Laissez-passer


In NYC in the 70s I had not one, but two, reference groups so devoted to the 1942 film Casablanca, that they [we] had memorized every line of dialogue. Start me anywhere. If you have even a passing acquaintance with the storyline, you will recall that it’s all about which two lucky people in the Nazi-controlled city of Casablanca will ultimately get to use these travel documents [les deux laissez-passers], permitting them to hop a DC-2 to Lisbon [and thence, escape to America, which was still officially a neutral country during the filming of this movie, which is regarded by some historians as the most persuasive piece of anti-Nazi propaganda ever made].

So, anyway, all these decades on, laissez-passer [literally, “Let (to) pass.”] means a “guarantee” of a safe passage, through a perilous time or place. A get-out-of-jail-free-card, as it were. Or, in my case [I hope], a respite from the freakish weather that has made trekking through the woods “highly inconvenient.” I know, I keep banging on about this as if it were as onerous as this season’s earthquakes, tsunamis and lethal flooding elsewhere in the world. It’s just a metaphor. A synecdoche, even. The Poetic use of a small, particular thing to represent the bigger thing. Nar’mean?

And now, to my point. With regard to the weather, or tectonics, or “unexpected” acts of aggression carried out by individuals who were [inevitably, reportedly] held in high esteem by their neighbors and/or colleagues, there are no guarantees. Some major irritant seems of have gotten up Mother Nature’s nose, and she is smacking Earthlings on the snout, Big Time. Also, as you know, civil servants, just trying to do their lawfully mandated duties, have come under attack. Talk about synecdoche! The [attributed] on-line ramblings of these domestic terrorists seek to justify their lethal assaults on individuals, who, they believed, represented disagreed-with government policies. In a much milder form, as a Naval officer in the 70s, I experienced this part-whole confusion at the hands of brick- and bottle-hurling young Townies, when walking the the streets of Annapolis in uniform. The ridiculously simple laissez-passer that I “wrote” for myself was to change into civvies and take my hair down, as soon as I got home [2 whole blocks outside of Gate 1, big whoop]. It taught me to resist judging human “books” by their “covers,” as well as to be hyper-aware of the semiotics [subtext] of my dress and behavior, as perceived by others.

So, what gauntlets do you have to run this week, without the guarantee of a safe passage? I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m giving you credit for your bravery; and encouraging you to notice what steps you take, to “write” yourself your own “laissez-passer,” that increases your sense of security.

I find, prosaically, that practical footwear helps me feel safer. Note the state-of-the-art “Bogs” boots, plus “Yak-Trax.” I only slipped once Saturday [the day this photo was taken]. To paraphrase Casablanca, “I came here [to Annapolis] for the [mild winters]. I was misinformed.”

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Filed under aggression happens, semiotics

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