December 11th, 2002

caillebotte_man at his window

First Frost

Had I not been sitting on it, my ass would have frozen off tonight. The grass is crunchy. This is late in the year for the first frost, yet not late enough for me. Brrrr. The stars seem farther away on these cold December nights. I find it more difficult to think of them as vast fires. The idea itself of heat shrinks down like banked embers, shrouded in grey dust. Long after moonset, the light played over high clouds in the west. Their noctilucence was like shimmering ice. As lovely as the sight was, this was a night for withdrawing into the house, closing out the cold and listening to the rumble of heated air in the ducts.
caillebotte_the balcony

Things

The last roll of film from the Olympus came back today. Every frame is blurry. I know it wasn't from the autofocus window being dirty this time. It's just as well the repair guy didn't put do the work on it. The thing is defunct in every way. Too bad. It was a decent camera in its time, unlike the Fuji (ptui!) which I bought last January.There were some nice pictures on that roll of film, too.

Have you noticed how things tend to fall apart in groups? The other day, the remote to one of our televisions quit working. I put new batteries in it, and it still didn't work. Today I bought a new remote, but it doesn't work, either. So the only thing I can think of is that the little device in the television itself, the thing that communicates with the remote, has gone collywampus. It would probably be expensive to fix, so I might as well put that money toward a new television. But now I'm wondering which thing in the house will break down next. Things are a pain in the ass (or arse, for those of you who have no ass.)

Still, new things though they will be, I want to replace the television, and get a new camera. Currently, I'm leaning toward a SLR camera, rather than trying to go digital, since digital would require a computer upgrade, and a digital camera is pretty much useless without a computer. I'm very wary of buying things that are dependent upon yet other things to be functional. The web of things easily grows tangled and ensnares the "owner" of the things completely. Eventually, I'm sure, all things will be dependent upon all other things, and we shall all be trapped by our dependence on the sum of these interdependent things.

I try not to think of that day. I remind myself of W.C. Williams' observation-- No ideas, but in things. I recall Richard Wilbur's poem, Love Calls Us to the Things of This World. These truths do not comfort me. The things we have now, however useful or pleasurable they may be, are different from the things we once had. Sluggo, for example, is kin to a Grecian urn only in that they were both made by humans. In all other ways, this humming, glowing, unstable cluster of devices with which I am sending messages into the world, and receiving messages back, is of an entirely different order than the products of earlier technologies. Should Sluggo be dug from the ruins of my house two thousand years hence, I doubt greatly that he will inspire any poet to rapturous verse.

But, again I maunder. I am going to go distract myself from thoughts of the fragility of modern civilization by watching television, assuming that one of them works, and the cable doesn't go down, or the power fail. But whatever thing falls apart next, at least I will still have my unbroken sense of irony.