Archive for the 'Contemporary Culture' Category

Moving Atoms

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

I am in the process of moving to downtown Los Angeles after fourteen relatively pleasant (although strikingly boring, on the whole — which is, I suppose, the whole point) years in The OC. I have never lived anywhere as long as I have lived in this particular house, and everyone I know has assured me that I, in particular, should dread the physical task of packing and moving. It is true; I have a lot of stuff. I have generally claimed, though, that the bulk of my possessions are books (and their oak vertical coffins). Now that I have packed a significant proportion of my worldly goods, I will admit that there were also a lot of miscellaneous odds and ends lying about the place. Nevertheless, the 108 large cardboard book boxes and 31 now empty bookcases testify in favor of my original assertion, but also stand as weighty markers of our incomplete transition from atoms to bits.

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Rapture

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Like the earth itself, Al Gore seems to be taking a lot of heat lately. Perhaps this is because folks on the left are not supposed to talk about the End Of The World. Maybe it is the particular means of apocalypse that is so disturbing to Gore’s critics: Humans are usurping the divine right to end it all, and, worse, they are doing it in the one way that has been explicitly ruled out in Scripture. Does this eschatological trend signal a disturbing theology of the trickster God who promises not to bring about another flood, but then mischievously stands by while we gradually accrue the power to bring it on ourselves?

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Tattoo

Monday, June 19th, 2006

An airport waiting area, Long Beach, California, densely crowded with people waiting for planes, many of which were running late despite perfectly clear, although hot and oddly humid, weather. Packed so tightly together, some people, such like myself, retreat into their own private reserve as folks often do when traveling, but others seem more convivial. Three people in this latter category: A middle-aged Mexican American man with a prodigious mustache (who looked more than a bit like Benicio del Toro’s depiction of Oscar Zeta Acosta), a fairly young African American guy, forced by convoluted circumstance to fly standby, with a paisley Yankees baseball cap and an easy, cheerful laugh, and, at the center of things, a young white woman, who had a hint of an Oklahoma or Texas accent mixed with her SoCal slang, sporting something like a Pat Benatar haircut. They have all three obviously been sitting here for a while; there is a shared a conspiratorial rapore between them by now. I am fiddling with my iPod all this while, having just sat down in their midst, when I notice the girl showing off to the older man a tattoo on her wrist — a fairly small calligraphic character: “It means ‘beautiful girl’ in Chinese,” she explains.

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