Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Man In The Cave

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Only those concerned with the matter of life and death need enter here.

---Inscription on a plaque at the entrance to Eihei-Ji Monastery

The higher part of contemplation is wholly caught up in darkness and in this cloud of unknowing, with an outreaching of love and a blind groping for the naked being of God, himself and him alone.

---The Cloud Of Unknowing

Which do you think is larger, the highest mountain on earth or the pile of bones that represents the lives that you have lived over and over in every realm governed by the patterns of your own karma? Greater, my friends, is the pile of bones than the highest mountain on earth.

---The Buddha

Last weekend we met for coffee and conversation at a quiet pastry shop in Athens, with a friend we made during the 2004 election campaign. I hadn't seen Dick McGinn since the election, partly because he left pretty quick for Indonesia where his work often takes him. He's Associate Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Southeast Asian Studies, which combination or parts thereof he directed or chaired for at least 15 years. He had emailed to suggest we get together to catch up on things political, share what groups we've gotten involved in, and see if there's any hope anywhere.

After some chitchat he brought out a folder and produced a letter he just had written to the Dean of Engineering at Brigham Young University. In it he uncovers a sort of interdepartmental feud he claims has been going on there, in which the College of Engineering and Technology publicly disavows research done by a professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences. I'm sure I'd be the last person on earth to know if some facts were wrong in a dispute like that; but our friend pointed out the issue that concerns him here has to do with academic freedom to pursue the research in the field where you have expertise...and not be bound by government grant funding politics. In this case, the BYU professor's field is metal-catalyzed fusion and his presentation is about melting metal at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

I knew nothing about any 9/11 conspiracy theories...and have to confess I didn't want to know. I had had enough trouble with all the assassinations in the '60s, and have ended up like the Joe Pesci character in Oliver Stone's movie about JFK: "It's all a conundrum inside an enigma," or whatever he says. The letter, and a petition to sign about release of government information on 9/11, are part of a campaign by Scholars for 9/11 Truth ( ), which according to a Popular Mechanics article last year is only one of 628,000 web sites about the "World Trade Center conspiracy." Google it yourself and see. Besides that, there are 3000 books on the subject.

The main view seems to be the airplanes were decoys or fuses or something, but the actual collapse of the towers was a controlled demolition set earlier. Apparently there was a 3rd building in the area that came down at the same time and in the same way, which wasn't hit by any airplane at all. Some say there wasn't an airplane involved in the Pentagon blast. Then there's this passport that came fluttering down intact, found among the ashes at WTC, that supposedly was on the disintegrated body of one of the hi-jackers. It's evidence identifying Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind. So the big question is how could some guy, sitting in a cave in Afghanistan, pull all this off?

The paranoia of All The President's Men comes back easily. I hear Jason Robards' voice, as he huddles on the lawn outside his character's own home with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, too cautious to talk indoors because the house is bugged. I thought about writing something on this after our talk and coffee, but decided I'd wait until the thing hit me in the face. Then comes the March 27th issue of New York: The Magazine. For those of you outside New York's direct influence, this is not The New Yorker, which has been around a lot longer. Spunky New York magazine has managed to stay in publication about 40 years though...but not usually by getting into something like 9/11. The main article is called "The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll," by Ted Jacobson, and it takes up 9 pages, with pictures, on the web. I started reading it, darn it, and couldn't stop.

Then this weekend, all this other news was breaking...including of course the coincidental (?) release by the New York City administration of some of the emergency phone calls from 9/11.,10117,18675623-401,00.html And the hearings Friday to censure President Bush maybe...and John Dean's testimony. . Obviously from the links I've chosen, these stories are resounding around the globe. Do they drown out or accent the conspiracy story, I'm wondering. On Friday Doug Thompson at Capitol Hill Blue put up a post asserting the incredibility of the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and immediately drew so many comments the site became paralyzed and he had to shut down the thread. And then there's France: will the demonstrations quiet down or not?,13005,901060410-1179311,00.html And so here I sit, awaiting a dawn that Daylight Savings Time will make a little "later" this morning, and wondering things about the truth of it all. And I ask myself, Who's the guy in a cave? Osama or me?

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