Imagine that you live in a land where everything is dull. Nobody ever embraces anyone because everyone fears disease and pregnancy. Everyone is frugal. No one owns a motorcycle, but we all wear helmets. In the midst of this land is an enormous bubble that is transparent yet impenetrable and which contains all the riches of heaven. There are two scrooges that hover over the populace, demanding attention…
Forget that imagination. Look on the bright side. I’m heartened (and a little shamed, on account of my bad mood) when I remember that Whitman composed his Leaves of Grass, which I see as a high-water mark of optimism, during a time when the country was in arguably worse shape than it is now.
I have to add that word “arguably,” because: how can one judge the wretchedness of a time period? It’s always arguable. The one ailing creature in paradise was often heard complaining about the scenery. It’s not the scenery’s fault. But whose fault is it? Perhaps one of the scrooges…?
I hate business. I hate the thought of running a restaurant. But I’m attracted to the idea of starting up an agency called Faultfinders. My crew and I would be like detectives, but, instead of solving mysteries, we’d find fault with everything. A baroness might bring her poodle into my office, and I’d say: “It’s UGLY.” Then I’d collect my fee. Or a so-called soccer mom might request that I watch her son’s soccer game; and so I’d go there and return and report: “The problem is that the players are all incompetent.” Also a young woman could bring her husband to my office, and I’d tell her all the reasons that she should never have married him.
I love clothing but I hate all the styles. I can’t figure out the styles—that’s why I hate them. It’s the same reason that frogs hate racing in hallways that have low, spiked ceilings. However, now that I think of it, it’s nothing like that. It’s like hating dating because you yourself are unfun. Nobody wants to date an unfun person; and unfun people, in turn, do not enjoy failure.
If we can agree that all humans originated from a single first couple, named Adam and Eve, then I opine as follows. Every generation since Adam and Eve has fretted that it would obliterate itself with nuclear weaponry. Even Adam and Eve worried about this and wrote essays and op-eds about it.
Writing all my strange books was the blissfullest hard work I’ve ever done. But typesetting them and collecting them all up into…
…some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
That quote is from Eliot’s “Preludes” (§ IV). This diary entry will end uneasily, because I’m short on time. I mentioned my lifework above because the thought of nuclear annihilation panicked me.
Don’t re-seal the bottle so tightly that the next drinker has to utilize the corkscrew again.