ONE THING I MISS ABOUT the pre-21st-century days is the sense of humanity plunging headlong toward some destination.
These days, that collective goal seems hellbound and handbasket-wrapped. But in the days and years leading up to 1/1/2000, the Great Rollover, that sense of heading toward something great and mysterious was sometimes almost palpable. Maybe it’s because we could see a deadline.
Deadlines are wonderful tools for focusing the mind. Without one, I find myself picking listlessly at the keyboard; with one, I have an excuse, however small, to get off the couch. And that’s important. Our planet’s emerging global culture is lacking something without that sense of notional and communal quasi-closure, and I would like to offer a replacement.
In just about 25 years, give or take a month (or, to put it more or less as accurately as I can, in
days:hours:etc.) an asteroid named Apophis will make its second pass at Earth and quite possibly collide with it. That’s about as dead a deadline as you can get, but it’s also a good chunk of time — it’s a quarter-century off, which is sort of good news for us would-be codgers as it obviates the need for Social Security and other obligations; it’s close enough to inspire the imagination, yet far enough to finally develop those %$#@! jetpacks. And it’s a great excuse, however small, to get off the couch.
April 13, 2036. I hope to see you there.
FLYING OVER EARTH IN THE International Space Station? This is what it looks like.
“THAT’S NOT ONLY BRILLIANT — IT’S ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that’ brilliant.”
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“FOR GOD’S SAKE LET US sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings.”
– Wm. Shakspere, Richard II
“Are you a dream, Merlin?”
“A dream, to some. A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS.”
“Well, it’s easy if you know all the notes!”
– Moosie Weinberger, a”h, on playing the piano with her nose
“Never give up. Never surrender.”
— Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart
“Are we having fun, yet?”
– Zippy the Pinhead
“Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh! hard times come again no more.”
– Folk song
“In former dreams he had seen quaint lumbering buopoths come shyly out of that wood to drink, but now he could not glimpse any.”
– H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
“We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow.”
– Wm. Shakespear, King Henry IV pt. II
OF ALL HUMAN EXPERIENCES, WAITING may be the least explicable.
We usually experience Time both as a series of events (“progression”) and an eternal Now (“duration”). Progression is as a pot slowly boiling or day growing late or stomach more hungry. “Duration” is the center of whatever moment (and all moments) we experience. These levels are so seamless as to first appear invisible. (Work with me here.)
Waiting suspends your attention — you’ve given your order, taken your place in line, tried to start the engine — now what? Read more »
“I DON’T MIND WATCHING HIM chew the scenery — he leaves such interesting bitemarks.”
A CREEPING TREND OF LITERARY infantilization is loose upon the printed land: we refer specifically to the practice of substituting for a contretemps-laden word a reference to its initial letter: “the T-word,” “the F-word,” etc.
We recognize and laud the noble impulse to avoid giving needless offense. Yet this usage has reached a point where it is difficult to understand what’s being communicated. Read more »
YOU MIGHT THINK WHITE FLAGS mean “Surrender,” but if you’re talking about Aaron Fein‘s “White Flags” art piece — all the world’s flags rendered full-size in white cloth and embroidery — you’d better not say so in a public forum, or I’ll reply:
(T)o me the whiteness connotes a sameness — on one level it doesn’t matter that they’re white so much as monocolor. White is also the simplest color — it reflects the entire spectrum, is purely non-differential, and leaves nothing out. All dyed cloth begins and ends in whiteness. (White is also a popular color for bedsheets, which addresses the artist’s point about the welcoming tent of Abraham: rest and comfort at the end of a journey. A journey that begins in difference but whose end is only reached by One.)
Anyway, just a few thoughts. I am completely gobsmacked by the beauty and simplicity (and perhaps sense of humor) about this project. Thank you Tablet for bringing it to us.
The project — which really must be seen to be appreciated; I doubt photos actually convey the sense and scope — is the topic of a nice write-up at http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/77571/white-flags/. The artist’s website is http://www.aaronfein.com/.
“Do you honor the hole, or refill it with something?” (This may also apply to more than just the WTC memorial. Me, I vote for honoring the hole.)
EVEN AFTER TEN YEARS, THE memories and pain are still fresh when I think of them. I don’t think of them often.
My habit in those days was to check the Ha’aretz news ticker with my morning coffee. “Hmm… soccer teams doing well, banks not so much, road accidents, airplane flies into World Trade Center. Wait. What?” Read more »