I like this planet. I really do. For starters, it’s round. True. All planets are round. This seems to be a fundamental law of the universe. No one has yet reported a square planet. Or a rectangular planet. Or an octagonal or triangular or polyhedral planet.
It’s not strictly a matter of shape. The planet has water and clouds. How can anyone not fall in love immediately with water and clouds? How can anyone not love water? Aside, of course, from somebody drowning. Or clouds. What is there not to like about clouds? They drift. They change shape. They drop water on the ground. They curl around mountains and trees and make everything lush and wet and beautiful.
The Internet has made the world much smaller. Mostly in a good way. You can go on Facebook and be friends with people in Iceland and Egypt. Though it is arguable what the quality of that relationship may be, it’s nice to write someone in Cameroun and get an immediate response. A response that, in some beautifully serendipitous way, brings you to the real Cameroun.
And as you look down from your window seat on your way to Cameroun, you can see the folds and ripples and rivulets of the planet, its crinkles and wrinkles, glittering lakes and opulent fields, and abstracted like that you cannot see the fine, exquisitely balanced ecology of these things, and so your worries of environmental depredation are momentarily abated. I believe that was the allure of the movie Up In The Air. Up in the air, you aren’t connected to anything. In reality, you are: the bolts, operation, and structural integrity of the plane on which you are moving through the air. But the illusion is sweet. The illusion of being high, in an abstract place, where your only worries are how to get to the bathroom by stepping on the fewest toes. Or making conversation with the person sitting next to you. Or trying to get your plastic bag of nuts open without smacking that person in the face when you lose your grip and your arm goes flying.
It’s easy to be cordial to people with whom your relationship is only going to last five to ten hours. Maybe a tad longer, if you’re headed to Australia, or Fiji. But the upshot is its blithe temporariness. You can like almost anyone within a prescribed timeframe. Or pretend to like someone within a prescribed timeframe.
Although the confines of your seat and the plane itself rather dictate a policy of amenability. What a shame such courtesies cannot be extended on the ground. Where there is seemingly much more room, but the actuality is a little more harsh. There is not that much room. And the planet is round. Meaning everything rebounds. Bounces back to you one way or another. If you’re an industrial tycoon blowing the tops off West Virginia mountains, one day it will affect you. Or your children. It is inevitable. The air you breathe. The water you drink. All affected. Poisoned. Too bad tycoons don’t get this. If they did, they wouldn’t be blowing the tops off West Virginia mountains. Or building nuclear reactors on notorious fault lines.
And although our apartment is really small, there is room for Shakespeare and Proust and Paul Celan. Jack Keroauc and Michael McClure. Philip Lamantia and Edgar Allan Poe. Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg. André Breton and Tristan Tzara. For the coffee table, which Roberta’s brother built in high school, in woodshop, and is solid as a Swiss bank vault. For the refrigerator and all of its odd noises.
For all our implements of hygiene, toothpaste, brushes, shampoo, balms and lotions, razors and combs, tweezers and nail clippers and hair dryer and towels.
For the TV, which is becoming increasingly useful as Seattle’s movie theaters shut down. And TV5, which brings us France, and Marie Drucker. Thalassa, Le grande librairie, and Des racines and des ailes.
For Matisse on the wall, and Magritte and Man Ray and Peggy Murphy.
For Toby, our cat, who sleeps under the gooseneck lamp on the table by the window. Where I look out, and see that it is raining, and that there are splots of raindrops on the blue shingles of the house next door, and the fronds of the ferns tremble just enough to register a lightness of breeze.
How can you not love this planet? It’s the jewel of our solar system. And the apple of my eye.
4 hours ago