Flashmobs and Guvs
I checked the candidates list this morning, and sure enough, just as my mom reported, there's my dad's third wife. Apparently, she hasn't turned in her paperwork yet, but there's still all of today. Who knows what might happen.
I noticed Peter Ueberroth might run. There's a man I could get behind: a principled man, a good manager, and a humble person who hasn't let fame or praise determine how he sees himself. I've been in his home: he does keep a framed picture of himself as Times' Man of the Year--but its hung in the laundry room. Not exactly Arnold "bikini wax" Schwarzenegger.
I've decided that it's time to abandon my principles about this recall election. It's worthless and pointless to argue that the recall is a sham perpetrated in order to subvert the election process, and that it's a threat to democracy. That doesn't really matter, and it isn't the point. The point is that nobody really wants Davis as governor. Arguing my point about the recall just brings home the reality that I can't defend Davis, and wouldn't if I could. Nobody I know voted for him because they were passionate about the man, or the job he could do for us. We voted for him because Bill Simon scared the bejesus out of us. I actually voted for Camejo, but only late in the day and because I was pretty certain by that point that Davis wouldn't lose.
The other reason not to argue whether the recall should occur, or why it's a bad idea is that people don't care: they only care that jobs are leaving California, they care that we have a 34B$ deficit, they care that services are being slashed. I care about all that too.
That's why the recall happened. It's not just Darrell Issa and his money that created this mess, this "circus"--the conditions had to be ripe for it to occur. Davis made a mess, and the one thing we can all agree on is that.
But before I completely give up my position that the recall shouldn't happen, I have this solution to offer. If Davis were to resign today, Bustamente could take over, and the recall balloon would deflate and the whole circus would be defused.
Meanwhile, there's a Flash Mob scheduled today in San Francisco, according to cheesebikini, and the information will be posted here.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 9:07 AM link | comments 
In the Mission district the other night, a bookstore called 'The Abandoned Planet' yielded a signed copy of Passwords, an out-of-print William Stafford. This poem is beautiful:
Some Things the World Gave
Times in the morning early
when it rained and the long gray
buildings came forward from darkness
offering their windows for light.
Evenings out there on the plains
when sunset donated farms
that yearned so far to the west that the world
centered there and bowed down.
A teacher at a country school
walking home past a great marsh
where ducks came gliding in—
she saw the boy out hunting and waved.
Silence on a hill where the path ended
and then the forest below
moving in one long whisper
as evening touched the leaves.
Shelter in winter that day—
a storm coming, but in the lee
of an island in a cover with friends—
oh, little bright cup of sun.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 7:32 AM link | comments 
8.6.2003What are the stories we tell each other about our origins, and about life? It was the old way to tell the creation story when you wanted to evoke creation in any form. If you were writing a song or creating a new child or healing any kind of sickness, the creation story would be evoked.We get the impression that for archaic societies life cannot be repaired, it can only be re-created by a return to sources. And the "source of sources" is the prodigious outpouring of energy, life, and fecundity that occurred at the Creation of the World.
--Myth And Reality
I feel the need for such stories. In my childhood, creation stories were told to me in a strange context called Sunday School. This took place in an upstairs room with many chairs and an upright piano wedged in near some tables. Sunday School was what we had to endure before going to eat at the House of Pancakes, the house of many flavors of syrup. The stories we heard in that cramped, sweaty room had less to do with our lives than any story you could have told us about who invented blue syrup. Those old stories never left that room, never inhabited us. We were left to create on our own.
Maybe that's why I was drawn to the study of literature in school. I felt the need for stories that could hold me up, and induct me into the greater civilization where stories have been told and stored in stacks. My ancestors live in the libraries. When I need wisdom or structure I can go to the poets, to the Greeks, or to Blake.
As Americans, we have creation stories that we all know and share: Washington crossing the Delaware, Paul Revere and his midnight ride, Patrick Henry's Give me Liberty or Give me Death, and Frederick Douglas. We've also got the deaths of countless indigenous people, the Civil War, slavery, and other nightmares. What are we left with? When we're facing a crisis of leadership, which of these stories do we tell each other in order to re-create a democracy that inspires us?
The Boston Tea Party would be a great place to start. Our ancestors felt deeply every turn of the screw that parliament put on their perceived liberties in the form of pernicious taxes like the Stamp Act. They wrote letters, boycotted English goods, wore homespun clothes--all for liberty out of indignation. They didn't even want independence, it just became a need. Those aren't the oldest stories we can tell, but I think we need to retell these stories of democracy--they're stories that could serve us now.
What I want to know is this. Jon Carroll is only in town for two weeks, and he knows way more gossip than I do. How is that? Am I hanging out with the wrong people? I'm only slightly consoled that I might know more about birds than he does.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 7:35 AM link | comments 
8.5.2003Some of us place bloggers are getting together for a radio interview on my local community radio station, KWMR, later today. So I've been giving some thought to what this whole place blogging phenomenon imeans to me:
Writing about place enhances my connection to the immediate world around me, by increasing my awareness and understanding of how I impact it and how it infects my life with its beauty and peace. Of course, there are many lessons to be learned from nature, but in any place there's value in increasing our connectedness not only to our own communities, but also to the larger community of the planet--a feeling at home here, that this greater place is ours, and that we do have some ownership and some responsibility and something to say and an effect on what happens here.
I believe that we should delve deeply into whatever moves us. This place moves me and that's why I began to write about it. If we follow our passions, that's where any hope lies in reclaiming the lost spirit in our modern world.
On one level there's the environmental mission of saving the planet, but the ecological value goes even deeper than that. It's not just how we interact with the earth to save the earth, it's how we interact with the earth, and with our communities, to save ourselves. It's become very obvious that we've forgotten, or don't know, how to live in a soulful manner. All I'm really trying to do is save myself.
Dissonance, distraction, disconnection.
Michael Meade says that we're in a slow apocalypse. The veil is being lifted on our world, and revealing what has been hidden. What's being revealed in our institutions, in ourselves, and our forms, is a world where there is no meaning, or where the meaning has been completely subverted. We have leaders who can't be trusted with intelligence, a clergy with its hands in the profane, and we're fighting war to get peace. Words, as spoken in our mainstream arenas, no longer mean what they say. That's why there's a groundswell movement of poetry and hip-hop. People are hungry for words that mean something, and for meaning in general. There's a post-modern emptiness that's left us wondering what is true, and where we can find value.
In a world like this, the primary act that is called for is to reinvest form with meaning. To stand for something. To stand in one place and say, this place has more meaning that that place. This is sacred ground, this is my home, this view out my window has value beyond the value of any random other thing that can be seen.
The world, particularly the world as seen through the internet, is an endless series of horizontal links, all leading out from random starting points and with no particular end point. Connection to place is an antidote to that scattershot trend. I'm engaged in delving into the very ground beneath my feet, and upwards into the heavens. There's a vertical interest here. It feels like staking a flag into the dirt, saying "I am here, I know this ground". It's saying there is meaning in this literal path where my feet walk to the beach, and it moves from the dirt, into me and upwards into the firmament. There is spirit above, spirit in me, and spirit in the ground below me.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 2:34 PM link | comments 
8.4.2003I've just read Geoff Dyer's Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It, which, no, is not a self-help book, nor is it anything to do with yoga. It's travel stories by the author. I read it based on an NYT review I read awhile back, and last night I ran across the passage which was quoted there, and which was part of the inspiration to read. He and his girlfriend, Circle, are in Cambodia, and he describes the greens of the rice paddies as they walk through them.It was not just the paddies themselves: the surrounding vegetation--foliage so dense the trees lost track of whose leaves were whose--was a rainbow coalition of one colour: green. There was an infinity of greens, rendered all the greener by splashes of red hibiscus and the herons floating past, so white and big it seemed as if sheets hung out to dry had suddenly taken wing. All other colours--even purple and black--were shades of green. Light and shade were degrees of green. Greenness, here, was less a colour than a colonising impulse. Everything was either already green--like a snake, bright as a blade of grass, sidling across the footpath--or in the process of becoming so. Statues of the Buddha were mossy, furred with green. Stone had become plant, the inanimate had become organic. "Annihilating all that's made /To a green thought in a green shade"? No, even thought had been annihilated. This was an entirely sensual green, one that rendered thought not just impossible but inconceivable.
The book isn't at all about nature, and descriptions of the landscape are rare--actually this may be the only such--so quoting this passage is almost entirely out-of-context. Often, reading these stories, I thought how much I wouldn't want to travel with this man. His existential boredom, his clever intellectualism would bore me, throw me into despair, and in fact sometimes just reading the book I felt that way. But as the stories continued, as he unfolded himself around the world, eventually chronicling the realization that he was having a nervous breakdown over a plate of eggs in Detroit, I saw how much he could well be a friend of mine. Who doesn't wonder about his place in the scheme of things, and who doesn't anguish that their contribution to it all amounts to nothing, in his case "ink". I was put off by his boredom while traveling the world, while living in Rome, tripping in Amsterdam or southeast Asia, or stoned in Amsterdam, or bored (again) in New Orleans, because the travel itself seemed so exotic, because one who could travel seemed so fortunate, that I disdained his having normal anxiety in those circumstances. But the story is an old one. It doesn't matter what path you take--you will question whether it's the right one.
I read the book in all of my spare moments this weekend, and finished it last night. I'm tempted to read it again. It's funny, and brilliant in parts, and human. It's completely conflicted, and that's what I love about it. Take this passage from Leptis Magna where Dyer travels to Libya to see a ruin he knows almost nothing about, but has always wanted to see based on the childhood photograph of a friend.Obviously a vocabulary of architecture is essential if you are to articulate what you have seen in a building, but perhaps the act of seeing itself is dependent on that lexicon. Without words are you not only mute but partially blind too? Was I going to Leptis to not see it? Alternating between confidence and extreme doubt, I felt myself on the brink of methodological panic. Gradually, as this panic deepened, I felt my confidence returning.
In the end, he tells the story of Black Rock City at Burning Man interwoven with walks of pilgrimage in Asia. After closing the book, this is what I remember:The Buddha exuded such serenity that I had an impulse to fall to my knees. I resisted it, but what can you do when you are profoundly moved? There is only a limited repertoire of gestures available to us in moments like these.
posted by Lisa Thompson on 7:37 AM link | comments 
Copyright 2003 Lisa Thompson. All Rights Reserved.