True Confessions

Here’s what I suspect to be true: Last year, I was coming to the end of things without really realizing it. Next year, some new shit is going to start. I don’t know what it will be. It’s still out there, on the horizon–the future–not yet resolved into anything.

This year is like me being on a huge chunk of ice that has made its way down the glacier and now has broken off and is floating in the cold Atlantic toward warmer water. All I can do this year is watch the ice berg crack, feel it shift, and hope it stays in one piece long enough to bring me close to shore.

And the truth is that I’m not only bummed, I’m afraid. It’s not just that so much has changed this year, it’s that I feel like all this change is just getting ready for… and I don’t know what.

If this is all the breaking loose that has to happen in order for the new thing to emerge, holy fuck, what will that be like?

Not My Thing

In the past couple of weeks, I read I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro and North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud. They’re both short-story collections. They’re both exquisitely written. I mean, god damn, each story is like some perfectly crafted jewel.

Some perfectly crafted jewel that just leaves me feeling like blech. What is this thing I have just read and why did I just read it?

I want to think some more about what I didn’t like about them. Like I said, it’s got nothing to do with the quality of the writing. These are folks who have brought their A-games. Possibly not just their A-games. But there’s a kind of heaviness to their writing that I don’t like. I finished both of them and felt like “Great, now I can’t breathe.”

Oh, Putin

I read the NYTimes opinion piece. It’s worth reading if only to see what kinds of arguments Russia thinks the U.S. will respond to. It’s not quiet as smooth as I’d expect from an ex-KGB guy. He a little too blatantly tries to both claim that someone else in Syria has control of the chemical weapons and that Syria can put its chemical weapons under U.N. control–“No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists.” vs. “The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government’s willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction.”

If the Syrian government isn’t the one using chemical weapons, why would destroying the government’s cache of chemical weapons solve anything?

Then there’s a lot of stuff about the dangers of brute force in foreign countries which must be hilarious in a painful way to the people of Georgia and Ukraine and… well, you know, anywhere Russia is regularly throwing its weight around.

But it’s odd, because Americans like Putin because he comes across as a decisive bad-ass. But here he is, counting on being able to appeal to some sense in Americans that decisive bad-assry is not always called for. He reinforces this by trying to call on us to see ourselves as a little less “exceptional.”

The only way this is possibly flying with conservatives is just because they dislike Obama.

But lastly, I think his appeal to us as fellow religious, specifically Christian, believers–“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” Note that he mentioned the Pope specifically, but he didn’t mention Kirill. I’m assuming Putin is saying shit Kirill would agree with here, but to me it was just an interesting reminder that this is not quite an honest argument on his part. I mean, in Putin’s world, Kirill has much more authority and his opinions carry much more weight than Francis.

But when he’s pretending to be just like “us,” he invokes Francis’s authority to make his point.

Anyway, he didn’t sway me one way or another. To me, either option is a clusterfuck of problems–bombing or not. But I’m fascinated that he thought this was the piece that might sway us.