Remembering Studs Terkel-I want to conserve the blue of the skies…”

                        I think of myself as a Radical Conservative

                                                                                 Studs Terkel, Oral Historian and Writer

May 16 was the 100th birthday of the inspiring writer-oral historian Studs Terkel.

The “Mediterranean Everyday History Society” remembered some of the key works of this great writer and the path he has shown millions all over the world.

Anti-war protestors in front of the Art Institute of Chicago, December 2009, near Millenium Park Chicago. The Millennium park of Chicago was the place where Studs Terkel made one of his last public appearances on Labor Day..
See video –The Elder Studs Terkel

In his autobiography “Touch and Go” he tells of the Evil of Banality and defines himself as a Radical Conservative.

“I think myself as a radical conservative. Radical means getting at the core of things. Louis Pasteur was a radical. Some would have called him a nut. The physician Ignaz Semmelwiess, who said, “Wash your hands,” was a radical. He was called a nut. I’m a radical conservative. Conservative: I want to conserve the blue of the skies, the potability of our drinking water, the First Amendment of the Constitution, and whatever sanity we have left. Labels mean nothing; issues mean everything. How do you stand on the issue of social security, or national health care, or the death penalty?”

Also see blogs

Eight hour day-Remembering Hay Market in Tripoli

Partnership with patients:Everyday History

In exploring the “Everyday History” of relatives and patients who meet the health care system of Libya, through the eyes of potential refugees to high-ranking diplomats, one comes to have a window into many worlds

 In a 3 x 3 cell : Revisiting 2011

“I come from Tajora. They rounded me up in the early days of the uprising. I was with five others in a 3 x 3 feet cell, in the political prison at Anzara, with a toilet which had no water. We had a tap which would work for five minutes in the morning, five minutes in the evening. We took our turns to drink. This went on for four months till they decided to shift me to the military hospital at Mehtiga as my condition worsened.”

Anti-Apartheid protestors –December 2009, Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
These are the streets where the writer –Oral historian Studs Terkel once walked and gave courage to ordinary working people. His legacy lives on.

Tripoli Reading group: Exploring meanings of words

Active reading involves reading out and then asking for key points, interpretations and applications in daily life.

The issue of Kirtan (Joint prayers by Hindus)
“Do not undermine or ridicule the issue of joint prayer. Everyone does not have an intellectual bend like you,” one of our experienced Reading group members balanced my somewhat skewed opinion regarding prayer groups. I smiled and re-read the meanings of intellect, mind, ego

Chapter 7-Verse 4 of Gita-Jnana Vijnana Yoga

 My eightfold Prakriti (Nature) comprises Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, (typifying solid state, liquid state, energy, gaseous state, and Space respectively), Mind (thinking faculty), Intellect (determining faculty) and Ego (distinguishing faculty).

The eight fold insentient nature comprises of eight constituents mentioned in the shloka above. The subtle forms of five gross constituents-the Tanmatras-may be included in them. Thus, these five constituents may be tabulated In the following form to denote physical creation

Gross constituents            Subtle Forms                          Typifying

Earth                                             Odour                               Solid State

Water                                            Fluidity                            Liquid state

Fire                                                Effulgence                        Energy

Air                                                 Touch                                 Gaseous state

Ether                                              Vibration                          Space

The remaining three constituents are subtler- the Mind, the Intellect, and the Ego. The Mind is always active in contemplation of one thing or the other. It is governed by the Ego., which signifies the faculty of differentiation. In its degenerate forms, Ego denotes pride, haughtiness, vanity, arrogance or conceit. At the root of all these qualities lies a feeling of being different from and superior to others, which is an essential feature of Ego.

The Intellect , which signifies the faculty of determination between several alternatives, is superior to the Ego. The Intellect has the extraordinary power to reflect Divinity. When illumined by Divinity, the Intellect manifests the power of discriminating the Real and Unreal.

The issue of reflection

While not being against joint prayer, the degeneration of these into friendship clubs of gossip and other forms was underlined. If there is focused interpretation of texts and their applications in daily life, it is a welcome move. If it is a platform for gossip and negativism, and even vulgar comments,  then it is a degeneration.

Those interested may also see earlier perspectives

A book in Devnagri script-Exploring links and memories

Conversations on Identity

Mass observation themes in Tripoli region

Following the theme of creating an “anthropology of ourselves” we observe how expatriate workers deal with different issues at work and play. Food culture, the way they sing their hymns, the energy of the African choir with the crowd joining in at an energy level which I have never experienced came through. There is a difference between the energy of the Indian choir or the Filipino choir and the African choir.

Those interested in the nuances can see the following blogs

Group Meditations and Mass observation-Tripoli

Around Good Friday

Remembering the meaning of Liberal-as explained by Studs Terkel

While exploring themes of “Everyday history” in work, play, as “partnership with patients” and in “Reading groups” and “Mass Observation” we revisit the meaning of the word Liberal

“The word “Liberal” today has replaced the word “communist” as used in the high-flying days of Tailgunner Joe. When John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for President, Vietnam War hero, defends himself, “I am not a liberal,” as though to be a liberal were shameful, less than American, we are deeper than Alice ever was in Wonderland.

I look up the word “Liberal” in the dictionary

Liberal 1. Having, expressing, or following social or political views or

policies that favor non-revolutionary progress and reform

2.Having, expressing, or following views or policies that favor the freedom

of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing.

I thought that’s what Tom Paine was writing about when he said, “Reason is not to be confused with treason.” Being a liberal, I had thought, is to believe in the First Amendment

(Studs Terkel-Touch and Go-Pages 231-232)

This week we revisited some meanings on dialectics with some “Liberals” …

See blogs- Related to  “The Exit Interview”

Through work, management issues in corporate set-ups as they evolve in Libya or the themes of Mass observation and reading groups or interviews with persons who have been in the prisons of former dictator Gaddafi, we explored the meanings of “Radical Conservative” as Studs Terkel defined himself.

We reflect on the words of Studs Terkel…on his 100th Birthday

“I want to conserve the blue of the skies…..”


About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal :
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8 Responses to Remembering Studs Terkel-I want to conserve the blue of the skies…”

  1. Pingback: Everyday history -Burnout dissected « Prashantbhatt’s Weblog

  2. ShimonZ says:

    radical conservative sounds good

  3. Pingback: Revisiting perspectives on Gandhi Jayanti « Prashantbhatt’s Weblog

  4. Pingback: Revisiting perspectives on Gandhi Jayanti « Prashantbhatt’s Weblog

  5. Pingback: Reflections on our Republic Day « Prashantbhatt’s Weblog

  6. each time i used to read smaller posts that as well clear their motive, and
    that is also happening with this piece of writing which I am reading at this place.

  7. Pingback: Letters and Journals-1970s to now | Prashant Bhatt's notes

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