The largest investigation in thousands of years

In the beginning of this interview, further explained here, the interviewer mentions to the interviewee that his name has “popped up” and also that his own name has started to “pop up”, which he seems slightly worried about but which brings a knowing smile to the interviewee’s face, who has already faced years of barrages on his character.

As it would happen, this statement allowed me to recall a fragment of a pre-dawn dream where a friend had asked if I’d seen what the governor was saying about me. In the dream I hadn’t and probably wouldn’t care too much so long as it wasn’t an effective character assassination. (In the non-dream world on that score most rude remarks these days seem to come from a misunderstanding of what I’m up to, which generally speaking is trying to sort out what’s going on and meanwhile taking small actions along promising paths out of the mess.)

Yesterday, went for dinner at a local Thai restaurant where, amongst a steady stream of takeout customers, a recognizable news reporter arrived to collect her brown paper bag. It was a glimpse of a different part of her life. It was nice to know we shared this preference for feel-good thai cuisine.

Each of us is so much more than what is read in the newspaper or announced on the tele. So much more than the job we do or think we do or say we do. There is an inner life that with any luck may be accessed if one takes a moment to put down the phone and go for a stroll along the at present slippery sidewalks of our beautiful Minnesota winters.

Case in point, after a recent talk to local patriots in Anoka County one of the organizers asked, “What do you do for work?”, to which I replied, “Well, I used to write other people’s books. Now, well, I’m still cobbling that together.” It is humbling at age 35 to be able to admit I don’t know precisely what I do. But I’m beginning to sort it out, I think.

Because maybe what I’ve really done for work these last 18 months is watched, listened to, asked questions about, and occasionally participated in the largest investigation to have taken place for thousands of years. I’ve poked my head out of my shell to attend this symposium or that summit, to speak in commissioner meetings or to attend a local strategy meeting, to report on events or data and to try my hand at citizen journalism by dropping in on various county auditor offices.

This work involved a bit of anthropology studying all the people working to change themselves and their country. Learning what makes them angry, what makes them effective, what makes them stop, what makes them go, and what their spirit is made of. A bit of archeology too, if you will, dusting off the election machine manuals and certifications and scraps of data our local government reluctantly hands over (often with a comically long delay), which, like mysterious artifacts found in a historical dig site, often lead to more questions.

This context is hard to put in words. At least it is difficult to do so succinctly. But I think there’s something valuable to be learned and shared.

The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.

The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words.

Now, I’m not sure whether I’ve landed on a workable way to approach it, but I’ve recently felt a spark which I want to explore. Time to strike while the iron is hot, as the saying goes. I hope you don’t mind me leaving you with a bit of intrigue for the next posting…

Corner of West Ave and Russell Street, Sioux Falls, SD on August 10, 2021