November 2010

Cities visited: Amsterdam, Oxford, London, Haifa, Oxford, San Giovanni in Persiceto, and Dublin.

On my return to the USA I washed away my jet lag at the Turkish & Russian Baths (, and finally made it to the JP Morgan Library ( After watching The Cats of Mirikitani, a documentary about a homeless painter scarred by his childhood internment as a Japanese-American, I proceeded to Florida, where I felt led to recount my experiences at Auschwitz. This brought me face to face with a member of the Shoah denial movement, who was so insistent that the numbers of dead in the extermination camps had been inflated(and that Obama was born in Kenya, and is a Muslim, &c &c), and so unwilling to take no for an answer, that extricating myself from her clutches seemed to require me to scream at her that the testimony of my personal experience trumped (for me) all the conspiratorial “evidence” that she was trying to foist upon me.

After regaining my composure I flew to Texas, where a tarantula crawled onto the driveway in my direction (the first I’d seen there in forty years), and a crested caracara (a raptor with black body, white neck and chest, and black head) displayed himself not far away. While there I enjoyed Megamind, then continued on to New Mexico, where after my weekend seminar there I watched Conviction & Secretariat, two fine performances by strong women about strong women coming close to sacrificing their families to achieve their quests. Also in Albuquerque I took in Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, which shed a bit more life on the mysterious life of that great pianist.

Reflecting one day on my Florida encounter the words written near the tomb of Santa Lucia come to mind: “Lascia che gli occhi della tua anima scoprano la verita’.” – “Let your soul’s eye discover the truth.” Santa Lucia is the patron saint of eyes and light; and when my own perspective becomes clouded I like to recall the otherworldly light that illuminated her church’s exterior as we exited after visiting her. May the clear light of truth ever thus illuminate us!