By Caroline Knox
I came in the open door, which was the color of the sky,
and walked in half-darkness to what looked like an open
fire, but it wasn't a fire—it was the sky
in a prolific sunset, an apostrophe of sky.
Then I took off my shades, a distorting form of curtain,
and looked out the window beyond at the sky.
But I might as well have been on the Isle of Skye.
I could hardly see as far as the door
without my contact lenses, which I'd lost. The door
was open, but I couldn't see it: a sky
that wasn't even there, a hypothetical window
in my mind. That's what it was like, a window.
Who is responsible for cleaning this window,
I railed grumpily, "lowing at the sky."
In the twilit dust, it was as if the window
were wearing shades: the Ptolemaic window
of the passé universe, vertiginously open.
Thank God for Copernicus, who was a window
of reason. Ptolemy and his ilk were a window
of received texts. But they were a curtain-
raiser to modern thought, at any rate. The curtain
is up for good now, and the Andersen Window
of high technology has come in the door;
and if you ask me, more power to the door.
It had been raining in through the window and the door.
Luckily for us we had gotten the window-
seat treated with Scotchgard. At length the door-
knob rattled, and my aunt was at the door.
"Oh, eyewash," said that worthy, when consulted on the sky
problem. "You couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door.
Where did you have your lenses last?" From the door,
flashes in the sky worked dully in the open
curtains, and I flung the sashes open.
I hadn't seen the Aurora Borealis since up in good old Door
County, Wisconsin (where Jeremiah Curtin
grew up, in part), back in the Sixties. A theater curtain,
these northerly phenomena were a theater curtain,
as if there were a gel on the spotlight at the door.
But soft lenses, made of fancy plastic, are a shower curtain
between your retina and reality, fortunately. A curtain
of faith and/or grief, a nimbus around the window
of relative objectivity. But when the curtain
is drawn, there you are, shaking, with nothing to curtain
you, if you lose your lenses. When you find them, the sky
comes back to you as through a mirror or a sky-
light. Over these musings, however, let us draw a curtain.
With my eyes wide open and with (I hope) an open
mind, I drizzle saline solution in my open
and somewhat sanguine eyes, propped open.
Then I sit down and actually begin to read Curtain,
a late Agatha Christie, following with The Open Door,
by the amazing Ruth Gordon, and then open-
ly and with intensity, The Picture of Dor-
ian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, which is open
to page 89: "Dorian Gray listened, open-
eyed and wondering." I open another window.
All this in the spacy time sense of The Rear Window,
which my aunt had long ago taken me to the open-
ing of. Or the dizzy space sense in The Big Sky,
by A. B. Guthrie, who sees everything in terms of the sky.
"Mackerel sky," goes the adage, "mackerel sky:
Never long wet, Never long dry." An eye-open-
er, as well as a cliché, like the Iron Curtain.
Later, of course, I find the damned lenses behind the window-
seat, the one I keep coming back to by the door.
Not a great deal to report, again -- I spent the morning working on a birthday project for my mother (that I will not mention here in case either she or my children should happen to stumble across this), then wrote a review of "The Naked Now" which is not very satisfying, but then neither is the episode (and sorry if you can't read it -- the site seemed to be down as much as it was up today). Did the usual Friday carpooling, with added complication that younger son had violin late this afternoon since he was sick on Wednesday, then had dinner at my parents' house. Was relieved to read about the return of the beavers to New York City after a 200-year absence. (Get your mind out of the gutter and go watch the Bronx River dam-building video on the site!)
We tried to rent Babel so we could see it before the Academy Awards, but the local Blockbuster had none of its 50 copies in stock. They had piles of The Departed, which I took as a not-good sign and instead rented The Illusionist, which I have wanted to see since it was in theaters. I enjoyed it a lot and thought was very well acted and filmed, but it doesn't hold a candle to The Prestige as far as 19th-century magical philosophy and the nature of the fantastic is concerned. In some ways it's more grounded in everyday life and historical politics, but it doesn't have that electrifying (heh) sense of the world on the verge of change and the deals with the devil a la Frankenstein to advance scientific wizardry. I will probably watch it again when it's on cable but I'm glad I didn't buy it when it came out.
thefridayfive: Heaven and Hell
1. Would you rather serve in heaven or rule in hell? If there is a Heaven, I have no need to rule it. And since I don't really believe in hell, despite saying all the time that I'm probably going there, I have no desire to rule it.
2. If you had evidence that would catch a killer, but also put you in jail, would you use it? Way too vague a question...it would depend on the circumstances. If someone close to me was murdered, and the murderer was freed on a technicality, and someone else close to me killed the murderer, then I very much doubt it.
3. If you could work the worst job you have ever had, for three years and then never have to work again, would you or would you rather work the job you always wanted but not be able to retire until well past the age of retirement? If I was working the job I always wanted, it wouldn't feel like work, which would be ideal.
4. If you could write four newspaper headlines, which would come true, what would they be?
a) COMPREHENSIVE INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT REACHED ON NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
b) NEW, INEXPENSIVE GENERIC DRUG CURES CANCER, AIDS, HEART DISEASE
c) US TO STOP PAYING FARMS TO LIE FALLOW, WILL GROW GRAIN TO END WORLD HUNGER
d) GLOBAL WARMING REVERSING AS NATIONS IMPLEMENT ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
5. A video of children in Florida fighting, while adults cheer on, was posted on the popular web site MySpace, The popularity of "gang videos" has also increased, and there has been renewed interest in recreating the infamous "Faces of Death" video series, do you feel there should be laws limiting extreme videos? No. I feel there should be limitations on where and how such videos are distributed -- MySpace allows young teenagers to create accounts, so there should probably be some sort of ratings system like movies and television have (admittedly very imperfectly, but better than none).
fridayfiver: It's the Least That You Could Not Do
1. What do you try to stay away from? Wank, dead animals, radiation, family squabbles.</b>
2. Are you clumsy or graceful? *howls* Oh, graceful. *keeps straight face* Very graceful. Really. I could have been a ballerina or something.
3. What is it too late for? Me to be the youngest person to win Wimbledon.
4. What/who was your first love? This is far too long a story for a meme, so I shall wimp out and say my stuffed rabbit, Big Bunny, whom I slept with for longer than anyone except my husband.
5. Friday fill in: I believe that ____ will _____ . I believe that I will have another piece of my Valentine's Day candy.
fannish5: Name five characters that you identify with the most.
I'm drawing a total blank here. I don't think I like characters for the most part because I identify with them; there are sometimes aspects of them that remind me of myself or I wish reminded me of myself, like Kai Winn's skepticism and Hermione Granger's nerdiness and Richard Sharpe's stubbornness and Eowyn's refusal to take "No, you're a girl" for an answer, but I can't say I loved Captain Janeway or Boromir or Jack Aubrey because I particularly identified with them.
Once again we are being threatened with snow over the weekend, though it sounds like it won't be here till Sunday, if at all. We're hoping to go to a local maple sugaring festival on Saturday, and then maybe to an aquarium store.