The winds of change they are a'blowin
Okay, I give. Uncle. It's been an all around shitty week, a
few brief happy moments notwithstanding. I finally waved
the white flag at the gym tonight. I felt weak the whole time
I was lifting, then I got on the treadmill and about a mile
into it I was so light-headed I had to stop and sit down.
I thought I was going to pass out, or throw up, or pass up
and throw out, or something. Diiiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzy.
I sat down on the stair and held my head in a towel for
about ten minutes until I could stand up again. Not too
many weeks do I feel mentally, physically, and emotionally
beaten up, but this is one of them. I remember Virginia
Woolf writing about the feeling in Mrs. Dalloway, as if the
fabric of one's identity is being attacked at the perimeters
by a hundred scissors snipping. One tries not to let it
unravel. Eventually, if you manage to hold it together,
strength and resolve return and one goes back on the
attack. The simpler motto? When recovering from illness,
ease back into workouts. Seriously, who am I trying to
So tonight, tomorrow, it's time to retreat and lie in
the trenches. Too much stuff for me to absorb this
week, too many mind-blowing revelations, most of which
I can't share, but I am just starting to come to grips
with a whole list of things. A series of minor and major
One of those happy moments: Todd and Juli came over
and baked me lasagna. I flipped through their wedding
pics. I'm glad that some of my married friends can make
time to visit. I also learned something very strange--wedding
photographers keep your negatives for something like
seven years! I can't help but think that in a few years that
higher quality digital cameras will prevent these sort of
I was helping my father edit some cover letters for his
application for teaching jobs tonight. It's a very strange
thing, writing a recommendation for your parents.
Really, most of us are living recommendations for our
parents. It's not as if we're baby sea turtles, abandoned
in some nest on the beach, left to make a mad dash
across the sand with our flippers.
Salman Rushdie wrote an interesting, short article in
the NYTimes on Nov. 2. He started it:
"This isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been
repeating this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous
hope of deterring reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims
living in the West, partly because if the United States
is to maintain its coalition against terror it can't afford
to suggest that Islam and terrorism are in any way
The trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it
isn't true. If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide
Muslim demonstrations in support of Osama bin Laden
and Al Qaeda? Why did those 10,000 men armed with
swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan
frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why
are the war's first British casualties three Muslim men
who died fighting on the Taliban side?
He concluded it:
"The restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal,
its depoliticization, is the nettle that all Muslim societies
must grasp in order to become modern. The only aspect
of modernity interesting to the terrorists is technology,
which they see as a weapon that can be turned on its
makers. If terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam
must take on board the secularist-humanist principles
on which the modern is based, and without which
Muslim countries' freedom will remain a distant dream."
I seriously have a hard time following this whole war
on terrorism now. For a short period after Sept. 11, I
felt like I was on top of all the latest developments. Now
it doesn't seem like there's one good place to keep track
of everything. It's just one giant, complicated mess.
Theme of the day is "Broken" off the soundtrack for
The Insider, by Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance. A hidden
gem of a soundtrack, though by its nature a movie soundtrack
not by John Williams or that isn't a rock compilation is
usually unknown. In a close second place, the track "Faith"
off that same soundtrack. I remember when I was in
high school, or was it junior high, applying for some
scholarship/recognition program, and the main essay asked
that you analyze a work of art (fiction, music, painting, etc.).
Young, naive, I chose a piece of music. I think it was some
piece by Beethoven. I wrote this exhaustively long essay,
analyzing every measure of every minute of the piece,
breaking down the key, tonality, interplay of instruments,
etc. What I realize now is that you can't really write about
music in that way. It is an emotional art form, and a language
quite different from the written word. All I can really say is
that "Broken" reflects the way I feel this week, and "Faith"
is the way I think I'll come through it.
Or "Halah" by Mazzy Star. Howie and I went to see Jesus
and Mary Chain and Mazzy Star when we were at Stanford,
and they turned out the lights and Hope Sandoval sang Halah
while tapping a tambourine against her hip. Bittersweet.
V.S. Naipaul wrote in the NYTimes Magazine on 10.28.01:
[In response to a question: What do you think were the
causes of Sept. 11?]
It had no cause. Religious hate, religions motivation, was
the primary thing. I don't think it was because of American
foreign policy. There is a passage in one of the Conrad short
stories of the East Indies where the savage finds himself with
his hands bare in the world, and he lets out a howl of anger.
I think that, in its essence, is what is happening. The world
is getting more and more out of reach of simple people
who have only religion. And the more they depend on religion,
which of course solves nothing, the more the world gets out
of reach. The oil money in the 70's gave the illusion that
power had come to the Islamic world. It was as though up
there was a divine supermarket, and at last it had become
open to people in the Muslim world. They didn't understand
that the goods that gave them power in the end were made
by another civilization. That was intolerable to accept, and
it remains intolerable.
Old, old friend Julie sent me more photos of her and Paul's
new baby. Babies are lucky. They get to sleep, eat, and
work out all the time. It's no wonder they gain weight so
quickly. It's like those marathon runners who just run
all the time, otherwise they're sleeping and eating or
just lying around while coaches give them massages.
I've worked for the same manager, Jason, for 3 years now.
That's a long time. It's funny, in the early days of Amazon,
I used to run into him late nights at the copier machine.
It would be like 11pm on a weeknight, we'd be at the
office, and we'd be walking around in our undershirts
because the central air went off at night and we'd be
roasting up on the fourth floor. I think of all the people I
know that are around my age, he is the most instinctive
business person I know.
I thought all month I wouldn't write in the weblog because I
had to work on the novel. Turns out writing the novel puts me
at my PC most evenings, and when I hit a dead spot I turn
to the weblog to try and get the word flow going again. It's
like creatus interruptus.
Um, yes, I'm behind in my novel to the tune of about 3,000 or
4,000 words. I'm on a plane most of next week so I think I'll
be able to make it up.
I'm amazed by how many random e-mails I get from people
I've never met who correct me on things on my website or
write just to comment on something. Everytime I come home
and find an e-mail from some name I've never seen before,
I think "Oh!" It's like having a random stranger show up at
your front door and tell you that you should've used more
sugar in your recipe last night. And then the person walks
away and you never see them again.