Friday, August 26, 2005


Authenticity and Abstraction

As I get closer to home, I find I am less comfortable with the bare experiences and more inclined to interpret and package the events of the last two weeks. I love elegant theories. But all along this trip I have spoken with people who have taken this very messy situation and organized their understanding in a few neat boxes that they would line up for me when the subject of the war came up. Casey volunteered to go to Iraq and soldiers die. Boys are dying because Bush has a daddy complex. Cindy Sheehan already met with President Bush once. Bush should just talk to her. We have to support our troops. We have to bring our troops home.

But after only a few minutes of talking, the boxes begin to unpack. Abstractions armor us against the chaos in our hearts, but when we touch others, the heart takes first position and abstractions show themselves as shadows. I am not the kind of person who usually cries with bank tellers or gets blessed by gas station attendants. As I said, I love elegant theories. But this whole trip, my theoretical machinery has been on the blink.

Now I can feel it coming back on line. I have mixed feelings. I love elegant theories. I have been taking pictures of power stations and gas stations and windmills and abandoned cars and rusting gas tanks and Bush signs and decals and I've been trying to formulate a vision of how they fit with the war, and conservative politics, and the pull of Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas.

At the same time, I miss the immediacy of the day before yesterday. And tomorrow, I'll be home.

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