Mon – September 6, 2004 at 07:55 AM
He only blogs on weekdays – I didn’t know if he’d write today, it being a national holiday, and all.
But he did, and he’s on .
Oh, there’s the entering graf with all the relaxing domestic atmospherics of Jasperwood. Sometimes that’s all there is. Sometimes he’s setting you up for the hammer blows. All he needs really is a little ammunition, and today’s news media, with its post-modernist sensitivities, is only too willing to provide:
A peaceful weekend. At least here. There’s a bloody child on the front page of the newspaper. The Strib subhead calls them “Islamic guerrillas” and “fighters” and “militants,” because you know one man’s terrorist is another man’s disciple of God who practices his sharpshooting so he can nail children in the back at 50 paces.
I’ve often thought that real comic genius lies in noticing everyday things that are hysterical, but that the rest of us are too busy with our lives to notice, and place in context. We see them, but we do not notice them. The fact that we have seen them is the hook the comic exploits, our shared awareness of the laughter ready to happen, needing only a shove from a pro. Lileks is not a comic, but a careful observer of the world we live in. Sometimes the things he sees are humorous. Often they are not. The by-now standard reference to guerrillas, versus terrorists, in Beslan would probably not have caught my attention – I have come to a point in my life when I read the newspapers like politburo observers used to read Pravda and Izvestia back in the days of the Soviet empire: I look for what they don’t say, I read between the lines. The code language used to avoid the possibility of offending anyone’s sensitivities, or choosing sides in an existential war between freedom and tyranny I find uninteresting – it bears so little resemblance to the world as I see it. In some distant part of my consciousness, my eyes register lines like this, while my mind moves on:
“This week’s bloodbath in Russia shattered the notion that innocents are taboo terror victims.”
Only now is such a notion shattered, Lileks notices.
His genius then, lies in noticing. Go there, read him, share his despair at the kind of mind that could formulate a sentence like that in September, 2004. Also deconstructed are playwright/actor Wallace Shawn, and sadly, comic artist Art Spiegelman.
Artists are sensitive souls, who thrive in times of peace and prosperity. I can understand them wishing that the times we live in were different – I wish they were too. What I cannot understand is how these sensitive observers of the world around us can see what we have seen and still, somehow find a way to lay the blame for it all on BUSHCHENEYHALLIBURTON (ed. Don’t forget AHSCROFT).
Sailors are forced to be pragmatists in order to survive. The ocean is our environment, and it cannot be reasoned with, nor wished away. You must deal with the sea as it is, and not as you wish it might be. If it does not conform to your desires, you must modify them or perish. If the ocean doesn’t conform to your world view, you must challenge your assumptions.
Perhaps that’s the difference between sailors and artists.