I took pine cone jogging this morning–painful in my hand–up above the suburban sprawl (who saw the green-green balloon?) through hillocks of brown grass, into the Ingmar Bergman trees-scape.

This seemed to calm pine cone, being with his/her people, “What do you think of Malthus?” S/he asked.

“Please,” I begged, “I’m jogging here.”

“I’m serious. Malthus has my hate on. I want to talk.”

“Fine,” I slowed to a walk, not a little happy pine cone was finally coming out of her/his shell. “Malthus… uh, like, Stephen Malthus, front man for Pavement?”

“No, you idiot, Not  Stephen Malkmus. I’m talking about The Reverend[1] Thomas Robert Malthus FRS (14 February 1766 – 29 December 1834)[2]  the English scholar, influential in political economy and demography.[3][4] Malthus popularized the economic theory of rent.[5] Malthus thought that the dangers of population growth would preclude endless progress towards a utopian society: ‘The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man’.[7]

“Oh, yeah?” I asked, but really I was thinking about cougars, thinking about cougar attacks and rattlesnakes and, a little bit, about the first five minutes of Fellni’s 81/2.

“Well, don’t you think it’s a little defeatist to be railing on about population?”

“You’re just having a crisis of faith,” I offered dreamily, as I was picturing Marcello Mastroianni high above an Italian beach, his feet dangling carelssly in the rope which binds him to Earth, the world a crisp black and white masterpiece.

“However do you mean?” asked pine cone, clearly offended.

But something wakes Mastroianni from the dream… what is it? What brings him back to the awful realization that, as director, he has no film to make? “I mean you are a pine cone, disseminator of pine seed. It is your JOB to POPULATE.”

Silence. Again. A topor of silence. My hand aches just thinking about it.

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