The Devil is in the Details

Rainy days are for cleaning. It was with this noble intention that I began my day, parked stoically amidst the pile of books, magazines and news articles I have been collecting since November 2000.


I no longer make apologies for either my attachment to the printed word or my tendency to accumulate it. It towers by the side of my bed and provides, more or less, a chronology of my interior life ­ the closer one of my paper artifacts is to the head of the bed, the more recently I have been intimately involved with its content. Former ?must reads? which now dwell beneath the footboard of the bed ­ or worse yet, have begun creeping glacially toward my husband?s side ­ reflect interests and hobbies I may not have entertained for over a year. And things that have actually been shelved are as dim an image of the ?me? I am today, as my shadow is an image of my physical body.


Predictably, the Coup2K material occupied the place of honor, easily within reach of a sleepless night or a rare Sunday morning spent in bed. It loomed over my literary landscape and had, I noticed, reached a size that suggested it might soon apply for statehood. My mission, of course, was to reduce the pile. Surely there were some unimportant words in there, some article that was foolish, fatuous, and/or frivolous that could be relegated to the recycle bin. Surely there were some words in there somewhere that I would not miss.


As the afternoon wore on, however, I realized this was not the case, and by noon, my search and destroy mission had turned into a trip down memory lane. The pile of stuff had not dwindled, but rather like a virus, had merely multiplied and mutated into nine smaller piles, classified by subject matter and organized by date.


I have to admit, trying to decide which pile to put things in was tough. The fact that Boy George discovered the nukes in his toy chest about the same time he discovered foreign policy created a very blurred line between the ?(p)Resident Bush Pisses Off Europe? pile and the ?(p)Resident Bush Exhumes Star Wars? pile. And what of Karl Rove? Did he belong in the folder labeled ?Revenge of the Bush-men? or was he better fit for the folder entitled, ?My First Book of Fascists?? Hard to decide. (The litmus test for this decision turned out to be the number of times Rove was quoted as saying, ?I don?t recall.? Three or more? Into the Fascist folder!)


Then there were the Independent Consortium re-count documents. These really defied classification. Did they belong in the ?Stolen Election? folder, or should they take up residence in the ?Mendacious Media and other Lying Swine? folder? (The Miami Herald articles were too close to call and I am considering asking the Supreme Court to weigh in.)


The ?Rape ­ Environmental? stack was less obtuse. A lone article on Gulf drilling bounced back and forth between it and a folder labeled ?Rape ­ Florida.? The remaining articles were divided between a file on Constitutional violations, a file on Big Brother, and a file of ?odd socks? which consisted entirely of papers that read ?page 2 of 4.?


No doubt the sorting task could have been accomplished in half the time had I not felt compelled to read every other document. The earliest were from December 2000. That was when I discovered Gregory Palast and simultaneously became obsessed with the idea of courageous investigative journalists from Europe crossing the Rupert Murdoch Memorial Moat, scaling the walls of Castle Dubya, and rescuing us at 11:59 on the eve of January 20. (Variations on this theme, although apparently too fleeting to be print-worthy, were fantasies involving rescue by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Russian Embassy, and Barbra Streisand.)


January was a barren, print-less month, but things picked up in February when I discovered the connection between the Bush family and the Moonie borgs. I remember a giddy feeling of hope rising unchallenged by common sense, after wading through page after page of blatant scandal, crude political maneuvers, and dirty dealing with crazed cultists. Surely a Woodward or a Bernstein would seize the moment, breaking a story that would cause America to rise up as one and clamor for immediate impeachment.


Ah, those were the days?


Now, on this sodden Saturday, I sat adrift on my paper raft, seven months of foreign and domestic pillage spread out before me, (??on Ashcroft, on Olson, on Alcoa Paul??), with no delusions of rescue by crusading reporters or spontaneous public epiphanies. And in a society where immediate gratification is king, the end of those delusions all too often seem like the end of it all.


But as the last sheet of paper fell into place, it occurred to me that the cavalry riding up over the hill did not just spring from the dirt beneath their feet. Nor was tyranny shaken from our shores during the American Revolution in ninety minutes, give or take a few commercial breaks. Someone had to requisition supplies. Someone had to look at the maps. Someone had to come up with a plan. The devil, as they say, is in the details, and now both the devil and the details were organized, classified, and tucked away neatly in my files.


Hold on America. We're just getting organized.

Carol Schiffler