I read Smith’s blog. He’s read too much news lately, and is collecting disaster stories, which he writes about in the blog. One of the recent stories is about the disappearance of the bees.

“Actually,” I tell Smith, “It’s not only the latest impending disaster *theory*, it’s *fact*. And they’re all fact. Like all the possible science fiction scenarios which *could* be realized *are* being self-actualized.”

I continue: “I always agreed with Jung. I think we have this form of collective subconsciousness, not just a mass subconsciousness, but a ‘popular’ subconsciousness in which all these fictions envisioned in sci fi thrillers so excited the consumers of movies that they came up with a whole buncha new gods for us. So we’re living in an age where all the disasters and all the miracles can happen. It’s all happening at once cuz we had a consensus that the post-modern world expired in 2000. And now, we are in the Age of the Planet’s Reckoning. A kinda sci-fi weird religious American Armeggedon self-seeding collective craziness. Even if yr scientific, yr ideas are lodged in the mud of it. Like Pompeii.”

“The world did expire,” Smith agrees. Then thoughtfully, “Didn’t it?”

* * *

I say, “It’s funny how you can tell who is a tourist here. Cuz the tourists DON’T look like the people who live here.”

“That’s for sure… You see em in the souks, you see them on the buses, you see them in the carriages… you don’t see them in a whole lotta other places. We saw them in the IBIS…”

“I think that they’re just afraid to wander around. Wasn’t there a bombing in Casablanca a couple days ago?” A friend sent us a worried e-mail.

“Yeah, but that’s a whole different town. I guess there’s trouble in Fez, too, according to Mohammed.”

“The strange thing with me is that I have a lotta understanding about where they’re coming from,” I tell Smith. “But I would never do what they do. And I am afraid of them.”

* * *

“You know, I’m reading what you’re writing, and I see some of your art, and I can’t help think that you’re brilliant. But then there are some things you do that I think of as careless – that you’re not intimidated enough. You take risks without considering all the possibilities. And then I compare that with how intelligent you are in your creative work.”

“Well,” he says, “A lot of what you might think of as carelessness is just a sense of adventure. And sometimes just no thought. Sometimes it’s just thoughtlessness.”

I hear the evening singing starting. They get the half hour after the sun goes down, a kinda time lag recognition of the end of the day, the howling at the beginning of lavendar night. “Ah, listen — they’re doing their magic outside. Singing. This is the first time I’ve experienced a sense of God, is here in Morocco.”

Smith crosses his fingers at me.

“It feels like magic, though. Admit that,” I assert.

“It is magic,” he says. “Don’t need no *God* in the equation.”

“Well, I’m not a Goddite. But I have an appreciation for metaphor. And I do believe in a magic of sorts. Just look how my life turned out.”

“Ah, the Lovin Spoonful,” quips Smith. “Do you believe in magic, da da da da da…”

* * *

Having difficulty communicating with Hamid. I don’t want to take photos of people if they seem resistant. He says, “Good photo, good photo,” and tries to get me to take wide sweeping photos of people. A lot of times I shoot the pictures over peoples’ heads, but the people around me don’t know that. One time a guy held a piece of cardboard to hide his head.

I want to respect Hamid, so I’ll take a quick shot or pretend to shoot. But a lot of times it’s obvious that I’m taking a photo. So I say, “But Hamid, there are some men there. They need privacy. I should not take a photo.” Then he thinks I mean to take a picture, and I want the men out of the way. So he chases them away. I try to stop him, saying, “No, no, it’s good, it’s OK.” Meanwhile he continues to think he’s doing a favor for me.

The other day Hamid thought I was interested in the noise the donkeys made, so he disturbed some for me. He also tried to coax some cats so I could film them, feeding them cheese. I felt sick, watching the cats eat the cheese. There were many poor people around. It was as though I had more sympathy for the cats then the people. I’d rather give humans dirhams than cats. I love animals, but people are more important.

He saw me take photos of some animal heads that were on the ground in the souk in the poor village. He must think I liked them because I am sick. I took the photos because they are so different, such a contrast to the way we live in rich-world countries. We eat meat and we don’t have a concept of what it takes to get that meat. I’m considering vegetarianism again. Meat is unethical because of the deteriorating condition of the planet. And so many people go hungry. Their needs could provided for better if us rich-worlders lost our appetite for meat.

A ten-year-old followed Smith and I into the medina Tuesday afternoon. He asked for money to be our guide. I’ve read that one really should not give money to children, that it prepares them to lower their sights, to become beggars. I have mixed feelings about this, though. I think a lot of the advice I read is oriented more towards giving the tourists a framework so they don’t have to feel guilty about their luxurious lives.

So this time, I said no to the boy. Then he followed us, literally pleading for money. He looked healthy, he was well-dressed. So I said, “Thank you, no, goodbye.”

I thought a lot about this. I’ve decided that next time I’ll manufacture a need. I’ll say, “Can you take me to Jamaa El Fna (the center) for 5 dirhams?”

* * *

“I’m done. Here, you finish my oatmeal. You’re losing too much weight.” I’m concerned about Smith’s 15 pound weight loss over the past couple months.

“What if there isn’t any more food? You’ll be wanting it then,” he says.

“That’s the problem right there. People get fat because they don’t trust the future. There will be more food for me. I’m satisfied with what I’ve eaten, so I don’t have to eat any more.”

“No, there won’t be any more food after 10:00, so I’ll regurgitate for you.”

I think about the dinner Hamid’s wife prepared for us. I was to prepare it with her, expecting this to be a social exchange. But alas, it was financial. Hamid asked for money before they left, so we gave him some. I wonder if he felt anger because we didn’t make the offer first.

“I don’t understand people’s situations here. I’m concerned and confused.”

“Well, it’s new to you,” Smith says. “If you got used to them, you wouldn’t think about it. Like Jim Lang. People become symbols of themselves. If we came back to Cleveland and watched Jim Lang, we’d notice more.”

“Yes, we could observe Jim Lang. Take notes.”

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