One hundred yrz ago, shy a few weeks, on August 15, 1914, the great cut opened, officially. And at last, romance!
Your everlasting summer
You can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something
That you think is gonna last
You wouldn’t know a diamond
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can’t understand…
Opus citatum, “Reeling…”
Drawn into the wake of the Canal’s opening flowed many curious texts. Among them, a largish volume, one which could now be called “coffee table” sized, by a certain Willis J. Abbot, a journalist, who also wrote numerous volumes on military and maritime history. Released in simultaneous English and Spanish editions by Syndicate Publishing Company (with offices in London, New York, Toronto, Havana and Buenos Aires, Panama, The Canal: In Picture and Prose may be said to stand as a landmark in its own right – the “prose” having been pushed, cadence and alliteration and all, like Manifest Destiny itself, about as fur as it c’n go, viz.:
“The story of the inception and completion of the Panama Canal is the truly great chapter in the history of Panama. Not all the gold from poor Peru that Pizarro sent across the Isthmus to fatten the coffers of kings or to awaken the cupidity and cunning of the buccaneers equals what the United States alone has expended to give the trade of the world the highway so long and fruitlessly sought. An act of unselfish bounty, freely given to all the peoples of the earth, comes to obliterate at last the long record of perfidy, piracy and plunder…”
Culebra Cut, moon amour. Snake, adder, serpent.
“The union of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea at Suez, and the Atlantic and Pacific at Panama stand as man’s crowing achievements in remodeling God’s world. As [England’s] Ambassador [to the U.S.] James Bryce, speaking of the Panama Canal put, it ‘It is the greatest liberty Man has ever taken with Nature.’”
And it is bracing to think that such a book, such a compendium and weave of fact, astonishing assumption and pure fantasy would have no place on the shelves of today’s library. We would, if we read about the Canal at all, read about it in very different terms – terms that almost certainly would work toward erasing history in order to protect us from its disturbing forms, and the ways we were, and are, but, then as now, greatly wish to disown. Thus few children, or adults, “white,” or of color, will likely encounter a photograph, taken from behind, of a lean man (it is implied he is Jamaican) – his legs, one arm and shoulder visible behind the gigantic load of bananas he is carrying. Nor will they read the caption that accompanies this image:
“ONE WAY OF CARRYING BANANAS. At the docks of the United Fruit Co., mechanical carriers, so perfected as to not bruise the fruit, have replaced the leisurely negro.”
While on a ship, making the voyage through the Caribbean and thence across the Canal, the passengers counter the tedium of the journey with all manner of novel deckside sport.:
“Young men…bestride a horizontal boom…belabor each other with pillows until one or both fall to the hospitable mattress below.
Other youths, greatly encouraged by the plaudits of fair ones, permit themselves to be trussed up like fowls exposed for sale, and, with ungainly hops and lurches, bunt into each other until one is toppled to the deck. The human cockfight brings loud applause which attains its apogee when some spectator at the critical moment with a shrill cock-a-doodle-do displays an egg. A ship in the tropics is the truest of playgrounds. We are beginning to feel the content of just living which characterizes the natives of the tropics…”
Like Staggerlee, some part of the whole world: wonders.
And it strikes me, and perhaps him too, that the production of ignorance and the production of knowledge cannot be separated. The wheel turns, the snake eats its tail. Y viven las culebras en Eden también.
The things that pass for college I can’t understand.
And the not-so Pacific.
A man. A plan. The Zone.
Trinity (how holy?). Manhattan Project [curious name]. As is Alamogordo (fat almond, remember the…).
Before the mushroom cloud, the omphalos.
Itsy bitty teeny weeny.
Shima Hospital, mon amour.
Zhi: thought which is kept. Which endures and becomes permanent. The aspect of Shen which supplies the ongoing aspirations and drives that allow us to achieve a goal. Zhi supplies the underlying power for Hun and Po, which through them, unites the will with the consciousness of the Heart-Shen.
Zhi is connected to the deeper aspects of intelligence, memory and wisdom that are tied to Jing (essence).
Adapted from Bisio, Decoding…
Just as the twin towers – vernacularly known as David and Nelson (Rockefeller), but they might have been called Hiroshima and Nagasaki – culminated David’s “Billion Dollar Plan” for the revival of Lower Manhattan, the de-portation of the port and the expansion of the financial district (but it might have been called the Lower Manhattan Project), so too there was a Trinity element, in this case duple: the fabled church at the foot of the towers, and also its real estate investment arm.
What am I trying to say here?
That such an excess of calculation – all the number crunching in service of placing a can of fissionable material at just the right altitude over that hospital, and then setting off that reaction – eventually renders the calculators – though not the calculated upon, those that survive annihilation – incapable of accounting. The calculative mania leading as it does to an action so pure, it cannot cohere as story, and only mushrooms into more and further realms of calculation, and the unimaginable distance between and the shattering collision of Zero and Groundlessness.
What is the nature of the path to loving self?
Is it possible to love the path?
“Jean-Louis [Blondeau] had told me right away that it was illegal… but of course that’s what got me a bit excited. Against the law, yes, but not wicked or mean. It was wonderful.” Says Jean-François Heckel, one of Philippe Petit’s “accomplices” in his 1974 wire walk between the twin towers, in the film Man on Wire.
What are the myriad turnings of the ten thousand wheels that brought you to this mOment?
Time is not money.
Time is time.
You made the money.
We made the rhyme.
Jimmy sang in Jimmy’s Blues, p. 22.
creates the situation
and, then, the situation
It may, of course,
be the other way around:
Columbus was discovered
by what he found.
Ibid, p. 32.
I understand it,
the why is not the how.
author of the whirlwind,
and the rainbow,
Co-author of death,
giver and taker of breath
(Yes, every knee must bow),
I understand it
the why is not the how.
Ibid, p. 39.
According to the late Ronald Reagan “honest toil and the magic of the marketplace” were what created the nation’s wealth.
However honest or dishonest the toil and spoils, a great consequence of the Europeanization and hence the Africanization of the American continent was the creation of White and Black. And also a radical split in the West between Old and New “worlds.”
Over centuries, in the aftershock of Asian non-discovery, or the discovery of non-Asia, Black/White and Old/New accumulated into twin towers of modernity. And the riven West set out to prove that humankind could live by profit alone since profit was imagined to be the ultimate proof of being and thus refuted Hamlet.
Science – which, by definition has no slot for love – could hardly contend with such a project, and given the overarching drive for Progress, fell readily in line. With the result that love became the elusive and ineffable residuum of profit. As will, very probably, bread itself.
“This divorce menaces, when it does not destroy, any possibility of the examined, or the moral life – since we are all brothers, and must learn from each other – and it weakens one’s grasp of reality. It is impossible to look on a man and pretend that this man is a mule. It is impossible to couple with a Black woman and describe the child you have both created as a mulatto – either it’s your child, or a child, or it isn’t. It is impossible to pretend that you are not heir to, and therefore, however inadequately or unwillingly, responsible to, and for, the time and place that give you life – without becoming, at very best, a dangerously disoriented human being. This ruthless dynamic affords some key to the disaster of the American private, social, and political life, to say nothing of America’s ‘foreign’ policy.”
Baldwin, The Evidence of Things Not Seen.
Luc Sante, nostalgist. Americans – by which I mean those degraded people condemned to the prison of the United States – have arrived with near simultaneity at the status of low lives, without ever having transgressed. We wuz robbed!
Rearranging deck chairs on the digital Titanic.