- 9 April 2003
- No. 9,126 (cartoon)
- Is it all over?
It never really began.
- 10 April 2003
- Dada Will Survive
- André Breton died almost forty years ago, but his memory lives on in the form of stink bombs and forged euro notes with the legend, Your money stinks of the corpse of the poet that you never dared to become. Demonstrators at the Hotel Drouot, a Parisian auction center, have been throwing around the trivial bombs and fake currency to protest the sale of the contents of Bretons 42 rue Fontaine apartment.
Bretons daughter, Aube Elléoüet-Breton, arranged the sale when no French institution would pay thirty million euros or so to preserve the Bretons apartment and its contents. Thats fine with me; I think the vitality and essence of Bretons ideas and aesthetics will be better kept alive as old memories and contemporary concepts, not as dusty museum exhibits.
I suspect Breton wouldnt be very concerned that his de facto shrine is being sold piecemeal. After all, he cautioned, Dada will survive only by ceasing to exist.
- 11 April 2003
- Aping Apes
- I was saddenedbut not surprisedto read that biologists expect that in a couple of decades theyll find few, if any, nonhuman primates surviving in the what remains of the African wilderness. In addition to continued habitat loss and hunters, the apes are threatened by the Ebola virus. (I havent checked on this, but I believe Ebola is the nasty disease that turns internal organs into a bubbling, putrefied liquid. Or something very much like that.)
Theres not much I can to do protect Africas remaining gorillas, but Im not entirely helpless. Thats why Ive decided to act more apelike. Im grunting more than usual, dragging my knuckles when I walk, and, on rare occasions, beating my chest. (I never used to do that before.)
These are grim times for gorillas, and for the people who ape them.
- 12 April 2003
- The Space Man
- Stephen showed me his copy of Jules Vernes The Space Man. I couldnt read the novel; Stephen kept it locked inside a climate-controlled glass case.
I read a lot of science fiction when I was a teenager, I said, but I dont remember that title.
Its one of Vernes first works, and its extremely rare, Stephen replied with the self-satisfied smirk of a successful collector. It was printed in 1856 by a publisher in Blainville-Crevon who went bankrupt after a fire destroyed the business. Youre looking at one of the six surviving copies.
Wow, I responded, trying to sound duly impressed. Whats the plot?
Some mad-scientist type figures he can travel in space if he can remain in one place while the planets continue to speed through the universe, Stephen explained. Unfortunately, the guy miscalculates, and he starts his machine when the earths in the wrong position. Instead of being whisked through space in his oak, brass, and glass cabin, he gets drilled into the center of the globe, and dies a quickalbeit painfuldeath.
I nodded appreciatively.
But heres the best part, Stephen continued. The scientists name is Arne Saknussem!
Arne Saknussem? I asked.
The Journey the the Center of the Earth guy. Look it up, Stephen insisted.
I promised I would, but I didnt.
- 13 April 2003
- Below Everest
- After Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first people to reach the Everest, the latter proclaimed, We knocked the bastard off. I used to regard mountains like that. When I was much, much younger, I thought Id probably climb Mount Everest; I knew Id scale Mount Rainier.
I changed my mind. I have nothing to prove to myself or anyone else. Its enough to simply be on a mountain; theres not much gained by conquering the peak. Thats something I picked up from Robert Pirsigs Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, one of the few books I plan on rereading some day.
Ive heard that almost anyone can make it to the peak of Everest now, as long as they have enough money to pay guides to more or less walk them to the top. As Hillary, now eighty-three, observed, Its all bullshit on Everest these days.
As for Mount Rainier, who knows? Im in good enough shape to hike to the summit. On the other hand, I believe the trek involves getting started at three in the morning, and I cant imagine anything worth getting out of a warm sleeping bag at that hour.
- 14 April 2003
- Mainly in the Pyrenees
- Its time for the San Francisco do-gooder awards ceremony. This years event promises more hectares of free food and an ocean or two of decent wine, gratis; thats why Im here.
This year, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed one of the acceptance speeches. Thanks to Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, I now know that the rain in Spain falls mainly in the Pyrenees.
Pedro Arrojo-Agudo is a smart hombre, and Rex Harrison is Satan incarnate.
- 15 April 2003
- The Illusion of Productivity
- Im flying to Europe for no discernible reason, but I dont care. If Im traveling at a thousand kilometers an hour, I must be making some sort of progress.
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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart