Volume 74, Number 26 | October 27 - November 03 , 2004

Rubicube: Red is everywhere

By Andrei Codrescu

By the time you are reading this, the American republic may have chosen its future and there is nothing either I or you can do about it. As I write this, the world is awash in red. The Boston Red Sox are fighting the red birds of St. Louis. The map of the U.S. is more than half red. A red alert is possible. And remember that “wearing red is like wearing nothing,” in the immortal words of Victor H. Cruz. All this red is the legacy of the communists. When we destroyed them they left behind a puddle of red that’s slowly spreading through us.

I was in Boston on the first night of the World Series — I’m writing this on the plane coming home — and there were still some famously red-leafed New England trees flaring up on the M.I.T. campus. I didn’t go to the game because I was delivering myself of a lecture on growing up red in the land of the reds. My listeners were wide-eyed nostalgic, and pale fires played over their ruddy cheeks touched here and there by a crimson rose of synthetic blush or tuberculosis. I mean, who else but eccentrics or dying romantics would abandon their TV for the ramblings of a Martian?

M.I.T. is a mazey fortress of learning, complicated and discreet in a Cambridge sort of way, a place where wacky scientists keep molecules for pets and play with atoms like they were marbles. On the way in, I passed an office door that had this lettered on glass: “Department of Alchemy.” Various other departments, of engineering and chemistry, occupied the same floor. One of my hosts, the writer Eva Hoffman, who teaches here, said: “It’s the Department of Alchemy.” I knocked on the door but no one answered. I looked through the mail slot and saw what I thought was a red sunset in the distance and a field of red poppies swaying.

I knew that I had to come back here when the alchemists were in, to ask about the reddening of the Republic. I tried, but in the two days remaining I couldn’t find the place again. I have witnesses to it, though. Somewhere in the spongy red brain of the famous science school, there are alchemists manipulating the color spectrum of the American psyche. Que sera sera. For your reading pleasure, I recommend “Chronicles, Volume One,” the autobiography of Bob Dylan. Now there is a man who saw red and doesn’t shy away from telling it.

www.codrescu.coom, www.corpse.org

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