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FOLIO is a magazine of strange, comic, and strangely comic words and pictures published from 2006 to 2009. For back issues please contact the_folio@hotmail.com.

Issue No. 15, Flight

Issue No. 15, Flight - Letters to Iqbal

Dearest Iqbal,

Every time I get back the automated response from you, I reread it, searching through those uniform sentences for a tone, a double meaning, a hint I may have missed in the past or that has evolved over the time you have spent out of country.

Think of the changes that have become manifest since you were last here. My middle name is still the same, and the color of the sun is pretty consistent, and 4 is still NBC, but changes that have been occurring over our lifetimes have become distinctly manifest, and that is usually the moment that matters.

In this sense we miss the boat. We mistake a hundred million grains of sand for a dune. It reminds me of Borges’s “Argumentum Ornithologicum”:

I close my eyes and see a flock of birds. The vision lasts a second, or perhaps less; I am not sure how many birds I saw. Was the number of birds definite or indefinite? The problem involves the existence of God. If God exists, the number is definite, because God knows how many birds I saw. If God does not exist, the number is indefinite, because no one can have counted. In this case I saw fewer than ten birds (let us say) and more than one, but did not see nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, or two birds. I saw a number between ten and one, which was not nine, eight, seven, six, five, etc. That integer—not-nine, not-eight, not-seven, not-six, not-five, etc—is inconceivable. Ergo, God exists.

Now of course there is a slight glibness to Borges (detectable in the title and the unnecessary “ergo”). Speaking from experience I can tell you that librarians (even blind ones) have a sense of humor. But isn’t he quite right?

It reminds me of The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 12. Luke quotes Christ as saying, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Conveniently mirrored in Matthew 10:29: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”)

Of course, suggesting that 2.5 sparrows can be had for a penny is absurd. Is Luke suggesting that Christ thought you could buy half a sparrow? I thought sparrows were chosen in this anecdote because they are small and essentially indivisible.

And then Matthew further complicates things. Are two sparrows sold for a penny? I don’t know, you tell me! If they are, then the price of 2 sparrows is one penny, which is not the same price that Luke quotes. Now if they can’t keep the price of sparrows straight, maybe they’re wrong about other stuff. Maybe Matthew meant, “Some of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father,” or Luke, “God lost count of the hairs on your head.”

The two quotes, however absurd, do go hand in hand with the Borges piece, no? Birds are an ideal vehicle for ontological discussion. First: they often travel in flocks, which happily blur the line between independent creatures (each of which is numbered) and a collective identity being guided by a divine or all-powerful force. Second: they fly! Nothing reminds us more of the rules we must follow than seeing them broken. In fact, I’d say we can’t recognize something as a rule unless we see it broken. No?

Hope all is well!

Robert de Saint-Loup


Thank you for your e-mail. I am currently in Tanzania/Zanzibar doing research for the year and will have limited internet access. It will take some time for me to respond.

My new cell is: +XXX (X)XXX XXX-XXX

Have a wonderful and blessed day.

Asante (thank you),


From http://losttimenotfound.blogspot.com

Issue No. 15, Flight - Fragments

When Chester complained to his father about the climbing rope in gym class, Chester’s father knew just what to do. He was a pilot and could not abide a fear of heights in his children. He found a rope, nearly a mile in length, and fastened it to the end of his next flight to Cleveland. The other end was given to Chester, who was instructed to stand in the street outside their home. “Wrap it around your arm once or twice,” said Chester’s father, “maybe around your waist. But not too tightly.” So Chester stood while his classmates were climbing ropes in school. He waited the whole morning for his father to reach the airport and board the passengers. The myriad ways of connecting the rope to his person passed the time, but soon he heard the rippling of atmosphere above him and, looking up, saw Flight 1407 approaching his neighborhood. The rope brushed through the trees, scaring the birds, and on the street before Chester it picked up like fire following a line of gasoline. With a tremendous strain on his forearms and palms, Chester traveled to Cleveland. The most experienced of passengers felt a slight drag but thought nothing of it. Chester skidded across a frozen lake and, when he stood up, complained only of rope burn.


Morose and ill at ease, the superhero sat at home watching television. There was a blindfolded soldier on TV cleaning his gun. One channel up a blindfolded mechanic was replacing a timing belt. On the channel above that a blindfolded chef was preparing a risotto. The superhero felt insecure. Super as he was, he did his job fully sighted. Gradually though he grew inspired. “I can do this,” he said. He tugged his cape out of his collar and pulled it over his face, covering his head. It looked like an onion was bobbing between his shoulders. “I can do this!” He took a running start at his window and crushed the framed Dali print to its right.


The soon-to-be martyr eyed with loathing the conservatively dressed businessman at the other side of the gate. The businessman’s style of dress was exactly the one the martyr was forced to copy, and of course it was the businessman’s values he was forced to destroy. His betters thought the sockless loafers, suit jacket, and open collar would dispel the connotations of the dark pigment in his face. But it was no good. The martyr felt a fool. He saw a young man at the window. The man wore a polo shirt under a trench coat, brown corduroy pants, and suede dress shoes. The clothes suggested to the martyr an intellectual rigor, a seriousness and sense of purpose. “I should want to look like him,” he said, and pulled his loafers back under the seat.


Years after Flight 497 flew into the Sears Tower from Dallas, a reporter at the Tribune wrote a piece about everyone between the two cities who might have seen the plane on its way north.

“The high-flying bird and the current of its white wake,” he wrote, “entered into the daydreams of lounging Midwesterners before becoming a part of their nightmares minutes later. Men looking up from a lawn mower that wouldn’t rev up and children not reading in hammocks saw in that plane the place they wanted to be—a flight attendant handing off a cold Coke, the chance to look down at the clouds when everyone else is asleep then joining them with a pillow you find above your seat.”

The reporter told his subjects that the plane they had been gazing at was the same plane on TV. Several of the interviewees later stated they had a hard time looking at the sky again, which in the Midwest is a difficult thing to be afraid of.


The head librarian of the Carnegie Library enlisted all the children’s reading groups to stop reading and comb the stacks. He wanted every book thumbed so that the boarding passes left in as bookmarks could be irrevocably removed. Those passes irked him, and the closer they were to the front the more they irked him: obnoxious proof that the patrons were up to finishing their journey but not their book.


No aspiring oil painter can begin his working life as an oil painter, which is why, at the age of twenty-five, Louis became a flight attendant. He enjoyed the travel, the chance to meet a wide variety of people, and the time it gave him between drink services to catch up on a canvas.

I happened to be in seat 1A on a flight between New York and Raleigh when Louis asked politely if he could paint my portrait. Since I was already locked in place, I agreed. Frankly the attention flattered me. I asked him which pose he liked best: reading, sleeping, looking out the window. He suggested something more classical, my chin on my hand, my eyes unfocused towards something in the distance. Once I was posed, Louis set about sketching.

It made the flight seem shorter, or longer. I was more, or perhaps less, aware of everything around me. The sitting put me in a mood removed from time and space, not unlike the mood you get from flying itself.

Once we landed and the Fasten Seat Belt sign was switched off, Louis turned the canvas around for me to see.

At the outset he had told me he was going for something photo-realistic, but the pockets of turbulence had made it an abstract. Either way I was flattered. I asked him if I could take a picture of it with my cell phone, but he told me it wasn’t quite finished, that the colors weren’t right. He took a picture of me with his cell phone. “For guidance,” he said, then he asked for my contact information and thanked me again.

Meanwhile, everyone had already grabbed their bags from overhead and was ready to deplane. Louis stuffed his easel into the service cubby and began his goodbyes. The pilots opened their door to give their own goodbyes and, with one look at the paint splotches all over the front of the cabin, promptly upbraided poor Louis.

At the end of that month, I received via UPS my painted portrait. He really did get the colors right. He also sent me, along with the invoice, a snapshot of the interior of his plane. Each window was covered with a finished work. On the back he wrote a note: “The pilots calmed down. You can see their portraits in the front two seats.”

Issue No. 15, Flight - Credits


this issue of FOLIO made possible by CHARLES PATTERSON

this is the penultimate issue of FOLIO