Friday, 23 September 2005

Differences without Distinctions: Another Post (sort of) about the Weather As Summer yields to the inconstant stress of Fall, I want to take a moment to reflect on what I've accomplished and press the muzzle of what I haven't firmly to my temple. Or maybe I should inhale deeply ... and again ... and again. Now I feel better. Crazed but better. I remind myself that the danger of a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour differs only terminologically from the danger of a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160 miles per hours. As I begin to hyperventilate I remember that Rita is only history's third strongest hurricane and then I realize that I'm still blogging about the weather. Of all the things I never thought I'd launch into online permanence, the cliché which launched a thousand pointless conversations topped the list. Yet observe the depths to which I have so eagerly rappeled.[1] And so I offer Nature the following compromise: I will stop writing about the weather if you promise to stop churning out weather worth writing about. Deal? [1] While double-checking that I spelled "rappel" correctly I inadvertantly came across the entry for "rapely," which means "hastily, in haste, quickly." The chilling irony of the definition certainly offends, but not nearly so much as the selected quotation: "Adam took Gamelyn, And ladde him rapely and anon." (Even when a footnote flees from hurricane Katrina and her horrible sister I still roll some disturbing die.)
Friday's Twilight Confessional I confess that the Ninth Ward once terrified me and that my friends who lived there knew it did. I confess to concocting excuses to meet them somewhere other than the Ninth Ward. I confess that last night I had countless nightmares about my parents or friends being caught in their cars on the Interstate 10 as they fled from Rita. I confess that the sleeplessness these nightmares caused had a deleterious effect on my ability to welcome and introduce my students to Literary Journalism 20. (I also confess that a massive overcompensation effort is already underway.) I confess that whenever I think "the situation cannot deteriorate further" it invariably does and that I feel an irrational irresponsibility for it. I confess that I am even more tired of thinking and talking and writing about hurricanes today than I have ever been tired of thinking and talking and writing about anything that is not my dissertation. I confess that this thinking and talking and writing about hurricanes has lowered the odds of my finishing the Jack London chapter by Monday to a pathetic 23 percent. I confess that this confession began as a comment on Kotsko's "Friday Afternoon Confessional" and that despite my atheism I have found confessing cathartic. (I also confess that I did not know that outside of Aristotelian literary theory "cathartic" refers to "the evacuation of the bowels." I confess I find the metaphorical leap disturbing.) I confess that I have searched the archives of Adam's Weblog so that I might learn more about his faith because faith confuses me. I confess that while I wish I could experience faith I am more frequently of the opinion of 19th Century philosopher and arch-evolutionist Ernst Haeckel, who in The Riddle of the Universe (1899) said that modern theology "adores a personal God as an invisible—properly speaking, gaseous—being, yet makes him think, speak and act in human fashion [and] gives us the paradoxial picture of a 'gaseous vertebrate.'" (I confess that my monism and materialism often depress me ... but that the alternatives depress me even more.) I confess I want to end this confession with a bang but must settle for a whimper ... because I confess the delirium with which I taught this morning is nothing next to how nebulous my thoughts are now. Finally, I confess that said bang concerned what I need in my nécessaire and why I find this portrait of a "confessant" compelling.

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