Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Love Supreme


'A man who has never seen the world, never lived as a stranger among foreigners, who has never known a life and culture other than his own is in some way limited. He cannot help but feel his own way of life to be superior, to be the only way. This was one of the poisons I saw seeping into my company in Iraq from the beginning: parochialism, ignorance, knowing nothing about Islam or the Middle East, or any other society outside American cities like Tampa or St. Petersburg...


Many people believe in good and evil. Just that, that simple: good on one side, evil on the other. By default, we are always on the good side. This means that any who oppose us must logically be evil. Buddhism tends to take a circumspect view of good and evil, avoiding that distinction entirely and instead speaking of "positive" and "negative" actions as measured by their effect in the world. It is never as final and absolute as good and evil. Yet duality invades every level of society, from religous sermons to the political rhetoric that drove us into the Iraq war.


The absoluteness of good and evil is an incredibly dangerous doctrine, dangerous in the wrong hands and without proper restraint. I believe that experience demonstrates that never in life is anything wholly good or evil. Good and evil are metaphors, signposts to guide us in the right direction. To render good and evil as actual physical truth is to render an infinitely complex moral world into absurd black and white. Further still, to hold that truth out to the mass of humanity and invite them to act upon it is to invite disaster and fanaticism'
- from The Sutras of Abu Ghraib by Aidan Delgado. The author spent a year with the U.S. Army Reserve in Iraq where he worked in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, and the book charts his progress from soldier to Buddhist and conscientous objector and it is essential reading. My quote is verbatim. I am only too well aware that Telford and St. Albans in England can be substituted for Tampa and St. Petersburg without in any way altering the message.


I will be celebrating the Western Easter this Sunday (March 23) on Future Radio with A Love Supreme, and the main work in the programme is John Coltran's legendary 1964 four movement jazz suite of that name. Before Coltrane's 'gift to God' I am playing music by the Yuval Ron Ensemble. This group has been working since 1999 to break down national, racial, religious and cultural divides using the sacred and folk music of the Middle East. The Ensemble includes Jewish, Arabic and Christian Armenian musicians, and they are all actively involved in building musical bridges between people of different faiths and cultures. In the programme they will be playing music and song, appropriately, from Iraq, and also from Muslim and Jewish Andalucia. Listen online at 5.00pm UK time Sunday March 23 with a repeat at 12.50am on Monday morning for transatlantic listeners.


Now visit the green hill far away seen in the photo above here.
Photos are of five great manifestations of A Love Supreme, the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, Norfolk and the Neue Synagogue, Berlin (both copyright On An Overgrown Path 2008), the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul, the Potala Palace, Lhasa and the Taizé Community, France. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

11 comments:

Pliable said...

Interesting review of a concert in London yesterday built around the theme of war -

http://music.guardian.co.uk/classical/livereviews/story/0,,2266667,00.html

Pliable said...

And we are off to Aldeburgh tomorrow to hear the Dufay Collective and the Spanish-based Arab group Alquimia in an exploration of Arab-Andalusian and Christian music -

http://www.aldeburgh.co.uk/events/event_listings/event_popup.cfm?id=1203

Pliable said...

Email received:

The Coltraine reminds me of another great "ecumenical" work from the 60's (ah, the opitimism of Vatican II), Joe Masters' Jazz Mass.

Also stemming from that movement is the great African Sanctus of David Fanshawe.

Cheers
David Cavlovic

Pliable said...

David, and there is Jacques Loussier's Mass Lumières.

I have never heard the Loussier Mass, and have never been able to find a copy of it on CD.

Does any reader have a copy?

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2006/12/i-would-destroy-all-these-high-tech.html

http://www.overgrownpath.com/2007/01/bach-chorales-secret-french-connection.html

Pliable said...

Email received:

Dear Bob,

Thank you very much for featuring the book, I thought it was a wonderful post and I'm glad my book could add something to the discussion.

Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help publicize your blog or help you out in any way.

Thanks again and best wishes,

Aidan Delgado

Drew80 said...

Were I an old man, Pliable, I would have suffered a heart attack upon reading this post.

Please permit me, as a lawyer, to point out that you are not in command of your basic facts about Aidan Delgado.

Aidan Delgado--now, there's a long-forgotten name from the past!

The media in the U.S., including and most especially the New York Times, dropped Aidan Delgado like a hot potato when it learned that he was a mechanic in the U.S. Army and therefore not privy to or present at events he--very, very briefly--first peddled to the news media and much later wrote about in his book.

Indeed, in 2005 the New York Times took the extraordinary and unprecedented measure of removing Bob Herbert's column about Aidan Delgado from its website, solely out of concerns about Delgado's veracity. I believe that the removal of Herbert's column about Delgado was the first such occurrence in the history of the website of the New York Times.

Delgado's absurd coke-bottle stories, more than anything else (even more than his documented absences from the events he purportedly witnessed), did him in and destroyed his credibility. It was Delgado's refusal to subject himself to interviews with the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets, after discrepancies in his stories were brought to the attention of the Times and other news organizations, that effectively caused his fall from public sight here. He has, deservedly, disappeared from view, making the occasional appearance with tiny Far-Left organizations on the West Coast and nothing more.

It is odd that you would attempt to resurrect such a discredited figure at such a late date, more than three years after major news organizations here determined that he was "unreliable", to put it as gently as possible, and fully washed their hands of him.

Surely you are aware that the U.S. government expended considerable time and considerable sums in an attempt to confirm Delgado's allegations, and was unable to do so. Delgado refused to provide the government with any evidence in support of his allegations. Moreover, Delgado refused to testify, on the record and under oath, in support of his allegations. No doubt Delgado's silence was a result of his awareness of the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1018, our "false statements to federal officials" statue, which is taken quite seriously here.

Delgado's book is "essential reading"? Hardly, unless filed under "fiction: fantasy".

The author had lost all credibility here long before his book appeared. His manuscript--whoever wrote it--was rejected by major publishers and brought out by an imprint, and his book was not even reviewed here, despite its obvious appeal to a Far Left insatiably hungry for such publications.

Delgado's book may well be an unparalled literary masterpiece, although I very much doubt it. However, as a factual presentation of anything, the book's narrative must be fatally compromised, because its author has been found, in all quarters, to be fatally compromised and untruthful.

One of the government lawyers, non-military, who worked on the Delgado matter, plans to write a book about Delgado's many conspicuous untruths, and the harm they caused to so many honorable individuals. It will be interesting to see how much attention Bob Herbert will devote to that.

Andrew

Pliable said...

Drew,

'Please permit me, as a lawyer, to point out that you are not in command of your basic facts about Aidan Delgado ...

Indeed, in 2005 the New York Times took the extraordinary and unprecedented measure of removing Bob Herbert's column about Aidan Delgado from its website, solely out of concerns about Delgado's veracity. I believe that the removal of Herbert's column about Delgado was the first such occurrence in the history of the website of the New York Times.'


That's strange, I'm sitting here looking at Herbert's article live on the NYT website, just as I did before I wrote the article - that's a basic fact, even though I'm not a lawyer.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/02/opinion/02herbert.html?_r=1

'Surely you are aware that the U.S. government expended considerable time and considerable sums in an attempt to confirm Delgado's allegations, and was unable to do so.'

That's strange, I read the same somewhere about the US and UK Government's claims about weapons of mass destruction.

'He has, deservedly, disappeared from view, making the occasional appearance with tiny Far-Left organizations on the West Coast and nothing more.'

That's strange, is Iraq Veterans Against War a "tiny Far-Left organisation on the West Coast"?

Yes, I was aware of the controversy the allegations and book caused, none of which are repeated in my quotes. I'm also aware of the controversy caused by the Iraq war.

As the article says - Yet duality invades every level of society, from religous sermons to the political rhetoric that drove us into the Iraq war.

Drew80 said...

Pliable:

Most Americans have forgotten about Aidan Delgado, if they ever heard of him in the first place.

The only reason Delgado’s name rang a bell with me is because, while I was in law school in Washington, a very, very respected Washington journalist, and a close friend of my father, was attempting to verify some of the claims Delgado made to Bob Herbert in preparation for a lengthy article about detention centers in Iraq. That journalist’s article about detention centers duly appeared, but Delgado’s name was not mentioned and Delgado’s claims were not addressed.

The New York Times indeed removed Bob Herbert’s column from its website for three weeks shortly after it was first published. There was great comment about this at the time. This was during the period that the New York Times and other news organizations were attempting to confirm Delgado’s allegations, without success. Purely and simply, news organizations learned, with a little digging, that Delgado could not have been present at events he claimed to have witnessed, at which point the media dropped him as a source. After the initial short burst of interest in Delgado had died out and he was no longer in the news, the New York Times put the Herbert column back on its website, no doubt because Herbert’s column was an opinion piece, and not a news story (the latter, under Times standards, would have required extensive corrections).

Life sometimes has strange twists and turns. Several months after Delgado’s brief period of notoriety ended, I learned that a friend of mine, a civilian lawyer, had been appointed to the panel investigating Delgado’s claims. Every effort was extended to Delgado to collect evidence and testimony in support of his claims, without result.

Persons who have spent considerable time investigating the Delgado allegations—journalists, government investigators, attorneys both military and civilian—have concluded that he is unreliable and, further, that his standardized test scores put into sharp question the authorship of his book.

If you visit Delgado’s personal website, you may observe the handful of minor public appearances listed thereon.

Aidan Delgado is forgotten here.

Andrew

Pliable said...

Drew - 'Aidan Delgado is forgotten here.

What a shame. I hope my article draws some attention to his book and the war that it is about.

Pliable said...

Interesting to note that the copy of Aidan Delgado's The Sutras of Abu Ghraib came from the wonderful 2nd Air Division Memorial Library in Norwich where it is a recent addition.

One of Board of Governors is the Cultural Attache at the American Embassy in London.

http://www.2ndair.org.uk/2admemlib/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=7828

Drew80 said...

The occupation of Iraq is not forgotten here, I assure you. It is a topic of constant discussion everywhere.

A very Happy Easter to you, Pliable.

Andrew