Caleb Powell

UAE – 1998

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First photo. Thought I’d start taking my negatives from travels and post them on this blog. It’s been almost three months since, but now that COVID-19 is keeping me at home, it’s time to kill some time and start posting.

Chinese Movies

UAE with student, spring, 1998

Written by Caleb Powell

December 24, 2019 at 5:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Trump’s Muslim Ban

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muslim-ban

The media went on overdrive when Donald Trump, immediately after inauguration, followed through on his promise for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims”. The New York Times reported: 

“The president’s order… suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.”

When The Express Tribune asked if I wanted to write a blog on the Muslim ban…more

Written by Caleb Powell

February 27, 2017 at 6:23 am

Posted in Express Tribune

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I Think You’re Totally Wrong at Northwest Film Forum

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film-jacket

Our movie, I Think You’re Totally Wrong:  A Quarrel, releases this February. The film will play at these venues:

(James Franco, director, 87 min)

NW Film Forum:
Wednesday, Feb 08 at 07:30PM
Wednesday, Feb 15 at 07:30PM
February 22, USC, Los Angeles, CA 7 pm, Ray Stark Theatre
February 24, U. of Richmond, VA 3 pm
February 25, Virginia Tech, VA 3 pm
Feb 27-28. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
March 1, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
March 6, Brown University, Providence, RI
March 7, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
March 8, Boston University, Boston, MA
March 10, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
March 12, Tuscon (Loft Cinema), Arizona Festival of Books
March 21, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
March 22-23, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
March 29-31. Furman University, Greenville, SC
April 1-3, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
April 4-6, Gemini Ink, San Antonio, TX
April 7-8, Austin Film Society, Austin, TX
April 11, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Loosely based on the book of the same name, writers David Shields and his collaborator and fellow-combatant, Caleb Powell, decide to put their friendship on the line by spending four days together in a cabin in the Cascades. The men barely make it down the driveway before an argument breaks out. On the drive to the cabin, things degenerate even further, as they variously debate the idea of life versus art.

On the first day of shooting, an actual fight breaks out over what and who can be talked about in the course of the film with the director getting dragged into the mix along the way. As the three men, and their respective egos, circle and jab at each other, you wait for someone to get punched in the face. The gladiatorial aspects of the film are only a beginning, as the weekend continues, something altogether more surprising happens — genuine and real communication.”

“More than a deconstruction of the buddy film, I Think You’re Totally Wrong assails the divisions between reality and fiction, documentary and life, with subversive glee.” – DOXA Documentary Film Festival

January 2015:  “That it is outrageously entertaining, as is the rest of this talking book, constructed out of four days’ worth of unceasing dialogue between two old friends and sometime rivals, should go without saying.” Saul Austerlitz, – Boston Globe

March 2015:  “Their extended verbal jam session is one of the most spontaneous literary artifacts since Jack Kerouac unloosed ‘On the Road’ during an amphetamine bender.” – John Murawski, Charlotte Observer

Interview with Massachusetts International Film Festival
Interview with Word and Film

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Written by Caleb Powell

January 30, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Can Muslims Live with Trump in the USA?

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trump-eric

On Muslims and Trump, from the Express Tribune Blogs:  Seattle is the most liberal city in arguably the most liberal state in America. And folks here are in a state of rage and catatonic shock – they’ve refused to attend school and marched through downtown blocking traffic, as one of their leaders, Jamila Prayapal, announced,

“We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”

…Many conservatives aren’t “racist, xenophobic bigots”, and to treat them so is not only wrong but harmful. If we believe in the aphorism that it takes “two to fight”, we liberals must engage. The winners won’t change, the losers must….For liberals, if we wish to return to our values, we must disassociate ourselves from the authoritarian elements of the “social justice” movement, the calls for censorship, witch hunts, safe spaces, and the groupthink that’s taking over media and our universities. If we can, then the Alt-Right and White Nationalists will be the last bigots standing….more

 

Written by Caleb Powell

December 18, 2016 at 8:14 am

How Media Inadvertently Helped Trump

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trump-victory

On April 6, 1994, a missile shot down an airplane carrying Hutu leaders Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntayamira in Rwanda, unleashing the ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis on a campaign of mass murder. As the atrocity spread, the world debated the nuances of the word ‘genocide’. Three months and at least half a million deaths later proved that, yes, it was genocide. Semantics matter. During the 2016 US election, mainstream media’s refusal to correctly identify bigotry, while perhaps not as egregious as mislabelling ethnic cleansing, has contributed to Donald Trump’s victory. Semantics matter.

Trump’s detractors, and count me as one, remain perplexed. We can’t blame the Republicans, they won. We may ponder hypothetical scenarios: what if Gary Johnson had run a stronger campaign and pulled votes from Trump? Or Jill Stein simply ceased to exist? But this does not explain how the media alienated voters.

Consider Roxane Gay’s post-election analysis in The New York Times:…(more)

Written by Caleb Powell

November 25, 2016 at 8:15 am

How Do Americans View Eidul Azha?

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eidul-azha

This year, a controversy surrounded the arrival of Eidul Azha, the second most important holiday in Islam, involving the holiday’s date, as the Express Tribune reported: American Muslims on edge as Eidul Azha looks set to fall on September 11th.

Muslims abroad, especially in the United States, faced the prospect that celebration would coincide with a day of mourning of those killed at the World Trade Centres. As a result, some Muslim leaders prepared for tension between their community and anti-Muslim bigots. In the New York Times, Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said…(continue)

 

Written by Caleb Powell

September 24, 2016 at 9:09 am

Posted in Express Tribune, Islam

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The Elissa Washuta Interview

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Elissa washuta

Caleb Powell: You cite Maggie Nelson’s, book, The Argonauts, as influential. How so?

Elissa Washuta: There’s a passage where Nelson reflects on Alice Munro’s short story “Wild Swans.” Nelson writes, “Munro lays it all out: how the force of one’s adolescent curiosity and incipient lust often must war with the need to protect oneself from disgusting and wicked violators, how pleasure can coexist with awful degradation without meaning the degradation was justified or a species of wish fulfillment; how it feels to be both accomplice and victim; and how such ambivalence can live on in an adult sexual life.”

Besides admiring her prose, I really identify because I was trying to show that my first experience was complicated. After I was raped I continued seeing the perpetrator. I was terrified and repulsed, and I constructed a story as a response to rape. There wasn’t pleasure, but there was self-delusion that created a deep ambivalence…continue

Written by Caleb Powell

May 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

PEN World Voices: Should We Boycott Israeli Writers?

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Andrew Solomon

On April 5, 2016, Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America, sent a letter to over 4,000 members asking for comments regarding a call to boycott “two Israeli writers who are taking part in this year’s PEN World Voices Festival.”

Solomon noted PEN’s position, “put forth in 2007…is opposed to cultural boycotts.” World Voices Festival Director Jakab Orsos and Chairman Colm Toibin reiterated this by responding that “PEN and PWVF must always fall on the side of maximum protections for free expressions.” Who would suggest otherwise?

Ethan and Omar: Two PEN members of the Adalah – NY:  New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel. Not surprisingly, many signatories supported religious chauvinism when they protested last year’s award given by PEN to Charlie Hebdo.

E & O make two mistakes. The first concerns their view of Israel-Palestine, but this should be open to debate; the second, though, is their egregious “Campaign.” Boycotts, when just, have merit; when misguided they become soft censorship. Outside of, say, inciting violence (The murder of Ahmadi Asad Shah in the U.K. relates to how Khatme Nabuwwat instructs followers to kill Ahmadiyya), all speech must be allowed. But fascists by nature need censorship to promote their ideas and suppress opposition, for their ideas cannot disseminate otherwise. (They claim they would support Israeli writers, but not under Israeli sponsorship, which is equivocation.)

That Ethan and Omar wish to boycott the only state in the Middle East where Jews can live free from prejudice, women have equal rights, and homosexuals live openly, suggests duplicity. How can they explain that Israel had 200,000 Arab citizens in 1948 and the present day population is 1.8 million while the Arab states’ Jewish populations have, without exception, dwindled? In Saudi Arabia and Yemen there are no remaining Jews. At the same time these two “fascist lites” ignore Palestinian government responsibility for the miserable situation of the Palestinian people:  corruption, refusal to renounce violence, and call for the destruction of Israel. When you ascribe moral inferiority to Israel, without applying your standard to yourself or other nations, you are not only anti-Semitic but a hypocrite.

The error of E & O’s position on Israel is reflected by their subversively fascist view of speech. To E & O, I quote the biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s (who wrote under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre) interpretation of Voltaire’s ideal:  “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Thus we will listen to your views and attempt to counter with superior arguments. You should allow others the same opportunity.

Written by Caleb Powell

April 26, 2016 at 10:25 am

Melissa Chen: Free Speech Destroys Islamic Extremism

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Melissa Chen on Blasphemy

Free Speech:  The right to speak without censorship or restraint except for libel, slander, or inciting violence. Also, to speak w/o government interference.

Expanding Limits:  The present cultural climate of “Psychotic PC” has extended limits on speech to include the criticism of ideas or political views. Hyper-sensitivity to “racism/Islamophobia/homophobia/sexism” has created Neo-McCarthyites aka Social Justice Warriors who believe “My bigotry is justified, yours ain’t.” These fascists must be stopped. To inhibit free speech, as Melissa Chen notes above, is to repress the means that destroys evil ideas.

The Significance:  Donald Trump and Zakir Naik may speak without censorship or restraint, and we will respond with  better ideas. Those who bolster their counterargument with a demand that we limit speech are not only regressive, but lack the strength of their convictions. They are insecure in their ability to debate.

Progress:  Superior ideas win without the need of force of censorship. From ancient days through the Age of Englightenment and beyond, bad ideas needed protection to survive:  Patriarchy, Kleptocratic Regimes/Communism, fundamental Christianity, and slavery were replaced with women’s rights, socio-capitalistic democracy, secularism, and Emancipation.

Three books that incite misogyny/homophobia/and religious supremacism:  If the trilogy of holy books from Judaism/Christianity/Islam went under the same scrutiny that the Radical PC  supporters and Social Justice Warriors demand, these would be the first three books to go.

Moderation:  When religions moderate for the benefit of all, it is because of free speech. As philosophies, religions have much to offer, as ultimate truths they are flimsy. Only free speech can transform ideology in a progressive manner, and thus to want a tolerant and benevolent world is to champion speech.

Related:  These Bangladeshi bloggers were murdered by Islamist extremists. Here are some of their writings

Written by Caleb Powell

April 24, 2016 at 8:53 am

Saving Baby Asha

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Baby Asha

And thousands among billions may seem like very few, but the great expansive power of the focus on the individual stories in individual lives is that now all souls seem important, worth our compassion and understanding.” – Patrick Madden, Sublime Physick

My take, at the Express Tribune, on an individual story: “To morph a cliché attributed to Joseph Stalin – individual tragedy moves us; millions of tragedies become statistics. This signifies either that humanity cares nothing about humanity, or that we cannot process mass atrocity…more

 

 

Written by Caleb Powell

March 9, 2016 at 11:31 am