Monday, August 6, 2007

The Eternal Mystery of Cranes

Here’s something I’ve never understood: don’t you need a crane to build a crane? How do construction sites get started? A crane is way too big to ship somewhere; its parts are too heavy to lift and build manually; the arms are too tall and too long to build on the ground, and besides, even if you built it on the ground you’d still need a crane to lift it up, right? Couldn’t you make the argument that “how do you build a crane without a crane?” has replaced “the chicken or the egg?” as the preeminent philosophical question of our day?

I mean, there’s still a lot of worthy questions out there such as “how can a woman bleed profusely from her vagina for five days every month and still throw a party that runs out of alcohol by 12:15?” And, “should I take a quarterback in the first three rounds of my fantasy draft or wait until the later rounds and draft two in a row and platoon all year?” But these, “second-tier” questions, are for another time and post. Let’s grab our knife and fork and dig in to the prime rib of questions.

Now, since this is clearly a philosophical question rather than an engineering one (or in other words, since I’d rather rant insanely about this topic than merely find an easy answer), I chose to reach out to a few thought leaders to get their take on the crane dilemma. Synopses of their answers are below.

Rabbi: a crane is just a crane, there’s nothing deeper, no hidden meaning. If God wanted us to explore the mystery of cranes he’d give us a clear sign, like lighting one on fire and having it speak to us. To truly understand God you must try to understand God, cranes won’t get you there. If I were you I’d stop worrying about cranes and call your mother more.

Christian Minister: God is pure and God is good therefore anything created by God is also good and pure. But God is also omnipresent, not only does he create or allow the creation of all things, but a piece of him resides in everything that he creates or allows to be created. Therefore, God is one crane and God is all cranes.

Haight Street Hippie: Man, you’ve got to take a step above, man. The question is not whether you need a crane to build a crane; the real question is how have cranes allowed man to live a better life? Have they allowed him to better his relationship with himself, his friends and mother Earth? What do cranes do in essence? They build bigger buildings, man. Is man’s goal then to get as far away from the Earth as possible? How can we get in touch with the Earth, man, when we keep climbing away from her?

Catholic Priest: In the Gospel according to Saint Matthew (Mt 16:18), Jesus says to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It is unclear of course what apparatuses the young Jesus had at his disposal. Obviously the technology of the age wouldn’t have allowed Jesus and his apostles to have actual cranes, or at least not anything approaching the cranes of today, although the power of the Almighty can lift stones to the top of mountains and souls to the top of the unknown.

Buddhist: cranes represent a purely physical desire: to get through one’s work faster and more efficiently. But to desire is to suffer therefore to need a crane is to suffer metaphysically and to suffer from not having a crane is to suffer physically. When one rushes through one’s work, much is missed and much is misinterpreted. When we walk we are awake and aware, when we run life is blurred by running’s blurriness. Therefore to have or not have a crane is to suffer, to desire or not desire a crane is to suffer and to suffer is to suffer.

Confused, violent person who apparently loves TV: The Cranes? Frasier and Niles? Man, fuck that show! Rich, neurotic white people with rich, neurotic white people problems? That about as funny as elephant shit!

Amish: To use a devil-armed wood mover, or what you might call a “crane,” is to pursue purely man-driven interests and wants and not the work of God. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 6:14), Paul said, "Be not yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" God has asked us not to yoke, therefore we shall not yoke nor permit any such yoking in his name.

Lawyer: Off the record I tell you that no one on this green fucking earth has any idea how a crane works, why it works or why anyone in their right mind would ever question something as arbitrary and unnecessary as a crane. I wouldn’t trade you a pile of bluebird shit to know the answer. On the record I tell you that cranes are an invaluable piece of construction technology and the pillars that our society, economy, and government are built upon owe as much to cranes as they do policy makers and their constituents.

Mormon Bishop: the true secret of the crane and the crane construction lies with the crane master and him alone. You see, God can speak to only one of us. Therefore, to ask fundamental questions about cranes and crane lore is an attempt to interpret the crane master’s interpretations of what God asked him to interpret. Rather than ask why there is cranes and how cranes come to be, we should simply trust that God wants us to have these cranes and give the necessary percentage of our salaries to ensure the purchase and mysterious constructions of more cranes.

Fat Black Woman: Do the crane work? Yes? Then fuck all this nonsense.

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