This Thing Called Courage

Monday, December 03, 2007

First Snow Fall


It was nice, after all the preparation for art show I had this past weekend at Calamus Books, to get back to my novel today, Lucky in Love. Something is realigned again in the universe and a tangled thread comes loose again. I know that sounds kind of high-flying, but it really is nice to be back to the old love. Still and all, I had to take a break to write down how beautiful the snow is right now. It stated as snow last night, sometime after I went to bed, then changed to frozen rain, then all rain, so it's pretty messy underfoot. But about fifteen minutes ago it turned back to snow, as they said it might, and right now we are having a 'snow burst,' the kind with the huge white flakes, which swirls around in little eddies, then bursts off somewhere else with a sudden gust of wind. Beautiful!!! I've said it before and I'll say it again, you would never believe the view from my bedroom window (in front of which is the computer on which I write) once you realize I live on Main Street, aka Route 28 North. It's a four-lane state highway that the house sits on, and the nonsense never ends, as it's a convenient alternative to Route 93 (which runs parallel half a mile to the west). But there are four acres of woods out back, landlocked acres that have somehow escaped development. So when I look out my window I see the old red barn out back, and behind that, woods as far as the eye can see. I have a bunch of candles lit, and there is some acoustic Christmas music playing, and it's more beautiful than I can say.

Earlier I was over at Mahoney's Rocky Ledge, the garden center in Winchester, to get some more firewood for the fireplace. I try to cull it from the woods where I walk, but the very cold weather lately and a number of fires have depleted my stocks, and I really wanted some wood for tonight, when I will park myself in front of the boob tube for Patriots Game. Though I love the Patriots, I always feel like I need a mental shower after watching a game, such is the clutter that I feel in my mind after having exposed it to three hours of man-aimed commercials: trucks, beer, and tools are all they have left us, in this world where we are no longer citizens but consumers, no longer people but a target market. And why is it that all the men in commercials these days are depicted as dumb? These things, I know, don't happen by chance, and, though the ads appear almost casual in their goofiness, they are as exact and studied and methodical as surgical instruments. There was once a time (or so they say) when television mirrored society-- now it seeks to shape society, and dicate what is appropriate behavior for the sexes, and what is not. For example, even as we speak, the horror of Iraq continues, and the vast swindling of the American people, when tremendous amounts of money are being transferred from the public treasury to the corporate whores who are benefitting from this war. Above and beyond this, of course, the killing and maiming goes on. But you would never know there's a war on by watching the idiot box. When the cast of 'Friends' gatheres in their hip pad to talk ('Friends' as an example-- but any show will do) they won't be discussing the Iraq War, or Guatanemo, or waterboarding, or the vivisection of the middle and working classes; instead they will wonder if the cute new guy in accounting is gay or not. This (and hundreds of similar scenes in hundreds of shows like Friends)sends the subtle but almost invioable (or so it would appear!) signal that these meaningless topics are approrpriate for people to talk about, and the others (the war etc) are not. And people, alas, go and do likewise. To me it's like a bunch of people sitting in a room, laughing and talking aimlessly, and every two minutes someone comes in and cuts someone's head off. Everyone pretends not to notice, and no one talks about it, instead focusing on what they bought today, or how horrible the traffic was on the commute, or, indeed, the cute new guy in accounting and what his proclivities might be-- anything but the reality of the current situation. It's just crazy to have this killing going on in our name in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at the same time to be shown images of people shopping, rubbing on moisturizers, racing around in new cars, buying houses, etc. A pox, I say! Shut the damn thing off, walk down to the nearest intersection, and hold up a sign that says STOP KILLING FOR CORPORATE PROFIT. Can't do it? Ah, no policer like the self-policer, as Foucault noted. Perhaps if the cast of Friends got together for a war protest, we would all feel more comfortable going out and doing likewise. But don't hold your breath.

But I digress.

Many thanks to all who came to my art show on Saturday, and a special thanks to Sean B. who helped me set up (and find a parking spot in the madness that is the fringe of Chinatown on the weekends, when they have the Chinese Open Air market.) It was great to see so many friends there-- thank you all so much. And thanks, too, to John Mitzel, the proprietor of Calamus Books, who invites me to do this every year. He and his store are both rare treasures in an increasingly homogenized city of Boston.

Both weekend days were amazingly cold, but in entirely different ways. Saturday was bright blue and dry and it never really managed to get out of the twenties-- pretty but cold. Yesterday was quite different-- totally gray above, like we were ensconced in a dove's breast, and amazingly raw, again in the twenties. It recalled the poem Snowbound: The sun that brief December day rose cheerless over hills of grey/ and darkly circled, gave at noon, a sadder light than waning moon, except we saw no sun at all. That kind of cold just gets into your bones. Nonetheless we forced ourselves after church to get out to Castle Island, where me and Mister Fionn took our usual Sunday perambulation. There was hardly anyone out there, and the air was so cold and dense and raw you could have almost cut it. And yet the more we walked, the better it felt-- like air that have drifted down from Labrador, pristine air that had never been breathed by anyone before. By the time we finished we were quite rosy-cheeked and felt wonderful.

Okay, back to the novel now.

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