July 2, 2011

Dreams of Obama - the woes of a national hero in a complex world

Last night as I turned around to my favorite position of sleeping on my stomach, I felt an awkward sensation of toe nails scraping against the stretch sheet. I turned on the light and fished out one foot from under the cover. That was an impressive set of claws, let me tell you. Rather like those on the paw of a cheetah.

Dusternbrook Guest Farm: Cheetah paw
Cheetah paw
by Jonas Tonboe

I must shockingly admit that I hadn't cut my nails for two months. To my defense, there was a reason. If you are very impatient, scroll down to the last paragraph. Those of you who possess a certain degree of refinement, please come with me on a little journey.

It was two months ago that I woke up to what was my birthday, but this fact was overshadowed by the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed by American special forces in some suburban Pakistani house. Bin Laden showed no signs of wanting to surrender - the killing was an act of national self-defense, claimed the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

What a presidential pirate audience looks like 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

A few days earlier I had dreamt of being visited by Michelle and Barack Obama. Apparently I was giving an audience - they had come to see me on the recommendation of somebody. I was surprised; I didn't know I was so important. Michelle said: We have heard that you are nearer to God.  I chewed on it. Perhaps this indicated that I was some kind of spiritual guru. However, I had nothing to say - nothing to preach! I didn't know what they wanted to hear. I kept silent. They seemed content just to be in my presence. I decided to serve them some tea. I thought that might make them ready to ask questions - like in the Eastern wisdom traditions: teachers don't preach - they answer questions. I have always thought this to be a wonderful pedagogy. As I served tea, they both just smiled peacefully. We returned to silence. A little while later Barack looked cheerfully at me: Another round of tea before we leave? That was the extent of my dream.

Perhaps my dream was a wish for more quiet, reflective time for all the world’s presidents. In our globalized world, issues are increasing in complexity day by day. There are always new voices to be heard, other view points to consider. It is hard to act without knowing you look like a headless chicken from some angle or another. But a president is forced to take frequent decisions and act upon them from, first and foremost, a national perspective. I doubt they have much time to drink some tea in silence, clear their minds and consider the situation from a genuinely global perspective. And, I fear, even if they did, they probably would quickly be out of office.

The most memorable movie in my life is Good Will Hunting. There are many reasons for that, but perhaps the top reason is one particular dialogue when the genius Will is interviewed for a job at the National Security Agency (the N.S.A.). It shows a young man who is weary of the complex framework that national agencies work within. When the NSA agent asks Will why he shouldn’t work at the NSA, Will answers:

Why shouldn't I work for the NSA? That's a tough one. But I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the NSA, and somebody puts a code on my desk, something no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cuz I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East, and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding. Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with, get killed. Now the politicians are saying, "Oh, send in the marines to secure the area", 'cuz they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, getting shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, 'cuz they were pulling a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie over there taking shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, 'cuz he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're taking their sweet time bringing the oil back, of course, maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, it ain't too long till he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work. He can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is giving him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starving 'cuz every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're serving is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holding out for something better. I figure: fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected President.

Below is the clip for the interview in the movie:

Superman, however, has found a way out of the quagmire. At least he has found the first few steps out of it. Just a few days before the raid in Pakistan (was he tipped off?), Superman decided to give up his American citizenship and become a global citizen. Having the luxury of being powerful yet not dependent on wealth or votes, Superman saw that going global was the only way of being an effective superhero.

Action Comics #900 April 2011

If I may: A return to my toenails.

I have taken a long, windy road to get here. I got four birthday gifts on my birthday, the day of Bin Laden’s death. One was a gift card to a session with a foot therapist. On that evening of May 2 I vowed to let my toe nails grow, so that I would get some good value for my gift. The problem was that I kept on forgetting to schedule an appointment. So last night when I woke myself up with the scraping of my toe nails against the sheets, I realized that two months had passed - since I let my nails grow and, more importantly, since I wrote my last blog entry. Now that I am finished extending my toe nails I can start writing again. 

I am back in business, baby.


  1. That was a cool post!!!! and loved that interview. You need to be on the blog more often and enlighten us with the things happening around. BTW if Obama visits you , you know I too would like to meet him :-). Post the pedicured nails when done.

  2. That was a fun read:):) I found you via Shanti's blog...looking forward to visiting again:)

  3. Thank you, Shanthi and Kala - very happy that you enjoyed :-) I am already working on some more ideas. Kala, I love your paintings! I'm gonna look more at your blog.

  4. Dette var etterlengtede ord, Dragon. Selv kom jeg syklende hjem fra kolonihageni to-tiden i natt. - Jeg oppdaget en mus under dyna, og fant nøkternt og meget rolig ut at jeg ikke orket å våkne av nusselige små muse-klør kravlende over meg midt på natten. Katten kom forresten inn når jeg rolig skrek til. Det modige jaktdyret lusket og luktet litt rundt i krokene, gikk ut igjen og la seg til å sove ute..!?!!!! Hva i ##!%&¤$!!!! er dette for en slags beskyttelse, skrek jeg like rolig til den. Men den sov.

    På telefonen meldte min sønn lakonisk at jeg måtte arbeide med min nevrotiske eller hysteriske side. Eller var det psykotiske side han sa? "Det er bare slitsomt for deg å være redd for dyr, klør og sånt(les gjerne; tånegler", sa han myndig til meg. Men jeg - og nevrosen min - sov godt og søtt i senga mi her hjemme. Jeg skal tilbake i dag for å mate katten for den er selvsagt vegetarianer, som oss. Har satt opp en buddhistisk musefelle i hytta. Den fungerer slik at man fanger musen inne i et bur og bærer den så rolig tilbake til naturen igjen, mens man småsnakker til den slik at opplevelsen blir minst mulig traumatisk. For musa. Skjønner? Kom på besøk på søndag, eller mandag og følg med på den spennende musajakta.