Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Overton Window: Chapter Eighteen

Chapter eighteen is notable for two reasons. First, it opens with a single word. A paragraph unto itself:


Secondly, Noah and Molly get their first kiss:

Molly looked into his eyes, and what he saw in her was a perfect reflection of a wanting that he also felt, so there was no delay of invitation and acceptance. It was a different sort of desire than he'd known before, an understanding that something now needed to be said that no language but the very oldest could possibly convey. He bent to her, closed his eyes, and her lips touched his, gently, and again more urgently as he responded. He felt her arms around him, her body yearning against his in the embrace, a knot like hunger inside, heart quickening, cool hands at his back under the warmth of his jacket, searching, pressing him closer still.

Still with us? Good. I wouldn't blame you if you'd given up after that. My only hope here is that there is no sex scene waiting for us down the road. Because if it's anything like the kiss, it's going to be brutal. I promise you, if there is a sex scene, I will warn you ahead of time. You've my word on that.

Anyway, back to the opening paragraphs.


Scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses. Unlike a sight or sound or even a touch, an aroma can rocket straight to the untamed emotions with no stops required at the smarter parts of the brain. You like it or you hate it; that's the designed-in depth of raw stimulation the nose is built to deliver. So amid all the other deeper thoughts that should have come to Noah's mind upon awakening, it was bacon that crowded them out to come in first across the finish line.

I'm going to need your help here. I can't make heads or tails of this sentence: "Scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses." What is the author saying here? That scent appeals to our sense of smell? I'm pretty sure most of us know that. Even if I didn't know that, I think I'd pretty easily deduce that scent does not appeal to one's sense of hearing. Or is he saying the sense of smell is the most primitive of the senses? If that's what he meant, maybe that's what he should have written. Because "scent appeals to the most primitive of the five basic senses" is nonsensical, no pun intended.

The rest of the paragraph ain't exactly Dostoevsky either, what with all the rockets of raw stimulation and whatnot going on there.

So, Molly has made Noah breakfast and the two of them sit in the sunroom (huh?) and enjoy a moment with the NYT Sunday crossword. Noah knows lots of big words and Molly soundlessly mouths letters as she writes. I guess this is characterization.

Then Molly drops the proverbial bomb. (Real bombs later.)

"I've been meaning to talk to you about something," Molly said. She got up and took his empty plate and silverware to the sink.

"Okay. Let's talk about it."

"I'm not going to be in town very much longer."


I'm just not. There were some things I wanted to do here, and I've done them now, so I'll be leaving."

What? What things did she have to do? Get arrested? Hang up flyers in Noah's office? Go to a Libertarian poetry slam? And she's been meaning to tell him since when? Since they got out of jail? Since he woke up and ate her bacon? Huh?


Molly cleans up the kitchen and asks about something Noah has framed in the apartment. He describes it as "a penmanship exercise, from the fifth grade, dad's favorite poem."

It wasn't quite right to say it was his father's favorite poem; more like the old man's justification of his life set in verse. He'd directed his young son to study it so he'd always know the way things really worked in this world.

Noah picked it up, let his thumb brush the dust from the corner of the glass, and read each metered line aloud.

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled,
and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters,
and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up
to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future,
it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain
since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit
and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger
goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished,
and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing
and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us,
as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
with terror and slaughter return!

Ummm... Okay. I'm no poet laureate or anything, so I'm not going to pass judgement on the piece. Rudyard Kipling wrote it, and he's respected as a writer, and aside from that I know next to nothing about him. He wrote Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and that cartoon used to give me the heebie jeebies as a kid, so this poem seems to fit.

Noah and Molly discuss the poem.

"And what do you think he was telling you with this, your father?"

"He told me the poem meant that history always repeats itself, that the same mistakes are made over and over, only bigger each time. The wise man knows that if you can't change that, you might as well take full advantage of it. But to me it meant something else. It's a warning, I guess, about what happens when you forget common sense. I think it means that there really is such a thing as the truth, the real objective truth, and people can see it if they'll just look hard enough, and remember who they really are. But most of the time they choose to give in and believe all the lies instead."

I see. Really. I do. Darthur's philosophy is that history repeats itself. Not exactly profound or anything. But Noah is sure there is more to the world than that: there is Truth to be seen, if only everyone would look. I guess there are worse philosophies to adhere to.

I think my favourite part here is how Molly's sole purpose has developed into facilitating Noah's Awakening. And cooking bacon. Nice. She's there to serve. Perfect, Beck, just perfect.

After breakfast, Molly and Noah go for a walk in Times Square. Like they're in a Meg Ryan movie.

They'd talked some along the way, though for the most part it had been a quiet walk. But there was nothing tense or self-conscious in those wordless stretches. He found himself at ease in her company, as if a conversation was always in progress, only spoken in other forms. She stayed close to him, at times with an unexpected gesture of casual intimacy: an arm around his waist for half a block, a finger hooked in his belt loop as they crossed a busy street against the light, a palm to his cheek as she spoke close to his ear to be heard over the din of the traffic.

See? Just like a Meg Ryan movie. And like a Meg Ryan movie, the two kiss in Times Square. (EIther there or Central Park, right? Because those are the only two places in NYC.) See above if you'd like a replay.

If this were a movie, do you think Molly would be played by Meg Ryan? The role seems against her type, but I bet Sarah Michelle Gellar would be up for it. That being said, I am positive Tom Hanks would not be Noah. Maybe Hanks' weird little cousin, Colin.

With everything to see and hear around them there at the very crossroads of the world, soaring billboards, scrolling news crawlers, bright digital Jumbotrons that lined the tall buildings and blotted out the whole evening sky, it all disappeared to its rightful insignificance, flat as a postcard. That place was left outside their small circle, and if asked right then he might have stayed there within it forever.

It was a really good kiss. I think that much can be said. Noah really really likes Molly. I really really dislike the author of this dreck.

Then it starts raining again and the couple ducks into a coffee shop to warm up. As they are sipping their Folgers Gourmet Selections (with Flavor Crystals™), Molly asks Noah for some advice. She wants to know what the PR whiz would do if the teabaggers were to hire him.

"What is it you want to accomplish again?"

"We want to save the country."

Noah thinks for a while and basically tells Molly that the teabaggers need to get their shit together. And through him Glenn Beck basically tells the teabaggers to their shit together. Noah tells Molly they need a platform.

"Start with the tax code, since your mom is so passionate about that. How about a set of specific spending cuts and a thirteen percent flat tax to start with? Get that ridiculous sixty-seven-thousand-page tax code down to four or five bullet points, and show exactly what effects it'll have on trade, and employment, and the debt, and the future of the country. And I'm winging it here, but how about real immigration reform? The kind of policies that welcome people who want to come here for the right reasons, and succeed."

Ah yes. A flat tax! That'll fix everything. Know what else fixes things? Bullet points! And immigration reform. The kind that lets people into the country for the right reasons, like being white!

"And what did you mean, save the country, by the way? Save it from what?"

She looked at him evenly. "You know what."

Heh. Yooouu know! Seriously, these are adults? These are adults trying to save this great nation from the talon grip of the NWO? No. Adults don't talk like that. Has the author ever spoken to another adult? I don't think he has.

She clarifies, sort of.

"I know there was a meeting at the office yesterday afternoon," she said, lowering her voice but not her intensity. "I saw the guest list on the catering order. I know who was there. I know you were in it. And I think I know what it was about."

"Okay, yes, big surprise, there was a meeting, but I wasn't there for all of it. And do you want to know something else? I don't even know what it was all about, so how could you?"

"Then let's both find out."

Okay, so the NWO might be undone by a catering order? These are the people who have spent fifty years implementing a plan to take over the world, or whatever, and they can't keep the menus out of the hands of spies? "Oh em gee, John Aschroft ordered a tuna melt! Do you know what this means?!" Actually, I don't know what that means. He always seemed more the egg salad type to me anyway.

Molly demands Noah prove her wrong. What? Prove what? You haven't said anything!

"Let's go right now and find out."

"I can't do that."

"Yes, you can. We'll go to the office right now, and you'll show me that I've got nothing to worry about. If that's the case then that'll be the end of it."

Okay, this is straight getting on my nerves now. What the fuck is she expecting to find? The plans for the NWO right there in the offices of Doyle & Mer­chant? It's not like there was a Powerpoint and a hand-out explaining everything. Whoops! That's right, there was a Powerpoint and a hand-out explaining everything. Okay, so even if there was, why can't Noah just bring home a copy? And why can't a VP visit the office on Saturday? It seems like someone in his position would have run of the place, no questions asked. Oh well, not that it matters anyway.

Molly gets a little creepy too and tries to blackmail Noah. What the fuck is with everyone in the fucking book? What a bunch of manipulative, mendacious turds. Even the people we're supposed to like are assholes. This whole book is garbage.

"Do you want me to leave?" Her voice was tight and there were sudden tears in her eyes. "Do you never want to see me again? Because that's what this means."

So. Yeah. Molly. Blackmailing a man you know has feelings for you. A man you just kissed. Now you want him to break into the offices of the NWO, like Old Mister Bullet-In-The-Head Churchill, and do I don't know what exactly, or you'll split. Wow. Everyone in this book is a douche.

"That is so incredibly unfair," Noah says. And rightly so. But it's too late. She's out. And Noah is left alone in a Times Square coffee shop. (Bubba Gump's? I hope it was Bubba Gump's.) And it's then that Noah decides what he must do.

If he's going into the office on a Saturday, I'm not going to be impressed. I've done that very thing countless times, and I'm not even a VP trying to stop the New World Order.

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