Tag Archives: awareness



18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons,hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students. Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.


Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis


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Bill Hicks – Revelations (1993)

Hicks’ follow-up show to Relentless, recorded at the Dominion Theatre in London:

I wondered about that too, you know during the Persian Gulf war those intelligence reports would come out:

“Iraq: incredible weapons – incredible weapons.”

How do you know that?

“Uh, well… We looked at the receipts Haar.”

“Ah but as soon as that cheque clears, we’re going in.”

“What time’s the bank open? 8? We’re going in at 9.”

“We’re going in for God and country and democracy and here’s a foetus and he’s a Hitler. Whatever you fucking need, let’s go. Get motivated behind this, let’s go!”

Ohoh looks like Mr. Major was on the hot seat there for a second too. Little Iraqgate, little rapscallion he is.

“Did we send, did I… did… I’ll have to check Maggie’s old calendar.”

What’s funny about this. Every one of your papers says that you guys sold Iraq “machine tools”… which Iraq then converted into military equipment. I have news for you folks, a cannon is a machine tool. Your Orwellian language notwithstanding, it’s a fucking machine, it’s a tool.

Our papers in the States have the same thing. We sold Iraq “farming equipment” which Iraq then “converted”. How do they do this?

“Simsalabim simsalabim aa salabim sim sim sim salabim.”

Wow! It was a chicken coop, it’s now a nuclear reactor!”

“This war’s for Aladdin.” Farming equipment which they converted into military, okay, you got me I’m curious, exactly what kind of farming equipment is this?

“Oh okay, well it’s stuff for the farmers of Iraq.”



“Ooh okay, ar well ooh one of the things we gave them was for the little farmer, a new thing we came up with called er the er, flame-throwing rake.”

“No it was for the farmer, see. He would rake the leaves and then just turn around Boooo.”

“But you know what the Iraqis did with that?”

There’s no trees in Iraq, what are you sending them rakes for, you asshole?

“We could have done our research better perhaps yes.”

What else did you sell ’em?

“Okay er one of the other things we gave ’em was a new thing… for the farmer.”

“The, er, armoured tractor.”

“No, see, farmers when they farm look over their shoulders at times and they won’t see a tree and they’ll hit it maybe and there’ll be a wasps nest in the tree and the wasps will come in and sting ’em.”

“So we put four inches of armour all over the tractor. And a turret to shoot pesticides on the wasps.”

“Yeah but you know what the Iraqis did with that?”

“Can’t trust ’em.”

I’m so sick of arming the world and then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries then we go and blow the shit out of em. We’re like the bullies of the world, you know. We’re like Jack Palance in the movie Shane… Throwing the pistol at the sheep herder’s feet:

“Pick it up.”

“I don’t wanna pick it up mister, you’ll shoot me.”

“Pick up the gun”.

“Mister, I don’t want no trouble huh. I just came down town here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don’t even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff. I ain’t looking for no trouble mister.”

“Pick up the gun.”

Boom bom

“You all saw him. He had a gun.”

Full Transcript:


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The Alchemical Dream

In The Alchemical
a film produced by Sacred Mysteries and directed by Sheldon Rochlin, visionary
author and counterculture luminary Terence McKenna relates some of the curious
history of European alchemy, and the attempted creation of a religious utopia
based on alchemical principles. Dressed as the famed Hermetic magician John Dee,
McKenna strolls wistfully through the crumbling ruins and sweeping castle vistas
of Eastern Europe discussing the lost secrets of alchemy. He gives us a tour of
the last remaining alchemical laboratory in Heidelberg, and tells a fascinating
story of political intrigue and bohemian experimentation in the 16th century.

The alchemists were after what McKenna describes as a “magical theory of
nature.” They used precise and calculated methods that would pave the way for
the future intellectual development of some important sciences such as
chemistry, biology, phenomenology, and psychology. Their intention was to
transform the human spirit and the physical body itself into something divine
and wholly other, something resembling the odd and spectacular alchemical art of
the time. They experimented with myriad combinations of special chemicals,
magical formulas, and complex distillation processes designed to produce the
fabled “philosopher’s stone”: a metaphorical goal which can be read in many
ways. In essence, the alchemists were trying to bring heaven down to earth by
merging spiritual mysticism with the physiological exploration of alchemical

According to McKenna, the group of European alchemists who centered around
John Dee and the British court of Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500’s believed
that the spiritual philosophy of alchemy was so profound and full of potential
that it should be embraced as the popular religious paradigm of the day. The
Christian preacher Martin Luther had started a Protestant reformation in 1517
with the 95 Theses and now, a century later, Dee felt that the world was ready
for an alchemical reformation. With this idea of a religious reformation in
mind, Dee and a group of court alchemists traveled to the palace of King
Frederick V of Bohemia in 1618 with the intention of establishing a new
alchemical kingdom.

This alchemical dream lasted for about a year before the Austrian dynasty of
the Hapsburg family got wind of the reformation plan and disapproved of
Frederick’s kingship, quickly dispatching an army to lay siege to the kingdom of
Bohemia and Frederick’s court. After a brief period of fighting Frederick was
defeated at the Battle of the White Mountain on November 8th, 1620, and the
Bohemian hopes of establishing an alchemical religious state were destroyed.
While the bulk of alchemical knowledge was lost to Western civilization after
this time, the intellectual threads of this esoteric philosophy can still be
found in the modern world.

As McKenna points out, this attempted reformation was not entirely dissimilar
to what happened in the social climate of America in the 1960’s with the
re-introduction of sacred plants into Western culture and the social upheaval
that occurred simultaneously. McKenna describes the drug revival of the 60’s as
a sort of “failed alchemy” whose ideal was to transform the human spirit, but
wound up as a splintered and marginalized movement, similar to alchemy. However,
although alchemy was lost to Western civilization for a few centuries, some of
the basic ideas can still be found scattered here and there in some esoteric
religious practices, mystical writings, transpersonal psychology and art history
books: themes of creativity, diversity, synchronicity, unions of opposites, and
personal psycho-spiritual exploration which were all an essential part of the
alchemical endeavor.

So while the dream of European alchemy may have apparently died in the 16th
century, the underlying motivation of the alchemists – a desire for innovative
and genuine spiritual experience – is a fundamental human characteristic that
can be traced through many different cultures and time periods. As an example of
this, at the end of The Alchemical Dream, McKenna makes an interesting
historical footnote about a young solider named Rene Descartes who was part of
the invading Hapsburg army which defeated the Bohemian kingdom. Shortly after
this time, Descartes was visited in a dream by an angelic apparition who
instructed him with a piece of advice which would fundamentally alter our world.
The angel said to him, “The conquest of nature is to be achieved through
measures and numbers.” Descartes would go on to become one of the most
influential scientists and philosophers of his day. For McKenna, this is a
perfect example of how the spirit of alchemy (the spirit of inner human
creativity) will continuously reappear at opportune moments and direct the
course of human events in mysterious ways which we can only begin to understand.

A trailer for the film is available on Google video. 

For more information or to request a screening, visit Sacred Mysteries.

via Reality
Sandwich | Tristan Gulliford

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