Stare.
 
2001 Notebook: Weak XXXVII
 
   
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10 September 2001
Imagining Mountains
I’m looking through my photographs from a recent trip, and realizing that I’ve returned with a gigabyte of forgettable snapshots. That’s just fine with me; I didn’t go to the mountains to imitate Ansel Weston.

Having said that, I do have a photograph of Matahpi Peak and Sexton Glacier that I like. And that’s probably because Matahpi Peak is invisible in my photograph of Matahpi Peak and Sexton Glacier.

I figure photographs of mountains are like any other photograph of an attractive subject: The more details left to the imagination, the more seductive the image. I don’t know if that’s true, and I don’t care.

11 September 2001
Attack on America, Day One
Oh dear, big jets are crashing like flies, gigantic kamikaze flies full of tons of explosive jet fuel. I have no idea of how to incorporate the former New York skyscrapers into the mangled metaphor, so I won’t.

This seems like a normal day, mostly, even though the most popular word on the radio today is “unprecedented.” Why commentators feel compelled to continually remind listeners that this is the first time in the last few hundred years that several large jets have been hijacked and kamikazeed into buildings, this I cannot understand.

Right now, San Francisco’s finest journalists are at SFO asking grieving friends and relatives of the commandeered jets the same probing question: “Now that you know your loved one(s) is/are charcoal and ash, what are your feelings?” Although I think it goes without saying, the journalist then thrusts a camera and microphone into the victim’s face. Can’t lose with contemporary journalistic practices!

I’ve also heard reports about the “rescue” teams and their cadaver-sniffing dogs that I won’t repeat today. I can’t add anything that would make today seem even more macabre.

12 September 2001
Attack on America, Day Two
The Reverend Jerry Falwell is a frustrated, little man. He really wants to be the U.S. version of Afghanistan’s fascist Taliban cult, but it turns out that “Taliban” is a registered trademark, so Falwell had to settle for “The 700 Club.” (Reportedly, Falwell believes seven-hundred months is the appropriate amount of time for abstinence between sexual encounters.)

Whatever.

Anyway, Falwell knows who killed thousands of office automatons yesterday.

    “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’”

Pat Robertson, would-be ayatollah and host of the 700 Club program, agreed with Falwell.

    “We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we’ve stuck our finger in your eye,” said Robertson. “The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They’ve taken your Bible away from the schools. They’ve forbidden little children to pray. They’ve taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America.”

This has to be Jean Cocteau’s week. After all, he’s the person credited with first noting, “Stupidity is always amazing, no matter how used to it you become.”

13 September 2001
Attack on America, Day Three
All five American news corporations are still screaming “Attack on America,” even though this has been a quiet week, with the most unfortunate exception of Tuesday’s four ex-jets. And so it is that I’ve decided that the attack on America is over, for the moment.

Despite the appearance of calm, I do fear a terrorist attack on America. In fact, I believe the idiots the American people elected to “serve” them are hatching a variety of nefarious plots at this very moment. Most of the politicians’ iniquitous schemes involve variations on the ever-popular police state. From the stories I’ve heard, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear one of the idiots suggest reopening Manzanar or tattooing national identification numbers on Americans’ wrists.

Stupidity is always amazing, no matter how used to it you become.

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14 September 2001
The Cat at Hang
A cat lives in San Francisco’s Hang Gallery, and that’s a big mistake. I can’t believe that the proprietors aren’t following the admonition attributed to W. C. Fields, “Never share a stage with animals or children.”

Cats are better than art, always.

15 September 2001
A Blind Man on Everest
Juan told me that a blind man climbed to the top of Mount Everest. On the few occasions I’ve climbed to the top of a mountain, my main motivation was to enjoy the view. A blind man on Everest seems like a deaf woman listening to a recording of Wagner’s Ring cycle.

Or maybe not. Perhaps there’s more to climbing mountains than seeing what’s up there. As Mark Twain observed, “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”

16 September 2001
Pant
I’m wearing a pair of pants, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and the other usual clothing. Half a pair of shoes is a shoe; half a pair of socks is a sock; what’s half a pair of pants?

This promises to be an uneventful day.

17 September 2001
Buying or Renting Beer?
Can one buy beer, or is it only possible to rent that spectacular beverage? Last night, my learned friends at the laboratory and I had a spirited debate on that very question that lasted early into the morning hours.

We were close to reaching an accord when disaster struck: we ran out of beer. And to make matters worse, we ended the long evening without agreeing whether we’d bought or rented the beverage in question.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart