The last several days, during which meteorologists and local “authorities” urged people to stay home in response to an expected series of ice storms, failed to meet expectations. Though there was some freezing rain, some sleet, and a touch of snow, the warnings about widespread black ice failed to accurately predict real-world experience. I am not complaining about the absence of fierce winter weather. But I wish I had not felt compelled to remain locked away in the house in anticipation of a potentially cataclysmic event that never came. I do not know what I might have done, had I ventured out, but I know I would have enjoyed the freedom more than I enjoyed the captivity. Yet I did venture out, if only a little. I went to the grocery store. I drove around the Village a bit. I walked outside in the absence of precipitation when arborists removed a large tree and felled a few dead ones. But I did not venture far; when I did, not for long. I think the knowledge that I should stay inside when I want to go out and about is enough to drive me stir-crazy. It’s the sense of being denied something; the denial makes it that much more attractive.


Documentarians probably do not embark on projects with the idea that their efforts will disclose the “truth” about events. Instead, I would argue that their projects are conceived as efforts to uncover and chronicle facts that support the filmmakers’ perspectives on the events about which their films are made. I recognize my viewpoint represents a generalization; I am sure my characterization of documentarians does not necessarily apply to all of them. But I would bet I am right. And, if I am right, documentarians are not simply historians who practice their trade on film; rather, they are activists who market their points of view by sculpting the manner in which history is revealed. While my attitude may seem  harshly judgmental, it is not necessarily so. It is simply an observation, colored by what I would call a logical assessment of motive. I do not fault documentarians for having opinions and for expressing their opinions—their beliefs—in the way they present facts. But I would caution consumers of the work of documentarians to be cautious in accepting as gospel the meaning of those facts as presented. Because facts can support radically different perspectives, depending on the manner in which they are “slanted.” I would issue that caution regardless of the extent to which I either agree or disagree with documentarians’ interpretation of facts. Put simply, caveat emptor.


I can feel depression, but I cannot describe what it feels like. I just sense it. It soaks into me. Not like water; more like syrup. It slows my ability to think. Nothing is appealing or exciting. And I want to retreat into an impenetrable shell. But there are breaks in it. Like when I feel trapped inside because of the weather; I want out, then. But I wonder whether that is yet another symptom. It doesn’t matter, really. I don’t care. Until I look back on that sense of soaking in syrup and realize I do not want to go through it again. It will return, though, as it always does. And so does the appeal of leaving it behind when it slips back under its rocks. Ach! I write about depression as if I know that’s what I experience. It does not look or feel exactly like what I read about it. But I do not know what else it might be. It’s not especially frequent, nor is it terribly deep. It is annoying, though, in hindsight. Whatever it is.


It is well beyond time for breakfast. And I still need to shave and shower and get dressed. Get a move on, sir. Leave this keyboard and venture into the real world.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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