P-47S fly over in squadron box formations, four checkmarks apiece RedWhiteBlueYellow on the un-amended form of the whitish sky, squadron after squadron: it is either some military review, or another war. A plasterer is busy around the corner, smoothing over a bomb-scarred wall, plaster heaped on his hawk luscious as cream cheese, using an unfamiliar trowel inherited from a dead friend, still, these first days, digging holes like an apprentice, the shiny knife-edge not yet broken to his hand, the curl of it a bit more than his own strength could have ever brought it to … Henry was a larger bloke…. The fly, who was not dead, unfolds its wings and zooms off to fool somebody else.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
“turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
I have always had a soft spot for the C-47, the military version of the DC3. At the airshow they offered semi-affordable rides in the venerable old birds. Not really worth it for me, I’ve ridden on them so many times before.
You lived and died alone, especially in fighters. Fighters. Somehow, despite everything, that word had not become sterile. You slipped into the hollow cockpit and strapped and plugged yourself into the machine. The canopy ground shut and sealed you off. Your oxygen, your very breath, you carried into the chilled vacuum, in a steel bottle.
— James Salter, The Hunters
Like most guys, I was an airplane geek when I was a kid. I especially loved WWII planes.
To visit a vintage air show brings back odd memories – I remember building models of every plane there – from decades and decades ago, the smell of styrene, glue, and Testor’s paint. I had even built a Bell P-39 Airacobra and remember it after all that time. I remember it had its engine in the back and powered the prop by a shaft that ran between the pilot’s legs.
It was never very successful for the US Air Force because of poor high altitude performance, but the Russians used it to great effect. Their fighting was all along the ground.
I never thought I’d actually get to see one fly, but I did. Pretty cool.
“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“Don’t forget the real business of war is buying and selling. The murdering and violence are self-policing, and can be entrusted to non-professionals. The mass nature of wartime death is useful in many ways. It serves as spectacle, as diversion from the real movements of the War. It provides raw material to be recorded into History, so that children may be taught History as sequences of violence, battle after battle, and be more prepared for the adult world. Best of all, mass death’s a stimolous to just ordinary folks, little fellows, to try ‘n’ grab a piece of that Pie while they’re still here to gobble it up. The true war is a celebration of markets.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
― Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: Alone
Stressed and strained by constant drilling of ultrasonic beams, the concrete face of the dam cracks and falls. Ten million tons of pressure build towards ultimate collapse…
—-Control Voice, The Outer Limits, Tourist Attraction [1.13]
Oblique Strategy: Use `unqualified’ people
For a reason, I was out walking all over the neighborhood last night, really late. It was amazingly quiet. I only saw two people – one man was in his back yard, still sitting and staring at the sparking remains of a fire pit. That house usually holds large sports-watching parties, I don’t know why he alone was still out there. There was another man running laps around the track at the middle school across the street and down the block a bit. I don’t know why he was running so late – but it was a pleasant time to get in some laps – if you didn’t have to get up early.
“I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and is passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose. And I’m starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life’s sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time. It is dreadful. But since it’s my own choices that’ll lock me in, it seems unavoidable–if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them.”
― David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments
Oblique Strategy: Make a blank valuable by putting it in an exquisite frame
I have always liked this photo that I took at the Invasion Car Show, in Deep Ellum. I’m not sure, but looking through my archives, I don’t think I have used it in a blog entry before. I might be wrong.
Think about how everybody used to – especially when cars had hood ornaments like this – viewed speed. Travel was going from props to jets and life was speeding up. Think of how wonderful it must have felt. Think of riding in a metal tube thousands of feet in the air moving at hundreds of miles per hour, in comfort, in luxury, while a beautiful woman served you food and drinks. It is a miracle.
Of course, we all know how this speed thing has turned out. The speed increases, props, jets, and now the speed of light through a device held in your hand to every corner of the world, instantaneously. We move so fast now, we don’t go anywhere.
It reminds me of a quote from a book I just read. When the railroads were first built, people believed that they would suffocate if they travelled faster than 30mph as they would not be able to breathe due to the surrounding air rushing past them. Engines were throttled so they couldn’t go over thirty.
They were afraid of a speed that we take for granted. I think they may have been right.