Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn

During the State of the Union address, I caught the AP story of Howard Zinn's passing (see http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100128/ap_en_ot/us_obit_zinn). In the article, the "plug" for A People's History of America within the film Good Will Hunting is mentioned. I often find a way to bring this up in various classes, mainly because my hunch is a whole bunch of students would have seen and enjoyed the movie. Anyway, Matt Damon tells his therapist (Robin Williams) that he has read "the wrong books," and implies that A People's History would be one of the right ones. "It'll knock your socks off," is how Damon puts it... or something like that.

I gave my father a hardcover copy of A People's History somewhat late in his life, and then it was returned to me when he passed on. I remember that it became another way in which we didn't quite connect although I believe we both appreciated the effort here. He expressed some dissatisfaction with the general argument of the book, and I could respect the how and why of what my father said, and yet it was also surprising to me because my father seemed to embody so many qualities that Zinn embraced--in particular, willingness to question authority and deep feelings for the little guy faced by the power of our country's various institutions.

Zinn joins my father now, and I leave this blog humming some Allen-Ginsberg blues passed on to the young earlier in the day. "Father death" and "father breath" and for your loved ones too who live in your memory, may peace of heart be your comfort. This is what I envision and concentrate upon.

For a richer obituary on Howard Zinn, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/27/AR2010012704219.html?hpid=moreheadlines

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