Sunday, February 17, 2008

And Now Kosovo is Free

AP photo

Wow. So the day has finally come. It’s almost hard to feel any one way about it, after nearly ten years. Maybe the knowledge of how much blood and terror, of how many blunders, tears, tragic mistakes, hopes, struggles, and dreams it took to make this a reality precludes any one feeling from encompassing the event.

Well, perhaps that is only the case for us outsiders who were there, or perhaps only for me—having been there a relatively short time and having mostly witnessed the aftermath of the worst part. The Albanian Kosovars, however, certainly seem to have no shortage of jubilation this morning.

Good for them. Here’s hoping it works out. Play nice, have fun, and make the most of it.

AP photo

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Once upon a time there was this backlash against rationality

We’ll call it the Romantic movement, ‘cause everyone else does. Interestingly, for a person interested in the evolution of human thought, I’ve never given much thought to how much of an impact this 1800s movement had on my childhood and worldview.

The movement's memes moved from gloomy English poets, American transcendentalists, German composures, and the intellectuals of the Germanic world, down through the lost generation, angst-ridden writers of the intra-war period, early 20th century reformers, members of the non-communist far left, beatniks, and found its mass expression in hippies. These ideas settled on my generation in the medium of popular culture. During my early years, we had a hit a period of synthesis, and a compromise version of Romanticisms’ emphasis on individuality, wonder, whimsy, and emotion had infused popular culture. As we moved into the 1990s, the process continued, with the Romantics' rejection of the intellect and science softening into a view of these as part of humanity’s heroic struggle to understand the universe.

I can not remember how many TV show episodes and movies there were that ended with the moral that a person must see the world with both their heart and mind—that emotion and intellect together were important means of apprehending truth.

Even as early as the 60s, this fusion was under way in pop culture, with flinty-eyed Cold War warrior types in space celebrating human irrationality and spontaneity along with the mystery of exploration and the learning that technology makes possible.

This compromise even manifested in a Stallone movie of all places, with the Demolition Man himself standing in a utopian Los Angeles of the future, telling the uptight police that they needed to get a little dirtier, and that the rebels of the LA underworld that they needed to clean up some.

I do miss that age of graceful combination. The really good media products of the time, shows like Star Trek and Northern Exposure; comic strips like Bloom County were good at exploring both human intuition and reason. These works expressed a broad-based appreciation of art, philosophy, science, and firsthand personal experience.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Traveling the Feather River Canyon

Up in the Sierras with the guys

An engine of wealth

I can remember moving home after four years abroad in places like Germany, South Korea, Artic Norway, Southern Sweden, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Lithuania. Suddenly the names of the West Coast—Spanish and Indian and the names of various wilderness scouts and explorers—seemed foreign and exotic: Washoe, Plumas, Tahoe, Truckee, Toiyabe, Humboldt, Carson, Sacramento, Sierra, &etc…

Heading home

So I lied

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Old-School Nevada

The end of Virginia Street: Reno’s main north-south thoroughfare starts in the southern suburbs, runs through the casinos, and ends in a rural dirt road running north. I like this, and miss the time when its southern end was a charming country highway heading towards Carson City.

Heading into the storm.

A common complaint of many scholars, who cover the early American republic, is that the founding fathers left behind personal journals filled with entries concerned primarily with the weather: barometric pressure, temperature, precipitation type and quantity.

I can sympathize with this habit, and even feel the temptation to note each time it snows or rains in this web log. Though I am certainly no gentleman farmer, the weather moves through and innervates everything. It is the breath of creation, and the feeling of traveling in a storm, mounted in a vehicle or on foot, comes close to what I imagine surfers to feel when they are in the pipe—an all encompassing and engaging sense of force in motion, a feeling of the world and its solid mass as a fluid reality.

And just like that, we reach a stretch of calm—odd how the mountains shape the microclimates, creating zones of intensity or tranquility with respect to wind, rain, and snow

In the shelter of the canyon

Finally, the state line

Heading home

Ah, old-school 80s cartoons