‘Understanding Power’ with Noam Chomsky

“…the terms of political discourse are designed so as to prevent thought.”

-Noam Chomsky
Understanding Power – Noam Chomsky

Understanding Power is an illuminating book written in question-and-answer format and based on transcripts from seminars and a wide range of discussions with Noam Chomsky. It traverses a number of topics, such as the developments of US foreign policy, international economics, activists’ strategies and challenges, the progress of activism in changing the world, the role of media in shaping the way we think, and a whole lot more.

Chomsky explores issues such as the media’s whitewashing of reality, the corporate takeover of politics, and how economies are framed and in whose best interest they are so framed. He opens our eyes to the nature of power and what it can do when it’s not checked and left unexposed.

Understanding Power is an eye-opening read, it is an enlightening compilation of Chomsky’s political thought, backed by factual information. It will change the way you see the world, stimulate your mind and get you to think for yourself.

The Beauty of Strong Female Relationships in Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’

Celie narrates her life through letters to God, where she lays out her journey from her traumas to when she finds a sense of empowerment. As a young girl she is abused and raped by her father, and after giving birth twice her father takes away both babies and lets her believe they’ve been killed. She also loses her mother and when the widower, Albert, comes over to their house wanting to marry her younger sister Nettie, her father refuses and offers the “ugly” and uneducated Celie instead.

It is an abusive and unhappy marriage, where she spends all her time looking after Albert and his litter of children. Nettie stays with them for a little while but Albert’s interest in her causes her to flee, for so long that at some point Celie believes she’s dead.

Celie forms a bond with the woman her husband is in love with – Shug. There is also her step-son’s wife Sofia. As the story progresses, we see how the passive Celie learns how to assert herself and change the tone of her personal story. The friendship she has with these women become a good place of refuge, she finds ears that listen, voices that encourage and their presence and the bonds they share play a role in her growth and confidence.

The Color Purple is a significant and vital book which explores themes which have been and are still necessary to be heard. There is the strength of self-expression, language and how one can assert themselves, eventually freeing themselves through finding and using their voice. Race and oppression are also big themes of the story, as well as abuse and the distorted beliefs about relationships between men and women.

The form of letters to tell the story, along with the rural English Celie uses, help create a genuine narrator, one we can feel for and journey with. It’s an impressive book, keeps you turning its pages and has such a strong and powerful message to share.

The book was adapted into a film in 1985, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah, Danny Glover, Desreta Jackson, Margaret Avery, and other incredible actors.

Rereading “A Very Easy Death” by Simone de Beauvoir

The unkind sport between death and dying.

There are many who looked to January 2021 as the arrival of new beginnings, fresh starts, and with less of last year’s bullshit. For some, the year started as the second version of 2020 – more Covid cases, deaths, the loss of jobs, and just that 2020 dick signature move of toppling over people’s lives.

I recently lost a loved one after they battled with illness and old age. Of course, it’s expected of a nonagenarian to go anytime but what is heavy is watching them suffer through illness, their body slowly taking its time to sign out. The past few weeks reminded me of A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir, and a story has never felt more profound, more stitched to my reality than this one has. So, I reread it and wanted to repost the review.

A Very Easy Death is a poignant day-to-day account of her mother’s last weeks on her deathbed. Simone de Beauvoir writes honestly and compassionately about the race between pain and death that her mother goes through.

A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir

After a fall, a fracture of the neck of the femur is diagnosed. With more problems arising they finally discover cancer. At 78, Mme de Beauvoir has been widowed for more than twenty years and has two daughters.

From what seemed to be nothing to serious, Mme de Beauvoir’s body sinks into a devastating hole of rapidly deteriorating health. The doctors’ efforts to keep her alive through surgery and medication seem cruel than helpful, as her mother’s suffering intensifies. Simone bears witness to all these moments of how the illness tortures her mother.

“For the first time I saw her as a dead body under suspended sentence.”

– Simone de Beauvoir, A Very Easy Death

This raw story really shows the tragedy of dying and how worse it is to be dying than death itself. It also shows how lonely death can be, and how helpless the ones close to the dying person can be. The false hopes and the witnessing of pain and death playing a brutal game of tug-of-war. De Beauvoir records her despair, one greater than she had felt when her father and other family members died.

It’s intelligently written, as one would expect nothing less from Simone de Beauvoir. It’s brief and powerful, moving, and shocking. Beautiful and tragic at the same time.  

If you’re going through or have gone through the same experience, of anticipatory grief, this book can let you know that you’re not alone. It’s a lonely place to be, for the one dying and the one witnessing this process. I hope it helps.

Heal. At your own pace.