Part of our political perils has to do with the fact that Americans don’t really see themselves as part of a community. The United States of America really does not have much by way of a common identity or shared values, and it’s always been that way. We are a collection of very diverse states and cultures who have very different ways of seeing the world. I certainly don’t feel a part of one American community, and I never have. I’ve been on the right and on the left, politically, and I’ve kicked around in some pretty diverse circles, and it has never occurred to me to think of all of us as part of one happy family, because we aren’t. I’m guessing it’s probably that way with most of us.
On the surface, the novel Beloved seems like literature that makes us more aware of the brutality of slavery — the physical and emotional abuses, the violence, and the dehumanization. It is, all of these, of course, but I think that what sets Toni Morrison’s novel apart, and what has earned her the well-deserved international acclaim she has achieved, is that she goes deeper, to really get under our skin, as it were. For me, reading Beloved made me acutely aware of the color of my skin. This is perhaps as good as it gets, when it comes to fiction writing, because Beloved forces the reader to confront themselves in relation to skin color and in relation to the brutality of racism, both past and present. Morrison does all this simpy by being a great writer, by putting the reader there, right there in the middle of it all.
“I’m off the book,” says my friend Scott. We stand together on the porch of the Golden Saloon, drinking a few beers in the early evening. We’re a little buzzed, it’s a nice beer buzz without being completely swept away into intoxication. “Off the book,” I repeat. I’d never heard it put quite like that. “I like Facebook,” I say. “I really do. But I think I’m winding it down.” I’m still connected to the Book, I tell Scott. My Facebook account is still active. I just haven’t been checking it very often. It’s gone from a daily scanning to a weekly review.
It was a bit spontaneous, but I decided to hike Bonanza trail. I cheated and drove a wheeler up most of the way, but I hiked the most hellacious and steepest section. It will be a slow recovery for the knee. Last time it took several years before I even began to feel like I was nearing 100%. I’m resting it quite a bit, but it’s mid-summer and the needs of my soul were greater to me than resting the knee. So up I went. The views from the riddgeline above Bonanza Mine are nearly 360 degrees, and there’s always something about getting way up high that gives me a healthy sense of perspective. I always get just a touch of vertigo when I’m way up in the clouds, so the whole experience can get quite surreal, even spiritual one might say. The hiking was good for me, too. I’ve been doing daily walks, but it’s not the same thing as a few hours of vigorous hiking, goat-like, up a steep incline. Note: Those are …
Like most little Alaskan bush communities, we celebrate the Fourth of July with great gusto. We’ve got creative floats in a community parade (and since our parade line is rather small, all the floats circle around and parade through downtown a second time); we get jiggy with tacky red-white-and-blue apparel/decor; and, of course, since this is Alaska, we drink a fifth to celebrate the Fourth. So, we’ve got plenty of the traditional flag waving enthusiasm, but McCarthy has a disproportionate amount of free-spirited, open-minded folk, and there’s enough of a hippie influence out here that being patriotic doesn’t mean being a hater — quite the opposite, in fact.
I’m still stoked and celebrating the Ocasio-Cortez win. It’s yuge. So, I thought I’d share this short vid of an interview that she did w/ Stephen Colbert. “Trump isn’t ready for a girl from the Bronx,” she says. Hell yeah! While Trump represents an effort to force America back to a romanticized time that never existed, Ocasio-Cortex is the living embodiment of the kind of representative we desperately need in Washington: A young, non-white female who asks tough questions of capitalism and the privileges and prejudices that capitalism has created.
There’s epic mountains and breaching whales and raging rivers and scary bears and grizzled men with beards, but one of the natural features that most intrigues me about Alaska is the light, specifically the yuge swings of light and dark. The weirdness of the solar cycles gives the place a certain mystical feel. Most of the year, this area of Alaska is gaining or losing about 5 minutes of light a day. Things are always changing, always in flux. I never feel like anything is static or settled. Perhaps it’s a Buddhist-y thing, for me, or maybe it’s just the nature of nature itself, a part of life that we tend to forget in modernity, where we spend a good deal of our lives indoors and/or in front of screens, mostly disconnected from the natural world we evolved to live in. Whatever the reason, it feels refreshingly primitive to me to be in a place as dynamic as Alaska, especially on summer solstice where you can stay out all night and never need a flashlight …