Friday, March 02, 2007


Molly Ivins once said on National Public Radio that she believed more Americans think Elvis is alive than understand the theory of relativity. It didn't bother her. "It's fun to live in a country with some peculiar people," she said. "How boring it would be if everybody was quite sane."

I believe I understand -- but haven't articulated -- why New Orleans still matters in this society where flaunting (or pretending) financial wealth is considered a virtue.

I want to enroll in a spatial education class that will be held in the museum of past lovers, neon and paper on bare white walls spotted with cones of light, gray-painted concrete floors worn from bare feet.

I sleep on the stones of memories, turning.

If we want to have any hope of understanding our words -- our own and those of others -- we must continuously redefine them in shades of watercolor gray brushed onto eggshell paper by our experiences.

Who would be a philosopher, when? Why are the patterns we weave around ourselves?

Thomas Berger asked once, "Since when has 'making sense' had any serious reference to what happens in reality?"

Half asleep in the morning's alarm, I put one hand on my face and said, aloud, "no, no, no, no, no." Too many of the wrong things to do during the day; I didn't think about you until the sun was nearly down. I miss our rare conversations; I want to touch your face.

The theory of relativity? As far as I can determine, it's got two parts -- special relativity and general relativity -- both suggested by Albert Einstein more than a hundred years ago.

Special relativity is based on the ideas that two observers have no way of knowing whether one of them is stationary when both of them are in "uniform motion relative to one another," and that the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers "regardless of their motion or of the motion of the source of the light."

General relativity includes the opinions that "the states of accelerated motion and being at rest in a gravitational field (for example when standing on the surface of the Earth) are physically identical. The upshot of this is that free fall is inertial motion: In other words an object in free fall is falling because that is how objects move when there is no force being exerted on them, instead of this being due to the force of gravity as is the case in classical mechanics. This is incompatible with classical mechanics and special relativity because in those theories intertially moving objects cannot accelerate with respect to each other, but objects in free fall do so. To resolve this difficulty Einstein first proposed that space-time is curved."

I quoted the above from Wikipedia because I have no idea what it means. One early, sunny morning in Albuquerque, a taxi driver who looked like he'd been on a 30-day bender almost explained the theory to me; if you understand, help me.

My own theories involve "circumstantial relativity" and "consequential relativity," and I believe that if Elvis is alive, it's in a low-budget movie named "Bubba Hotep," where he lives in a rundown East Texas nursing home and, with a man who claims to be John F. Kennedy, fights a bloodsucking Egyptian mummy.