Archive for October, 2010

Touching The Flame

Two happy lovers make one bread,
a single moon drop in the grass.
Walking, they cast two shadows that flow together;
waking, they leave one sun empty in their bed.

Of all the possible truths, they chose the day;
they held it, not with ropes but with an aroma.
They did not shred the peace; they did not shatter words;
their happiness is a transparent tower.

The air and wine accompany the lovers.
The night delights them with its joyous petals.
They have a right to all the carnations.

Two happy lovers, without an ending, with no death,
they are born, they die, many times while they live:
they have the eternal life of the Natural.


I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
Like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

—Pablo Neruda

The Clenis In Winter

(Since in American culture it is on Halloween common to assume the identity of another, I figure today is as good a day as any to revisit this piece I originally posted February 3, 2008 to the Great Pumpkin, in which I assumed the identity of, and spoke as, Bill Clinton’s fabled member, The Clenis.

(I was feeling then generous to both Clintons, I and II, because it seemed to me then certain that their son and heir, Barack Obama, would become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, rather than Clinton II.

(I should have known they still had a lot more fight in them, the Clintons. And they both made me very, very angry at times, over the next several months, as they continued to roughly resist the inevitable. But though, like Henry II in the film clip embedded at the end of this piece, Clinton I surely wanted to kill his son, in the end he just couldn’t do it. Today, like Clinton II, he actually works for him.

(Since this story sorta goes on forever, it’s okay if you don’t finish reading it until next Halloween.)

Hey. Clenis here. How ya’ll doin’? Sure been a while.

Yeah, used to be you couldn’t look at a TV, pass a radio, or pick up a newspaper, without runnin’ into me.

Then, I was on everybody’s lips. Back during that Publican stage-directed soap opera, 17th-Century style, where my havin’ gone on walkabout was used to try to whip ol’ Bill, like some latter-day Hester Prynne, from out the Oval Office.

No, I couldn’t believe it, either. No more than could the rest of the world—out there they were first amused, then bewildered, and finally pretty scared. Would have locked their doors to us, if they could. As it is, in the histories, when the Clenis impeachment comes ’round, it will go down writ large, as one of the most embarrassing American spectacles of the century . . . right alongside the WWII internment camps, and that imperial war on Spain phonied up by an excitable asthmatic and a dour newspaperman.

But that was then. These days, it ain’t me that’s gettin’ Bill into trouble. Nope: this time the offending organ is his mouth. Course, they’re gettin’ it all wrong about his mouth, now, just like they once got it all wrong about me. Jump over the “furthur” there, and I’ll tell you about it.


Day Of The Dead

The Mayor didn’t speak again before they reached Orense; an idea quite strange to him had lodged in his brain. Why is it that the hate of a man—even of a man like Franco—dies with his death, and yet love, the love which he had begun to feel for Father Quixote, seemed now to live and grow in spite of the final separation and the final silence—for how long, he wondered with a kind of fear, was it possible for that love of his to continue? And to what end?

—Graham Greene, Monsignor Quixote

Bees Best Bill

I like this one.

Scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, have determined that bees can solve complex mathematical problems that keep computers busy, mystified, for days.

Bees quickly learn, somehow, to fly the shortest route between flowers discovered in random order . . . and using a brain the size of a grass seed.

Computers, meanwhile, lag far behind, approaching the problem by methodically comparing the length of all possible routes, and then selecting the one that measures the shortest.

Bees here effectively solve the “travelling salesman problem,” which involves finding the shortest route permitting a travelling salesman to call at all the locations s/he needs to visit.

Dr Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway’s school of biological sciences, said: “Foraging bees solve travelling salesman problems every day. They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which keeps flying to a minimum.”

Using computer-controlled artificial flowers to test bee behaviour, he wanted to know whether the insects would follow a simple route defined by the order in which they found the flowers, or look for the shortest route.

After exploring the location of the flowers, the bees quickly learned to fly the best route for saving time and energy.

Science Men would like to figure out how bees do this, so they can apply it to such aspects of “modern living” as traffic flows, internet information, and business supply chains.

“Despite their tiny brains bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behaviour,” complained Raine. “We need to understand how they can solve the travelling salesman problem without a computer.”

Well . . . “things keep their secrets,” as Heraclitus saw, some 2500 years ago. Can’t expect them to cough up those secrets just ’cause you want to unruck your roads. Bees may have brains the size of a grass seed, but, as these Science Men have learned, they surely ain’t dumb.

Obviating Aunt Sarah

Just in time for Halloween, Aunt Sarah has come screeching down from out of the tundra to make Real our worst nightmares: she will forever stain the name of our nation by running for president in 2012.

That is, if nobody else does.

The ever-imbecilic Nimrod of the North babbled onto Entertainment Tonight to describe her 2012 decision-making process as follows:

“It’s going to entail a discussion with my family [and] a real close look at the lay of the land, to consider whether there are those with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion, whether there are already candidates out there who can do the job . . . or whether there’s nobody willing to do it, to make the tough choices and not care what the critics are going to say about you, just going forward according to what I think the priorities should be.

“If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.”

First of all, we know that this “discussion with my family” business is horseshit. She spilled the same sewage about her decision to accept John McCain’s addled invitation to join him on the 2008 GOoPer ticket, claiming to Sean Klannity she put the matter to a “family vote.” But we know from Michael Gross’ October Vanity Fair piece that in this she lied, as she lies about so many things.

The children did not, as Sarah has claimed, have a chance to weigh in on her decision to run for vice president. She did not even deliver the news to them personally; as has been reported, she asked McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, to do it for her.

Second, if all that is needed to prevent Aunt Sarah from befouling our land in pursuit of the presidency, is somebody else running for the office “with that common sense, conservative, pro-Constitution passion,” then I am in a position to abort Aunt Sarah’s 2012 candidacy at once. Because I embody all three of those attributes. And although I would certainly prefer almost anything else—even remaining in this cave, dribbling the contents of my brainpan out on to this blog—I am willing, for the good of the nation, the world, and indeed all of the universe(s), to wander the land, for nigh on two years, stuffing into my mouth corndogs and scrapple and Philly cheesesteaks, and spewing out of my mouth platitudes and nonsense and gibberish—a.k.a., seek the presidency—so that Aunt Sarah won’t.

So that’s it, Aunt Sarah. I’m in. That means, by your own terms, you’re out. See ya. Go eat some moose or something.

Finally, it is well that I have made this decision, and so saved our nation from the scourge of Aunt Sarah, because this Entertainment Tonight interview discloses that she is afflicted with multiple personalities: “if there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.” See: “we.” There’s more than one of her in there. This I have suspected all along. In fact, I believe that if we could perceive Aunt Sarah in more dimensions, we would see that there are dozens of heads sprouting from that neck. The ancients knew this woman. She’s a hydra.

Silver Springs

I like that they’ve found silver on the moon. It is right and meet that silver should be there, for people have associated silver with the Moon for a long, long time; just as they have associated gold with the Sun.

The association probably began with the similarity in color: “by the light of the silvery moon.” Alchemists referred to silver as Diana or Luna, Roman names for the goddess of the Moon; silver’s alchemic symbol was a crescent moon, and it was associated in the art with birth. Quite rightly, because the Moon has long been regarded as female, as the Sun is male.

Selene is a name of the Moon, from the Greek, denoting light, radiance, brightness. Selene as deity was the daughter of Hyperion and Theia, sister to Eos and Helios. Come nightfall, Selene pulls her chariot across the heavens, pausing only to kiss her lover Endymion, the setting sun.

The power associated with the Moon, and with the deity Selene, is en-chantment. The Moon, and silver, and Selene, also symbolize the soul, eternity, immortality.

The Chinese believe there are silver palaces on the Moon: “Then they entered the spreading halls. The silver stories of the castle towered one above the other, and its walls and columns were all formed of liquid crystal. In the walls were cages and ponds, where fishes and birds moved as though alive. The whole moon-world seemed made of glass.”

Silver for eons has been the metal of choice in most all mystical traditions. Silver objects are said to empower the wearer with psychic abilities, or other intuitive perceptions; silver objects are used to “draw down the moon” during pagan lunar ceremonies. Silver is believed to be calming and protective; it can reflect the light of both the Moon and the Sun, and so can work as a shield against negativity.

So I like that they’ve found silver on the Moon. I don’t, though, really like how they found it: by bombing the place.


Year Zero

Used to be, there on the lefty blogs, you’d encounter people who wanted to imprison, torture, and execute members of BushCo. These penalties were to be exacted to punish members of BushCo for imprisoning, torturing, and executing people in the War on Terra. I don’t know how many times I was subjected to the Old Testament disconnect of someone wanting to authorize the waterboarding of Darth Cheney because Darth Cheney had authorized waterboarding.

Then, for a time, there came calls to place in adjoining prison cells in The Hague George II and Barack Obama. The theory here was that the latter has aided and abetted the former by declining to imprison, torture, and execute him. The people proposing this punishment don’t know the law from a leachfield. But then they don’t feel that they have to. For they’ve read Queeg Green-wald. Failing to understand that Greenwald’s take on the law is as extreme as John Yoo’s.

While there stills sounds occasionally the tocsin for brutalizing BushCo principals and Obama “enablers” for Operation Iraqi Fiefdom or for torture, the vengeful focus, I notice, has shifted now more towards bankers. It is understood, somehow, that people on Wall Street are Liars, and Thieves, and they have Robbed us. The Outrage is occasioned by financial matters that are extremely complex, ones that are not understood by any of those calling for the most extreme of penalties. But it isn’t understanding that is important. Vengeance is all.

And so today I come across someone who, in setting the conditions that must be met in order to secure his vote for Barack Obama in 2012, led off with a demand that “at least 1000 Wall Street executives and senior management go to jail (the number jailed during the much smaller S&L crisis).”

Here, this person is indistinguishable from BushCo. Like BushCo in the War on Terra, he marshals no evidence against those that he would cage. No, he will cage them simply because he believes they are Bad. He is actually worse than BushCo, because he has settled upon an arbitrary number of people who must be caged. Both this person, and BushCo, lie on a continuum that culminates in the Khmer Rouge.

These are not people motivated by justice or compassion. They are instead akin to those Hunter S. Thompson identified as among those most addicted to the televised Watergate hearings: “millions of closet Hell’s Angels whose sole interest in watching the hearings was the spectacle of seeing once-powerful men brought weeping to their knees.”

Just as Howard Kurtz noted, correctly, in regards to the clamoring for the heads of BushCo officials, after BushCo had left office: “I have rarely seen the kind of passion that now surrounds the torture debate, even more, it seems, than when it was going on.” So too do these putative lefties now, belatedly, want to rumble down the street the tumbrils, packing aboard them various and sundry Wall Streeters, motivated most by the desire to see these people suffer, for offenses they can no more lucidly articulate than can a teabagger.

Just being a “Wall Street exeuctive[] [or] senior management”: that is enough. As being involved in some manner in the War on Terra apparatus: that is enough. As, for the Khmer Rouge, simply wearing glasses, that was enough.

Because I Have A Memory

A Whiter Shade of Pale

In 2010, nationwide polls reported that people who identified themselves as sympathetic with the Tea Party were overwhelmingly white, although estimates varied, and the Tea Party didn’t appear to be much whiter than, say, the Republican Party. Whatever else had drawn people into the movement, some of it, for some people, was probably discomfort with the United States’ first black president, because he was black. But it wasn’t the whiteness of the Tea Party that I found most striking. It was the whiteness of their Revolution. The Founding Fathers were the whites of their eyes, a fantasy of an America before race, without race. There were very few black people in the Tea Party, but there were no black people at all in the Tea Party’s eighteenth century. Nor, for that matter, were there any women, aside from Abigail Adams, and no slavery, poverty, ignorance, insanity, sickness, or misery. Nor was there any art, literature, sex, pleasure, or humor. There were only the Founding Fathers with their white wigs, wearing their three-cornered hats, in their Christian nation, revolting against taxes, and defending their right to bear arms.

In eighteenth-century America, I wouldn’t have been able to vote. I wouldn’t have been able to own property, either. I’d very likely have been unable to write, and, if I survived childhood, chances are that I’d have died in childbirth. And, no matter how long or short my life, I’d almost certainly have died without having once ventured a political opinion preserved in any historical record. Except that none of these factors has any meaning or bearing whatsoever on whether an imaginary eighteenth-century me would have supported the Obama administration’s stimulus package or laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons or the war in Iraq. Because I did not live in eighteenth-century America, and no amount of thinking that I could, not even wearing petticoats, a linsey-woolsey calico smock, and a homespun mobcap, can make it so.

“What would the founders do?” is, from the point of view of historical analysis, an ill-considered and unanswerable question, and pointless, too. Jurists and legislators need to investigate what the framers meant, and some Christians make moral decisions by wondering what Jesus would do, but no NASA scientist decides what to do about the Hubble by asking what Isaac Newton would make of it. People who ask what the founders would do quite commonly declare that they know, they know, they just know what the founders would do and, mostly, it comes to this: if only they could see us now, they would be rolling over in their graves. They might even rise from the dead and walk among us. We have failed to obey their sacred texts, holy writ. They suffered for us, and we have forsaken them. Come the Day of Judgment, they will damn us.

That’s not history. It’s not civil religion, the faith in democracy that binds Americans together. It’s not originalism or even constitutionalism. That’s fundamentalism.

—Jill Lepore, The Whites Of Their Eyes

Para Mi Tesoro

Play Ball

Tonight begins the final chapter in the storybook season of the Texas Rangers, the little baseball team that could, and has, finally become known for something other than serving as pre-presidential plaything for George II.

Prior to 2010, the Rangers, in their entire history, had never won a playoff series. This year they have won two. Thus far. They need win but one more, the World Series, to be acknowledged as, for a brief turn of the wheel at any rate, the best team in baseball.

In winning the World Series, the Rangers will also serve God and Man, by dispatching those crime lords of theft and violence, the San Francisco Gnats.

As we await this humbling of the malefic, there arrives, via Repeating Islands, a tale that is darker than even that of the dread Gnats—the colonial farming of young boys in the Dominican Republic for the greater glory of the bank accounts of Major League Baseball.


The Last Night Of The World

It now appears that Science Men have determined that the accepted calculation of the fabled “Mayan doomsday calendar,” heretofore believed to have set the date for The End Of The World at December 21, 2012, may be off by some 50 to 100 years.

The party-poopers who authored the new textbook Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World, argue that previously accepted conversions of dates from the Mayan calendar to the modern calendar are significantly out of whack.

The Real Apocalypse, say they, may not occur for some time. Or, conversely, it may already have occurred.

Apprised Monday of this news, a wit over on the Great PumpkinGary Norton, once and future NION running buddy—opined that the Great Event has, in fact, already been visited upon us.

“1980,” he reminds, “was Reagan’s election.”



Canadian Driftwood

The War on Terra prisoner Omar Khadr has entered into a plea deal that may find him breathing free air in a little over a year.

Under what are believed to be the terms of the plea bargain, Khadr, after an additional year in American stir, could apply to his native Canada to have the remainder of his eight-year sentence served in that country. Once under Canadian authority, that government could, if it liked, free him. Canada, unlike the United States, is not in the business of prosecuting and imprisoning child soldiers. Khadr was 15 when he entered the War on Terra gulag. He has already spent eight years there. He is today 24.

On Monday, Khadr admitted before a military commission that he had thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, and that he had planted roadside bombs in that country for Al Qaeda. A panel of seven military officers will decide on his sentence, but under the terms of the plea agreement that sentence cannot be greater than the eight years therein agreed upon.

The plea deal spares Khadr the prospect of a life sentence, and the Obama administration the embarrassment of trying a child as its first War on Terra prisoner dragged before its revamped military commissions . . . as well as the near-certainty that any conviction would be thrown out bodily by one or more blistering appellate-court decisions, that would employ language so excoriating that anyone even tangentially connected with Khadr’s prosecution would be compelled to hide, for some months, under a bed, in shame.


Night Vision

Steal Your Face Right Off Your Head

Richard Zacks’ An Underground Education is a bottomless repository of ways in which human beings have been brutal and beastly to one another over the millennia.

Of interest today is Zacks’ accounting of how the wealthy once relied upon the teeth of the poor and the dead to replace their own rotting dentition.

Ambrose Pare, sometimes described as “the father of modern surgery,” wrote of “a lady of the prime nobility who had her rotten tooth pulled, then at the same time had a sound tooth drawn from one of her waiting maids, to be substituted and inserted, which tooth over time took root and grew so strong that she could chew upon it as well as any of the rest.” It is said that the practice among Parisian dentists of the 1780s, of yanking teeth from the mouths of the poor to fit them into the rotting gums of the French aristocracy, was one of the factors that ultimately encouraged the French peasantry to support removing the heads of said aristocrats.

The guillotine, however, hardly stopped the practice. Zacks tells us that George Washington’s dentist, John Greenwood, returned from a trip to Europe in 1805 with an entire keg filled with human teeth. Zacks notes that “[a] whole generation wore ‘Waterloo’ dentures made from teeth yanked from the corpses on the battlefield and the practice continued as late as the Civil War, when thousands of teeth were stolen from bodies moldering at places like Bull Run and Gettysburg.” Prayed one supplier of stolen teeth: “Oh, sir, only let there be a battle, and there will be no want of teeth. I’ll draw them as fast as the men are knocked down.”

I was reminded of these practices when I read today that the shameless corporados of Colgate Palmolive stole a folk toothpowder used by the people of India for centuries, patented it in the US, and have now returned with it to India, hoping thereby to reap billions by knocking out the native competition in the Indian oral-hygiene market.


My Daughter, The Deviant

Okay, this is pretty cool.

My daughter, when she was 16, wrote a novel—then intended as the first work in a trilogy; now, I believe, the first of a projected seven. No publishers have yet picked it up, because they are Wrong. But still she perseveres.

Apparently she has been hanging out of late at a website called deviantART, which appears to be a sort of vortex for illustrating Young People. There she posted her novel, which I discovered has somewhere along the line been renamed Maiden of Woodland Secrets, which sounds sort of literary-erotica. I don’t recall any particular lubriciousness the last time I read it, but who knows? Things change.

In any event, deviant people are there giving her feedback, which is quite nice. One of the deviants even created a drawing of the book’s title character, Violet, which I have stolen and posted here.

If you too would like to read this book, you can access it via my daughter’s deviant gallery here.

My daughter is a Star, and someday by this world that will be Seen.

New Pony

Carl Paladino, teabagger candidate for governor of New York, will be electorally crushed by Democrat Andrew Cuomo on November 2, and thereafter will be looking for a job. So Larry Flynt has offered him one: executive editor of Hustler magazine.

As I recently referenced here, Paladino is the fellow who enjoys forwarding emails to friends and associates containing racist and pornographic images. That, until caught, he repeatedly circulated photos and videos offering such wonderments as women humping horses, he has since admitted was “somewhat careless,” and he has offered his apologies to “the ladies.”

Notwithstanding this apology, Flynt says Paladino is his kind of guy. Recognizing in Paladino a “keen instinct for kinky sex,” the Hustler publisher has gone public with the following announcement: “I’d like to offer him the job of executive editor of Hustler magazine. It’s clear he’s better suited to join our team than be the Governor of the State of New York.”

Flynt praised Paladino as “a natural pornographer who has a skilled eye for unusual views and acrobatics.” He assured the disgraced teabagger that “at Hustler magazine, we don’t ask for forgiveness and we don’t get lost in empty rhetoric.

“In urging Paladino to take this offer, I can only quote the Republican Tea Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Nevada, Sharron Angle: ‘Man up.'”


We Are Many

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

—Mark 5:9

Runt Limprod, the nations’ premier radio hate-show host, is not content with having goosed upward the numbers of those believing Barack Obama is a Muslim, and not an American citizen, what with his coy references to Indonesia as the place “where Obama was bor— , I mean, grew up,” and his christening of the president as “Imam Obama.”

No, it’s not enough that 58% of Republicans now believe that Obama was either born outside the US, or “don’t know,” while 52% believe that it is either “definitely true” or “probably true” that Obama “sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world.”

For now Limprod has decided to go to work on inflating the number of Americans who believe that Obama is in fact the Antichrist. Currently 24% of our fellow Americans hew to this notion. Since Limprod has taken to referring to Obama as “demonic,” a creature out of “The Omen; 666 and all that,” that number can only be expected to rise.


Whistle Stop

I wanted the song, and this video offered the best sound quality.

I never watched this TV show, but decided after a few viewings I was sorta charmed by the video.

Also, I suppose I could look like Drew Carey, if I ate a few hundred thousand donuts, put my head in a vise to make it square, buzzed a cut, and donned some hideous black rims.

I don’t do an office these days, but, like most people, I do yearn for the five o-clock world.

Lost Highway

The satirical online publication The Onion has aptly summarized the rivers of ridiculousness that have befouled the information superhighway in the months preceding the 2010 mid-term elections:

According to recent media reports, Democrats stand to lose as many as 8,000 congressional seats and more than 917 gubernatorial races in November’s mid-term elections. “Republicans are poised to pick up 1,500 seats in Ohio alone, and could wind up with a 23,576-to-12 majority in the Senate,” Beltway observer Isaac Hundt said Wednesday, noting the GOP’s advantage is likely to increase by Election Day given that its candidates are outspending their opponents by some $900 trillion. “With Democratic disapproval ratings in the quadruple digits, it’s a foregone conclusion that Republicans will not only retake Congress, but hold it for the next 20,000 to 25,000 years.” Experts also predicted the one-sided election results would cause Barack Obama to die on the spot, at which point the nation’s leading conservative talk-radio host would be sworn in as president of the United States forever.

“The Point Is I Feel For You”

The October 2010 edition of Harper’s offers excerpts from a dozen or so of the hundreds of letters mailed to Casey Anthony.

Anthony is awaiting trial in Florida for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee. The child was not reported as missing until a month after she vanished; it was her grandmother, Cindy, who contacted authorities, after Casey would not account for Caylee’s whereabouts. The child’s body was eventually discovered, in a bag, by a meter reader, in a forested area about a half-mile from the Anthony home. It has been determined that the trunk of Casey’s car at one time contained a decomposing human body. Forensic investigators state that duct tape was sealed over the child’s mouth, with a heart-shaped sticker affixed to the tape. Casey Anthony, her lawyers and her supporters, maintain that she is innocent.

What interests me about these letters is that the writers, believing they are reaching out to Anthony, are in fact reaching out, through her, for themselves. Though, as one writer says, “the point is I feel for you,” what is evident is that what these writers really want and need, is for people to feel for them.

It is surely a lonely ol’ world out there.


My Love Is Vengeance

(I am reprinting here this piece, which was originally posted May 17, 2008 to the Great Pumpkin, for several reasons.

(First, because it is increasingly obvious that I am too afflicted with age and ennui and enervation and estrangement to complete any time soon the various pieces I have been working out and working on over the past several weeks.

(Second, because even as I am experiencing Extreme Difficulty in weaning myself from abusing my being nearly every day by exposing myself to the howlers and the shriekers and the ululaters, there in the inner sanctum of divine white privilege, who ceaselessly froth that Barack Obama is not What They Want Him To Be, I find that this piece presciently pointed out, even months before Obama’s ascension to office, that of the two paths currently open to any black man in America—”bargainer” and “challenger”—Obama has always publicly trod the path as “bargainer.” He is now as he always portrayed himself to be.

(Third, as a reminder of just what was said by that “challenger” to whom Obama listened so attentively, most Sundays, for more than 15 years: an indication that, though he manifests as bargainer, in his soul Obama is himself a challenger. And challenging is indeed, I submit, in the main, what he is subtly, covertly, about. Behind, as they say, blue eyes. A subject to which I shall return, at length, once age and ennui and enervation and estrangement are successfully surmounted.

(Finally, not many people read this piece when I posted it the first time. So I figured I’d give not many people the chance to read it here.)

Those conversant with the Tanakh (also known, when shuffled, as the Old Testament) might have expected that a pastor with the name of “Jeremiah” could prove to be something of a human fumarole, expelling harsh and unpalatable truths from the pulpit.

For the original Jeremiah—one of the three major “latter prophets” of Hebrew scripture—was an unrepentant hardcase so given to scalding screeds that his very name has entered the language as a synonym for “one who is pessimistic about the present and foresees a calamitous future.” He has even become a second noun—”jeremiad,” denoting “a prolonged lamentation or complaint,” “a cautionary or angry harangue.”

Below the “furthur” are alternated passages from the Book of Jeremiah with those Fox-propagated clips of the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. After perusing the ceaselessly inflammatory words of Reverend Wright’s namesake, I expect that all those who so piously urged Barack Obama to reject and denounce his pastor’s words, to leave his church, will similarly reject and denounce the words of the prophet Jeremiah, demand that their own pastors vow to forever abstain from quoting his words, and, indeed, swear to work to ensure that the Book of Jeremiah, in its entirety, be stripped from scripture.


The Blue And The Red

I left Juneau that afternoon to go into the Taku, one of the world’s great wildernesses; four and a half million acres of wild land and four a half million years of wild time. We rafted down the Taku River watershed, and I am writing this now, seven days later, from a valleyside high above the Inklin.

In the raft-days behind me were volcanic peaks echoing with thunder; grassy pastures zip-ping with cicadas; pastures where roses, sage, alpine straw-berries and juniper, with foggy-purple berries and a smell of sweet extravagance, bloomed; and the river ran through box-canyons of gargantuan Homeric water which hurls rafts against cliffs and sucks them round whirlpools. In the raft-days ahead will come the mystery of a massive limestone mountain with underground streams; a sixteen-hundred-foot waterfall that runs so fast and falls so slow; and finally the ancient glaciers, place of blue ice and—inexplicably—ladybugs.

Red is, symbolically, the color of mortality; blood of life and of death: blue, the color of eternity. Here in this time-diversity, they are found side by side. The blue of a glacier, the red of an—inexplicable—ladybug. Nothing is older than the blue glacier, ten thousand years in the making, ten thousand years in the unmelting. Nothing is younger than the bright red button of a ladybug hatched at the beginning of this sentence: here is the chasmic grandeur of wild time—a ladybug’s little red-letter day tickling for a minute the glacial blue ice of eternity.

—Jay Griffiths, A Sideways Look At Time

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When I Worked

October 2010