Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Apart from a quiet interlude of peace yesterday afternoon, in Jackson Heights, when the light in the room was perfect for photographing elements of Heaven, it has been a dreadfully disillusioning couple of days here in the Land of Iambs.

First, thanks to the Flaming Curmudgeon, we learn that much of Mankind--the best part of Mankind--is destined to die of throat cancer. Second, our Japanese language school has announced it is closing down its Japanese program--and we are about to be cast--ignorant of Kanji-- on to the streets of New York. And third, the dentist had to reschedule this afternoon's appointment with bib and ice-pick.

Well, maybe that last item doesn't quite come under the heading of disaster, but when you have successfully psyched yourself for a bout of torture, it is hard not to be disappointed when the ordeal is postponed.

The impulse to lose my head and run screaming back to cigarettes is strong, but somehow I am resisting the urge. I have started eating large quantities of Empire apples--with no ill effects.

This is not to say that the Imperial Apple of Knowledge may be consumed in large quantities without some startling consequences for the human body. (I refer the reader to the book of Genesis for a full explanation of the human predicament.) But these consequences are relatively benign in nature--rich in pathos and metrical regularity--like the best poetry. Never has indoor plumbing been greeted with such sighs of
joy by an audience. Or relief...

As for me, I believe that as long as the toilet paper holds out, we can hold out--wherever we happen to find ourselves deposited on this globe. Contrary to the predictions of doom-mongers. Man is an inventive creature, and never to be underestimated in his will and his capacity to survive.

If we can keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Future, these moments of stress--second thoughts and self-doubt--environmental, economic, psychological, physical--will pass silkily out of our system like yesterday's apples.
With hardly a scrap of thought or paper wasted.

This why I like the the poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling. And if I were poet laureate--now there is a scary thought--I would not screw around with subways. I would see If posted in gold lettering on the inside door of every privy and every public convenience in the Land.

In this day and age, where else can a gentleman find the time to properly concentrate on literature?


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

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