Archive for November, 2009

The land of thought famine

Communism, the most carefully thought out half-thought-out idea in the history of the world, may have shriveled in China, but for lots of Chinese men it seems to have been replaced as an object of faith and belief, despite a total lack of evidence of it working, by–the comb-over. Maybe the end of communism itself saddened the hair from their heads. Me, I see things falling now relentlessly: after two months of practically every building over 10 years old that I lay eyes getting knocked down and plowed over, I’ve gotten so used to the sight of heaps of ruins rising victorious from their scuffles with structural engineering that I’m starting to suspect that my eyesight has the power of a cosmic five-year-old to wear out and break everything it touches within a few weeks. In any case, all that’s over, because yesterday I flew back home. I’m always particularly worried about crashing from the sky when I fly to or from here; I love my home, and I wouldn’t want it to be said of me “cause of death: Colorado.” Then again, sometimes I wonder if I ever have even passed through the sky: airplanes seem less like humanity taking to the air than training the air in the ways of the ground. You walk into a steel box, it whirls and shakes a bit and then (at least on long flights) you just wait for the sky to ripen.

The intransigence of cacti

Outside, buses crawl around the freeways like the larval/caterpillar stage of skyscrapers, their rear view mirrors drooping over the windshield like antennae. I spend my days in the disreputable borderlands of employment, surrounded by horny cats and tempestuous Volkswagens, circling and veering away from my responsibilities like a disenchanted man trying to prevent a conversation with his girlfriend from becoming intimate. I’ve passed the time developing muscles that girls seem to like but will never have cause to use the services of, like buying a camera with a bunch of features you don’t need. For instance, after working out a bunch on the rowing machines I could now make a hasty getaway by canoe. I suppose that could be useful if you were a bank thief but couldn’t afford any more expensive form of transportation. Of course, you could only rob banks next to rivers.

I suppose it’s best not to think too hard about the underlying logic of attraction. Like for example, I never quite understood kissing as an expression of love. I imagine it must have originated from two people arguing more and more heatedly at closer and closer distances until they just started grappling in mouth-to-mouth combat, and realized they got along a lot better that way, when not using their mouths for purposes of speaking. Love creates strange freedoms. Most Americans probably imagine that freedom means the right not to be messed with by anyone else as long as they do not mess with anyone else in turn. But this case seems to be the opposite: kissing apparently gives you the prerogative to try to eat somebody else, provided they are allowed to try to eat you at the same time.

It makes us more like pigs (or, as they are now called again, having been recently demoted for the offense of having become infected with a grievous pathogen, swine). They will eat virtually anything. Forget how many degrees of separation you have from Kevin Bacon, when you’re eating bacon itself, especially somewhere like China, you’re probably only one degree of separation away from the arm of a political dissident. Since pigs will eat anything, they must see the whole world as food, and so naturally any of the goings to and fro upon the the earth that occur outside their stomachs are going to seem somehow unfulfilled, incomplete.