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December 31, 2004

Ruination rumination

When your birthday is a few days after the new year begins, it makes it easy to get lost in self-absorbed reflection as the calendars change. The long nights make it even easier. I have developed the habit of spending the last few days of each year, and the first few of the subsequent year, dispassionately inventorying my accomplishments. As my upcoming birthday is of the "multiple of five" variety, my special goal in this inventorying of accomplishments is to actually come up with one.

And that's not going to happen, not this week. Like everyone else and her uncle in the bloginuum, I have been thinking of life and loss and tragedy, and my own petty triumphs aren't looking quite so shiny. I find it tempting to search for a minor personal irony in the timing of the horrendous disaster this week in southeast Asia, right as I begin work on an essay on the Anatomy of Bad News. Of course when you write on that topic, it's nearly inevitable that a horrifying piece of bad news will come along at a seemingly ironic time. You want detachment from current events, write about good news; about love or fidelity or nobility of spirit. You're guaranteed not to see that on the news, unless it's safely bracketed by a context of horror: the guide dog leading her master down the WTC steps as it crumbles around them.

Anyway, Susan Sontag's loss in the same 48-hour period has earned Coyote a hearty kick in the ass if I ever catch up with that motherfucker. Those of you who don't immediately catch my drift will once I get the writing done.

The essay will be ready in a week or two, and it's likely y'all will be the first to see it. And I desperately hope, O Reader, that this tsunami is an abstract horror for you, prompting tears by way of television empathy rather than personal loss.

And at least we get to see reporters using the word "enormity" correctly for a week or so, even if they don't know they're doing it. Happy New Year.

Posted by Chris Clarke at December 31, 2004 12:56 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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