Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I've run away to England, I have. I apologize for not writing more, but I've been out and about in beautiful England: That's a photograph I took this morning, and as you can see, the evidence that I'm in the midst of an impending apocalypse is a little thin on the ground. That's the grand irony of Eyjafjallajoekull's wrath: it has turned England into Southern California, which annoys me immensely, as I came here with the expectation of weather—brought an umbrella and everything—but here I am sitting in 72 degree weather with neither a cloud nor contrail in the sky. It's a beautiful day, and the natives are right to be enthused, but you can understand my disappointment. This apocalypse simply doesn't feel very apocalyptic, which is itself ironic, given that when I was visiting Adam Roberts the other day I argued that Updike's Toward the End of Time failed as a novel because its post-apocalyptic narratives were pre-apocalyptically mundane. My argument can be condensed into a sentence: the trope of 9/10-type thought is effective because America reinvented itself as a police state the next day. That's what that apocalypse wrought. When something this large happens, life doesn't simply continue as if nothing happened except in this case. Finally, to allay some of the concerns I've received via email: I'm safe and secure and not emptying my savings into some hotel chain's coffers. I'm staying with a friend and will be until Iceland ceases its offensive against the good people of Europe.
Postcards from home? I think I'd rather stay then, please. As I'm currently trapped not only in England (by a volcano) but inside (by a rampaging cold), I thought I'd reconnect with the American political discourse I miss so much by reading a transcript of Sarah Palin's speech in Hamilton, Ontario last week. For a little under two hundred grand, some lucky Canadians were treated to some theater whose absurd circularity does Beckett proud. More on that in a moment, though, as I first want to make something absolutely clear: Sarah Palin does not scare me. No one whose speech twists into modernist thickets while ordering coffee counts as a worthy political opponent; but as she is a political force amongst people who think no sandbox is complete without a couple of blowtorches—the parenting equivalent of having her serve as Commander in Chief—I feel it my duty as an American to condense her Hamilton speech down to its Platonic essence: This is such a melting pot. This is so beautiful. I love this diversity. There were a whole bunch of guys named "Tony" in the photo line. It is so good to be here tonight. We'll kind of shift gears tonight. Having a conversation with so many of you is something that I look forward to. And not being so political tonight, I will talk a lot about energy, because I want to talk about some of the things that both our countries can do to ramp up production so that we can ramp up our economy, because the better our economies do, the better we do in terms of having opportunity to help children and those who are less fortunate, the better the rest of us do. We will talk a little bit about energy. I'm wanting to kind of shift away from the political. The shift from the political, so now that I have that shift from the political but still have that desire to talk about the political and the economy and talk about energy and resources and national security and all those things. I was telling Todd, this is like on the the Vice Presidential campaign trail, where you never really knew what you were getting into when you get into that line before you get interviewed. Obviously, sometimes I never knew what I was getting into in an interview. Obviously! Whenever we do something big in life, like a Vice Presidential campaign, I like to say a prayer about it. I need some divine inspiration and I need to remember what it really is all about, so that evening before the debate I remember being back stage and looking around for somebody to pray with, and looking around at the campaign staff and there's nobody to prayer with. Not that I would think that God would speak through me, but wanting to leave you with a little bit of inspiration and encouragement and maybe on a personal level have a conversation with you about some of the things that Todd and I have been through...

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