The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

squamous aspiration

with 2 comments

Constantly disappointing, and complaining, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Winter boredom is anathema to one such as myself. The cold and dark, the thirty five pounds of insulation, the constant flux between the dry and cold air of the out of doors contrasted with the high temperature and humidity found within. The constancy of a drippy nose. Bah.

It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me why some feel the need to jack the heat up to the mid 80’s inside of structures, knowing full well that inhabitants and visitors will be wearing clothing appropriate for the out of doors. The worst culprit on this front seems to be the subway system, where you’ll step off of a station platform whose atmospheric temperature is commensurate with the freezing of water and suddenly find yourself in a hurtling metal box whose ambient air mass is heated to something approaching that of an afternoon in July. Add in the sniffling, coughing, and dripping orifices of the mob…

Well, I’ve often opined that what this City needs is a good plague – and I’m fairly certain that one will eventually start on a Subway in Queens during middle January. Don’t touch that subway pole, if you can help it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ultimately, one is awaiting a particularly personal moment which occurs every year, when a humble narrator’s boredom grows so intense that he has little choice but to brave the cold and head back outside. At this juncture, however, the moment hasn’t arrived, and one has been spending his time reading about the Second Empire period of French history, Otto Von Bismarck, and researching the chemicals which the seething cauldrons of industry produce that are classified as petroleum or coal distillates. One does a lot of reading during this time of the year.

I’ve also read up a bit on Kazakhstan, the Crimean Tartars, and the Deccan Plain on the Indian subcontinent. Briefly, I also looked into the Chicago stock yards and the post civil war meat packing industry as well as the suffragettes of 19th century Brooklyn Heights. I continue to study the rise and fall of the Roman Catholic empire in New York City, which is fascinating. Also reiterated will be the fact that if you enjoy gelatin based desserts – never, ever, inquire too deeply as to what gelatin actually is nor how it is produced for you will never, ever, eat it afterwards. Jello brand gelatin was invented by Peter Cooper in a glue factory on Newtown Creek in the 19th century, which is all you really need to know about it. Isenglass is also soul chilling.

Sexy stuff, I know, but the so called “fin de siècle” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are when the foundations of our modern civilization were laid down and it remains a certain benchmark from a cultural point of view. Labor unions, representative government (both socialist and capitalist), industrial warfare – all of it was imagined up back then. It’s also when the environment surrounding us began to die off due to anthropogenic reasons. The dominoes were lined up, quite unconsciously, back then for the end of our world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Fin de siècle” is a French expression which gained popularity in the first decade of the 20th century, a part of the run up to the Great War, which indicated that the “end of the cycle” or “end of an age” was apparent. It’s part of a phenomena known as millennial fatalism, wherein a culture believes that the “end of the world” nears. It’s difficult to not think that our culture may have reached its breaking point, given what we see on the nightly news. The fatalism and general horror which the various news organizations pump into our heads is, of course, not accidental. Don’t forget that most of the news gathering and dissemination companies are owned and operated by defense contractors.

I’ve always been an optimist, however. What other choice have you got, ultimately? Winter will come and go, and then… flowers and puppies. That’s the way that the wheel of the year spins, after all.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Submitted for your consideration some thoughts on this, your latest missive:

    ““Fin de siècle” is a French expression which gained popularity in the first decade of the 20th century, a part of the run up to the Great War, which indicated that the “end of the cycle” or “end of an age” was apparent. It’s part of a phenomena known as millennial fatalism, wherein a culture believes that the “end of the world” nears.”

    There are two aspects of human nature I have always found fascinating:

    One is our ability to blithely ignore all warnings and misgivings to pursue a course directly into disaster. Not only do we deride and ignore Cassandra but would just about note to ourselves “plan and options considered, this will be catastrophic and epically stupid to pursue aaaaaannnnnnnnd went ahead and did it anyway.” Afterwards, in shock, we say we never saw that comming and explain it all away with a shrug of “fin de siècle”. Uh….shit happens….I guess.

    The other, a recent late twentieth century innovation that the latest modern generation of Man is really so much smarter than all the previous generations put together. We smugly look back on the past, nitpicking and often amplifying every flaw great or trivial. Scouring the historical record in search of every last mistake not to learn anything from, oh no, but to repeatedly flay those who lived before for being such terrible people such that modern historians resemble little more than tawdry corpse botherers.
    We don’t look to the past for guidance into the future but rather as a rhetorical platform for our own narcissism and hubris. See how much better we,/i> are than those people! What have we really done that is so great? What new technologies or invention have we created in the last twenty years that wasn’t a derivative of earlier technologies? If only the Monday morning quaterback was as good as the player who was actually on the field.

    “Labor unions, representative government (both socialist and capitalist), industrial warfare – all of it was imagined up back then.”

    Both socialist AND capitalist! We have every kind of music here- country AND western! Fabian Socialism and Less Fabian Socialism. Yeah….ok.

    “It’s also when the environment surrounding us began to die off due to anthropogenic reasons.”

    Riiiiiiight! Hey just because our planet has survived during its 4 billion or so years of existence has gone through four different atmospheres, five major extinction level events (the worst being the Permian-Triassic 252 mya which might have killed off over 50% of all life on Earth and we whine about causing the extinction of a snail) Siberian and your aforementioned Deccan lava traps, supervolcanic eruptions and large asteroids slamming into the side of the planet doesn’t mean it can’t be done. So along comes a hairless ape about 100,000 years ago with styrofoam cups, adds 3% more per year to a 0.04% atmospheric trace gas (allegedly up to 25% more to go from 0.03% 0.04% in the last 150 years-ooooohh big numbers ya got there, slugger) , emits methane- that unnatural gas that nature could never make and lets petrochemicals seep into the water (its not like petroleum and methane doesn’t seep into the environment naturally, naw, that never happens) and it’s game over, man, game over!
    Who knew it would be so simple and take so little?

    ” Don’t forget that most of the news gathering and dissemination companies are owned and operated by defense contractor. “

    Ah, yes, of course. That threadbare cliche was old the last time the Jets won the Superbowl and you know you’re getting old when you can’t make up new cliches. Try instead that serviceable old fiend “Demon Rum” a corking good chap of both of our acquaintance. It’s so old and hasn’t been used for so long as to have a musty, vintage coolness to it that hipsters would love and the chicks would dig it having been born of that totes girl power suffragette movement.
    And who doesn’t love a woman in a corset?

    Prodesse
    Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque

    Don Cavaioli

    Cav

    January 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    • At least we haven’t had a blizzard so far.

      georgetheatheist . . . Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

      January 12, 2016 at 1:01 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: