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[OCTOBER 2005.]

Blog Quake Day

So today has been designated. I have no arguments to produce or examples to adduce; I don't know as much about the South Asia blog scene as I should; but charity is never a failing. Please do what you can.


Inadequate Threnodies

From time to time I think of sending an open email to the staff of, say, the Purdue Climate Change Research Center, asking them how they sleep at night. Me, what with climate change and Iraq and the tendency of my web searches to turn up sites like answersingenesis.org, it leaves me blue in the face and I want to write an angry novel, a corrosive book to sear one's hands; but if you insist, with Adorno, on “black as an ideal,” you run the risk of ending up with Blood Meridian, and we just don’t need any more of that. Approaching Zero is nearly finished. I know that I want my next one to make fewer compromises; but that’s abstract and I don’t know how to get there. I do know that something like this demands a response:

One night a guy came and broke chem lights open and beat the PUCs with it [sic]. That made them glow in the dark which was real funny but it burned their eyes and their skin was irritated real bad.

[“Person Under Control” or PUC (pronounced “puck”) is the term used by US military forces to refer to Iraqi detainees.]

[Chem lights refer to chemical light sticks. While we do not know the exact composition of the ones allegedly used in Iraq, these lights are typically made of a hydrogen peroxide solution mixed with a phenyl oxalate ester and dye for color.]

I have an idea. It might be facile; I might end up not writing it. Late, with the laptop open, a single lamp lit, there is so much I want to do. Rip away linguistic habit, drill down to the core of suffering; and then what? It was there first. It will resume its business after you leave. Older than you. Stronger than you.


Mail Bag

When is Paul gonna post?

Oh Lord, I know. The weather is unpredictable around here.

when i chucked ‘golden gate’ into iTunes, it set up house right next to pavement’s “elevate me later.” huzzah!

That was a mix tape regular, back in the Silurian Period of mix tapes. Very glad to be range-roving with the indie stars of yesteryear.

what are you going to be for halloween?

Probably, for the second year running, we’ll be old people who hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. My favorite of last year’s costumes was the girl dressed in a dashing pinstripe suit and rakish fedora, with lots of conspicuous bling spilling out of her pockets: “What are you?” “A jewel thief.”

paul, where were you in guatemala in relation to the mudslide zones?

The worst of it hit the shores of Lake Atitlán, which is both one of the country’s biggest tourist destinations and a collection of highly traditionalist indigenous communities—of course the people are presented as another tourist attraction, along with the beaches and volcanoes. I did visit, and it was beautiful, but the part of the country I’m writing about is farther east along the Chixoy river, where the hydroelectric dam was built.

Maya burial customs dictate that bodies be interred within a day of death; since many of them cannot be recovered under these circumstances, the mudslide zones are being declared mass graves. Many villages are reluctant to accept help from the army, since the time when army and paramilitary units would appear without warning to carry out massacres is barely a decade past. If you have any room in your budget after the other recent tragedies and would like to send something to Guatemala, I can recommend Rights Action, good people who met with me in Guatemala and very graciously helped put me in touch with indigenous communities affected by the dam. (They take credit cards; donate on behalf of “Hurricane Stan Relief.”)

Regarding the other side of the world, Manan at Chapati Mystery is taking donations and selling T-shirts to support the Edhi Foundation in Kashmir; if you haven’t found time to send anything yet, I can vouch for him unreservedly.


The Golden Gate

I am an adult, and even if an adult happens to use up his entire lifetime complement of neurotransmitters on a single day's schoolwork and then gets on the web and is once again reminded what actually comprises his future profession, he will not complain. It is not done. Das man does not do it.

I could make a lot of gestures here, but probably the best is to do something I’ve meant to do for a while and post a song about jumping off a bridge. It’s the second single off the record, if you want to think of it that way; about seven megabytes. Of the eleven songs it’s my favorite.


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