Today two men climbed the outside of my office building, the fifty-something story New York Times Building in midtown Manhattan (one and two). Meanwhile I was in meetings or sitting at my computer. Metaphors begin in things that are real. I can still hear the sirens outside and the cheering of the crowd below.
Both guys made it all the way up the fifty-something stories and were arrested at the top. The first carried a banner about global warning. The second wore a t-shirt saying, “MALARIA NO MORE.” Indeed.
I have never seen the point so much of climbing mountains—deep down, at least. But I have hardly seen anything so beautiful as climbing buildings.
Having been at computers and meetings all day, with none of the incredible fear or exhilaration, metaphor remains. It is Babel, it is Icarus, it is a glorious mis-use. Imagination, salvation, persecution. I heard there were police officers running through the building, trying to pull off the glass to stop him (the first one) but he went up more quickly than they could ride the elevators.
Man against machine. Suicide. David and Goliath.
And there were two of them. Copycats. It’s like the pillar-sitters of late antiquity, who were saints, sitting on top of pillars for years and bestowing miracles. When the fad showed up again in the 1920s, the flagpole sitters were less saints than fools.
The wind was no less strong. Death to malaria.