September 6th, 2005


an unhappy number

Yesterday, I did 1,575 words and finished Chapter Eight at about five p.m.. I'd hoped to finish it on Sunday, but what with one thing and another and Chapter Eight being such a huge pain in the eema, I only managed 677 words. But now it's done. I take today off — the first in twelve days, I think — and tomorrow we'll read through the new chapter, start to finish. Then I'll probably spend Thursday on minor rewrites, fixing problems discovered tomorrow. I like that — "discovered tomorrow." And then, with luck, on Friday I'll start Chapter Nine. The greatest revelation made while writing Chapter Eight is that Chapter Nine will be the last chapter. I'd though there would be a tenth chapter, but suddenly it was obvious that either the novel goes on for another seventy-five thousand words or so, or it ends in about fifteen thousand (more or less). It will be the latter, because of the 150K-word limit. So, yes, only one chapter left to go. Then I do an epilogue (maybe — this book may not need one), put the appendices (there are two) where they need to be, and perhaps do a short glossary. The total should be about 150K-words. At this point, the typescript stands at 107, 336 words. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Huzzah.

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.
  • Current Music
    Catherine Wheel, "Ursa Major Space Station"


It was a great relief to find out that Poppy's mom has phone service again. I'm going to try to reach her this evening. Also — and I should have mentioned this earlier — Christa's auctioning her personal hardcover of Revelations (edited by Douglas Winter) on eBay, which includes her and Poppy's original novella version of "Triads." All proceeds go directly to Poppy, so please have a look and bid if you can. Here's the link.

I think that I'm coping with the seemingly endless horror of Katrina's aftermath by converting all my emotional reactions into pure anger. It's somehow easier for me to be angry than horrified. Anger seems somehow potentially more constructive. And there's so goddamned much about this to be angry about. Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish in New Orleans, has called this "one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history," and surely that's true. You need to follow that link and watch the video. I'm puking sick of hearing how America needs to get through this crisis without politicizing it, when the politicians in power are bungling the recovery process so completely. This disaster within a disaster is political, and the people who are telling you to not to make waves, that it's all fine, that we can get through this if we just smile and trust in the Federal Government are deluded or lying or fearful of retaliation or some combination thereof.

And at this point, I'm going to yield the floor to Mr. Viggo Mortensen, because he has been far more articulate on this matter than I am capable of being. He doesn't even use any cuss words:

In the often and rightly quoted words of Bill Clinton, "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America." We see now how individuals and groups around the country are acting in any way they can to help their fellow citizens in Louisiana, Mississippi and other devastated places near the Gulf of Mexico. They refuse to stand idly by and wait for President Bush and his morally-bankrupt, pirate administration to respond in an appropriately urgent and compassionate manner to the escalating agony and desperation of our fellow citizens.

This agony and desperation was caused in large part by a near complete absence of adequate federal government funding, preparedness, and leadership. We the people will continue to help Americans and non-Americans alike, with or without the participation or approval of George W. Bush and his Neo-Conservative cohorts. While it is true that what is most important right now is to rescue, feed, house, and in any way possible care for those immediately affected by the disaster, it is equally true that in the long run those directly responsible for aggravating the tragic situation must be held accountable.

The mounting evidence of the Bush administration's criminal mismanagement of the nation, as well as its consistently arrogant disregard for our planet's people and natural environments must be confronted immediately. Those who voted for Bush last year, or who have continually supported his outlaw administration in its destructively dishonest conduct, including not only extremist conservatives but also politically-calculating Democrats, need not hang their heads or avert their eyes now. What they can and ought to do is join the increasing numbers of Americans who are demanding that presidential impeachment proceedings be initiated as soon as possible.

Members of the Bush Administration responsible for the blatant lies and self-serving manipulations that have fanned the flames of disaster from Iraq to New Orleans must be prosecuted as our laws require. We must insist on this. Furthermore, we must not allow these disgracefully unpatriotic public servants to be pardoned by any future president as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon. Please call or write your government representatives and help get the scoundrels out of government and in prison where they belong. Do not allow the subject to be changed, do not be distracted. The time to act is now. Take back your country.

I've been quoting Millay a lot recently. This bit is very apt:

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Be angry people. For the sake of this whole sorry, greedy, lying world, be angry. Fan that anger as though it is the only heat in the world — because it may well be the heat that saves you. But then get up off your asses and do something with that anger. Infect everyone you know with that anger. Carry it. Turn it against the bastards.
  • Current Music
    Catherine Wheel, "Chrome"