We Don’t Know the Language We Don’t Know

Nicholson Baker in the New York Review of Books:

ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 11 09.09 One Saturday last month I went to Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., across the street from the White House, in order to protest several wars. The squirrels were out doing seasonal things. A tree was balancing big buds on the finger-ends of its curving branches; the brown bud coverings, which looked like gecko skins, were drawing back to reveal inner loaves of meaty magnolial pinkness. A policeman in sunglasses, with a blue and white helmet, sat on a Clydesdale horse, while two tourists, a father and his daughter, gazed into the horse’s eyes. The pale, squinty, early spring perfection of the day made me smile.

The demonstration wasn’t officially supposed to start until noon, but already off in the distance a few hundred people had gathered near a platform festooned with a row of black-and-white Veterans for Peace flags. It was March 19, the eighth anniversary of the shock-and-aweing of Iraq, and there was an air of expectancy: arrests were going to happen that day. I sat down on a bench and watched volunteers setting up loudspeakers. Birds were getting in as much chirping as they could before the human noise began. A woman with an armful of red and black signs passed by. Her signs said:


Jay Marx, head of Proposition One, a nuclear disarmament group, took the microphone. He was wearing a knit hat. “Testing, one, two, three,” Marx said into the microphone. “Testing our patience. Testing, four, five, six, seven, eight years of war. Eight years of lies! And we’re live! This park is live! The Vets for Peace are live in Lafayette Park!” (Cheering.)

More here.