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rock oak and beeches b&w

I am not ready to let the colors back in. The sky in black & white retains a pleasing uniformity: it’s either a wall of light or the nightly well. Shadows have authority, making a man appear as solid as a tree and a tree as stolid as a gnomon. I am not ready for brown & green & blue & the grievances of noon. I am not ready to stop being white & seeing white as blankness, the default setting. The kind of self-effacement that ennables is still so comfortable. The old ways might have been wrong but it was a wrongness that required careful attention, like the shape & set of a fine felt hat. It was ugly, yes, but it fit. Now we have such a crowd of proud misfits, loud in their ain’ts & their complaints, shrill as the shills who killed their appetite for books. I watch their hands shaping the air & think, what if someday we all switched to sign language & to Braille? What would that do the hard cell of self? Then perhaps we could free ourselves from the shame of misbegotten speech: the N-word, the F-word, the C-word, the S-word. Then we could all luxuriate in a world of scent & soft outlines — a touchy-feely city on the hill. Then only those without any hands would still stand on the wrong side of the wall, their unbranched shadows inching across the snow.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

5 Comments


  1. Fascinating, I’ve read this a few times… to think of a black and white world, and communication without speech. The signing deaf would have an advantage.

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  2. This is very nice. I just found your blog today, I’m so glad I did.

    Reply

  3. A riff?
    Yeah. Music is there alright. Blues. Jazz. Some honky-tonk?
    There is aria, too.

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  4. I’m glad you’re back on the air! (Around here, anyway, we couldn’t pull in VN over the past couple of days.) The latest ratings are in, and I thought I’d share them here.

    I downloaded the new Safari beta yesterday, available for PC and Mac. The default home page is a panorama of twelve real-time thumbnails of one’s most-visited sites over what appears to be the past few months. (One can adjust it to show six to twenty-four thumbnails, too, and one can make other real-time, thumbnail panoramas.) Via Negativa shows up as my sixth-most-visited site – the only blog in my top twelve most-visited sites, which are dominated by news sites and work-related portals.

    Thanks for blogging.

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  5. Hi all! Sorry for the outage. We’re planning to move VN to a new server this coming week, where I hope this kind of constipation will no longer occur. Fingers crossed.

    Marja-Leena – I’m glad you found this thought-provoking.

    Matt – Welcome! Thanks for leaving a comment.

    Deb – I’m not sure exactly what makes a riff a riff around here, but usually I think it’s somethig I consider just a bit too glib to be a poem or poem-like thing. I stole the category from one of Teju Cole’s old blogs, I think.

    Peter – Thanks for the ratings report. who needs the Nielsons? :)

    Sounds like Safari is imitating Opera in that regard. I have Safari for Windows on my desktop, so I should see what you’re talking about eventually. Any time I fiddle with a site’s CSS, I try to remember to check it both in IE7 and in Safari, since I figure plenty of readers use those browsers. (My own preferred browser is Firefox, because of the extensions.) I suppose I should start checking to see how sites appear on the mobile phone platforms, too, though…

    Reply

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