Suppose your father or mother--let's say father for the sake of definiteness--walked into this room at the ordinary human pace of walking. And suppose just behind him was his father. And just behind him was his father. How long would we have to wait before the ancestor who enters the now open door is a creature who normally walked on all fours?
The answer is a week. The parade of ancestors moving at the ordinary pace of walking would take only a week before you got to a quadruped.
A couple of years ago, Jen's rolling suitcase broke, so we took advantage of Briggs & Riley's very good lifetime warranty by hand delivering the wounded wheelie to their repair facility in the hinterland of Moss Beach, California. Once we found it, we were impressed by the care and knowledge shown by the people working there and by this nicely decaying little car in the parking lot.
It's a WillysAero Lark built in Toledo, Ohio sometime between 1952 and 1954. (Willys also made this nifty little toy.)
Whatever color it may have been, the ocean air has corroded it down to a subdued palette of elegant, tropical decrepitude.
The Aero Lark is no longer there ("No wing bestirs the undisturbéd air") but the truck next to it is. (I am still flabbergasted at what you can see in Google Maps.)
I wish there were more cars like this in colors like this today. And decay itself is always interesting. What happens to things when no one's paying attention? I'm more suspicious than surprised at the independence of mind betrayed by missing objects that chauvinistically insist on being where I left them rather than where I thought I left them.
I wondered (for the five seconds you wonder anything before Googling it) if "beautiful decay" was an aesthetic with a following outside of Goth and soon I was viewing the Flickr group beautiful decay. I was already listening to My Number One At Work radio station, Drone Zone on Soma FM, and the coincidental combination of music and full-screen slideshow formed a surprisingly coherent pharmeceutical cocktail. I felt like M. L. Gujral and in a Gujralian frenzy combined this and this as a recipe for the idea of a cathedral, while this plus this produces a self-generating documentary of mournful but uncertain political vantage.
As a liberal, I can't help sympathizing with the underdog, so I was paradoxically cheered by David Brooks' heartfelt excavation and reinforcement of the conservative "way of living":
In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by
what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go
through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school,
then the institutions of a profession or a craft...Lack of institutional awareness has bred cynicism and undermined
habits of behavior. Bankers, for example, used to have a code that made
them a bit stodgy and which held them up for ridicule in movies like
“Mary Poppins.” But the banker’s code has eroded, and the result was
not liberation but self-destruction.
Institutions do all the things that are supposed to be bad. They impede personal exploration. They enforce conformity. But they often save us from our weaknesses and give meaning to life.
I wish this level of self-analysis carried more weight in American conservatism. Thirty months ago it might have given some positive direction to a Republican party thrashing around aimlessly in the wreckage of neoconservatism. Thirty years ago it might have been a center of intellectual gravity to pull the party from its death spiral into cynical, anti-government, wedge politics focused on winning rather than governing.
I thought I'd found another positive statement of modern conservative principle in Dinesh D'Souza's Letters to a Young Conservative, but yeesh. He starts off on the wrong foot with a superfluous description on page 2 of a hypothetical liberal protester as a "large, disheveled woman" who comes "rolling up the aisle shouting." Dude, seriously. Do you really not see what attitudes you've balled up into those few, unnecessary words? (Freudians, linguists, film theorists and other VLWC conspirators have advanced the idea that superfluous, seemingly unmotivated communication reveals a speaker's unstated and possibly repressed motivation. Which is exactly what you'd expect them to say.)
But most of D'Souza's shallowness lies conveniently on the surface. Gender wage discrepancies are easily explained ("among men, there are many more geniuses", btw) and we'd all be better off if women learned to value the private sphere more rather than compete with men in the public sphere. Oofda.
D'Souza was one of the whippersnappers associated with the Dartmouth Review, founded the same year I started college, and my opinion of them hasn't changed since then. They're punks. With the same truant bravado and desire to provoke and probably the same eventual collapse into a suicidal bloodbath of doctrinal purity. Whether the last ones in the clubhouse are screaming "No new taxes!" or "No new chords!", most members will gradually drift away to explore related but more complex alternatives. Which is what happens when your culture is founded on the comprehensive externalization of blame and you run out of things to blame.
Tony Wilson said, "Punk enabled you to say 'Fuck you', but somehow it couldn't go any
further. Sooner or later someone was going to want to say, 'I'm
fucked', and that was Joy Division." I can't wait to hear the Republican Joy Division.