2009 Notebook: Weak XLIII
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22 October 2009
No. 472 (cartoon)
I can only love you so much.

But I can hate you more than you can ever imagine.

23 October 2009
Make It New
I never paid much attention to Ezra Pound; I was put off my his anti-Semitic tirades. That’s why I just heard his famous (to everyone but me) admonition, “Make it new.”

When it comes to originality, I’ve always appreciated two conflicting views. The first comes from Ecclesiastes. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” On the other hand, there’s the relatively traditional belief that every work of art must be completely unique, and unrelated to anything that came before it.

That’s why I like Pound’s urging, “Make it new.” That’s a perfect compromise between Ecclesiastes and egotism.

24 October 2009
Irish Haikus and Japanese Limericks
Julia writes haikus, and Henri composes limericks. And I’ve found a way to deeply annoy them both.

I told Julia that I appreciate her Japanese limericks, and congratulated Henri on his Irish haikus. My compliments offended both of them, and that makes me embarrassingly satisfied.

25 October 2009
Dismal Flying Forecast
Air travel is horrific. And, if past experiences are any guide, it’s likely to get worse.

Some idiot hid a bomb in his shoe, so now footwear is inspected. Someone alleged a plot to use liquid explosives on a plane, so now I can’t carry a bottle of wine with me when I fly. And recently, a suicide bomber tried to kill a Saudi prince with a bomb hidden in his colon.

I wonder how long I’ll be able to fly without having my rectum searched for explosives?

26 October 2009
New Reverse Peristalsis Frontiers
I enjoyed a pleasant lunch with Sandra today. She’s still learning and growing, and I’ve reached some sort of stasis.

“I’ve learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you’re finished,” Sandra reported with some enthusiasm.

That was news to me; I haven’t experienced reverse peristalsis in decades. I wonder what else I’m missing during my self-induced stagnation?

27 October 2009
The Return of Cigarette Man!
Cigarette Man is back!

I used to see him all the time outside my studio. He’s a balding, stocky, middle-aged man with a bad haircut who always wore the same—or at least identical—denim jacket and pants. Cigarette Man looked like a human advertisement for the joys of smoking tobacco. Even on a still day, he rocked back and forth like he was standing on the bow of a ship headed into a typhoon. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen who could swagger without moving his feet. And every time he put the cigarette to his mouth, he inhaled like a man facing a firing squad, as if that might be the last cigarette he’d ever smoke. When he was done smoking, he’d toss the cigarette butt under his sports car, as if marking the same territory he claimed by parking there.

One day Cigarette Man showed up without his automobile, and I tried to guess what happened. Did the authorities revoke his driving license after a drunken accident? Did he lose his car in a poker game? Or maybe he just decided to walk instead of drive to lose some weight. So many possibilities, so little information.

A month or two ago, I realized I hadn’t seen Cigarette Man in a while. I started looking for him, but he was gone. After not spotting him for some time, I concluded I’d never see him again. I had lots of theories, but not a clue as to what happened to him or his car.

But today, Cigarette Man reappeared! He has a decent haircut, a new corduroy jacket, and pants that fit. At least he still has the same inimitable smoking technique. Too bad I’ll never know what happened, if only because I’m too shy to ask.

28 October 2009
Humorous Afghani Carnage
This morning, I listened to an interview with Greg Jaffe, a columnist with the Washington Post. The author, who was on the radio to publicize his new book about the occupation of Afghanistan, told an anecdote to show how grim things were there.

You know, we [the Americans] mobilize a unit [of Afghan soldiers] to go in there, that Samarra’s a little town north of Baghdad that was a persistent problem for the U.S. The troops hit a roadside bomb on the way out the gate and the battalion commander says, well, I’m through with this. He takes his pistol, his staff car, and he’s gone. And there’s a funny line from the U.S. embedded advisor who, in his own understated fashion, said: That was not the best day for morale.

The host, Steve Inskeep, laughed at the story. And why not? An exploding roadside bomb turning human beings into little pieces of shredded meat is pretty hilarious. Or, at least it is if one views armed conflict as an abstract video game. Boom! Ambush! Commander deserts! Lose forty-five points!

I suppose fighting has been this way for millennia: dehumanize the enemy, then kill, maim, and torture indefinitely. About the only thing that’s changed is that we can now laugh at the horrors since we’re thousands of miles away from the screams of dying human beings and the smell of burning flesh.

And that concludes today’s harangue. Everybody go back to whatever it was you were doing; I’m returning to self-indulgent art work.

29 October 2009
The False Promise of New Tools
I’m fascinated by the false promise of new tools. I can recall yearning after a five-thousand dollar device that would allow me to author a compact disk. I was intoxicated with the idea that I could publish hundreds of megabytes of work for pennies if I only had such a device.

That was fifteen years ago, and this is now. For at least a decade, I’ve had the ability to create compact disks, but never have. I mistakenly concluded that I needed new technology, when all I really needed was better ideas.

I’m remembering that lesson now that Leica’s selling its first good digital camera. Essentially, it’s the digital equivalent of my thirty-five year old film Leica, and I’d like to have the new model. The camera body without a lens costs seven thousand dollars, so I won’t be getting one any time soon. And anyway, the plastic Nikon I’ve been using is more appropriate for my needs.

If I really needed to use a Leica, I could put film in my old one; I could buy a lot of film for seven thousand dollars. And so, this is one siren song I’ll ignore.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart