Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Five pieces of strangers’ lives, or words overheard on an otherwise quiet train

“I’ve been doing a lot of amputations lately.”

“No. The problem is, we’re still not liquid.”

“My therapist was right. God really does hate me.”

“Where are you? No. Where are you?

“When I’m richer than you, I’ll be giving the gifts.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

The roses

Despite having convinced myself that I had no time between studying finance, packing boxes for the move, and preparing for a Thursday meeting, Wednesday evening I attended a reception at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
I didn’t get much time to look at any exhibits beyond the vicinity of the reception, but the venue itself is fantastic.
American Art shares (as it has for some time) the old US Patent Office Building with the National Portrait Gallery. The Greek Revival building was recently renovated to add a great deal of color and a sense of movement. Reopened this summer, the space is worth a visit in and of itself.
The event was for me a good reminder to stop and smell the pinot grigio and wild mushroom tarts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Long-overdue requiem for Pluto

It finally happened, nearly three months ago now. On the 24th of August, 2006, Pluto ceased to be a planet.
Having been an astronomy student in the days of Hyakutaki and the epic Shoemaker-Levy 9, I was for a couple of years drunk on the unflatteringly named sub-discipline, known as “debris astronomy”.
The debate over Pluto’s planetness had already been raging for decades when I joined the periphery of the fray. The detested debris astronomers argued the matter like foxes discussing security arrangements for the chicken houses. The geology and planetology crowd defended the little ball of ice with the ferocity of a mother hippo guarding her calf. The cosmologists: “What? That? Who cares? Hey, did you see what Ed Witten just wrote?”
It occurs to me that the Voyager spacecraft are speeding toward the edge of our understanding, carrying artifacts that declare to whomever finds them, that Pluto is the 9th planet in our solar system. We were sufficiently certain of this fact at one point to make such a permanent declaration.
I’m packing a lot of boxes lately, having more or less sold my house and bought another one. I recall opening the door to my current home, thinking that I was far too young to own anything as complicated as a house, and that after the odyssey that was the purchase, convincing myself that I would never contemplate doing that again.
My home has become Pluto in July, hurdling toward a change that will have no immediate effect on its composition or appearance, a change that will be impossible to recognize from a distance, but a change no less significant.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friday, November 03, 2006

[work in progress, yet untitled]

Dervish ink
slices out tiny circles
(some might say serif)
driven to bite like a sharp axe
burried in my chest
by lunatic arms
I drink a broth
of red & white fungus
and wear a shirt
rendered from the hides
of bears or boars
in ecstatic hope
Lacquered hair crowns me
and blue earth-pigment
adorns mine eyes
as I gaze at stars
directed to rise over