Monday, February 17, 2014


Image transmitted by Tlaloc II robot showing tunnel opening beneath Temple of the Feathered Serpent, Teotihuacan, Mexico

Shortly before we traveled to China in 1998 to adopt a baby, my friend and colleague Ken Ross explained to me that by becoming a parent, I was about to enter “the tunnel.”  Already the father of two children, Ken told me that he spoke from experience and he wanted me to be prepared. 

In his view (which I’m recalling through the foggy ruins of time and the smoke rings of my mind), the tunnel lasted for several years when you would be focusing almost solely on your child’s safety and well-being.   The light at the end of the tunnel would become visible when my daughter's use of language changed from command/demand into something approaching discourse.

Temple complex, Teotihuacan, Mexico

I went through and emerged from that tunnel years ago unscathed.  It wasn’t so bad and of course there were fascinating sights, sounds and events along the way, including Jane’s pre-verbal intense response to silent movies and concomitant development of her own complicated, highly articulate pantomime language, and the subtle emergence of a hilarious sense of humor.  In fact, it didn’t seem like a tunnel at all, but simply the unfolding of something blessed and natural.

Laser scanner image of arrangement of branching tunnels beneath Temple of the Feathered Serpent

The tunnel where I reside now came years later, following the financial crash and continuing through the grotesque depredations of the Obama administration and its institutionalization of the “new normal” of sky-high unemployment and job hopelessness throughout the demographic spectrum, sclerotic economic growth, and the apotheosis of victimhood as a new quasi-religious order.  My daughter is required to sit through multiple “micro-aggression” symposia at school, where she and her teenage peers are posited as once and future U.S. societal predators instead of being offered a single synoptic American history course where facts and events are taught in sequential order and not presented as inevitable injustice threads and themes.  Look out kid, it’s something you did, God knows when, but you’re doing it again is the entire micro-aggression syllabus and shooting script and someone shouted: "Cut; it's a wrap" a long time ago, apparently.


Archaeologist Sergio Gomez from the National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico City, discussing the tunnel with the media

“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

After Barack Obama made these remarks (as part of a pre-election exhortation to Hispanic voters in an October 25, 2010 television interview on Univision), he semi-apologized by saying that he should have used the word “opponents,” rather than “enemies.”  He did not apologize for or amend his use of the word “punish, however.  It is the unopposed, largely unremarked on use of language like this, the attitude that undergirds it, and the actions daily taken to effect its aims that have and keep me in the tunnel now.   I hope this isn’t one of the Obama dicta he envisions being carved on pediments of the future, but I must admit that the man really knows how to appeal to the basest, crudest, most brutal aspects of human character.  I’m afraid I know many people, including so-called Quakers, who would approve of his words and who share his feelings.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Subterranean Homesick Blues (Link)

Tlaloc II robot

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