The Wife Of Lot

The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew these cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

—Genesis 19:23-26

I don’t get this story. Why did the woman have to be transformed into salt, simply for looking back? Sure, in doing so she disobeyed The Dude, who said not to do that, but there has to be more to it than that. Because we already got, back there at the beginning of Genesis, in the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent and the fruit, the lesson that it is necessary to at all times Do What He Says. So there has to be more going on there.

And why aren’t we even allowed to know the woman’s name? Any why salt? Why not cobalt, or gypsum, or a life-sized replica of Ronald McDonald?

There are many questions that need to be answered here. Like, did the Hebrews just steal this story from the Greeks? Bearers of the cruel tale of Orpheus losing Eurydice, while bringing her up out of Hades, because just as they were about to enter daylight, he turned round to gaze upon her face, and thus violated a commandment not to look back till they were clean out of the place? And what was that commandment all about? Why do these deities do these nasty things?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. I’m going to look into them, though, in the months to come. In the meantime, I’m here to make like the wife of Lot, and look back at the last year on this blog.

In the present day, in Sodom and Gomorrah v2.0, it is traditional to look back on the dying year. So why not here?

And who knows—maybe somebody someday will want to go back and read those scattered pieces linked beyond the “furthur.” If, say, they’re ever felled by mononucleosis, or are granted computer access while interned in a prison cell. Or get turned to salt.

These are not the pieces I most “liked.” Because I don’t know what in this context that word might mean, at least not in any way that I can explain. In any event, most of the stuff I posted here over the past year that I most “liked,” in the traditional sense of the term, was written by other people. So I already stole it once, and it doesn’t seem either proper or necessary to do it again.

These two pieces, “Coney Island” and “Down In The Flood,” are long, wandering, massive failures, attempts to get at what I most want, but am clearly not yet able, to get to. Gonna keep trying, though. The latter is mostly about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, as harbinger of things to come, but repeatedly goes off the rails with something like 19 or 20 only sporadically lucid digressions. The former is even more addled, and concerns . . . uh . . . the necessity of navigating a world dominated by Outerbridge Reach, by keeping one’s eye on Coney Island.

Which brings us to “Speech Impediment,” a more or less successful attempt to acknowledge the limitations of language.

Though sometimes the words come pretty easy, and even say much of what was intended. And so it was with “Walk This Way,” a remembrance of William Moore, slain in Alabama in 1963 while on a solo walk for integration, and a reminder that those of like mind to those who killed him are still among us. Like the racist rat bastard Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, who in 2008 refused to receive the letter Moore had intended to deliver to Barbour’s predecessor, 45 years before, and who is currently in the news because he has agreed to free from prison a couple of Knee-Grows only if they allow themselves to be cut up.

On the much sunnier side, and straight outta the oo-ee-oo quadrant, there is “Miracles.”

“French Letters,” about the comic books sent by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the Obama daughters, and the prolonged bout of wailing and garment-rending this engendered amongst the French, was fun to research and write. “This Wheel’s On Fire,” concerning Sarkozy’s nasty little crusade against the Roma, wasn’t any fun at all.

Of my occasional, flailing attempts to write about music, maybe the most coherent is “I Think That We Will Be Able To Communicate Soon,” an appreciation of the late composer Henryk Gorecki.

Fairly coherent too was “Age Of Reason,” one of my several Mr. Grumpy pieces about the deterioration of American political discourse, on both the right and the left. That story contained a couple of chunks cannibalized from something written three or four years before for elsewhere; full, aged reprints included “Do The Right Thing,” about Elvis Presley, the desertification of California’s Central Valley, and my late brother, and “Rope’s End,” a gossipy frolic through the 1963 filming in Puerto Vallarta of The Night Of The Iguana.

Sometimes it seems like the War on Terra, like the poor, will always be with us: “Mirage In The Desert” recounted the eight years in the American gulag of Mohamed Mohamed Hassan Odaini, an innocent. “Canadian Driftwood” concerned the aborted trial of tortured child “soldier” Omar Khadr, while “Christmas Cheer” addressed Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the child grown old who would have brought down an airliner with explosives concealed in his underwear.

“Men Should Put This On For One Day” honored Amal Basha of Yemen, a woman facing down both the War on Terra and her own atavistic countrymen. “Nobody Paid Much Attention” honored the women of Femen, a feisty Ukrainian outfit making, rightly, life miserable for those who would regard the women of that nation as but meat.

Both Ukraine and Pennsylvania lay at the heart of “Shine Little Glow Worm,” a reminder of the reality of nuclear power, revisiting the accidents at both Chernobyl and Three Mile Meltdown.

“Behind Closed Doors” and “Ere He Catches The Recruiting Sergeant’s Eye” were attempts to move beyond the Obama-is-God/Obama-is-Satan duality, in addressing the Obama administration’s negotiations with India over the future of Afghanistan, and the prolonged slog to repeal of the US military’s DADT policy, respectively.

“Sounds Of Silence” groused about the United States Supreme Court invoking Catch-22 logic to upend the Fifth Amendment right to silence. And “They Can Not Surrender To Aircraft” was one of numerous ululations to sound here against the use of aircraft in warfare, and against warfare, period.

Odds are similar ululations will sound on this blog in the coming year. Because it’s not only Yahweh who goes in for flinging the fire and brimstone. And it’s not only the wife of Lot, turning to salt.

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