When Urania was young/ All thought her heavenly/ With age her eyes grow larger/ But her form unmaidenly

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Two Thoughts on Qaddafi

Initial thought on the oddness of being in Libya: it must be hard to be a citizen of a country where you think the leader is (1) a buffoon and (2) scary, all at the same time.

On reflection, soemthing about that was unaccountably familiar, rather than being one of those TRUE foreign experiences. Can't quite put my finger on it. Hmm.

Refinement of initial thought: Still, having SO many pictures of the Leader everywhere, and such pictures, in so many costumes and poses. We started naming them: "There's the Loveboat Qaddafi." "Look, a Duran Duran Qaddafi!" "Hey - Bridge over the River Qaddafi!" It was kind of like Tony Randall in "The Seven faces of Dr Lao." Would have said Alex Guinness in "Kind Hearts and Coronets" but, alas, no Qaddafi-in-drag. If he ever starts crossdressing, it will be worth a trip back just for that.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Puts Hunky Dory on the Bose and first track: Changes.

"Daddy! I LOVE this song!"


"But the version on Shrek 2 is SO much better."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Faustian Bargains

Lately it occurred to me what makes a bargain uniquely Faustian is not that Faust sold his soul, but that he got a decent offer on it.

Off today to one of the loopier police states in this world. With due acknowledgement of the human misery involved, there would be something thin and poor about a world if it were all Belgium, with a tinsel-thin layer of local color.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


So, reading a book about an amateur astronomer who doesn't use a telescope; thinking about another book I have, called "Astronomy and the Imagination," also about what you see with bare eyes; and remembering standing out in the desert at night, beginning to learn the names of stars and the shapes of constellations, besides Orion and Ursa Major (The Big Dipper, The Wain).

Of course, these aren't names the stars call themselves. And I suppose there are Earthly cultures out there that haven't adopted the largely Arabic names and have preserved the local variations on the constellations, as in the paranthesis above. But I remember tracing the Zodiacal signs and spotting the planets among them, learning the diamond of Corvis and the smaller diamond of Crux, reflecting about baleful Al-Ghul out there in the wastes of Arabia. I was oriented, but the heavens weren't diminished or tamed. It was the difference between a book that's larger than I am because I can't read, and one that's larger because I can, a bit. So many of those dots of subtly multicolored light have names, amid the wash of the Milky Way. It amazes me how long I walked beneath those nuclear bonfires without having a name to call them any of them.

Need to get out to see them again, away from the city, at least once for every turn of the seasons.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A Note on Horror Movies

In the shower I was thinking about zombies, and I know which friend-once-removed to blame. I don't like them, horror movies - the original Dawn of the Dead gave me years of idle speculation, sitting in classrooms and plazas, standing at airports and in movie lines, any time my brain was underemployed: okay, the zombies come NOW - what's my plan?

It's one of those canards of critical studies that the monster in a horror movie always represents something else. That's a shop I don't frequent often, but I do buy this. What is it we fear: the criminal, the lone and determined sociopath (Freddy, Jason), or Everybody, other people, Society - with a final betrayal by our friends (Dawn of the Dead, Invasion of the Body Snatchers)? Does the disembodied Evil work from within (The Exorcist, The Shining) or without (The Amityville Horror)?

Funny - I don't think of myself as especially frightened or prone to capitalized absolutes, but I hate what dreams come after, almost invariably. I've developed a new horror habit - reading all the spoilers on the internet in the event that I ever end up watching it. The innoculation won't prevent the fever, but may contain it. I hope that horrifies somebody.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Disbanding of the Tribe

"He labored mightily and brought forth a Mouse."

Two months between entries and I start with acknowledging that I break my long silence only to acknowledge that I bought Boston's Greatest Hits for my own Christmas stocking, and talk about what that might mean.

Okay, no - no Kansas, no Journey, no Peter Frampton - nothing else from the mid-seventies stadium rock era, but it's still a betrayal of the Progressive-to-Glitter-to-Punk allegiance of the years when listening to music wasn't another solitary sin. What that means is that I, acting as a social atom, without reference to affiliation or ideology, consulting only my own tastes, like Boston - at least "More than a Feeling," "Peace of Mind," and "Don't Look Back." Oh, and this doesn't have the slight ironic tinge of my newly found taste for Detroit metal.

The standard take would be that this all is a step forward - autonomy and all that. Freedom to like what I like, not what I think I am supposed to enjoy. Leaving aside the question of whether that was happening (because it wasn't that I never listened to stadium rock - I just never bought any, didn't do the concerts) - it might be interesting to see whether that "follow you own bliss" is only for those who have that tendency, not for instinctive isolates, those with abnormal social-signal receptors, caustic independent analytics- just as the healthy diets of some people with unusual metabolisms may call for MORE fat, rather than the less most of us should have.

Music as a statement, a sign, a shibboleth, a badge, an emblem, a uniform - that's not a, indefensibly stupid choice, and pleasure is not yet so rare that it has to be the only consideration in aesthetics. But you can't conjure up a tribal life when the tribe has scattered all over the world. So, not only am I listening, I'm quoting:

I see what I am
is holding me down
I'll turn around