29 July 2007

Choosing a name: The eye of the needle

In finding a name for this twinned project - that's both iNeedle and iNeedless - I start with where I'm at: Seattle. There is much to be learned about the world from attending to what the Welsh call y filltir sgwar ("square mile"). In other words, my own backyard. The kinds of symbolic and material inequalities that concern me are realized on a local, national and global scale. Choices I make each day in my own home bolster my privilege and entrench the poverty of someone else a thousand miles away.

I also want to draw deliberately on the various meanings of "needle" given in the header: as an instrument for stitching things together and as an indicator of direction; as the act of piercing something through and of inciting someone to action. The added idiomatic significance of perspicacity (sharp as needles) and tenacity (needles in haystacks) convey ideal qualitites to be strived for as the project grows. As I strive to recognize the relative affluence of my own life, I find myself constantly grappling with the nagging sense of lack which persists in spite of my privilege. I have been so deeply enculturated into always wanting more, into believing that I actually need more. When in fact, like so many people living near the privileged centre of gobal capitalism, the simple truth is that I actually need less. That so much of our lust for stuff is needless.

In this regard, and in keeping with my cultural heritage, it is also not without signficance to me that the aphoristic associations of the needle's eye are to be found in the the Bible as well as the Talmud and the Qur'an. I mention this at the risk of appearing to uphold religious doctrine which typically offers such mixed messages about wealth and poverty, and which has been misused so many times to justify any number of inequalities. Nonetheless, at a time of such disjuncture perhaps it makes sense to draw on a language of faith which apparently resonates both deeply and widely. And so, we find the following:

  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • They do not show a man a palm tree of gold nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle.
  • They who deny our revelations and scorn them, for them the gates of heaven will not be opened nor will they enter the garden until the camel goeth through the needle's eye.
Lost sentiments? Enduring wisdom?

[picture source: http://www.picture-your-world.com/]

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