On Belly-Crawling to the New Order

"We have to cut the power," I am told.

It is Inauguration Day in the United States.

"For how long?" I ask.

"Don't know," he replies, "can't tell."

The United States, those united in America, Northern.

America, named (it is believed) for the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, known in Latin as Americus Vesputius. America, named after Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. I could tell you the glory of the world that came to be exactly 500 years later, as it was in the land that is not his, this America. 

You place your right hand over your heart when you recite the pledge of allegiance. Your right hand, no your other right right - just look at everyone else. Until you have learned, just follow along with everyone else.

Right, right. 

Reciting implies knowing without guesswork, pledging implies making an offering of yourself. Neither require emotional care. 

I listen to the live news recording in the car, the background waves of generic "crowd sounds" and the diction of an announcer on the mic like a sports game host. I don't absorb what I am hearing but I tell myself I am listening to a textbook moment. I look forward to the day I can have a textbook tell me the lessons learned in hindsight of this moment.

I go to a cafe to watch the Inauguration. It seems to me nobody else is concerning themselves with viewing it now, at noon on a Friday in January. How many people here have stuck to their resolutions for the year? How many of us here voted left and voted right?

I tell myself I am watching a textbook moment. I will remember this Inauguration as an image of myself watching on a screen in a cafe. 

I admit I am waiting for something to happen that has not been made known.

What strikes me the most is the oddness of the ceremony.

I watch as the former presidential couple stands opposite their successors. They stand on steps so that the incoming couple is elevated over the old, the couple that has expired from the White House and now must depart with dignity and grace, for the last time. I wonder how far in advance did the departing presidential family start sending their possessions out of the national monument they inhabited for eight years. How soon did they begin taping cardboard boxes?

I watch the two couples transfer power. It is peaceful but highly unsettling to witness. The helicopters and the distance of the camera from which I am viewing have cut off the sound of anyone speaking, couple to couple. We see them shake hands and mouth to each other Good luck, We will be watching, Don't let us all down. 

The departing presidential couple walks to the awaiting helicopter in silence. The footage I am watching is taken for granted to be a live recording, a real-time archive. What is Deleuzian about a live broadcast? The helicopter is an enormous capsule of muted green tones, unmistakable and consequently authoritative. As it sits on the ground waiting to lift upwards, its legs squatting down and a staircase unfolded for the former presidential couple to ascend, the helicopter resembles a massive crouching insect, a silent bug with spinning wings and giant glass eyes, waiting, waiting. The former presidential couple crawls into the belly of the insect. The insect digests and continues sitting. When it feels ready to move, it gently tilts to the sides as it steadies itself into the air. All is still silent as I am watching, waiting for something else to happen. The bug hovers in flight with the former presidential couple inside. The bug turns and flies off in a straight line away from the camera through which I am watching. The bug flies away in silence with the former presidential couple sitting inside its bowels, the insect disappearing at a rate proportional to the camera's zoom. It feels like a long time that I am watching the bug's form get farther away and smaller. To where is it flying? What kind of relief or sadness is filling the bowels of the bug?

We have witnessed a peaceful transference of power: one pair stepping down on the steps, entering the insect that carries them away; the successors left standing on the steps for themselves, watching the disappearing insect and knowing they too will one day enter the belly of such a beast. One day they too will step down so another couple may usurp their power, peacefully.