Is it November again already?
Via HNN (observe as I make my excuses), I make one of my rare (for my sanity) forays into buffdom, and see that they have now further “scientificized” their nomenclature.
Apparently one must no longer refer merely to “Zapruder frame 324”; now a gratuitous little math-like thingie prefixes the number, thusly: ±Z139
I do not know the name of that little symbol and I’m probably not meant to. (UPDATE: a reader says it is the symbol for “plus or minus” which makes it utterly inappropriate for this purpose; to JFJ buffs, each frame is a special artifact with its own significant information and/or as part of the “clock” to time the killing [24 frames/sec x about 400 and all that] – there is no room for “plus or minus”, only precision.) Assassination buffdom is the modern equivalent of gnosticism; only the initiated can truly know the unknowable. They are the elite, the guardians of the Secret Truth.
And the little symbol requires a bit of extra work to render. It isn’t simply available for use in plain sight as an option on a normal keyboard. One must know the formula for rendering it, then execute the necessary key strokes. This provides buffs with the illusion that they are working, performing some specialized and labor intensive task of the Utmost Importance, such as decoding the Enigma.
The array of familiar still photos used and reused by JFK assassintion buffs is not quite “close up magic,” which is designed to conceal and confuse rather than reveal and educate. Rather it reminds me of a 40+ year hand of solitaire.
Why are some people so incurably fascinated by the conspiracies enveloping the JFK assassination? As someone who spent a brief period “living” “through the looking glass”, my theory is that for all its sadness gore, Elm Street, Dallas, Texas of November 22, 1963 (lunchtime) represents a tiny world which, because of its tiny-ness and never-changing cast of “characters” (“known” by their significant sounding surnames — “Agents Ready, Bennett and Hickey”) — feels safe to the buff.
The Great Secret Solution always seems just one more theory, one more previously unearthed photograph away. That longing for the Holy Grail, or in this case, the Holy Still, is universal. However, whereas the Knights of old actually left their homes in search of the Grail, buffs retreat into their homes, and their minds, on a neverending (nay, reassuringly repetitive) quest better suited to their introversion and (a theory of my own) high functioning autism.
This is a similar sensation, I imagine, engendered by playing a particular sim game or D&D. Perhaps JFK buffdom was the first computer game, in the sense that the abacus was the first calculator.
One is provided with an adventure of sorts without having to leave one’s home. When buffs do gather at conventions, these affairs are more like Renaissance Faires or Masonic meetings than anything else. Or, one imagines, the ritual gatherings of ancient Gnostics.
Alas, a photograph can only ever be a shaving of a sliver of the Real, be it a Zapruder frame or a still photo taken on 9/11. We can search the photo for years, and blow it up, and subject it to any number of sometimes laughable abuses. But it will never do what we wish it would, through some kind of accidental alchemy: take on those two more essential dimensions, and tell us — the Chosen One — The Secret.
To many, this quest seems quixotic, to put it politely. But the very fact that the Mystery can never be solved is, in fact, 90% of its very appeal to the buff. They will have something to occupy their time forever and ever. A “nice relaxing game of solitaire.”