Kage Baker kept a calendar from 1968 on her wall until the day she died.
It was a calendar she especially loved (the Beatles, Yellow Submarine) and a year that had been one of her favourites. She called it the Year of the Perfect Summer, and when it ended – she just started the calendar over. From time to time, it was even accurate; in the off years, she could still point to given days and dates and remember beloved things that had occurred then, 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 years agone …
This attitude was utterly native to Kage’s personality (as far as I could ever tell). She had a very personal and cavalier attitude regarding time, and it may have been inevitable that she would end up writing time-travel stories. She claimed steadfastly that she was not making up any of the physics (or metaphysics or uberphysics or astrophysics) in her tales – she was just reporting what she experienced. Time, averred Kage Baker, is all happening at once, all the time, everywhere. Causality is a matter of choice and habit. What you see is up to you.
It might be helpful to bear in mind that her eyes looked in two directions simultaneously. Most of the time.
I’d have given a lot to get a look at her corpus callosum.
Lately, the basal date seems to be drifting in an especially Kageian way around here. The air, the light, the weather – all much more reminiscent of our childhood (when weather in LA was much odder than usual) than it has been in 30 years. The sky is blue in the daytime right down to the horizon, and one can see more than 6 stars at night – I used to count them, and on my average teen-aged night in Hollywood there were 6 visible stars. I didn’t see the Milky Way until I was in my 20’s.
Anyway, things seem to be circling around again. There was another Royal Wedding this morning, and I think you could have substituted the sound track from Charles’ and Diana’s faerie tale nuptials with no one noticing. Everyone behaved as if a prince had never before married a commoner on world-wide telly in front of an audiance of billions, for heaven’s sake! But it’s been 30 years.
My friends at the Renaissance Faire (at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale through May 22nd) are having quarrels with the management over authenticity and tradition: should booth workers be expected to wear complete costumes? What’s the official stand on tennis shoes? Nose rings? Neon hair? This was a hot topic 10 years ago; 20 and 30 years ago, too. There were no answers then and there are apparently none now – a talented and dedicated costumer has been fired, some fanatics will quit, some will stay and try to make the Faire as good as ever, and management will play all sides against the middle and rake in the dough.
They are counting potholes in Oakland. Again. They are fighting over water in the San Joaquin. Again. They are killing one another in South LA, East Asia, and all the fabled, minaret-crowned cities of the Levant – again, again, again.
What year is it? Damned if I know. But it doesn’t seem to be a very good one.
I’m think I’m gonna see if I can find that old 1968 calendar and hang it up again. Maybe Kage’s temporal magic will still work.