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Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000 Paperback – October 1, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Now in his 70s, Scott is one of America's most trenchant political researchers, having written a meticulously documented magnum opus on the Kennedy assassination (Deep Politics and the Death of JFK), as well as books on the CIA connections to Central American drug trafficking, the Iran-Contra affair and Watergate. Completing his poetic trilogy SeculumAwritten over the course of 20 years and including Coming to Jakarta (1989) and Listening to the Candle (1992)A...Darkness, written in five long sequences in tercets, continues and develops Scott's political and poetic preoccupations, gracefully interweaving elements of autobiography, philosophy and history with a patient, modest line that strongly recalls the late Pound's cantos. Though the style sometimes lacks freshness, it serves Scott well in the documentary aspect of the work, exploring and recalling the '60s antiwar movement; the darker truths of American foreign policy in the Philippines, Indonesia and Central America; the power and history of international banking and the relation of money to politics; and much more. The whole thing is densely packed with hundreds of quotations, most frequently from Dante, Virgil, the Bible, Homer, Kant, Wordsworth, and others of their stature, as well as Howard Zinn, Chomsky and Scott's own political writings, with notes and translation sharing space with the poetry. All of this material mixes freely with reminiscences of Scott's parents, his life as a university professor and researcher, and sections of straightforward Zen poetry; the book is as much a memoir and an essay as is it poetry. Scott mostly eschews pedantics on all fronts in favor of a kind of crystal-clear poetic investigative reporting, where a healthy dose of uncertainly is allowed: "where what matters/ are not just the structural patterns/ but the patterns in chaos," but he is at his most compelling when the book learning moves to the periphery and personal experience and thought come together in moments of simple, unflinching resolve: "the only time I ever managed to shock and audience/ one that thought itself quite comfortable/ with blasphemes against God/ was when I said/ right into the microphone/ I prefer truth to fiction." This Darkness insists on clarity, often returning to the theme of ill-governance and brilliantly working against the tendency to separate the personalAand the poeticAfrom the political, and is thus the perfect book for a rancorous election season. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

First Retreat: Fire-tending In The Land Of Medicine Buddha
Fourth Retreat: Walking At Spirit Rock
Minding The Darkness: A Poem For The Year 2000: 1
Minding The Darkness: A Poem For The Year 2000: 2
Minding The Darkness: A Poem For The Year 2000: 3
Minding The Darkness: A Poem For The Year 2000: 4
Minding The Darkness: A Poem For The Year 2000: 5
Second Retreat: Knife-sharpening At Vajrapani
Third Retreat: Bell-ringing In Yucca Valley
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®

He can achieve the quiet authority of the best later Williams. -- The Times Literary Supplement [London]

There's nothing quite like these books.... certain to be one of the most remarkable and challenging works of our time. -- American Book Review

[H]as compelled me to take seriously...points of view I had previously—complacently—dismissed as products of lunatic fringe. -- Christianity Today's Ten Best Books of 2000, John Wilson, 3 January 2001
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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook, 906
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (October 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811214540
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811214544
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this extraordinary poem, Peter Dale Scott explores the depth and scope of his humanity as he takes the reader on a brilliant and surprising journey through the landscapes of not only his own personal history, but the history of politics, philosophy, ideas and literature.
Like all great poetry, Scott feeds our souls because his poem tells the truth and because his words, in their beautiful and erudite combinations, point us toward the shimmering reality that lies beyond words and within each of us, in each moment.
Some poetry tells the truth with great simplicity. Minding the Darkness is a complex and multi-layered epic, a garden of intellectual delight. Because Scott impeccably refuses the temptation of making a statement about the nature of life, and instead leads us directly into an experience of his reality, the reader is free to roam the sweeping, unpredictable and exciting scope of his intellectual, political and ontological knowledge. Amazingly, the weight of his intellect does not crush his soul. It is through the tenderness and vulnerability of the man that otherwise distant and esoteric references become accessible to the reader, as alive and affecting as the poet himself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Kerby on May 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Peter Dale Scott's beautiful and ethereal poem "Minding the Darkness" reveals an immensely
civilized author coming to grips with the many crimes of civilization, expressing the intersection
of the poet's life and the twentieth century in a way which illuminates the efforts of a truly
engaged intellectual to document experiences of collective denial and complicity with
horror which characterize political modernity.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Gates on July 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
Please read this extraordinary multi-leveled poem. Starting with the great Berkeley fire of 1991, Scott meditates on the tragedy in history which up to now has been chiefly the experience of those on other continents. From a Buddhist perspective, he distills a lifetime of teaching, political activism and investigative research into this final volume of his long poem Seculum. Echoing Dante, and a millenarian monk from the year 1000, he sees the ills of our time as stemming from covetousness. At the same time he discerns hope for America if it can pursue the aspirations of its founding fathers for a better society. He concludes with reflections on how language can help us to the right way in which to love our world.
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Frequently Bought Together

Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000 + Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (A New Directions Paperbook) + Coming to Jakarta: A Poem about Terror
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