With few exceptions, the best interlocutor is a parent whose infant child has refused to nap that day. In him or her, one finds an individual who has abandoned all tolerance for idle pleasantries, who’s uniquely situated to regard life as a privilege and punishment simultaneously.
There are novels in which I take considerable pleasure and yet am relieved not to have written myself, owing both to the tedious efforts they’ve so clearly necessitated, and also to what it would reveal about me — namely, that I’m capable of enduring such tedium.
“I’m truly alive only when contemplating death,” I found myself thinking one moment recently. What I felt the next moment, though, was shame — shame for having temporarily impressed myself by means of such a sickeningly ordinary and portentous turn of phrase.
The notion that a work of unadulterated non-fiction can’t exist — it’s compelling, this. Like most notions, though, it’s a compelling only for about two or three sentences. Then one must find a new idea by which to become temporarily enchanted.
“A book is a postponed suicide,” writes Emil Cioran in The Trouble with Being Born. For the author, yes, perhaps it is. For the reader, however, certain books — like those produced by Dayn Perry, for example — certain books are known only to have ever hastened suicide.
Man lost his humanity at approximately that same point in history as cuspidors were becoming less common in saloons and other public spaces. A case of correlation, this, or causation? One can’t say for sure. With regard to the latter possibility, however, a notable point: the absence of that particular receptacle prevented gentlemen from spitting in disgust at the sight or mention of an atrocity.
It takes only a few minutes of fruitless searching for the misplaced car key before I’m prepared to surrender ownership of the car itself, if it means that I could also put an end to this peculiar and cunning brand of tedium. A tyranny worse than an actual tyrant could inflict, this looking. Because consider: where the arbitrary cruelty of a real tyrant allows one to cultivate righteous anger, the lost car key (and the mute, stupid automobile to which it belongs) serves only as a reminder of an unnerving truth — namely, that we are the foremost saboteurs of our own happiness.