Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A birthday gift

Dear T,

I spent a few teenage years pretending I didn't believe in God, but the first time I actually didn't was at church.  I was around 30 years old.  I remember because we were in the middle of a song and it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room.  Not like someone had left, but as though everything had left -- as though a building crammed full of singing people could be empty.  I have no way to explain it other than saying the vaulted ceiling felt higher than usual.  It was like the cold darkness of space had intruded into the room, and up meant up forever and ever; that there was nobody there to hear us, or to welcome us at the end, or to care for us at all.  I was next to my wife and my parents and it was the most alone I ever felt in my life.  I was singing but I wished I was dead.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Old codgers and young dreamers (Rambler #196)

Dear M,

Regarding the human condition, Samuel Johnson is the best philosopher I've ever read.  I make no exceptions.  A thousand times better than me.  I've been telling my fans this for years and nobody believes me, not only because nobody has ever heard of Samuel Johnson, but because Samuel Johnson wrote in Johnsonese.  They think somebody who's been forgotten isn't worth remembering, and beyond this if they do get to him, they can't get past a few old-fashioned sentences.  So what I've decided to do is take this incomparable man and "translate" him into modern English -- my English.  A well-read working-man's English.  That way my fans aren't only forced to meet him, but I can be sure, if they can't understand him, that it's their fault and not mine.  I have done all I can to help you payasos -- God bless you, good luck, here is a real genius.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In defense of Greta Thunberg's awful parents

Dear H,

I read in one of Orwell's As I Please articles that Fynes Morrison, an Englishman back in 1601, said melons grew everywhere in Britain -- a statement repeated fifty years later by the poet Andrew Marvell.  Melons, as Orwell noted, didn't grow in England in 1944.  It was just too cold there, and if Morrison hadn't also mentioned grapes being everywhere too, Orwell was disposed to think that by melons he meant pumpkins.  But climate change is real now and has always been real; and the earth, from sometime around the Industrial Revolution, had been cooling.  On the issue of climate, we think we're the centerpiece but we're probably more like the fleas.  I have my doubts, but probably.