Where Will You Be In 2050?

February. Outside my study window.

Goldfinch in winter plumage outside my study window.

You know how it is when you think something and then you come across the same idea in print and you think: Finally! Someone gets it right?

This happened to me recently. The Global Warming thing. See? You’re rolling your eyes. I know. But why do we do this? We have it on reliable authority that our grandchildren are in deep shit – why collectively do we not seem to care?

For some time I’ve thought it’s because the language in which this debate – if one can even call it that – is framed is essentially religious. Global warming is seen as the secular world’s apocalypse, return of the Lord, end of days, rapture, etc. And as we all know, you kind of want to see what the end of the world looks like and are the special effects better than 2012? In this fantasy, we are not one of the teeny-tiny CGI figures  falling from towers collapsing over the 415. We are one of the saved enjoying a hilariously wacky, yet effective, ride out of the mouth of hell up into the bright blue yonder. This is why we go to the movies. So too, our evangelical friends imagine, as the rest of us are CGI-icly consigned to the pit, that they will somehow be eating tuna salad sandwiches with all their dead relatives, plus pets, in a heaven that seems to be located somewhere in Iowa but with a better climate, a lot of choir practice, and no liberals. Perhaps this is why we go to church?

Which returns me to: In the past religious predictions of the end of the world have  proved to be wrong. We’re still here, right? I think that’s why, though the house we live in has moved one whole agricultural zone south since we bought it twelve years ago, we find it impossible to think that most of Florida will end up under water, no matter how much we’d like to see it happen for one reason or another.

As with religious armageddons, the threats from climate change also seem to move. And yes, of course it’s because the scientists are learning more and claim more accurate models. But can we really trust them? Won’t it all turn out to be another Great Disappointment? My personal favorite of the failed returns of You-Know-Who.

Anyhow, I’m much too shallow to do more than point your attention to this fine piece by Zadie Smith at the online NYRB (free). I don’t generally bother linque to stuff but there’s a chance you won’t have seen this and as the west of England disappears under water, hedgehogs retreat, London plans her defenses, and I shovel tons of snow that fell this winter in truly bizarre storms, it’s worth the read.

Elegy for a Country’s Seasons.

49 comments:

5:32 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

Religion. Yes. Even with supporters some times. I ” believe” in global warming.

When I first read 2001 I was in my 20s and being born in 1951 I realized that in 2001 I would 50 . FIFTY. That could never happen. Somehow it made it seem even more like science fiction

7:52 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

Meanwhile in Seatown, we’re celebrating our wettest March in modern history, and besting rainfall records going back to 1891(!). We’re like the evil, goateed Los Angeles of the Mirror Universe.

There go my dreams of our filthy little fishing village becoming a northern, sun-kissed sanctuary.

Melting… we’re melting! Oh, whatta world… whatta world.

8:35 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

Your photo reminds me of an unusually lovely song by Ted Leo. “Golden finch, alight in your loft, I have learned and, oh, you have taught…”

8:51 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@¡Andrew!:
Are you all wearing felt goatees a la Spock or Abed?

9:03 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

Animals don’t go to heaven. Sorry. Babies get a bad deal, too. And the folks the missionaries haven’t fucked in the head and loins, if there are any, hellfire and brimstone.

So glad I heard this shit every week of my childhood. Nothing like scaring the shit out of people so they can find the hand of Jeebus in a tornado.

And yes with the language as well as the framing. Religious folks don’t tend to dig scary ass gubmint wudur, black lung, and regular type pollution. Global warming now climate change should have been “What’s it like living near a Superfund site for the past 20 years?”

9:06 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@¡Andrew!: Dude! Right?! I’d like to be put through the fucking ringer.

10:03 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

I work on this stuff for a living and I am totally pessimistic that the major CO2 emitters will get it together to stabilize, much less reduce, the global burden of greenhouse gases. Our grandchildren will see jaguars in upstate NY, and I don’t mean the cars.

BTW I’m reading The Goldfinch and I’m getting pretty damned tired of the protagonist and his angst.

10:12 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@Dodgerblue: But what about Kyoto? I was stoked, and then…

It’s like when Rabin was assassinated. I had been soooo stoked about the possible peace thing, and then…

10:19 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@Dodgerblue: i loved The Goldfinch. First thing i thought of when i saw the picture

10:45 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

Once upon a midnight freezing, while I pondered, weak and wheezing,
Over a many annoying volumes of forgettable boring lore,
While I nodded, nearly slumping, suddenly came a loudass thumping,
As of someone loudly pounding, pounding at my backdoor.
”Tis some dude,’ I muttered, ‘pounding at my backdoor-
Meh. He was a bore.’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and
flutter,
In there stepped an angsty goldfinch,
shitting all on my floor
in winter plumage and nothing more

10:56 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@JNOV: I can’t even talk about the Rabin thing.

After Kyoto, US GHG emissions went down for a while, largely because of the recession and because the price of natural gas was so cheap that it was supplanting coal. It won’t stay that way. China and India — forget about it.

11:11 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@Dodgerblue: What’s going to happen when Russia turns off its pipelines?

11:22 pm • Friday • March 28, 2014

@JNOV: Meh. The oligarchs need the money.

7:40 am • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Dodgerblue: I know you work on that. I’m one of those who uses recycled office paper and hopes to be ‘making a difference’.

@mellbell: In the full-size picture you can see the bird’s bright eye and the sunflower seed in his beak. The summer plumage is much brighter. I love to have them outside all winter, with purple finches, cardinals, waxwings, chickadees, etc; very few bluejays this year. Our snow is almost gone, I’ve got the windows open and there are flood warnings up through Monday. Then I’m going to put up the birdhouses I got last summer in the hope of attracting bluebirds.

@JNOV: +2

1:57 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Benedick: I’ve never seen a bluebird. Bluejays, we got plenty of.

5:32 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

They’re about the size of a goldfinch. The color of Paul Newman’s eyes. I’ve only seen them a few times here. I want more. I’m told that if I get the boxes up early I could get two nests in a season. As the bishop said… I used to think they were indigo bunting but I do believe that’s a southern bird that doesn’t come here. Yet. Soon the hawks will be back and with luck I’ll see the Bald Eagles that nest on the river and out by the reservoir.

And why yes, I should be working, thank you for asking.

6:51 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

We have colorful hummingbirds here. Damned if I can figure out how they can pull off their acrobatics. Hover? Fly backwards? No problemo. They like to bathe in our fountain when the crows aren’t around.

7:29 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Dodgerblue: Have you seen them do their dance? I only saw it once. Don’t know what variety you get but here we have the small ruby-throated. They’re very aggressive with each other. Some years back a neighbor called me out to look where a bird was making a pendulum motion, swinging backwards and forwards. The arc was 90 degrees. And it went on for a while. Mating? Astonishing. You wanted to say, chillax, sip some awesome jewelweed, my bro. Never seen it since. Like the Bald Eagle in the woods while hiking.

8:14 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@JNOV: what kind of a heaven would it be without our dogs? Really.

8:16 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Benedick: I need you! WTF with this damn flaxseed? I get the grind it and shove it in a milkshake, it goes rancid with the quickness, and it will either plug you up or give you the trots. I am confused about what happens to the Omega-3 when you cook it. Some internet folks say, “Oh NOES! DO NOT COOK IT! Omega-3 is too delicate.” Other folks are like, “Put that shit in brownies, yo!” Then you have the, “Soak it, Fool” vs “If you soak it, the cyanide will KILL YOU!”

All I want to do is put it in some vegetarian chili…WITH BEANS, Lefty! Lots of beans! Navy and black beans! Beeeeeeenz! (And quinoa and other things.)

8:17 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014
8:22 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@JNOV: Never mind. I forgot you do that fish thing. I like mangoes, and throwing that flaxseed business in mangoe milkshakes (“smoothie” annoys me) should help.

9:13 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Benedick: We have ruby-throated and emerald-throated. I have seen the flying in an arc behavior — I figured it was a threat display or something. Do they defend territory? I would think not since they don’t stay in one spot very long. It’s always fun to see them, unlike the goddam crows who use our fountain to soften pieces of stale bread that they have found in the street.

10:31 pm • Saturday • March 29, 2014

@Dodgerblue: “Hummingbird Threat Display” is my new geek-metal band.

7:04 am • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Dodgerblue: I think they’re extremely territorial. They should be back in May, they migrate to Mexico every year. If you put up more than one feeder (I don’t. I leave a certain amount of jewelweed and I have salvia and other plants they like.) they either should not be close or at different heights. One flew in the house a few years back. I managed to get it into the dining room where it flew up into a skylight. I got stepladders and got up to it, cupped my hands about it and it went quite still, tiny and frail. I took it outside and released it. Yes, I do share many attributes with St Francis.

@Tommmcatt Au Gros Sel: Word.

@JNOV: I have no idea what flaxseed is. Is it a kind of gin?

9:38 am • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Dodgerblue: @Benedick: I watched three hummingbirds engage in what looked like a aerial battle between tiny spitfires. They were fighting over my monarda (bee balm). It went on and on. Vicious little buggers.

1:31 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

One day I was walking up exterior stairs, and I saw what looked like a rabbit’s foot. I bent down to pick it up thinking about burying it. (Coming from me, it’s not as weird as it might sound. I think about burying roadkill.)

The rabbit’s foot was a bird.

I cupped it in my hands and felt it move. I ran to the Campus Bird Man and asked him if he could save it. He told me that it was a ruby-throated hummingbird, and it probably flew into one of our glazed windows thinking it was attacking a rival.

He took the bird, it died, AND HE STUFFED IT! Fucking Audubon bastard. I would have buried it.

I wish RML were around for many reasons, but he probably knows the Soundgarden song “Like Suicide.” A crow flies into a hotel window, Chris Cornell goes to see what happened, and he finds it, her neck broken. He can’t think of anything to do besides kill her. It’s their best song.

1:33 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: Oh, you with your flaxen hair.

3:21 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

I am the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure of the windowpane.

I find it’s the cardinals that fly full-tilt into the windows and kill themselves.

5:12 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Mistress Cynica: I wish they would get organized and drive the crows out of my neighborhood.

7:15 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: Yes.

Was Nabokov insane? Lolita=trigger no matter how people try to explain it away. But Pale Fire might be doable.

7:33 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: That makes three other people who know about Pale Fire.

7:34 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: Right. Pale Fire. Hilarious. Truly. Great masterpiece. Ultima Thule. King Zod. I’ve been typing all day and can only do telegrams. A warm hand on your opening.

Lolita is Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary. The attempt of men to understand the inner life of wimminz.

7:37 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: she was 12

7:38 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@nojo: Darling, don’t make me get on a Greyhound and come out there to smack you with your own Birks.

Pale Fire is one of the masterpieces of the 20th cent.

Along with Price Is Right.

7:51 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

I mean, fucking hell. Joseph Smith (Mormon inventor) said that an angel with a fucking flaming sword commanded him to “practice the principle [hahahahahaha] of plural marriage,” AKA polygamy. People think that his youngest wife was 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball. No one knows for sure if she was the youngest. And, no, it was not common for people to marry that young at that time in history, oh, about 150 years ago.

So, here you have a perverted cult leader telling people that god’s gonna kill him unless he marries any child or adult he chooses, even women who are already married, and then you have this perverted bastard who tells a girl that if she doesn’t run away with him, CPS will take her. The only difference I see is, well, none. Smith and Nabokov became wealthy men off of sick fantasies which are too often realities.

7:53 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: I agree, but it’s not commonly known outside the Academy. I only discovered it through MFA friends.

7:55 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: No. Not at all. She’s 14. Like Juliet. But it’s fiction. And Humbert comes to understand his sin in the luminous sequence when they’re on the run: he gets up early and outside the motel he hears the voices of children rising up from the valley below. The novel is harshly critical of Humbert’s sentimental tyranny.

7:59 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: I’ll give you those two years if you:

1. Tell me Romeo’s age;
2. Tell me Humbert’s age; and
3. Tell me what transpired before the pedophile epiphany, and not just how it moves the plot.

8:00 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: Darling, Nabokov wrote stories. Fiction is not life. Fiction can illuminate life. Joseph Smith cannot be compared to Nabokov. Nabokov was a great artist. Smith was bonkers. That he caused as much damage as he did, and does, is regrettable. But whatever damage Humbert Humbert did is fictional.

8:02 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@nojo: Rilly? A novel of such ravishment I can’t even compute.

8:03 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

I haven’t hit full-blown trigger mode, and I’d rather not. Talk amongst yourselves.

8:04 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: 1: 14 (the age then for marriage which is what that play’s about)

2:40ish?

3: See history of European literature.

8:05 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

So at this point it looks like Homofascist, Libertarian Tool, or I will win the March Madness pool.

8:42 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@SanFranLefty: Fingers crossed.

8:58 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: Well, for one, there’s no movie starring James Mason as Charles Kinbote.

9:09 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: I’ve calmed down slightly.

1. Romeo and Juliet is about the Hatfields and McCoys and not about marriage. Marriage is the vehicle that illuminates, ahem, the feud.

3.and 2. Was Lolita set in the 20th century or in the 16th? Was his rapemobile a car or a horse and buggy? Maybe a sedan chair. When a 40ish man is on the lamb with a girl who has no choice in the matter, the history of European lit is irrelevant.

Lolita existed in a person’s imagination before pen was put to paper or quill to ink if we’re going back to Shakes to justify what I don’t doubt is amazing artistry. Be it a cautionary tale (ick), or the struggle for men to understand the inner life of children, who thinks this kind of shit up and runs with it?

Everyone knows that the true nature of women is explained in The Story of O.

10:11 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@JNOV: Lolita is a masterpiece of the 20th cent. From its opening in a therapeutic hospital to its ending at Greystar it is a tragedy of good intentions. Its author intended the book to stand in line from Anna Karenina, to Madame Bovary. The wonder is that Lolita is their equal.

R+J is about dynastic marriage. That’s the whole point of the story.

10:18 pm • Sunday • March 30, 2014

@Benedick: K

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