Measured Extravagance

11 January 2003 - 1:24 a.m.

This morning, I bloodied one of my toes when I dropped a paperback on it. The living room, however, is now significantly cleaner. I woke up groggy, and the temperature had plunged down some twenty degrees since my coat-less walk yesterday, so neither my brain nor my body felt up to anything requiring mental agility, so it became the day of much sweeping and scrubbing. After wiping down the bookcases, I managed a spell of ruthlessness when it came time to reshelve their contents, and ended up trading in a boxful for a Tom Gourdie manual and Artist & Alphabet: 20th Century Calligraphy and Letter Art in America (the catalog for a 1999 exhibition of master calligraphers). So the day was not devoid of study.

"The plane was about to smell like a potpie, but that couldn't be helped."

While waiting for someone at a bookstore a couple of days ago, I started rereading Lawrence and Lee's The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail (they're the guys who wrote Inherit the Wind). When I read it in high school, the part I copied into my journal was Thoreau's dialogue with Lydian Emerson on marriage and loneliness. This week, the part that had me reaching for my notebook?

UNSEEN VOICE: "This unnecessary war was unconstitutionally commenced by the President, who may be telling us the Truth -- but he is not telling us the whole Truth. He has swept the war on and on, in showers of blood. His mind, taxed beyond its powers, is running out like some tortured creature on a burning surface." [with passion] Stop the war, Mr. President! For the love of God, stop this war!

HENRY: I do not know you, Mr. Congressman. I doubt if the people of Illinois will re-elect you, because you refused to "go along." But I shall remember who you are, Congressman Lincoln.[1]

[1] The Lincoln link will take you to Dave Trowbridge's "Redwood Dragon" blog, which also features a thought-provoking subsequent entry on evaluating "the weight of evidence" an administration is able and/or willing to supply in favor of war. And perhaps I should emphasize that I do not necessarily agree with everything I quote or link here? (Lincoln's positions towards Mexican-American War and war powers permitted to the Chief Executive were complex (some might even say contradictory), and James K. Polk was not a dummy. I'm surprised the hands of the Doomsday clock aren't closer to midnight [2] and hey, here's another essay on "evidence". . .

[2] The clock was reset less than a year ago, and the BAS doesn't make hasty or trivial adjustments, so I'm not so much surprised that the clock still reads seven 'til - it's more the sense that the situation has deteriorated rapidly since then. I'm not really one to indulge in worries about the apocalypse (I sweat the small stuff big-time, but ignored Y2K as much as anyone would let me), and I'd be in love with present mirth and present laughter regardless, but am I more worried than usual? clinging a shade harder to what I love? Yes. Will my work completely disappear from the memory of the earth sooner rather than later? Well, that may well happen even if we don't get incinerated by fire or dissolved by gas. So that's no reason not to work on things.

On a far lighter note, our mayor's Titans-Steelers wager has me a bit non-plussed. The Jack Daniels tipsy cake makes sense, but The Bible? As part of a bet!? (According to The City Paper, Pittsburgh's sending beer and sandwiches if we win.)

One year ago: "i am not a camera, but a mirror"

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