Friday, May 6, 2011

A List of 10 Items not even related enough to be called a loose baggy monster

1. Front page articles from The Northern Light, UAA newspaper, March 29, 2011:

Avalanches bury unprepared thrill seekers

Two top ski coaches set to resign

Pot culture in Alaska reaches a new high

2. Three of my writer friends seem to do more photography that writing, though only one has renounced writing. Curiously, he was the only one of the three to ever make any money on it. Of the three, one shots mostly infra-red and the other two shoot almost exclusively at night. I hope this doesn’t fall under the list suggested by Jessa Crispin’s, “And there are those who might not even bother anymore [to write].”

3. Two photographs of George Mallory’s personal effects contain:

A cheap (by today’s’standards) pair of glacier goggles;

A jack-knife;

A tin of “meat lozenges” (portable nourishment at all times) (yucko);

A box of Swan Vesta matches (they still package them just like this, by the away);

A watch;

An altimeter.

I make note of this because the altitude needle on the altimeter, as well as the hands of the watch, have disappeared completely, turned to powder (?) and vanished. How weirdly insubstantial they must have been from the start. Rust marks, the residue of the watch hands, suggest it stopped at ten minutes after five. 5:10, coincidentally the estimated degree of difficulty of the rock climbing at “the Second Step,” which Mallory and Irvine would have had to climb at 28, 280 feet in order to obtain the summit. A mystery for the ages.

5. Wisdom from hockey coaches during the Stanley Cup Playoffs:” You can’t fix stupid and you can’t teach fast.” Luckily I have tried to reduce contact with the stupid and I’m not in a hurry.

6. My friend, and uaa mfa alum, Don Rearden had to make a trailer for his website to promote his new novel, Raven’s Gift, set in post-apocalyptic Alaska. For this, he just drove around Bethel with the camera running. Bethel didn’t have to de dressed down to suggest the scene of some mass tragedy.

View the trailer here:

7. From Pamela Kearney, author of The Sunflower Wife, a line from writer John Dufresne “If you don’t write today, you will be diminished.” (I don’t think blogging counts; it doesn’t for me, anyway.)

8. From Sam Sacks homage to Pauline Kael:

“Kael’s most memorable writing came during the Nixon years (I think that Deeper into Movies, which collects the New Yorker pieces between 1969 and 1972, is her best book). These were some of the worst years in America’s history, and Kael wrote with a passionate fervor against the national disillusionment that was saturating the culture.”

The point being that the specific years cited coincide with my high school years. And don’t think that our relative innocence shielded us from the disillusionment of which he accurately speaks.

Read the article here:

9. I heard Carl Zimmer this week on the radio pimping his new book, Brain Cutting (electronic only, oh-oh!). He was talking about “default consciousness,” that is, how your brain continues to work even when you are not concentrating on anything at all. And I wondered if this is like dreaming, or speaking in tongues. I wondered if this is what “automatic writing” is. Or is this what has happened when you wake up in the morning an your writing takes an unpremeditated turn, one you couldn’t have predicted the night before (when you gave up)? Is this what is happening when a writer says that a book “wrote itself”? I suspect my default consciousness—the one I can’t direct—is smarter than I am. What is this “I” of which we speak, anyway?

Musical accompaniment to the last entry:

10. Avalanches. I can think of five deaths off the top of my head that occurred in the last two weeks. Two in the Tetons, two in the Sierra, and one on the Root Canal Glacier in the AK Range–all places I have climbed. Sometimes, the only way to have prevented such deaths is simply to have never left the house. Which is unacceptable. Condolences to their loved ones. Be careful out there my friends.

Note: the opening photo of Jewel Lake was taken last night at 10:30 p.m. This morning the ice was gone.

1 comment:

  1. David, you climbed something called the Root Canal Glacier???? Oh, now I really have to admire you - and fear you a little too. . . .