Friday, October 07, 2005

James and Issa

James and Issa are a classic type on this island. They were both at Bridget's party last night. (Although she never said to me that it was a going-away party, several of the other guests told me that she told them it was. Classic Bridget understatement. I was honored and had two big pieces of cake.) I'm not sure whther they are married or not, but they are certainly partners. They are in their early sixties and look like consumate hippies. Big, bright, and bulky wool sweaters with woven ponchos and a blatant lack of regard for whether anything in the outfit matches. James occasionally pulls his long, thinning hair into a topknow over his bald spot and threads a stick of incense through it like school girls thread pencils through buns. James has a long grey beard that he braids into two skinny little braids and Issa has little grey Heidi braids. She is from Sweden. When I asked her for the recipe for the potato almond cake that she brought to the party, she gave me the measurements in decilitres. They are so kind and open, but also a little nutty. James has a continuing conversation with me about the feasability of suing the American government in a class-action suit with the American people as plaintiffs accusing depraved indifference regarding waste disposal. He wants all of our landfills to be like the Fresh Kills landfill that is completely catalogued with the debris from the 9/11 wreckage since we will at some point need to go back into our landfills to mine them for resources. There is no one point of his that I can disagree with.

So, I've been interacting with James quite a bit during my time here and I've finally put my finger on what makes his persona, with its energies and rhythms, so different from most of the people that I know. James talks like a science fiction novel. He makes predictions about the future that seem absolutely fantastic because they skip right over so many necessary steps of technological evolution. And, he doesn't say them with the appropriate tone of preposterousness in his voice. He talks like he's got an inside track to see the future and what he speaks of is a predetermined as the Lutherans getting into heaven. For example, as a group we were discussing film and digital cameras and the benefits and drawbacks of both. Rather than be a part of that conversation, James contributed the following: "In the future, we will be able to just take our memories of things and project them on to a screen, just like that. We'll have chips in our skulls that will allow us to choose any image and just - pop- make a picture of it." Then, he just dropped back out of the conversation. He doesn't sound like a stoner and there is no embarassed silence after he says these things. It's very sage-like. It's like parting the Red Sea: once Moses drops his staff, the water comes flowing back in as if nothing had ever been different.

I'm glad James and Issa live here.

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