Monday, December 24, 2007

Weird Numbers on LA cars: a Plea for Wisdom.

A few years ago, there was a plague of bumper stickers and the like containing references to a number and something about memory. (I thought it was in Los Angeles, but it may have been New Orleans, Virginia?) I puzzled about it for months and months. I think -- I only dimly recall -- that it turned out to be a memorial to some dead high-school football hero, to which I was completely oblivious not only because I haven't spent a serious amount of time in this city since 1997, but also because football falls somewhere only slightly above The New Yorker and recreational dentistry in my list of preferred worldly delights, necessities for self-fulfillment.

But now I see a new Los Angeles automotive numeric phenomenon. In the rear windows of cars, there are numbers on small square pieces of paper or cardboard, white text on a red background with another white border. Mostly, I see the number 12, but today I saw an 11. And it is mystifying me.

Did another football player pass Beyond, tragically, no doubt, driving his 64 Mustang off a cliff, his blonde girlfriend in his arms, and just before learning of his full football scholarship to Texas Tech? (My next major post will be in[ ]substantial part about snobbery, I possibly-dishonestly-promise.)

Or? Or?

-- are they parking permits, perhaps?

-- countdowns of the number of days of Christmas?

-- a very sophisticated space alien clock?

-- coded messages from spies?

-- something that someone saw Paris Hilton or one of those horrid nightclub people wearing or displaying in some fashion, something said someone immediately aped, as it went viral?*

-- a reference to the twelve apostles (Were there twelve? I don't actually know -- I was raised a good atheist boy. Perhaps there were eleven?), handed out by some fundamentalist church so its members could identify one another when the End Time (or the fundie Revolution) comes?

-- defiant insistence from the masses that math really has a rigorous foundation ("synthetic a priori, bitch!"**) despite Godel's incompleteness theorems, Russell's paradox, etc., etc. etc.?

-- mobile movie reviews, that change to follow the hottest new movie and subliminally aggregate the cultural zeitgeist? ("It looks like everyone gives Sweeny Todd a twelve! It must be good!") Or worse, ratings of the cars, assigned by unemployed book reviewers*** gone mad and after some fool sold them slimjims?

-- a demand from the geeks of the world that we start counting in base twelve (and the double-rebels who think it ought to be base eleven)?

-- a simple conspiracy against me, designed to slowly drive me mad with confusion?

Your speculations, or an actual answer, in the comments. I must know what these bizarre things are supposed to signify.

* Incidentally, I'm horrified to learn that my hair has become fashionable. I was in a club on Sunset last Tuesday -- for good reason! The band claimed Sun Ra among its influences! -- and many of the horrible skinny rich hipster boys in intentionally bedraggled clothes had their hair deliberately done to look like mine naturally becomes after some months of malign neglect. I'm considering going shaven.

** Ok, I only threw in that one (which makes little-to-no sense) in order that I could link to the following two wonderful youtube videos: Nietzsche on Kant. Kant on Nietzsche.

*** See,**** e.g. the "Intellectual Situation" piece in the current issue of n+1, on book reviewers and their economic collapse. I don't care whether Belle thinks n+1 is pretentious or not, I love it and it is wonderful. Although I do not love its parties. More on this in a subsequent post, perhaps.

**** I don't remember whether the comma is supposed to be italicized or not.***** See, that is why I wasn't on Law Review.

*****[^******]The Bluebook actually has a rule on this! Cf.,;:,... e.g.,:' generally''()&, id, : Why You Shouldn't Go To Law School. (More on that later too, of course, always.)*******

****** Oh God, I've turned into David Foster Wallace! Someonesaveme. Save. Me.

******* A recent dialogue between myself and L., a 1L at a very good law school:

L.: i'm so totally done with first semester! gowder, why didnt you warn me that this was going to be an intellectually unfulfilling experience?

P.: I'm pretty sure I did, mon ami. There is still hope. The arms of grad school are always open... and you can come back to Stanford, and we can paint the whole frickin' universe red, gold, and green. Ja rastafari. (Sorry, just came from all-night party, collapsing to sleep, not coherent or sane. One love.)