Monday, June 29, 2009

The Parachutist In Love

For E.G.

The Parachutist’s ripcord is malfunctioning. He is aware of this piece of information, and finds it duly disturbing.
You see, were the Parachutist on ground, in his plane, lying in his bed, sitting on the toilet, eating eggplant parmesan at his favorite Italian restaurant, bedding a young vixen, bedding a few young vixens (one slightly older than the other), practicing the clarinet, making a shopping list, or even playing volleyball at the beach (again with young vixens), becoming aware of such a piece of information would be easily resolvable. Being however that he is currently falling from a very great height, the information about the ripcord is pertinent.

His instinct is to curse, but not being the swearing type, he decides to pray instead: Praying turns out to be harder to do mid-free fall than one might expect, so he curses.
Being a person who has read a book or two by Deepak Chopra, he attempts meditation: He is going to die. This is evident. He attempts to clear his mind by focusing on the snowy mountain tops that cap the quickly disappearing horizon. Also difficult: Consider G-forces.

What about the man in the colored jumpsuit with goggles and helmet?

The Parachutist’s favorite joke is one that usually only garners polite laughs when he tells it:
Q: How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Two: one to hold the giraffe by the neck, the other to fill the bathtub up with clocks.

He has a picture of his nephew riding a horse on his coffee table at home. The picture was taken by his brother, on the boy’s twelfth birthday. The boy’s name is Cody. The Parachutist has tried to teach the boy how to play chess several times and has failed. Once, when Cody was about six, a little marble pawn showed up in his stool. The Parachutist has quit trying to teach the boy chess.

The Parachutist closes his eyes, takes a breath, and then opens them back up again. The earth is very beautiful, and very small from where he is. It is getting larger quickly, which is vaguely alarming. The Parachutist decides it would be better to misinterpret this alarm as exhilaration. ‘Whoop!’ he says.

He’s over a piney region of Alaska. The tree line spreads far and wide, and there are mountains in the distance. The Parachutist tries to imagine himself crashing down through the evergreens. Every snapping twig that he foresees, were he to write a blog about this episode, he may call it ‘Returning to the Earth in a very real way’, and the post would be very spiritual. The Parachutist is a very spiritual person in his own way. He has read books by Deepak Chopra, and always plays Prince music when he beds young vixens.

The Parachutist is pleased with how easily he turned the whole tragic affair into something more philosophical.

He imagines the earth wrapping around him, his body becoming thin and embedded, and he begins to relax his muscles as it all becomes very near, the whistling becoming increased, and the mountain view becoming out of sight. He thinks about the terrain, and tries to picture it without trees. A parking lot. A desert. An ocean. A pile of feathers.

To the ordinary wild porcupine, the grass is gentle and high, and the soil is agreeably moist. It easily absorbs the creature’s small footprints as it pads and sniffs it’s way through the sweet smelling forest, looking for whatever it is that porcupines look for.

Some kind of small bug, I would imagine.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cloud Interlude 1

Philosophy can save your life. After a day of surprising ups and downs, the sky is still a ridiculous shifting tapestry. Life is surprising and beautiful. Who can complain?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Holmes

My brother and I sat on my front porch last night into the early morning hours smoking cigars, drinking wine, and talking about the big questions in life. Inevitably--somewhere around 1 am--the conversation shifted to talk of Sherlock Holmes, and the upcoming movie version.

We're both Sherlock fans, and are both slightly nervous about the new film.

Robert Downey, Jr. seems like an obvious pick for Holmes on many levels. Intelligent. Familiar with opiates. Able to employ a passable accent. Both my brother and myself think Downey could do the job, except for one minor problem: He's too charming. Holmes was decidedly not charming, and we doubt it's a quality that Downey is able to turn off. Another concern is that the new movie is going to be too flashy, too James Bond, too Guy Ritchie. We're afraid Ritchie will play up the drug use too much in an attempt to be edgy, which is problematic. The drugs should be in, no doubt, but not the main focus. Holmes is a functional drug abuser. He's not John Cheever.

But we're hopeful.

Holmes is such a great character. He's one of the only characters in the history of literature who seems to have utterly transcended his creator. When you learn about Arthur Conan Doyle you're kind of like, really? This guy created Holmes? He wasn't a bad man, but he wasn't Holmes, either. He bought into spiritualism and believed in fairies, and was something of a nationalist, which is always unattractive. Yet from this all too human mind, one of the greatest contributions to pulp literature was issued. I refer you to my previous post about my views on the nature of creativity.

Holmes, in able hands, is wonderful. Doyle wrote some awesome Holmes Stories: Hound Of the Baskervilles, A Study In Scarlet, The Engineer's Thumb...but the versions of Holmes imagined by Caleb Carr, Alan Moore, T.C. Boyle, and Michael Chabon are also transcendent homages. Holmes in able hands is wonderful. Holmes in more limited hands is, well, still Holmes.

So, while there are areas in which Sherlock nerds like my brother and I may be able to squabble with Guy Ritchie's upcoming version, it's hard to imagine things getting too bad.

But then again, we are talking about Hollywood...

Huckabee On Abortion

cross posted at To God, Or Not To God?

The argument that Mike Huckabee makes in the following interview is--I think--the best way to argue the pro-life position. He doesn't make the error that so many Pro-lifers make of wedding their opposition to abortion to their stance on gay marriage or their religion. I suppose it would be better for the pro-life movement to have an absolute secularist like Christopher Hitchens (who is himself pro-life) make the case the way Huckabee does here in the first clip, but a start is a start.

The argument against abortion on religious grounds is a non-starter for the non-religious. It turns it into another faith issue, which cannot be empirically defended, and requires too many other beliefs to be assumed first. Connecting the abortion argument to an opposition to gay rights trivializes the issue of life, because the two issues aren't equally as weighty (killing babies is a far heavier issue than boys kissing), and every argument against gay marriage as a bane on THE FAMILY is, to put it frankly, hopelessly stupid. So, Huckabee seems to have understood this point, at least on some level, and is bringing the argument to the forefront again with a better rationale than 'abortion makes the baby Jesus cry'. Good on Huckabee.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mike Huckabee Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Something In The Air

I've always imagined creative ideas as these things that are kind of hovering around in the air above our heads, looking for a place to land. God knows I've had a few good ideas land on me that I wasn't fully equipped to articulate, and this being the case, they flew away and appeared somewhere else as a barely recognized permutation I would've never dreamed of. There seems to be something up there, over there, inside us. Maybe I'm not intelligent enough to grasp the vast randomness and chaos that appears to be order, and I'm allowing myself to get smoked by the coincidence and the appearance of patterns. I don't know, but I have noticed other incidents of the appearance of some other kind of super-ordinate connectedness. For instance: although I was vocally opposed to the second Iraq war when it began, I felt something like a war-sugar-rush penetrating me when I turned on the T.V., talked to people, or just thought about the subject. The war was wrong, I was sure. I was against it. On another level however, I wanted it.

I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Again, non-scientific talk here. Pure anecdote: I knew others at the time of the push for war and have talked to others since who acknowledged the same increase in their Thanatos levels. Some kind of widespread madness tainted everything. Some suffered from larger doses. I saw this weird connectedness on the war issue, and felt a weaker strain of it during the high point of the Tea Party protests. On the positive side, there was something decidedly beautiful saturating the air for awhile after September Eleventh, 2001. You can experience smaller versions of this nice kind of saturation at a concert, or in a church, or just on a family picnic.

I'm not sure what to call it, this something that injects all of these weird vibes and synchroncities and ideas into us, but I'm tempted to call it something.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How Life Looks In June, 2009.


I find myself with very little to write for this blog at the moment. I'm writing a book for my kids in my spare time, and it has proven to be a very fun and rewarding experience so far. I read the boys the new parts as I write them, and they critique and make suggestions. My oldest son walked into my bedroom this morning as I was putting on my shoes with a few pointed questions about some of the main characters in the story, which was fun. My primary creative outlet over the last year and a half or so has been this blog. The more I blogged, the fewer other kinds of things I wrote. I think it may be time to tip the scale back the other way a little bit, at least for a while.

School is out, and I have my degree. No more assigned readings for awhile, no more tests. That is nice. I'm going to have a beer and go cut the grass. After that, I might have another beer, and flip through a book of short stories: Maybe T.C. Boyle, or Ray Bradbury. I am happy. Life is good. Life is short. Go outside and take a deep breath. We don't get to do this thing forever, you know.

I'll be in touch.