Out of death some undiscovered germ,
Whole toleration or pure peace is born"--Karl Shapiro, from "Elegy for a Dead Soldier"
The thing about Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" that struck a chord with me was not that its events, plot details or characters were remotely like my life at the same age but that that the sense of chaotic possibility emanates from the film the same way it emanated from the International House of Pancakes on Markham Street in Little Rock at 2 in the morning in 1979.
It's a bit like the fantasy I have lately for saving the world. In my fantasy, rather a sharp alternative exists towards folks getting all worked up about immigration issues, spewing ethnic prejudice towards Latino folks not that dissimilar from the hatred exuded by past generations towards earlier immigrants, which earlier generations now so assimilated that they consider themselves equivalent to "first peoples".
The particular notion I have is that rather disparage people from foreign countries for having the effrontery to want to live on more than two American dollars a day, we instead seek out those countries in which people have the lowest standard of living and bring economic development to those places. Eventually, a world of people who gently consume just the right amount of resources and live in non-squalor until well past age 80 arises. Then we don't have a situation in which random gunmen shoot up the American consul's office in Monterrey, Mexico for all but no reason.
I think sometimes that possibility is around every corner, just waiting to be adopted like a big, lovable homeless black dog. I like the story about the woman who was in the "out island" of Andros in the Bahamas.
She saw that the kids had nothing to do for money. So she taught them how to weave batik. Soon, she had created a generation of craftspeople, who then passed the skill on down, and next thing you know, hopelessness turned into batik. She had seized opportunity, and made it bark.
I read on the flight magazine about a two octave recorder pitched low like an alto sax. Imagine--to be able to play a simple recorder and get a resonant saxophone sound! That's what impresses me about technology--not the NASCAR wonder of it all, but the way that 90 percent imaginative brains and 10 percent technological innovation can make everything alive and free.
So I imagine that rather than maquiladoras being set up on the border to evade local labor laws, then factories might be built in Oaxaca, with the idea of creating a Oaxacan state in which people live on more than subsistence farming wages.
The chaos of these times gives rise to a sense that anything is possible, and all is at risk. Amid the bursting of the real estate bubble and the failure of some lenders that has been inevitable for a couple of years now, I did not believe that we would all come so close to the edge that a particularly rushed and rather inefficient nationalization program would be the best way to survive into the coming year.
It's so easy to grow complacent, as if we are all going to live forever or as if it were September 10 or as if the stock market never falls. This kind of complacency permits people to fit into the noose of the Oscar Wilde poem in which "each man kills the thing he loves, Yet each man does not die". I'm mistrust, a bit, by contrast, with people whose resistance to complacency is so great that they cannot ever fit into the suit of clothes of actual living due to their certainty that they belong in the tuxedo of a more special recognition or achievement (as yet unachievable). I trust more in people who hunt for hope despite the doubts and disappointments, as with Clough's narrator who announces "the sun climbs slow, how slowly, But westward look, the land is bright".
Maybe change is not as impossible as it seems--it's the longing for the feeling of change that is corrosive, I think. If one just does one's own slight bit, as if it mattered, then perhaps it would.