Tag Archives: The Big Lebowski

The sound of leaves we couldn’t see

Not even we could say what homes, duties and loves we’d left behind. We were, in that moment, no more than wayfarers between what we had forgotten and what we didn’t know, knights on foot defending an abandoned ideal. But that explained, along with the steady sound of trampled leaves and the forever rough sound of an unsteady wind, the reason for our departure, or for our return, since, not knowing what the path was, or why, we didn’t know if we were coming or going. And always, all around us, the sound of leaves we couldn’t see, falling we didn’t know where, lulled the forest to sleep with sadness.

The entirety of fragment 386 in Richard Zenith's translation of Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet is perhaps my favorite of the book so far, about two-thirds of the way through. It's a long fragment—a few whole pages. The whole thing loops and meanders and doubles back on itself, very much like being lost in the woods in the dark. It's full of pair's contradictions—things that are and aren't, things that are done together alone or alone together. The scene is familiar but unknown, unknowable. And always there is a soft sound of leaves falling at the periphery.

The whole fragment is, I think, this long metaphor about what life is. There is no point, or maybe we forgot what it is, and there is no destination, but we have to move onward. And always the contradictions—as if you couldn't make sense of what is without also considering what isn't. And always a soft sound at the periphery, reminding you that what you can see is only a part of the whole.

You're not wrong, Walter

Right and wrong—not the difference between right and wrong, but right and wrong. You can do them both, at the same time.

Fanatical adherence to logic and rules—at what cost? This is the opposite pole of relying too much on heuristics. You can do right by the rules and end up with a loss. You can follow rigid mathematical logic to completing a task or project and end up with something that doesn't work or something that is so expensive that it doesn't get finished.

That's not to say that the way to win is through avoiding rules, or that the way to designing something is by avoiding logic. Hardly. Avoid that and you'll likely end up in the same place. Blindly following the rules means that you might not see that you're playing the wrong game. Following a logical sequence of steps based on a bad plan is rigorously stupid.

There is a danger in working with ultra-smart people. You often need them because they'll figure out things that no one else can even imagine. But sometimes they'll go over the line to defend that vision far beyond its efficacy—defending the logic of the vision, but not its value.

This is part of one of the best scenes in The Big Lebowski, a movie jammed full of best scenes:

The Big Lebowski at Barack Obama's Inauguration

I love making panoramas. You probably know this already. Today I found this 59,783 X 24,658 pixel panorama (that everyone else apparently already knows about) from Barack Obama's inauguration by David Bergman.

Go look at it. Now. It's fantastic. And enormous.

Now, zoom in. Zoom in behind President Obama...

Wait. Is that The Big Lebowski?

Is usaservice.org really just a front for the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers?

You make the call.

David Huddleston as The Big Lebowski

David Huddleston as the Big Lebowski

Dick Cheney as... The Big Lebowski?

Dick Cheney at Barack Obama inauguration

(The first image is a screen capture from The Big Lebowski. The second image is a closeup from an enormous panorama by David Bergman.)