They fought the enemy. We fight / fat living and self pity.

[…] And Homer and Spinoza and such, what was it with reading these classics and great books? It was that these were supposed to have been the first layer they were not supposed to have been the only layer. The great books have not kept pace with the materials I’m surrounded by — what has Shakespeare to do with a foam roller? What has Coleridge to do with a diet Coke bottle or Diet Coke? What is the relation between Pindar and Kikkoman “less sodium” Soy sauce and between Boccaccio, Horace and a can of gas, of anti-septic wipes? (a can of gas?) What had the bible to do with air-conditioning? What did churches have to do with “committees”? What was the relationship between these books and the substance of their own covers? The first layer not the only layer because we really have moved on since then in important senses, knowledge has, I imagine, though perhaps you can’t say forward for sure;

and the smart able industrious people of my time who are contributing to knowledge and society today are reading obscure papers on exceptionally localized, specific topics, which only a person who was already an expert would even know was something important to read, they are not reading great books. You know there will never be anything so great as the works of Shakespeare but you could hold up the Kikkomen less sodium soy sauce bottle and know there is no going back, maybe because we ourselves are so diminished and foreshortened, as in a circus mirror, actually almost definitely because of that in part, the environmental damage we’ve done having worked back through chemistry to abrade and erode and dilute the crinoidal limestone of our souls, as it were, something like this I would guess is the case, there is only going forward then into we don’t know what (or into maybe we do know what);

“They” (meaning the soldier who had died in defense of the nation) “fought the enemy. We fight/ fat living and self pity” had written Marianne Moore. We fight what creates war, was the meaning — luxury, environmental damage. One had to get angry, my mother had told me. Why don’t you get angry, mother had asked (herself furious with me). Why wasn’t I angrier, a customer had wanted to know? Why was I insular, retiring, holding back?

Coming across the work of my peers, of the people I grew up with, and finding it so much better than my work: finding it to be real work. Of course, it was always the case that these peers were better and smarter than I was, but I thought, as we entered adulthood, there might arise some kind of reset. In fact the opposite occurred: the disparity in ability and nerve became even more remarkable and hardened. I really needed to absorb better how far I was from having the skills these people possessed: in terms of data analysis, in terms of communication, in terms of working smartly and energetically. A Hunger Artist most ably captured my own unique ability;

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