Friday, November 5, 2010


It rained pretty much all day yesterday, our last full day in New York City. After breakfast, we spent the morning cleaning and washing, in preparation for our departure this morning, Friday. Then we took the Metro up Central Park West to the Natural History Museum, which we found much changed since our last visit, many years ago, and hard to navigate. We took in the spectacular Planetarium show, "Journey to the Stars," admiring the technological feats of the show itself as well as the science that informed them. Felt appropriately small as human beings in the context of the universe, whose vastness never fails to stagger the brain. One thing I have learned through meditation practice, though, is that mind is capable of infinite expansion.

After wandering for a while through the obligatory dinosaur display--no less wondrous for its familiarity--we stumbled into the primates and ended up with the Plains Indians before deciding that the layout of the museum was too confusing for short-term solution and asking for directions through the maze to the exit.

Out into the rain again--just a slow drizzle, now--for a criss-cross walk down Columbus and Amsterdam to Broadway, where we stopped to see the marvelous new Clint Eastwood film, Hereafter. For a man who started out with Dirty Harry and spaghetti Westerns, Eastwood has developed into a mature movie maker with a sure, authoritative eye and and ear for the human story which has no equal, certainly in Hollywood, today. I went to "Hereafter" with a certain trepidation, fearing that this subject might tempt him into sentimental fantasy. I need not have worried. Rather than the "hereafter" itself, the film is about the very human hopes and fears and the constructions they weave about what happens to us after death. It's done with deep respect and understanding for those human emotions, and the keynote is compassion rather than skepticism. There are moments of great pain and sadness, but they are manageable because they are seen through an unsentimental lens, one that is unafraid of looking at the realities of life without pity or regret.

What Eastwood does, marvelously well I think, is to blend the technical strengths of the Hollywood movie with the emotional and intellectual depth of the best or European and other, smaller budget foreign films. He's not afraid to take things slowly, to eschew the melodrama and the explosive action. But when he needs them--as with the brilliant and frightening tsunami scenes that lead us into the story of "Hereafter"--he does them with both restraint and skill. Ellie and both left much moved by the experience.

Then we ran into James Carville in the lobby, checking out the email on his Blackberry...!

Stopped for dinner at a restaurant on Broadway, where we found seats at the "bar"--a long, narrow table which gave us the chance to make friends with our fellow diners on all sides. Like-minded people, when it came to politics, with whom we had a thoroughly enjoyable discussion. To my right, a gentlemanly man from South Korea, who regretted that he could no longer see in America the hope for democracy it once represented. It is now, he said, only about money. Then home. I was ill-advised enough to open up the laptop for a glance at the news and caught a glimpse of the Republican leadership's response to Obama's dignified, chastened, and generous response to the election in his press conference yesterday. To his gracious olive branch, they could manage only to reiterate their determination to destroy his presidency.

I don't get it. It makes no sense. Two years ago we elected a man of intelligence, dignity, generosity and sensitivity to the White House, hopefully to repair some of the disasters wrought by forty years of right-wing dominance. Now, a scant two years later, with imperious impatience, we elect a bunch of goons who have no better plan than to destroy him and return us to the disastrous policies that led us into the predicament in which we were floundering before.

A day filled with contradictions, then--as many of them are! I went to bed angry, and was unable to get to sleep.


mandt said...

In a very non-Buddhist way, I say that Obama should take that gracious olive branch and shove up an elephant's tuckus.

CHI SPHERE said...

The olive branch or wreath of thorns worn by the wise and now I think weary man of principles will produce fruit if he leads the goons to the edge of their own deceptive cliff. Seeing this vast empty zone of free fall space may make them a bit cautious. It is nearly impossible to see a bright future in grid lock land.

I am weaving a coat and hat made of dollar bills and inserting others into the woven leather of a money whip (I really am making these objects) which I intend to wear on the floor of the stock market this coming spring. My now deceased friend Joseph Bueys once swept it with a broom made with a silver handle. I'll wander amongst them with the whip in hand. I'll pass out dimes in bags made of woven artificial human hair. If I am deemed mad, as I suspect I will be, then I will join those present who are themselves acting out a different kind of madness.