b Papa Dog's Blog: Do-It-Yourself Superstition (and Language)

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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Do-It-Yourself Superstition (and Language)

Long long time ago – how many years now? – who knows? – I was walking on Broadway, somewhere north of Dave’s formerly all-night coffee shop, now a mostly deserted husk of its former self, when I happened to notice a playing card face down on the sidewalk. On impulse, I started to pick it up, then froze, gripped with a strange certainty that if I were to turn the card over, I would see some terrible omen. The “You’re About to Get Squashed by Falling Satellite Debris” card or something. I was in the grip of two contradictory irrational impulses; I was very curious to see what card was lying there on the sidewalk, but I dreaded the possibility of satisfying that curiosity. I walked on and left the card there, now absorbed with the thought that the English language lacked a word for that feeling: an intense curiosity that one is reluctant to satisfy. For some reason, the examples of that feeling I can think of all come from hardboiled detective fiction. E.g.: the detective you hired to follow your possibly cheating spouse hands you an envelope that probably contains photos. Or, you’re in the morgue and the corpse who might be your loved one is lying under a sheet. And so on. For a long time I worked under the assumption that there must be such a word in German, because the Germans always have words for these things, but the last German speaker I asked couldn’t come up with one. So let’s come up with one in English. What is this I’m describing? Fear of knowing the unknown, I guess. Fateorignotusphobia? Fateor being “to make known” and ignotus being “unknown.” Wait, is “phobia” Latin or Greek? Not exactly trippingly off the tongue regardless. I welcome suggestions.

Oh yes – the reason I was reminded of all this was that I came across a playing card the other night whilst walking the dog. I was going to once again leave it where it lay, but then I remembered that Mama Dog, operating on a whole different set of whimsies than I, had some time ago taken to collecting playing cards she finds on the street, in hopes of one day assembling an entire mismatched deck of 52. I think she might have a dozen or so by now. Anyway, I picked this one up without looking at it and brought it home to her, which I thought an acceptable compromise. Very difficult not to peek, though.

In other news, the Greedy Old Plutoctrats are assembling in NYC, where they are shocked, shocked at the suggestion they may be trading on the 9/11 attacks for political gain. They’re gathering to, among other things, adopt a platform calling for constitutional bans on gay marriage and abortion. ‘Cause they’re all about keeping government from interfering in peoples’ lives. But don’t get me started, I just came down from my hypertension moment over the morning paper.

2 Comments:

Blogger Brownstein said...

Last night I realized that we're thoroughly fucked. The fact that Kerry is trailing in the polls going into the convention, coupled with his inability to quash the Swift Boat controversy make him potentially worse than the last Massachusetts politician to be nominated for the presidency. At least Dukakis didn't have 30 years to anticipate the attack; Kerry should have nipped this in the bud during the primary cycle, not after the convention.

Factor in the RepubliCon and its keynotes: America's Mayor, America's War Hero, America's Action hero, and Tex himself mere days before the anniversary of 9/11 and you can see how much of a triumph these guys have set up.

The Dems should be leading by a wide margin right now, and the fact that they're not is appalling. I blame three people: Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Michael Moore.

1. The sight of a quarter million protesters milling around without a charismatic leader in front of them is a tragedy. This should be the March on Washington, not the March on Seattle. We blew it because there is no charismatic front man. This election was supposed to be about a movement. Joe Trippi created that marvelous narrative arc around Howard Dean, who could have come back and made it a real race against Kerry if he didn't self destruct in those days following the scream. This election was supposed to be, on Bush's own terms, about the war of dualities. It needed to be about the Populists v. the Plutocrats. Dean fucked it all up. He should be lined up next to Lynndie England and shot.

2. John Kerry, who is not nearly aggressive enough to lead by a big margin. The day Trippi resigned from the Dean campaign, Kerry should have drafted him to be communications manager. Kerry should also have gotten the Swift Boat out of the way months ago, when it was clear he had the nomination sewn up. Kerry is in danger of pulling an Al Gore by being too relaxed, too nice, and too smart. He is not pushing his party around well enough to defeat the Republicans (and make no mistake, they are a well oiled machine). And he is not getting dirty. Americans haven't wanted a clean fight since George Washington was elected to office.

3. Michael Moore. This pornographer had all the potential to change the world and he blew it by playing into the Hollywood machine. Moore believed that he could make a change by having a summer blockbuster, but he should have held off. Fahrenheit 9/11 caused a firestorm of publicity and awareness that lasted about a full 4 weeks. Moore has now been neatly caricatured and discredited. He has played his card. From here he can only do harm. He should have released his film on 9/11, thereby overwriting the messages of the convention, and setting off a bomb that would have knocked the shit out of the Republican position.

The Republicans are outsmarting the Dems again. It's as if we were playing tournament poker and the Dems were making grabs for chips, while the Repubs were folding their hands until they got an unbeatable one. They know it's about staying in the game until your opponent is weak enough to go into the kill.

RepubliCon is the last pre-season event. The real election season begins on 9/11. Kerry better pull out a take no prisoners strategy or we will all be prisoner of another Bush term.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Twizzle said...

Other examples of schadenparanoia:

- Waiting for a phone call from the reproductive endocrinologist, which will probably say, "We're sorry... but your beta came back negative."
- Similarly, going back to Planned Parenthood for your HIV test results, after having enjoyed a rather slutty last 10 years.
- Opening your report card in the mail, after having spent the last academic quarter smoking pot rather than studying.

Oh, and that playing card that you found was the eight of clubs. No scary queen of diamonds or anything like that.

10:51 AM  

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