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Southern Cross Review

Review of fiction, education, science, current events,
essays, book reviews, poetry and Anthroposophy

Number 93, March - April 2014

"Bethsheba Receiving David's Letter"

Willem Drost (baptized 19 April 1633 - buried 25 February 1659) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and printmaker of history paintings and portraits who died young (25). He is a mysterious figure, closely associated with Rembrandt, with very few paintings clearly attributable to him. As a student, his 1654 painting titled Bathsheba was inspired by Rembrandt's painting done in the same year on the same subject and given the same title, though their treatments are rather different; both Drost’s and Rembrandt’s paintings are in the Louvre in Paris.
"David's Letter" refers to 2 Samuel 11: "One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying: I am pregnant.”



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Editor's Pageby Frank Thomas Smith

The Ugly Americanos

 
Last week I turned off the paved route onto the dirt road that runs up and through the village where I live. About fifty yards ahead a woman was struggling up the hill on foot with a shopping bag weighing her down in the heat. I stopped and motioned her to get in. She sat alongside of me with a sigh as she basked in the air conditioning. We exchanged the usual chatter about the heat and the bad road until finally, noticing my accent, she asked where I was from. I’m used to the question, so I often ask the interrogator to guess so we could both enjoy the game. Continue

The Teachings of Sgt Torcuato

 
It was pure nostalgia that made me stop by Rick's American Café in Frankfurt, Germany. Yes, Rick's should be in Casablanca, but that's only a movie. The German Rick's is real, although there's no Humphrey Bogart, only a German named Heinz who stole the name to attract the American military business. When I was in the army during the Korean War I used to hang out there, sort of. It was, after all, right around the corner from our billet, a solidly built prewar German apartment building. You see, I was in Military Intelligence, a.k.a Military Insipidence, so we wore civilian clothing and slithered around trying to look mysterious. Rick's Café was a Gasthaus where any Russkie or East German spy could get her fill of classified info... Continue



Interview

The Art of Fiction - Interview with Jorge Luis Borges

  
When Borges enters the library, wearing a beret and a dark gray flannel suit hanging loosely from his shoulders and sagging over his shoes, everyone stops talking for a moment, pausing perhaps out of respect, perhaps out of empathetic hesitation for a man who is not entirely blind. His walk is tentative, and he carries a cane, which he uses like a divining rod. He is short, with hair that looks slightly unreal in the way it rises from his head. His features are vague, softened by age, partially erased by the paleness of his skin. His voice, too, is unemphatic, almost a drone, seeming, possibly because of the unfocused expression of his eyes, to come from another person behind the face; his gestures and expressions are lethargic—characteristic is the involuntary droop of one eyelid. Continue



Fiction

The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges

 
On the burning February morning Beatriz Viterbo died, after braving an agony that never for a single moment gave way to self-pity or fear, I noticed that the sidewalk billboards around Constitution Plaza were advertising some new brand or other of American cigarettes. The fact pained me, for I realised that the wide and ceaseless universe was already slipping away from her and that this slight change was the first of an endless series. The universe may change but not me, I thought with a certain sad vanity. I knew that at times my fruitless devotion had annoyed her; now that she was dead, I could devote myself to her memory, without hope but also without humiliation. Continue


A Streetcar Named Karma by Frank Thomas Smith

 
A lecture
wasn't exactly what I had in mind for the evening, but there we were, Katrina and I, approaching the hall where it was to take place. A full moon shone into the narrow cobblestoned street. Its presence more or less guaranteed that there would be no more snow that night. That same day, I think it was early afternoon, I had boarded a streetcar and found a spot among the standees, when the clasp on my briefcase somehow opened as we rounded a sharp curve and the books and papers tumbled out. I bent to retrieve them and fell against another standee, knocking her over and falling almost on top of her. I stammered apologies in German, my native tongue, instead of Czech. My reaction was automatic, but the fact is that in that enlightened age all educated people in Prague spoke German. Hers was lightly accented. She helped me pick up my things, which were strewn around and soiled by the slush the passengers' shoes had tracked into the car... ... Continue

The Weaver's Fable by Paul Holler

 
I am called Leto. I am a woman of great privilege, born into one of the finest houses of Samos. When I was young, I married and became the lady of another fine house. I bore three children there. One, a daughter, lived to marry. She is now the lady of still another fine house. I am sure she is well. I had spent much of my life in a long room in the upper quarter of the house. A high window faced the courtyard and let in the light. Another small window at the opposite end of the room overlooked the road leading to the Agora. We worked in that room. Our looms stood along the walls surrounding the clutter of worn tables, drop spindles, shuttles, combs, baskets of newly sheared wool, heaps of washed and combed wool and finished cloth. Sometimes the other women of the house came by with talk of what passed in other rooms... Continue


Essay

Notes on Death and Love by John Salter

 
"She said she would help me unconditionally in whatever way I needed it. Looking back, this unconditionality was more medicine for my soul than anything a doctor could give me … I feel a slight sense of redemption for having eventually come round to what my holistic self knew. … The egocentric self has such a hold on us that it acts in fear whenever faced with its own mortality … I’ve also made hypocritical choices I don’t agree with, which put my narrow egocentric self above that of the whole … Unconditionality creates powerful bonds between people."
The above is an excerpt from Mark Boyle’s book The Moneyless Manifesto. The book relates the author’s experiences living without money, and this particular chapter concerns issues that arise when you’re moneyless and in need of medical care... Continue

Children's Corner

The Happy Prince / El príncipe feliz by Oscar Wilde

 
High above the city, on a tall column, stood the statue of the Happy Prince.  He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt. He was very much admired indeed.  "He is as beautiful as a weathercock," remarked one of the Town Councillors who wished to gain a reputation for having artistic tastes; "only not quite so useful," he added, fearing lest people should think him unpractical, which he really was not. "Why can't you be like the Happy Prince?" asked a sensible mother of her little boy who was crying for the moon. "The Happy Prince never dreams of crying for anything."... Continue

En la parte más alta de la ciudad, sobre una columnita, se alzaba la estatua del Príncipe Feliz.  Estaba toda revestida de madreselva de oro fino. Tenía, a guisa de ojos, dos centelleantes zafiros y un gran rubí rojo ardía en el puño de su espada.  Por todo lo cual era muy admirada. -Es tan hermoso como una veleta -observó uno de los miembros del Concejo que deseaba granjearse una reputación de conocedor en el arte-. Ahora, que no es tan útil -añadió, temiendo que le tomaran por un hombre poco práctico.  Y realmente no lo era. -¿Por qué no eres como el Príncipe Feliz? -preguntaba una madre cariñosa a su hijito, que pedía la luna-. El Príncipe Feliz no hubiera pensado nunca en pedir nada a voz en grito... Continuar


The Little Plant by K. L. Brown

 
In the heart of a seed
Buried deep, so deep,
A dear little plant
Lay fast asleep

Wake! said the sunshine
And creep to the light...
Continue


Features

Cry for me, Argentina by Roger Cohen

USHUAIA, Argentina — A bon mot doing the rounds in post-commodities-boom South America is that Brazil is in the process of becoming Argentina, and Argentina is in the process of becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is in the process of becoming Zimbabwe. That is a little harsh on Brazil and Venezuela. Argentina, however, is a perverse case of its own. It is a nation still drugged by that quixotic political concoction called Peronism; engaged in all-out war on reliable economic data; tinkering with its multilevel exchange rate; shut out from global capital markets; trampling on property rights when it wishes; obsessed with a lost little war in the Falklands (Malvinas) more than three decades ago; and persuaded that the cause of all this failure lies with speculative powers seeking to force a proud nation — in the words of its leader — “to eat soup again, but this time with a fork.” Continue

Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi by Rudy Ravindra

 
India, with a population of 1.2 billion, is a diverse country with Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other religious groups coexisting peacefully for the most part. India is also the largest democracy in the world, held free and fair elections during the past sixty six years, ever since the country became independent from the British rule. The Indian Constitution is loosely modelled after the British parliamentary system. Members of Parliament (M.P.) are elected from each state in the Union to represent that state at the central government. The leader of the political party which gets the majority of MPs, will become the Prime Minister, the chief executive of the government... Continue



Anthroposophy

Esoteric Lessons for the First Class of the School for Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum - Volume Two, Lessons Fifteen and Sixteen by Rudolf Steiner

   
Lesson Fifteen: We become aware, if we perceive the world around us correctly, how this world demands our intense attention. We look down at the lowest creatures and up at the glowing, sparkling stars in the sky. We look all around at the kingdoms of nature, much of what is derived from them being part of us. And we have every reason to deeply feel in our hearts and souls the sublimity, the cosmic importance and the majesty of all this. And participation in any kind of esoteric, in any spiritual science, should not tempt us to engage in false asceticism – to reject either the lowly worm or the majestic stars because they belong to the visible world – and not feel their greatness, their majesty and sublimity, nor feel the importance they have for us... Continue

Lesson Sixteen: "...Let us imagine it once more, for we cannot recall it to our souls too often. We see before us everything belonging to the kingdoms of nature. We observe the glorious heavenly bodies; we see the floating clouds; we see the wind and the waves, the thunder and lightning. We see everything from the humblest worm to the sublimest revelations in the glittering stars. Only a false asceticism, unrelated to true esotericism, could in any way despise this world that speaks to the senses. The person who wishes to be truly human can do nothing other than intimately relate to the sense-perceptible life, from the humblest creature to the majestic, divinely glittering stars..." Continue


Karmic Relations, Volume II, Lecture Thirteen by Rudolf Steiner

 
The ability to perceive karmic connections in human life demands a clear understanding of laws and conditions of existence with which, generally speaking, the man of modern times is entirely unfamiliar. For into the karmic connections extending from one earthly life into another, spiritual laws are working, spiritual laws which will be totally misconstrued if they are associated in the slightest degree with causation similar to what is meant when we speak in the ordinary way of cause and effect. Continue



True and False Paths of Spiritual Investigation by Rudolf Steiner

  
Yesterday I spoke of abnormal and pathological approaches to the spiritual world: the path through enrichment of inner understanding, the path of deeper penetration into the world of dream on the one hand, and on the other, the path which sets out to investigate the external manifestations of somnambulists and mediums by methods which are really a travesty of those of natural science. I pointed out that it is essential to follow both these paths and to pursue them purposefully if we are to develop true Initiation-knowledge. Today I propose to examine this problem more closely and to explore those cosmic influences to which man's consciousness and his total being are subject... Continue



Poetry

Sao Paulo Crack by Frank Thomas Smith

   
The cracked-up kid,
a dark reflection of man,
stands beneath the traffic light,
which pulses to amber,
then red.
The first wave of cars darts past,
then the smoking buses that never stop
for red.

Continue



Letters to the Editor

  
...Y en cuanto a la dura crítica a la Iglesia Católica... pues Rudolf Steiner tiene fundamentos sólidos. Ya leí las tres conferencias. En cuanto a mi sentimiento, sólo confirmó mi desprecio a la alta jerarquía católica. Conozco buenos hombres, sacerdotes católicos que se han asumido el verdadero mensaje de amor, aunque claro, desde la perspectiva dual (cuerpo-alma) y no la verdadera tripartita (cuerpo-alma-espíritu). Las lecturas me dejaron el sabor de boca de amargura y de rencor, pues los hombres malos, pequeños en sus aspiraciones materiales, han privado a muchos de la verdadera sabiduría. Sin embargo, así debe ser, pues no hay nada que salga del gran plan del Absoluto... aunque no entendamos el por qué. ¡En fin!... Continue


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