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

Number 116, January - February 2018


Charles August Mengin, (1853 - 1933, Paris) was a French painter of the Academic art movement. Educated by Alexandre Cabanel he first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1876. He is best known for his painting of Sappho, in the collection of the Manchester Art Gallery.
Sappho (c. 630 - c. 570 BC) was an archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung and accompanied by a lyre. Most of her poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem: the "Ode to Aphrodite". Her poetry was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, and she was among the canon of nine lyric poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria. Sappho's poetry is still considered extraordinary and her works continue to influence other writers. Beyond her poetry, she is well known as a symbol of love and desire between women.
Lesbos is different today. At the refugee and migrant camp called Moria, it is not Christmas but winter that is approaching. More than 6,000 souls fleeing the world's most violent conflicts - in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo - are crowded in a space meant for 2,330. The scene is grim: piles of trash, barbed wire, children wailing, rows of cheap summer tents with entire families crammed inside and fights regularly breaking out on the camp's periphery. The stench is overwhelming.

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Editor's Page

The Imposter Magi

A boy from the village ran into our yard at lunchtime on the fifth of January and announced at the top of his lungs that the Three Kings were coming to the schoolhouse that night at nine o'clock. That's how news in Las Chacras is announced - by word of mouth. I remembered that a neighbor had asked for a donation to buy sweets and balloons a few days before. Making enquiries on the main road, I found out that the Kings were scheduled to begin their descent to the school from the almacen at nine o'clock, which meant that they would more likely begin at nine-thirty and arrive at ten. My wife, twelve-year-old son and I left the house at nine-thirty for the fifteen minute walk to the one-room schoolhouse. We carried flashlights to light our way down the narrow dirt road. Although we know the road well, it is advisable not to walk without light in order to avoid the unpleasant surprise of stepping on a snake - poisonous or not - or a scorpion. My son is too old to believe that the Three Kings were coming to Las Chacras, but he wasn't adverse to receiving a bag of sweets and witnessing the spectacle.
Continue reading - Español

Current Events

The Trump Presidency - Or How to Further Enrich “The Masters of the Universe” by Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

David Barsamian: You have spoken about the difference between Trump’s buffoonery, which gets endlessly covered by the media, and the actual policies he is striving to enact, which receive less attention. Do you think he has any coherent economic, political, or international policy goals? What has Trump actually managed to accomplish in his first months in office?
Noam Chomsky: There is a diversionary process under way, perhaps just a natural result of the propensities of the figure at center stage and those doing the work behind the curtains. At one level, Trump’s antics ensure that attention is focused on him, and it makes little difference how... Continue reading

The Most Dangerous Man in the World by Tom Engelhardt

Let’s start with the universe and work our way in. Who cares? Not them because as far as we know they aren’t there. As far as we know, no one exists in our galaxy or perhaps anywhere else but us (and the other creatures on this all-too-modest planet of ours). So don’t count on any aliens out there caring what happens to humanity. They won’t. As for it -- Earth -- the planet itself can’t, of course, care, no matter what we do to it.  And I’m sure it won’t be news to you that, when it comes to him -- and I mean, of course, President Donald J. Trump, who reputedly has a void where the normal quotient of human empathy might be -- don’t give it a second’s thought.  Beyond himself, his businesses, and possibly (just possibly) his family, he clearly couldn’t give less of a damn about us or, for that matter, what happens to anyone after he departs this planet... Continue


A Visit to Heaven and Hell - Mapping Planet Earth by Eduardo Galeano

Free By day, the sun guides them. By night, the stars. Paying no fare, they travel without passports and without forms for customs or immigration. Birds are the only free beings in this world inhabited by prisoners. They fly from pole to pole, powered by food alone, on the route they choose and at the hour they wish, without ever asking permission of officials who believe they own the heavens. Shipwrecked: The world is on the move. On board are more shipwrecked souls than successful seafarers. Thousands of desperate people die en route, before they can complete the crossing to the promised land, where even the poor are rich and everyone lives in Hollywood. The illusions of any who manage to arrive do not last long. Continue reading.


Toto the Fourth by Frank Thomas Smith

After leaving behind from a relatively successful business career just as the re-engineering and downsizing craze began, I slouched with my eyes half-closed into retirement blues and hit bottom when my wife died. An old friend, sympathizing, invited me to spend a week or two at his home in a retirement village in Florida. The idea appealed to me about as much as taking home leftovers in a doggy-bag, but he was well-meaning and I wanted preserve our friendship, so I accepted. On the third day in Boca Raton I decided to go to the beach. My host excused himself, saying that the ocean was dangerous and there were no lifeguards on duty on weekdays and anyway there were several perfectly good pools in the Village. I drove past the entrenched retirement villages and shopping malls and over the drawbridge to the deserted beach. At the water's edge the rising sun cast a wavy red line across the sea from the horizon to my ankles. The sea was rough, but I've always been a good swimmer so it didn't worry me. I pushed my way through the breakers to where the chest-high water was relatively calm and floated with my eyes closed. As often happens recently, I went back not to yesterday but way beyond. The decades rolled through my mind like gently rocking waves, tempting me into a kind of half-sleep.
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Español - Toto Cuarto

Prospect Park - a mystery play (scenes 1 and 2 of seven scenes) by Frank Thomas Smith

KENNETH:[To the audience] I invited you here today in order to tell you about something extraordinary that happened to me recently here in Prospect Park. Thomas Wolfe wrote that “Only the dead know Brooklyn”. Maybe that's why it still has a bad reputation. Partly it's deserved of course, but not entirely. There are parts of Brooklyn that don't deserve a bad reputation. Brooklyn is very big, you know, and that's a reason why it's so hard to know. And it's only one borough of New York City, which is bigger than some countries, like Switzerland or Singapore. Actually New York City should secede from the Union and Brooklyn could then be a state, or province...don't you think? And Brooklyn could be divided into its original natural neighborhoods: Flatbush, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bay Ridge, Canarsie, Crown Heights, and the rest. Aren't they beautiful names? Continue

Love in the Time of Spies (2) by Frank Thomas Smith

Not that we were going anywhere or there was any reason for the march, except that it was in the training schedule: ten-mile night march with weapons and full field pack. That was during one of the hardest parts of the  Vietnam war when we were getting the shit kicked out of us by the Vietcong. That meant that there were very few noncoms and officers around to train new guys like us. In fact, we only had the Company Commander, Captain Nugent, who was an Enlisted Man at heart, but couldn’t help it if they gave him a battlefield commission for being a hero in Vietnam. He was full of shrapnel and stuff, which must have hurt a lot, so he consumed quite a bit of whiskey – you know, to ease the pain. Then there was First Sergeant Quinn, also a battle-scarred veteran. He ran the company, but I guess First Sergeants run most companies. The Field First Sergeant – the one who did the actual training – was Silas Taylor, a wiry little guy from Georgia who had spent a lot of time in Vietnam, was wounded a few times, and even had a Silver Star. I was surprised – we all were – when I learned that he was only twenty-one years old, because he had eyes that looked a lot older. Continue reading

Miryam - Part Six by Luise Rinser

Philippos, the strict Baptist disciple, said: Yes, Rabbi, but when a tree bears bad fruit, one cuts it down. Didn’t you once curse a fig tree because it bore no fruit in winter?
What are you talking about, Philippos! You’re talking nonsense. Who told you that? And you believed it?
Whether it happened of not, cursed or not, Rabbi: you expect too much.
Do I demand figs from you in winter? Didn’t the farmer have indulgence with the weeds? Doesn’t the housewife wait patiently until the dough is leavened? And doesn’t the shepherd look for every lost sheep? Why do you speak then of cursing? I don’t want damning and destruction, but life. I have come to bring peace. But before peace exists, rupture arises...
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Children's Corner

The Happy Prince 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." "I am glad there is some one in the world who is quite happy," muttered a disappointed man as he gazed at the wonderful statue."He looks just like an angel," said the Charity Children as they came out of the cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks and their clean white pinafores. Continue.


Bio-dynamic Agriculture Course - Lectures Three and Four plus a Q and A session by Rudolf Steiner

The earthly and cosmic forces of which I have spoken work in the processes of agriculture through the substances of the earth. And we shall only be able to move on to the different practical applications during the next few days if we occupy ourselves today more closely with the question of how these forces work through the earth's substances. But first we must make a digression and inquire into the activity of nature in general. One of the most important questions that can be raised in discussing agricultural production is that concerning the significance and influence of nitrogen on agriculture as a whole... Continue reading

Manicheism by Rudolf Steiner

We have been asked to say something about Freemasonry. This cannot be understood, however, until we have examined the original spiritual currents related to Freemasonry, which can be seen as its sources. An even more important spiritual current than Rosicrucianism was Manicheism. So first we need to speak about this much more important movement and then, at a later time, we can shed a light on Freemasonry. What I have to say on this subject is connected with various things which influence the spiritual life of today and will influence it in time to come. And to illustrate how one who is actively engaged in this field constantly comes across something — if only obliquely — I would point out, by way of introduction, that on many occasions I have described the problem of Faust as of particular importance for modern spiritual life. Continue reading

Spiritual-scientific Cosmology - Lecture 3 of 3 - by Rudolf Steiner

A week ago, I tried to explain the manner of thinking, so strange to western minds, through which the theosophist attains his insights and knowledge of the cosmos. The sketchy character these lectures necessarily have prevents me from delving more profoundly into theosophical cosmology. Nevertheless, I will attempt today to give you at least a picture in descriptive form of the origin of the world based on Theosophy. I beg those who have scientific bents to bear in mind that in the course of three short lectures it isn't possible to go into scientific explanations of what I will say today. Continue

"Apologia" concerning the publication of the the First Class Lessons: English / Español


The Ballad of Reading Goal by Oscar Wilde

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.
And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.
And all men kill the thing they love,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

The Second Coming by W. B. Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand... Continue

Words and Music

Summertime Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
Your daddy's rich
And your mamma's good lookin'
So hush little baby
Don't you cry
One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll fly to the sky... Continue reading and listen.

You can find us under the Southern Cross in the Traslasierra Valley, Province of Córdoba, Argentina. Visitors always welcome. Just follow the sign that reads: La Cruz del Sur.

Frank Thomas Smith, Editor

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