This year was hard on me, with my dad’s stuff and all the associated emotional and material loads. So, now that I am back in S. CA; kind friends are inviting me places and showing me attractions. It is fun and funny to again become a tourist where you were many years ago.
LA is so silly and sure of itself, that reminds me of Shah’s Iran. Nothing seems to change in this seasonless land of dryness and vanity. It conserves them all … good, bad and ugly. Further south is much better, more civilized and urbane.
In San Diego, they take me to see the old navy aircraft carriers. Those colossal monuments to the American might, that are now sitting peacefully for visitors to come and receive their fair share of shock-and-awe. Then a political discussion breaks out, as it’s so often the case when you place two Iranians at a distance of 10 yards or less. As our tradition goes, it quickly descends into a bitching-and-complaining session over “what was so much better before and what is so awful messy today”.
At night, all that experience makes me think: “were things better before or worse”? Was the world a better place 50 years ago, 100 years ago or 1000 years before? Screw me, but in 1961, didn’t we come so close to a full-scale nuclear war of mutual-annihilation over the tiny Cuba? In 1911, wasn’t Iran gripped by a tremendous amount of civil and foreign war, which created large-scale famines and deaths? Back in 1011, wasn’t everyone killing, raping and torturing everyone else, under the name of religion, race or nationality?
Then, like Moses on Mount Sinai, it downs on me that lo and behold: “Mess is not created and Mess is not destroyed, Mess just turns from one form to another”!
I am so elated with my new scientific discovery, which is going to rival the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, that I call a learned friend in Caltech to check the math and help with the patent application! But my dear Mo just has a chuckle and orders me to Google something called the “2nd law of thermodynamic”; which I do and call him after an hour for more explanation, because honestly wtf is thermodynamic?
Mo patiently explains that the 2nd law means that actually “only if we are really really lucky, the Mess is conserved, but most of the times, Mess increases by whatever we do”! Questions the now deflated ego of mine, “but aren’t we now living in better houses, nicer cities, better civilizations than 1000 years ago”? Mo agrees, but says that all that Mess cleaning comes at the cost of even more Mess generation somewhere else.
Never pay too much attention to what a university prof says, or they will be fucking your ears for the next two hours … free of charge! So now I know that when we leisurely drive along the “59 mile track”, our clean and brisk experience is offset by all the gas that is burnt, depreciation of the car and the silent wear-and-tear of our own bodies. Anyhooo … I place the speakerphone on mute, and start playing backgammon and listening to the “Radio Golha” oldies, while Mo keeps blabbering about the science of Mess and something called the Carnot cycle.