Monday, May 01, 2006

5 Questions

No, it's not the return of Craig Kilborn. My five questions asked by Mr. Chris Jones:

1. Where are you in terms of processing the Lapland experience? I ask because it did inspire one of the better blog entries I've ever read, and you haven't said much about it since.

First, a literary quotation. Having been enammered by Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, this past week I read his abbreviated Tales of Adam, in which he imagines the patriarch of humanity instead as a hunter-gatherer, passing on wisdom about the connectedness of the earth to Abel, and thereby the reader. In a last chapter monolouge, he says:

"The journey is the song we make of our lives. We're not crafters of axes or spears or tents or baskets. These are trifles. We are seekers of holy places."

Second, an anecdote. I worked a perfectly tedious job (as I'm sure you understand) this semester with people who are nice, but (as I'm sure you also understand) perfectly average. Anyway, one day, near the term's outset, I remember a couple of the girls chatting about their weekends, and how that day they' d run again into Harrison Beck (the hotshot Husker backup quarterback), and that he was wearing the same thing he'd had on two days prior. Apparently this was scandolous.

I wanted to walk outside and weep after hearing this, and I couldn't really even explain why to my friends. Now, I believe, it's because I realized concretely how far I'd come from the Lapland that was the holy place of my trip. My last full college semester has been full of crazy stuff and plenty of acheivement, but no just being, no pursuit of holy places, and most importantly, no fellow travelers. Here, everyone is not a displaced wanderer -- they have their classes and work to keep them busy and their everyday lives to keep them sedated when they're finished.

In everyday life, when I have empty time, it feels like a waste -- I ought to be acheiveing, or drunk. But when I was up north I had moments of clarity like nothing else, like just being there was the most important thing I could have ever done. And maybe it came partly from self-satisfaction. I studied abroad on a crazy whim, and I almost didn't go to Lappland because I was running out of money. When I there, it was right, totally correct. It was a Nirvana from all the doubts and neuroses that have ever plagued me, a mystical release into divine permafrost.

When we boarded the bus, after a photo showing of Lappland, I seriously restrained myself from weeping. Subconsiously, I knew, nothing would ever be the same. Yes, I'd say goodbye to most of the exchange students as soon as we returned to Stockholm, but that was inevitable. I wanted to cry because I knew I might not see anything so beautiful again in my entire life, but more importantly, because I was going back to Lincoln, Nebraska, where everyday American life shackles people from feeling anything too deeply, much less making irrational flights in search of beauty.

I was right to cry. Outside of that community again, I feel like I'm losing something of myself.

2. (A rerun, because I'm legitimately curious): Who do you hope our next President is?

That's easy: Jon Stewart.

Oh, ok. You wanted a serious answer. That's easy, then: Jon Stewart.

Allright, fine, somebody who has a serious (or at least decent) shot at winning. In that case, I'll take your boy Russ, simply because I suppose he's the closest to my own line of ideology of anybody who's close to the race. For the most part, I don't think it's that important. Our country is in need of radical changes of course to ensure its survival and success in the future, but people running for President must move so close to the center in order to ensure a winning political coalition that they really can't rock the boat all that much, even if they wanted to.

Because of his or her prominence, the President gets to set much of the day's political agenda in the United States, and of course is important in other ways. But as far as what they can do practically, the most important to me are:

A) Putting people on the courts
B) Deciding when and how we go to war, how we treat prisoners, etc.

Therefore, I would like to trade in our current chief executive for someone who would nominate judges to the court who believe in civil rights, and who thinks about the consequences before going to an unending war against an abstract noun. Russ sounds like that to me. More importantly, he seems to me like someone who could put forth vision in office. Say it and say it again -- Democrats, to win, can't just stomp their feet and point out how stupid the Republicans are. We all know how stupid the Republicans are. What's your vision for a livable tomorrow?

3. What was the first jazz song/record/experience that you fell in love with?

Shortly after moving back to the Lincoln area for college, Pleasantville came on as the ABC movie of the week. Mom and I watched it. There's a part where over the top of the newly-liberated kids frolicing in Lover's Lane you hear "Take Five," and then and there I decided I had to have it. I knew it was called "Take Five" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet because I have an addiction to the informericals for Time Life and other music collections, and a few days before they'd been selling 50 Jazz Classics, or some bullshit like that. Shortly thereafter I bought a Brubeck greatest hits album at the Lincoln mall's music store.

This was first, not most important. Next was running down Kind of Blue simply on recommendation from Anthony, who beat me to understanding jazz. The point when you start listening to this album is the point when you realize that it makes your rock records sound like slow children playing with their parents' instruments.

The Epistrophy epiphany came to bear upon the sound of Stan Getz's sax entrance on "Corcavado." There I sat in a theater full of Nebraska's finest young men and women, who will never understand the searing of those first few notes, but my heart broke open, for the music and for knowing most of them will never feel anything besides an orgasm so deeply.

4. The Nebraska state motto is "The Good Life." What is the good life?

The Storybook Good Life is close to the life my parents lead, which you and I can touch, but never truly take part in. It's the feeling I get drinking iced tea on the manor's porch, imagining only for a moment that life need not be more complicated than Husker games and rain gauge readings. Yesterday, after talking over dinner about attending synagouge for Amanda's conversion, Dad asked me to explain to him what the difference between Christianity and Judaism was. His good life is not having to give a shit about anything besides Mom and his land. My Good Life is having tedious real-life taken care of and figuring out as much as is humanly possible about the world. Yet we are the same blood. Go figure.

Independent of geography, the Good Life is stripping life down to what actually means something to you. But it exists tentatively outside of geography, because that's so much harder when you aren't out here in the country, sequestered from hustle and bustle.

I don't think a jittery person like me can find the Good Life, not without some help. But I feel like I have that part of it, that makes me different from other people. Having lived all over creation and run off to Europe sets me apart from my current compadres. I would never be content to live the storybook Good Life. ButI imagine myself somewhere in the urban future, the rustic hardiness hardwired into my blood forever making me different from those who didn't come from this.

5. Which pop icon would you most prefer to be: a rock star, a satirist, or a notorious criminal?

The last, no doubt. For the infamy, for the women, and because I don't want to live that long in the first place. Also, you can become a satarist when you're in prison.

Most importantly, none of the three are expected to take anything too seriously.

2 comments:

Elissa said...

Cool for you on the job -- what kind of soul-killing work will you be doing? =) j/k; I hope it's something you can enjoy. I'm trying to get a job that would be stressful and challenging and would pay my tuition; we'll see.

A.G. Moseman said...

I'm working at the Nebraska Bookstore. Actually, it ought to be a-pretty good.