Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Just finished reading Rebecca Solnit's brilliant piece in Harper's magazine while waiting for my shower to heat up after a morning pulling up invasive European buckthorn from the woods here in Massachusetts. It appears that the buckthorn (small, woody undergrowth) grows much faster than I could possibly uproot it, and my activity well rhymed with Solnit's evocation of "arcadian" Detroit returning to a quasi-wilderness, still inhabited but even post-post, after the rhetoric of Devils Night arson gangs seems to have passed from crisis into a permanent lore. My Sisyphian gardening seemed to foreground the weirdness of nature as a construct, all of these plants growing wildly amid the question of containment, beauty, utility, etc. And of course yesterday and the last few days I was running around feeding sheep, who need constant care it seems not to wander, scare, or eat themselves to death. Nature is half what survives and half what is let to survive, though obviously making someone let you (wool, milk, cuteness) is as much tactic as accident. Or tactic as accident, accident as tactic.

As if the Grand Canyon does need us after all, contra the very silly Imax movie I saw at the resplendant Boston Museum of Science last night. (To my great relief, Leonard Nimoy still gives a magisterial introduction over John Williams's out-coplanding copland New England hymn that was even better than I remembered from being ten years old.)

And meanwhile, Detriot is changing. Solnit describes the heroic atempts to turn the abandoned urban landscape into new farms, farm schools, sustainable eating infrastructure, etc. She rightly pauses to note the disturbing echo of sharecropping that so many people moved to Michigan to escape in the new "improved" Detroit tomorrowland. And yet-- and this is what I think makes Harpers magazine's naysaying easier to take than other paper political rags like the Atlantic Monthly's chicken little Neo-isms -- there's hope in that tomorrow, as if the apocalypse might already have happened, and no one has noticed yet, and it's going to be ok.

Should art do this, be the bitter pill as consolation for the bitter pill? Speaking of apocalypses, I saw the new Die Hard movie and was, as expected, fairly entertained by the incompletely averted apocalypses that the movie seemed to be admitting had already happened. I jibed against the predictable conservative government-as-good-once-we-weed-the-arrogant-bad-apples bit but was left with a weird feeling that somehow the scrim is thinner than it looks. At the Mugar Omni theater they shine lights behind the screen to reveal a network of speakers, pipes and braces and I always try to figure out whether I'm seeing the real back or a projection of it, and if it is a projection, whether it's accurate. Or if it's not accurate, is it ideal? Detroit for the alien as a complicated greenhouse or a neighborhood full of squatters...

Right now a hummingbird is humming in the flowers in the window watered by the rain.

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