If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler as an infant, would you?

I’ve been asked that question before, and my answer is always “It wouldn’t matter.”

The question presupposes that Hitler was a remarkable, irreplaceable human being, and I don’t think that’s accurate. I think he was an idiot.

And in an alternate time-line, where infant Adolf is murdered in his crib, I believe the same societal forces that forced that idiot to the front would just force some other idiot to the front.

He wasn’t that special.



Mona and I saw Crazy Rich Asians in the theater last week. The movie didn’t appeal to me– there were too many people doing too many things, too many wheels inside of wheels– but there was one thing in particular that bothered me.

Although they were very careful to avoid any hint of stereotypical Asian behavior, they had no problem throwing a stereotypical homosexual into the mix. “I’m the rainbow sheep of the family!” he announces, then giggles at the absurdity of his own existence.

I went to a very small school, with a class of around 35, and since graduation at least five classmates have come out. There was only one I suspected, and not a single one of them conforms to the flamboyant stereotype so prevalent in television and movies.

I really think it’s time for Hollywood to take a step back. If it’s wrong to have a buck-toothed Asian who can’t pronounce his r’s, it’s equally wrong to have a scarf-wearing homosexual lisping and prancing his way through the scenery.

It Is Important Not to Know

Lawrence Ferlinghetti on the benefits of travel:

Sometimes it is better not to know anything about a country when you visit it. Especially it is important not to know its language or languages. Thus every sound, striking the ear like a small bell or animal cry, without any associative meaning, takes on the immediate quality of poetry, the quality of pure color in painting, with the percussive effect of pure sound in a void. It is only as these sounds accumulate inside us that some sort of composite meaning forms itself. Until then, we are like children newly arrived on earth, with virgin timpani, each a tabula rasa upon which all has yet to be written. Herein lies the true fascination of travel, not in the confirmation or contradiction of what we have been led to expect by the perusal of history or the learning of local languages, nor by the recognition of native customs in their similarity or dissimilarity to our own…

Thus it was that I came upon the souk in Marrakesh as a space traveler in a time warp, knowing nothing of the place in which he has landed, with only his senses to inform him of the strange terrain.

And strange it certainly was. Night itself, and I arrived at night, casts its mystery even on the most familiar domestic scene, for night itself is always the eternal unfathomable darkness out of which all is born and into which all is borne in the end. We are merely time travelers in between, fleetingly passing in a patch of sunlight, from shadow to shadow. Every day is a patch of light, however somber or bright, every night a patch of that eternal mystery.

The souk was of that darkness, and it lay everywhere before me.

Excerpted from Writing Across the Landscape, © 2015.