Sunday, June 12, 2005


I'm working on the introduction for a community film showing of Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick's annihilation-of-the-world comedy. I must like Kubrick because I, too, have a pervading sense of doom and a tendency to be very morbid. And the only thing I can think to do about it is laugh.

I've caught myself, when something horrible is happening to me or around me, bursting out in laughter. It may sound dumb or compulsive, but in some circumstances a laugh is as good as anything else. I used to get so obsessed with the horrific aspects of life that I could hardly function (is this what they're talking about when they talk about "depression"? I was always too scared to try anti-depressants because I knew too many people who'd been made worse by them).

Once I was walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans and came upon a group of drunk tourists taunting a crazy homeless woman. Not a violent scene at all, just very nasty. My usual impulse in this kind of moment is to ride in on my white horse and look for someone to save, but a voice in my head whispered to me that everyone there was beyond my (or anyone else's) help. This voice didn't cheer me up one bit; it just was. And I couldn't laugh and still can't.

If I'd still been embracing my romantic despair at that point in my life, this could have been my Valentine Michael Smith epiphany ("Now I understand humans"), but--I'm repeating myself--it just
was. What is the sound of shit happening?

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