Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BLAMMO, Einstein, and Og

Update: I never did get the Og pix figured, but this post now provides a handy spot to park a miscellaneous Hamburglar picture I needed. Don't ask.

Through image search, I think I've learned that 'og' means 'and' in German. It also clearly means something in Japanese, something occasionally tagged on NSFW pix. This captures the spirit of Og as I intend him. It'll all make sense by the post's end.

Ever written a whole mess of verbiage, then just flitted away for a picture, and BLAMMO went all your text? Ever tried to post pictures repeatedly without success? Ditto. Ever hated the new Blogger?

Apre BLAMMO, I was just writing that today's both Houdini's and Einstein's birthday (1874 for Erik Weisz and 1879 respectively), and that I'm reading an occultish novel about one of them. Did you guess right? It's Einstein. It's Three Days to Never by Tim Powers. a creative fuser of the fantastic and historic who happens to write well, too. He irritates me that way, and I'm compelled to read everything he writes. Eventually, of course. I'm a juke box that doesn't play album sides, if you know what I mean.

Do you find it amazing that I began reading an Einstein-centric time travel book about unmaking existence yesterday after I was commenting on a philospohical argument against existence, and that I'm still reading the book and it turns out to be Einstein's birthday today? Me neither. I have certain fascinations, reflected in the books I have waiting to be read, the articles that provoke me, and the dates I'm likely to notice. This confluence would mean more if I'd just found the book abandoned in a public place, the article had been forwarded by a stranger who didn't know my tastes, and I didn't regularly read my This Day in History e-mail for the kinds of birth-and-deathiversaries I like to know. (Today's also the 1833 birthday of America's first woman dentist, Lucy Hobbs Taylor, but what am I gonna do with that? Can't think of a thing, so I ignore it.)

The novel's good so far, and I respect the way Powers is willing to hang things out, incomplete and unexplained, for many pages. If I like the writing and subject, that approach engages me, makes me dig into the story further, but some people may find it frustrating. This is a somewhat confusing time travel a-go-go kind of tale where (unlike the rules in Back to the Future), your future, present, and past selves from varying parallel existences may be grousing next to each other at the blood-stained skeezy bar before the end of existence. No mere white-tableclothed restaurant at the end of the universe, this.

(Note the way I'm not using 'Anyhoo' to begin this paragraph, even though it beckons me like a blazing finger). The tendency as displayed above for humans to selectively self-filter what we conncetrate upon is exactly the reason a movie like '23' blows emu sack. Oh I see, we add up a number series and get 23! Why didn't we subtract or long divide or do anything consistently from our arithmetic or even algebraic bag of tricks? Frankly, I think algebra's the better method here. If I know I need the answer to be 23, what maneuvers and variables will it take to get that outcome from the address of the Chinese take-out place down the street with their accursed Kung Pao of existential doom?! Can it possibly be entertaining watching someone disappear that far down his 23 millimeter navel?

This very normal human tendency to tune out what we don't need as noise can tempt us to overemphasize, but it has its distinct upside, too. For example, the ability to pick out your plane's gate from a static-filled departure display listing hundreds while ignoring the squeaky-wheeled cart nearly clipping your heels and the five people shouting into their cell phones. But, it's not just an adaptation for modern life. Heck, no. In a wild savannah, the landscape teems with thousands of specific details to see, but what about young Og who spends his time looking down a lot, poking at smelly piles with a stick? We hope he's using a stick. Instead of butterflies or leaf varieties or the clouds in shapes of bunnies or cappucino machines, young Og sees only scat. The fresh scat of either juicy, prancing prey or razor-clawed predators. We might call him poopy-brained, but he might survive long enough to become old Og.

May we all be old Ogs who've earned new sticks.

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