It's bright and cool and the air has an autumnal crispness this morning. It's like someone threw a switch a we're getting fall a month early. The heat will be back, of course, but this is nice for now. It makes Spooky happy (though it also makes her sad that she isn't in New England and can't go to the beach).
I've been on a Herzog binge. We watched Fitzcaroldo (1982) on Sunday night. The film is a delight in almost every manner possible, including Klaus Kinski's demented hair. It's a fine discourse on the futility of blind determination. Then, last night, we watched Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1971), which covers some of the same territory as Fitzcaroldo, but instead of giving us a relatively benign lunatic, Herzog presents the murderous determination of the conquistadors searching for El Dorado. Few films have such a perfect grasp of doom, from the very first frame on. Apocalypse Now comes close (and there's an apt comparison here), but Herzog's is the darker film. Don Lope de Aguirre has none of Walter Kurtz's redeeming insight — he is merely a madman incapable of seeing the absurdity of his efforts and the ultimate consequences of his actions. Popol Vuh scored both films, but his work on Aguirre, the Wrath of God is especially sublime. We'll probably continue the binge tonight.
Homeland Security Secretary (and goddamned liar) Michael Chertoff has stated that the death toll in New Orleans "will be an unhappy number." Which just goes to show exactly how these assholes have newspeaked themselves into power. The death toll will not be grim, or terrible, or overwhelming, or even just plain bad — it will be "an unhappy number." This is disaster management with just a dash of Mister Roger's Neighborhood thrown in for good measure.
I will say this. I hope that, after Katrina and the recent tsunamis, people in this country will begin the believe in and take seriously the reality of worst-case scenarios, that it isn't just irresponsible doomsday talk from eggheaded scientists with alarmist fetishes. This planet is dynamic, and sometimes the change is not gradual. Sometimes it's sudden. One day, Seattle and Portland will have to deal with those volcanos. One day, San Francisco and Los Angeles will have to survive the effects of a 9.9 quake. And so on and on and on and on. And there's no preventing these things, and there's only so much that can be done as far as forecasting is concerned, but as least people can learn to expect them and to be prepared for a rapid and effective response to minimize the misery and loss of life. And not squander precious resources on the the horrific wastes of war, when those resources are needed for these inevitable calamities.