Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

The Souls of His Shoes

On our last day in Sicily, we climbed on Mt. Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, whose snow-covered summit rises 11,000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea. Walking on hardened lava left from an enormous eruption in 2002, we came to an ominous hole in the mountain floor. Our guide explained that the source of Etna’s magma is – incredibly – beneath the African continent across the Mediterranean, and then he casually tossed in a rock. “It is a very, very deep hole,” he said. “Listen for the sound of the bottom.” We listened . . . and listened, but there was no sound. It was beyond eerie, and we all immediately stepped back from the rim. I envisioned people walking around China with stones embedded in their heads. I was, for some reason, reminded of George Bush’s remark on first meeting Vladimir Putin in 2001: “I looked into his eyes and saw his soul.” In a career filled with loony utterances, none has proved more delusional. The Decider touted his ability to “read people” and make decisions with “his gut,” but maybe this wasn’t the best way to make policy. The Russians have long built Potemkin villages, and unimaginative men rarely see past the façade. As events unfold in Ukraine and Russia, and we watch Putin metamorphose into Stalin with a pretty face, it’s hard to find much evidence of a soul. I think of Bush bedazzled, and wonder when he looked in Putin’s eyes, whether he saw only the soles of his feet.

Leading from the Rear

Ask Not . . .