Online news article, yesterday: security cameras recorded a guy pissing in the reservoir. So the officials dumped the whole reservoir! Hundreds of millions of gallons!
But what else were they to do? Admit to impurity?
That’s what’s known as a double bind: damned if you do, damned if you don’t
Except that the damned-if-you-don’t waste the water is pure municipal vanity, whereas the damned-if-you-do is a matter of life efficiency. Can civilization afford to waste a whole reservoir? Not and still expect to survive. (Of course we may not survive not matter what we do!) (Of course we may survive no matter what we don’t do!!)
(I haven’t yet imported my Thinking Tools module on the double bind: check back and search. Meantime here’s another mention.)
I string associated thoughts:
In Francois Truffault’s The Four Hundred Blows the kid is taking a test in school. His pen leaks. He carefully tears off a page from the blue book and begins again. His pen leaks again. The films shows tormented boys around the class room, always coming back to this kid with the leaky pen. Eventually, there’s no blue book left, just balls of inked paper on the floor, and the kid has written nothing. We just know that zero is also what this social zero will get as a grade. Waste, waste, waste. Wast of ink, paper, time, resources … a kid …
My writing my third novel having cost me everything on top of the everything my first and second novels had already cost, I was in Freeport LI trying to make a dollar by a means alternate to selling from my degenerating graphics portfolio: I was trying to sell local retailers a new sign for their store, pocket 20% of the retail for the sign up front. The guys who owned the deli told me to proceed while they worked, in the back room, they were genuinely busy but didn’t care to ask me to come back after they’d finished their fourteen hour day. The one owner is making a roast beef sandwich for a guy, out of sight in the main store. Whoops, upside down onto the filthy floor goes the sandwich while still open faced, a good half dozen slices of rare beef, with dressing, adhering to the grit and shit of the kitchen floor. The guy doesn’t miss a beat. He picks up the sandwich, slaps onthe top slice of bread, and proceeds to wrap it, in butcher paper, with a pickle. $4.75, or whatever his 1986 price was, he scribbles with his grease pen.
I have up trying to sell a sign, went outside to puke, thought seriously of chasing after the customer and advising him that he ought to get some muscle, a baseball bat, and tell the dli men what he thought of their disrespect for him; but I didn’t. I didn’t know who the guy was, where he went.
There’s a wonderful story about the great WC Fields: amazing how many geniuses keep some genius, at least for a while, no matter how drunk they seem to get: Faulkner, Graham Chapman … WC Fields … WC, for Watercloset. I wonder how many other comic stage names mean toilet: Well, Shakespeare has a “Jacques” in As You Like It: and a jakes is an outhouse. I hope this story is true.
A pretty young girl, cast for her virginal MidWestern all-American wholesomeness, gets a big studio contract and is taken to her first Hollywood party. It’s Prohibition time and she’s alarmed at the behavior of stars she recognizes: grabbing ass, barfing in the pool … Her own behavior is sober and upright as she drinks plain water in a big tumbler with ice. At last she recognizes a star who is likewise sipping from an ice-filled tumbler. She siddles over to him, says, “I see we have something in common,” and saluting with her tumbler. Only then does she see that WC Fields is isn’t focusing on her, he’s rocking and weaving, none too steadily to his own rhythm against the wall. “Er,” she adds, “that is water you’re drinking, isn’t it?”
WC bleers at her, half-focuses. “Water!” he snorts, “Don’t-cha know fish fuck in that stuff?”
Well, of course the fish and the otters and the ducks and the turtles had done everything in that reservoir that the guy pissed into and that the town fathers flushed, at public expense.
In nature anyone can drink poisoned creek water, even if he’s the only human in one hundred miles. But more likely the water is fine, and people survived. Ah, but when you plunk a million people down on the Thames and call it London, that’s when cholera is a-coming.