdown light” began on March 13th and should end around May 15th, or so we are being told. All restaurants and cafés are closed—for a party-city like Ghent, this was unimaginable, until it happened. (Read more . . .)

Willamette River and Coburg Hills from the Owosso Bridge, Eugene, OR.

Willamette River and Coburg Hills from the Owosso Bridge, Eugene, OR.

On the Other Hand

“Letter from Eugene, Oregon,” By Anita Sullivan

EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—1 May 2020—Dear Outside World, I’m standing on a footbridge that crosses the Willamette River, halfway through a popular 3 ½-mile asphalt bike and pedestrian loop. I live about a mile from this trail, so it is my “local” one. I’m looking north at some gorgeous, purple-ish dark green-ish mountains on the other side of a highway. Behind me in the spring sunshine people are biking, walking their dogs, seriously striding along or, like me, just wandering with my binoculars hoping to catch sight of some herons later on in the wetland component of the trail. (Read more . . .)

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