Monday, January 6, 2020

Meditation 8


Abstraction seemed one way to fly over, leaving pesky details to bloody themselves on prairie or white sand, but news that the shoreline has receded half a foot a year since the 1920s puts the fear of god into our metaphorical field. She writes that thinking of feelings as passing clouds does nothing to alleviate her anger over climate change. A new metaphor would confess to the current turmoil, highway lined with dead animals in Australia, war clouds (which are at least dark) gathering over mourners who vow to trade tooth for tooth. (The metaphor started here, the correspondent says petulantly.) Who’s to argue with prophets or profits? One prophet got a good sneaker deal and jogs around the desert with tablet in hand (you can see the Apple icon in the corner); another drives a Ford truck like the one vandalized next door. When they meet in committee to discuss their investment in futures, they weigh prophecy against loss, aiming to say only enough that we fill the churches. Our Lady of the Freeways packs them in! Book deals are crucial, like the one Moses should have had on his commandments, so don’t say anything out loud until you get your advance. Advances are what it’s all about. Not the avant, whether military or art, but cold cash offered before your foretelling crashes like the Dow. You’d think that with this prognosis the name of the game would be self-help: How to Abide the Coming Crisis. But the gang of eight or ten or twenty-four knows other books sell better: How to Construct Your Anti-Nuclear Hut, or How to Write Love Letters to Dear Leader. In that instance, you need only spell out your sycophancy, knowing it a difficult spell. (Took me three tries, with spell check.) Exaggerate your words of affection, and never tease the Leader, because he lacks social skills. Just pinch pen and make your strokes broad and straight and bold. Do not hold back; mixed feelings are no longer permitted by writ of the packed court. Do not entertain any judge who hesitates to mete punishment, or any leader who fails to threaten destruction of cultural sites. “War crimes” were already a contradiction in terms, so why obey a hollow rule? Remember when we failed to bomb them into the stone age? Second chances happen for those who wait. It’s the quarterback’s fault we’re a divided people. All that kneeling and no tackling. No wonder he hasn’t had a job since. But I’ve dropped my too too happy abstraction, strained my tea for too long in the brown waters of the river, call it Babylon. A neighbor up the hill’s license plate reads TIGRIS. From One to Another Paradise, the tour brochure might read. We take you from the base of sheer tropical mountains to the river where civilization began. You return home to smoke your weed on Sundays. We’ve broken chronology, pulled it all into the present tense, heard you calling in air strikes in Ahuimanu. At the Mauna, Spring promises bulldozers and men in electric green shirts. Until then, attend to the birds and trucks.

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