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Wednesday, 9 March 2011



Ngorongoro Crater, showing wildebeest and zebra herds, migration paths, roads for safari vehicles and the Magdi Lake
: photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, 2010

The spaces of the earth remain intact (mostly), but the economies of life of the creatures within those spaces, in complex interaction, in such ragged orders, come increasingly to suggest not a harmony, nor even a sustaining interdependence, but a mere series of dislocated notes in the music of creation, yielding a jarring dissonance, a disturbance that at some moments seems almost to emanate from some buried flaw deep in the core of things as they are.

One need not necessarily get around much to observe the signs of this disturbance, they become routine and incidental and so common as to create, it sometimes seems, a kind of surrounding atmosphere of which one may well remain oblivious, but to which, at some deeper level, no conscious being may successfully pretend to be immune.

The deer that come down from the hills at night, ghostly presences that move so lightly across the landscape few humans ever know they are here, are always aware that we are here, and wisely stay well clear of us.

Encountered by surprise while browsing neighbourhood foliage in the night, they freeze, ears cocked, senses navigating the moment, always ready for flight.

Sometimes I stop and pause, they stop and pause, I talk quietly to them, after a while they apprehend there is nothing to be afraid of, they grow tired of paying attention to this foolish intruder upon their night world and go back to nibbling on the tender bushes of the residential classes.

There was a congenial man who in the early days of children's television was known for his gentle and kindly, welcoming way of addressing visitors, real and virtual alike: "Would you be my neighbor?"

Up against that, there is the supposedly sensible (and certainly very Yankee) hard-edge adage of the poet Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors".

Sun sets over the old medina in central Tripoli: photo by Patrick André Perron, 2007




Yes, great -- photos and words -- ( ! )

"The spaces of the earth remain intact (mostly. . .)"

"dissonance . . . disturbance . . . from some buried flaw deep in the core of things as they are."

those "ghostly presences . . . nibbling on the tender bushes of the residential classes."

"'Good fences make good neighbors'".


red orange of cloud above still shadowed
ridge, blue jay landing on redwood fence
in foreground, waves sounding in channel

also perspective as a whole,
everywhere and always

that things, put into words,
would have known that

blue white of sky reflected in channel,
circular green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...


Yes, "dissonance...disturbance..."

This post grew in part from meditation upon offstage action in the world-events public theatre and in part from our own little Tripoli closer to home.

At 7.30 on Monday evening a guy started shooting in a house just up the block here, bullets hit a neighboring house, a hostage was taken (the guy's estranged wife, it seems), the whole block was sealed off with yellow tape and police, the residents were evacuated.

Later that night I stumbled out into that police cordon. The street looked like East Berlin.

At 4.30 on Tuesday morning the police entered the house where the guy was holed up. He then shot himself.

It's a very non-Fred-Rogers-ish atmosphere, at present.

Anonymous said...

I know less and less of what to make of things. You've covered "the subject", such as it is, really well here. Things vary everywhere and unexpectedly. In sylvan, high-ish and rocky Tuxedo Park, NY (in the shadow of the Catskills, said to be Ground Zero in the northeast's "deer overpopulation problem"), vocal residents had a long-term freakout and now there are hardly any deer left. The place is as dead as most of the souls that remain. In suburban Philadelphia, no one ever mentions the deer and we have more of them, I think, than we ever did in Tuxedo. It's one of the nice aspects of the place. Your photos are both amazing. Last week, there was a biggish, but one-day, business news story about a company in LA called Bridgewater, which is the most successful hedge fund ever. The reason for the story wasn't the firm's success but its supposedly "cult-like" culture and discipline. All employees are made to memorize and be guided by the founder/chairman Ray Dalio’s “200 Principles” and a copy of this catechism was finally smuggled out and published to the world. Principle 1 apparently begins with the example “imagine you are one of a pair of hyenas and you have a baby wildebeest in your sights – would attacking and killing him be the right or the wrong thing?” The answer, as you might expect, is that the natural order must be followed and the wildebeest must go. By the way, when I worked at CBS/FOX, the Mister Rogers video line was one of our significant licenses. Fred Rogers and his organization, Family Communications, were genuinely good people – sincere and a pleasure to know and work with.


Tom and Curtis,

Yes, these wonderful photos -- that flat plane highway for wildebeest and zebra, sunset over old town Tripoli. When I looked up just now I thought I'd see 2 or 3 or 4 deer grazing on the greens of the field across the back fence (they're usually out there at this time, and also at the end of the day, and come into the yard at night (or broad daylight) to continue their grazing on roses and geraniums and whatever else they like). . . . But they're not there now, will probably be there the next time I look. What a grim story about "our own little Tripoli closer to home"!)

Ed Baker said...

this happens 3 or 4 or 5 times a month around here..
and EVERY time the police/swat team ( yes a "team" like it s a football game)) report
that "he shot himself"

43 bullets in the guys chest ... "self inflicted"

what will solve this problem... cutting Medicare,
Medicaid, Socia;l Security and increasing the cost of postage stamps and gasoline and pork chops and beer

sure am glad that I am rich and don't have to worry about getting a job at age 70 ... next month!

TC said...


One would like to think that if Fred Rogers happened to run into a baby wildebeest, stranded on the savannah, he'd take really good care of it.


Here the deer light up the shadowplay of the night, are gone by day. They stayed well away from the SWAT teams, naturally.


I had the same inner question about that "suicide". But one would like to not be too much of a cynic.