Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Triumph of Texas

I really liked what I got to see of the Austin area this Christmas. Never having been to Texas before, here are two things that made it special:

1. In the Southeast an ugly store, strip mall or factory can totally dominate the landscape, what with the uneven terrain, high trees, and smaller sky. In Texas, though, humanity's crapitalist follies are always, always dwarfed by the sky, no matter how much neon they spackle themselves with.

2. Because there's more space (and maybe because it's the Holidays) everywhere we went seemed populated, but not crowded. In the Southeast urban centers it can seem like Soylent Green days are here, but in Texas I finally lost that sensation of the world being overrun by a plague of humans. It ennobled humans and the landscape both.

Anyway, I had a good time meeting Laurie's family and thank them for their hospitality.

P. S. Eric, start a blog, please.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Light and Christmas

Wow, I'm not sick anymore, except for a slight itch in my throat. Christmas Carol is almost over, and it's been a remarkable experience. Concentrated theatrical work after the kind of months-long little-bit-at-a-time production schedules I've been used to. They crack the whip more in this venue, and I like it that way because it forces me to be as good as I can be, and demands the same of all the other talented people in this show.

I'm reading Light by M. John Harrison. Good timing. Several characters who have turned their backs on the potential within the world and themselves are forced to reengage with life and themselves, much as I've been doing over the last couple years.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Unadvertised Deals

I went to the mall recently to buy a toy (I searched the net for a more indy toy shop in town, but turned up nothing). It's a couple weeks until Christmas, but it looked like a couple weeks before Arbor Day. Is this due to the recession? Is our consumer culture in freefall? That's probably just what we all need, painful though it may be. More likely everybody's at Wal-Mart. Speaking of which, one of our cast members had her purse snatched in Wal-Mart. She went to security and asked if they got evidence on the billion cameras they have in there, but was told all the cameras are dummies except in the parking lot and electronics. Moral: don't shoplift electronics at Wal-Mart, if you see what I'm saying. Say, don't you deserve some free snacks?

The show's going well, though some of us call it The Sickness Carol since most of the cast is folded in half with respiratory ailments. We're artists whose medium is our bodies, and what more fragile, unpredictable medium is there?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

This Gust

I got a few days off recently, and returned to Kannapolis, just in time to

A. come over all sick again, days after declaring myself fully recovered, and

B. have the bathroom plumbing get all backed up. After a few false starts the landlord found a plumber who has worked in this area for many years. He worked on our house as Laurie and I discussed Jonathan Haidt's theories about the role of disgust in morality. I was pretty convinced that disgust had long since ceased to be an overwhelming factor in my moral views; not that I never feel disgust, but that I can differentiate between immorality that inspires disgust in me (murder, rape, child abuse, etc.) and acceptable things that inspire disgust (smoking, odd but harmless sexual practices, etc.).

Eventually the plumber got everything working. As I shook his hand, he said it should be good for another five years.

"By then," he added, "Obama will be out of office and I'll fix it again. I did a job for a black lady the other day. She said she voted for Obama and she'll vote for him again. I said 'you may be voting for a dead man.' I don't believe he'll make it."

It's possible, of course, that he was expressing a fear that many of Obama's supporters hold for the President-Elect. But his twisted smile suggested otherwise. It's also possible that he was hoping for Obama to be killed because he simply doesn't like Obama's politics. But I assumed, and assume still, that he was hoping for Obama's death out of Honkey Pride.

I don't know when I've gone so swiftly from gratitude to loathing. I wanted to take the hedge clippers to this cross-eyed hillbilly's fist-sized adam's apple.

Of course I did nothing but glower at him and stiffly walk away, but the link between disgust and moral views was, for me, sharply reasserted.