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Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Vain, Insubstantial Imaginings of a Nameless Paranoiac.



It was weird, right? I mean, you saw it too… Didn’t you? I can’t have been the only one to notice. I can’t believe that. The universe can’t be that strange. The planet doesn’t just wobble on its axis without notice. The poles shift, the stars move and someone, somewhere notices. Mrs. Lewis, sitting on her front porch in Farmburg, Iowa, looks up her crossword puzzles to the night sky, then nudges her husband, and says, “Would ya’ look at that, Hal?” And Hal looks at where she is pointing, just to the left of where the moon should be and says, not without some incredulous awe, “I have never seen anything like that, my dear. Never.”

But it is observed. Things like this are noticed.

If they’re real, of course. If they are real, then things like this are noticed. But maybe they’re not real. Maybe the universe really is stranger than I give it credit.

Maybe it’s like that scene in North by Northwest. I’ve seen that movie at least thirty times I know its every scene. I know its every line. And you know the scene I’m thinking of. Towards the end of the film. Everyone knows that Alfred Hitchcock had the reputation of being a meticulous director. A perfectionist director. But there it is. I’ve seen it at least thirty times: the kid clearly puts his hands over his ears before the gunshots. Such an obvious lapse, such a glaring error. It’s real.

It must be real, right? I’ve seen it. Every time I watch the film I see it. But no else seems to notice. I’ve tried pointing it out to my wife, but she refuses to watch movies more than once. “I’ve seen that movie,” she says and, “I’ve not seen that.”

Maybe the earth does wobble. Maybe the poles do shift and the stars do move. And maybe no one notices. And maybe that’s why they can get away with it all. Maybe that’s why they can get away the lies and the slander and the election of feckless miscreants. The animal is sacrifice upon the altar, its guts are pulled out but no one can see find its heart.

The decline of civility, the collapse of the Roman republic, the rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem, the failure of slave uprisings, and the House Un-American Activities Committee – all of it unobserved, unnoticed, unremarked.

No one sees…

There and not there. Real and not real. The vain, insubstantial imaginings of a nameless paranoiac.

But I’m sure I’ve seen them. I’ve seen this movie.

I’ve seen the lizard men in silk suits. I’ve seen the liars crowned with green cash laurels. There are monsters, and they are real – but they don’t need to hide beneath your child’s bed, or in the closet. The real monsters walk the halls of Congress, and sit in front of television cameras to tell us lies.

Why does no one smell smoke? Why does no one hear the screaming sirens at night? I have gashes on my right arm and blisters on my feet that say this is real. Blood and water are real.

My face is hot. I feel flush. I must lie down now.

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