Author, playwright, director, mother, and blogger Cecile Pineda has passed into history
and I am one of legions who will miss her. Her wit, clarity, and courage to tell us hard truths were valuable, and it was my great honor to be mentored by Cecile in my own blogging career.
In memoriam, I dedicate this blog post to Cecile and as homage I will mimic a couple of the structures she employed in her blog/newsletter: Take Action, and This Week’s Roses Amidst the Thorns. I’m sure that by including these sections in each post, she hoped to offset the despair and cynicism that can overtake those who pay attention to current events.
Cecile’s most recent book
is not listed in the bio on her website, probably because she was slowing down a bit in recent years (she was about to turn 90).
A memoir, Entry Without Inspection: A Writer’s Life in El Norte (University of Georgia Press, 2020) examined the personal and political influences in the life of a self-identified Chicana author who won numerous awards for her fiction: the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. She also, as a married mother, took it as her duty to have dinner on the table every night. She was also a director and performer of distinction who chronicled the declining support for theater that explored the bounds of dramatic possibility rather than striving for commercial success. She was also the child of immigrant parents who forged her own identity in the face of some spectacularly bad parenting. And, typical of her ability to locate the personal within the political, she depicted the catastrophic effects of U.S. immigration politices via her father’s experience plus the story of a whistleblower who revealed the death of an immigrant while in ICE detention.
I enjoyed this book very much as I knew Cecile by the time I was reading it, and because her life at the borders of second wave feminism and 20th century immigration policies was illuminating — at least the way she tells it.
Even more influential on my thinking:
her two previous books, also non-fiction.
Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World (Wings Press, 2015) is categorized as philosophy and attracted some illustrious blurbs when published. I’ll let one from a prominent environmentalist speak for itself:
Cecile Pineda has the nerve to ask the one simple question that eludes our public posturing….It is the one question that could save us:
What has happened to our mind that we are killing our world?
What is it, at the root of our culture that sets us against the rest of creation?
The genius of this book is that the question [itself] supersedes the answers and takes us on explorations where we make our own discoveries. These widening apprehensions not only pierce us with heartache for what we have lost, but invite us to examine the imprisoning structures of the very language we use.
Cecile Pineda has the rare and enviable capacity to address the big questions without falling into abstractions or sermonizing. It is the artist in her that I trust, and that utters so potent a call to personal and collective liberation.
—Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, this book is for you.
Cecile’s book with the biggest impact for me, personally, was undoubtedly this one.
Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It’s not that I don’t still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it’s that I followed Cecile’s carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste, much less the radiation produced by accidents, is collective suicide. Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen and another earthquake could replicate it on any of several coasts around the planet.
I am deeply grateful to Cecile for both educating me and stimulating my ability to hold unwelcome truths in mind without succumbing to despair.
Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!
World Beyond War Sign the petition: Don’t get Yanked into war with China!
Roots Action Sign the petition:No to war, hot or cold, with Russia.
Send a Letter to Biden: Sanctions Fuel the Fire In response to the catastrophic fire at Matanzas energy facility in Cuba,an open letter signed by a growing list of prominent figures in the US and internationally, including Cornel West, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Noam Chomsky, and Jeremy Corbyn, calls for lifting sanctions on Cuba.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Ask your elected officials to take the pledge to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Sum of Us Tell the Japanese government: don’t dump Fukushima nuclear waste water into the ocean!
Our Children’s Trust Demand Biden’s Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland end their opposition to Juliana! The 21 youth plaintiffs, from across the United States and including 11 Black, Brown, and Indigenous youth, in their landmark youth-led constitutional climate lawsuit Juliana v. United States need your support today! For seven years since the case was filed, young people have suffered from increasingly severe climate harms and we need our nation’s courts to do their duty and protect the rights of our children to a safe climate.
DontExtraditeAssange.com Sign the new petition. The UK must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty: “Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense.”
Lakota People’s Law Project Please send President Biden an email today, and ask him to cement his legacy as an advocate for Native communities by taking action to protect our children and sovereignty, up to and including an Executive Order.
1CM69 STOP! SpaceX Starlink from Spoiling Outer Space for Humanity, sign the petition. SpaceX was given the green light by the FCC in the USA to launch a network of satellites in to Low Earth Orbit, 60 at time of writing, rising to 12,000 over time. These satellites will forever ruin the view of the heavens for the entire planet.
#DeleteFacebook trended and thousands left both Meta platforms (FB and Instagram) after learning that the company had turned over private messages between a 17 year old and her mother leading to felony charges for murder as the two procured and the daughter used abortion pills. You can delete your account on these apps, too.
Roses Amidst The Thorns
🌹The U.S. Army has so far recruited only about half the soldiers it hoped for fiscal 2022.
🌹70% of younger voters have lost faith in both the Republican and the Democratic Parties to represent the needs of the people.
🌹Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Matthew Hoh is on the ballot in North Carolina following a successful lawsuit against Democratic Party shenanigans to keep him off.
🌹Christopher Cooper, the Black man who a white woman falsely claimed to police was attacking her in NYC Central Park, will be hosting a new tv show, “Extraordinary Birder.”
🌹More workplaces have filed to form a union this year than in all of 2021 including workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s.
🌹Caitlin Johnstone, Australian blogger extraordinaire, examines “the end of illusions” with humor on a daily basis.
3 thoughts on “Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!”
Cecile and I met at the Shut Down Creech gathering at Indian Springs, NV. I miss her posts, for they were very educational for me. I have saved all of her posts. I am also delighted that you, Lisa are continuing the informational thread.
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