HIS CRACKLY EXHORTATION TO “KEEEP Looking Up!” now residing in the ears and cassettes of those who loved his weekly five minute-PBS-slice of observational astronomy, Jack Horkheimer, AKA “The Star Hustler,” passed through the luminiferous aether this morning on the way to consult Mr. Sagan about young DeGrasse-Tyson. Mr. H will be missed as much for inspiring stargazers to look out into time as for inspiring nerds to keep it real, old-school (e.g., Demosthenes or Galileo):
Recognized by his TV sign-off “Keep Looking Up”, Horkheimer revealed that although he intends to be stargazing well into the third millennium, nevertheless he has already erected his own tombstone with the following epitaph:
“Keep Looking Up was my life’s admonition,
I can do little else in my present position.”
“HERE ARE YOUR PICTURES,” SAID the woman at the scanning shop. She handed me a package containing photos of my wife as a little girl — photos we can now send / have sent to others who didn’t expect them.
“Thank you,” I said. “This put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.”
Her own face lit up. “Really! Thank you.”
That we can glimpse the point beyond the dollar, even where the dollar seems to be the point, thank You.
“ARE YOU ALL RIGHT?” HE asked from behind his newspaper.
She thought, I have never been all right a day in my life. None of us have. We see too much — think too much — don’t act enough — enchained by our own ignorance — body only lasts 70 years — most of it medicated — back hurts — feet hurt — can’t go a day without water, week without food or year without sex — world run by idiots and asshats and nobody gives a damn once the cameras are turned off — too stupid to solve the problems we keep generating — chattering “Do your best. Do your best. It’ll all be okay” — bad teaching for a situation nobody knows how to prepare for — age and loneliness and the soul’s slow dying in its own insta-dry filth. And you with your face in that ghawdam newspaper.
“I’m fine,” she said, and picked up her book.
A ZOROASTRIAN (BECAUSE HE WAS, and because sometimes it really does matter) once jumped the battery of my otherwise unbroken vehicle on an otherwise sad day and, because this is my life, we got into a discussion of God(1) and it wasn’t long before we were agreeing on the need to sleep peacefully at night and that one cannot do that without being right with God (read, said he: right with one’s fellows), and hoping for the best of whatever’s the next world, or even next unseen moment, without such store of good- and God-will is a vain enterprise indeed; which thought seems to be one also preached by at least all the paths I traveled in the circuitous route to root and seed which is the path of all life and words and, and to ignore this discomplicating fact my new Zoroastrian friend told me (and still tells in brain-snapshot’ metaphor, read: man jumps battery; jumpstarts the journeyer; recharges the charge; do I have to make it plainer?) would keep it unshared with wherever and whoever your Sunday finds you: snugly newspaper-nested, walking the line, paddling madly onshore. And isn’t that what he was really saying?
(1) That Indescribable Essence which is never the same from you to me or anywhere in between, and which I persist in describing here and there.
THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN from history doom their children to redeem it.
(And on that unironically hopeful note, Shabbat Shalom / have a nice weekend / go Red Sox!)
AT LEAST ONCE IN ONE’S life, one should encounter a place where one is in the minority: it has the potential to sharpen the senses, humble the soul and question the assumptions. A different, but equally primal, experience, can be had by entering a place where one’s species is in the minority — or to be blunt, prey. Something essential there is through knowing the bottom of the food chain.
IT’S TRUE THAT THE VICTORS write history — but not all victors are dishonest. Ask yourself: Do they learn from, or at least admit, their mistakes? Trying to overcome one’s own Bad Self ™, personal or cultural, is a good sign that the necessary self-correctives are being observed. If not, dissent is not only patriotic: it’s a sacred duty.