I'm attracted to images like fish to baited hooks; once caught, my first instinct is to run with them. I take them in their embryonic form and twist and pull at them like putty until they fit into my own warped outlook, because they help me to understand that which would otherwise drive me up the wall, and that gives me comfort. Let me see if I can take you through the process.
It starts with an image of the world, turning in a 24-hour cycle, taking all of its events-and us-in one large circle, starting from Point A and returning there only one day later. Now, I know that the cycle is not exactly 24 hours, which is why the sun actually rises and sets a few minutes differently each and every day, but bear with me for a minute. This is a column, not a scientific treatise.
The one kink in this process is that the events that take place and the world itself do not proceed at the same pace. Sometimes one slows down and the other speeds up. Sometimes they both speed up, or both slow down-the possibilities are endless. Though they never move at the same speed, this doesn't mean that they don't overlap from time to time, because they do, and it happens quite frequently. This brings into play what I refer to as the “Time-Warp Thing.”
When I look at the world in this fashion, I begin to understand the dizzy feeling I experience as I go about my daily business, directly attributed to all of this going around in circles, the literal giving way to the figurative. If I sprinkle this equation with a touch of the Time-Warp Thing, I begin to understand the uncanny feeling of having seen certain things before. I'm convinced that this phenomenon is the root cause of what we commonly refer to as déjà vu, as well as all of its accompanying clichés, such as “been there, done that,” “there's nothing new under the sun,” etc.
I bring this up because I've experienced this Time-Warp Thing a few times in the last week or so, and it's making me very nervous. I'm convinced that repetitive overlapping causes interminable inertia, leading to a prolonged state I call Groundhog Day. My instincts tell me that we're closer to this reality than ever before.
This notion first came to me watching Bush's rousing speech to the UN. Didn't we go through something similar 11 years ago with another Bush but the same Hussein, and didn't Congress vote to go to war then, as it looks they might do again now-or is it just me? I'm so confused, I don't know anymore. Every night I come home from work, I sit down in front of my television and, like the rest of America, expect to see missiles and bullets blazing white across the evil Baghdad sky, waiting for the voice of Peter Arnett to come and give the play by play. Remember him-Baghdad Pete-how they wanted to crucify him for collaborating with the enemy, like the man had any choice but to do what it was he did, which was to bring us the news? And didn't we liberate Kuwait, which then promised to democratize, and aren't they now a truly democratic beacon of hope for the rest of the Arab world, or is this all simply a trick of the Time-Warp Thing?
And what about elections in Florida? Didn't I just read something in the paper about missing votes and voters being turned away and such? Was that in the primary election that took place two weeks ago, or were they talking about the general election of two years ago? Once again I'm confused; they both took place in the same heavily Democratic Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Is it fraud, or just another instance of the Time-Warp Thing?
If things keep going the way they are though, there could be a silver lining behind this dark cloud. Maybe the baby-boomers will start growing what little hair they have left and take to the streets doped up on Viagra to make love instead of war. Maybe this time they'll actually levitate the Pentagon and gently lay it back down on some small island in the Pacific, where it belongs. Maybe they'll even hound the hawks out of office and return the country to some sense of civility, or at least make better music-wouldn't that be a trip?
What, after all, are the options? If George II stays the course and wins re-election, the recession will probably end in five or six years, the streets will be overcrowded with homeless people and another Democrat will finally get elected to the presidency. The economy will boom, then fall apart under allegations of greed, corruption, and immorality. Three janitors in Illinois will be sent to jail to atone for the corporate sins, the rest of us will feel safe for a week or two, and then, as we slip back into recession after another huge transfer of wealth, we'll get another Republican in the White House and start bombing Patagonia. Maybe then we'll finally overcome the Vietnam syndrome, whatever that might be.
Maybe politics are like old clothes-one shouldn't ever throw them away, no matter how out of fashion they might be, for somewhere down the road they'll probably be in style again, like bell bottoms and platform shoes. If that analogy works better for you, fine, but I'm sticking with my image. It's a Time-Warp Thing.