i suppose in the middle of the road of my life i’ve entered not a dark wood exactly but something like an interstate highway rest area. that may sound cheapened but life is a little diminished in america now where so many are in need they can’t hope to commit the full range of sins to include gluttony/greed and are forced to settle for envy/wrath.
so the rest area will do. like the inferno it’s in the middle of nowhere it smells bad there’s nothing good in the vending machines and beasts are circling circling. all those lapdogs needed to go bad. the real difference between dante’s time and ours is that we no longer look to virgil for the way out we got oprah.
it was a season of near-misses for me a near-miss on a book contract that would have changed my stars a medical near-miss that looked for several weeks like an asteroid extinction event. well it wasn’t so i’ve pulled back to focus on teaching getting sleep after ten years without and spending time with people i love or else with rory who’s got a funny uncle lives down in calhoun county and is really the bearded lady.
i asked my old friend stepped reckoner who lives in austin now how many sets of how many reps of my wife’s five-pound dumbbells wood eye need to lift to look like a running back. new career maybe.
pop warner or nfl? he said.
a story about stepped reckoner’s sense of humor. one time he and I were working the hardee’s. a marine force-recon vet was changing the fry grease and said to stepped, excuse me. stepped said, why, did you fart. the marine had had his sense of humor trained right out of him. i’m feeling like that marine.
thought harold bloom’s self-described swan song of self-described bloomian bardolatry, the anatomy of influence : literature as a way of life might make me feel better. harold’s career has been to self-describe before others can describe for him and i was most interested in an essay called “emerson and a poetry yet to be written.” harold says that in emerson’s journal, “you will learn the mind of america, which remains to a disturbing extent ralph waldo emerson’s mind.”
harold says waldo willed history out of existence. “that has to be regarded as religious action,” harold says. harold says waldo’s famous notion of self-reliance “establishes our unacknowledged national faith, the american religion.” but “the emersonian trope of self-reliance has been literalized and trivialized by popular culture, and so its hermetic implications are lost,” harold says.
i start to wonder if this thing harold’s put his finger on is what’s so much of our problem now. instead of a “shamanistic” self-union with a primal daimon, sum people act only in self-interest willfully ignert not just of history but of our time. like what. like looking the other way from flag-draped coffins, state executions, climate science, and all those goddam poor people.
my friend joel from jacksonville florida use to say, what are ya, ignert? he was being meta-ignert and it use to gimme paws too.
harold believes we can surpass and even subsume our precursors but not through ignerts. by study of others and self. the part coming to know and love its own version of the whole. transcend-ants.
lemme tell you couple other things about ignerts. been smiling at ignerts too long and that makes me ignert too. administrator says she doesn’t know what’s happened before with adjunct faculty but from now on it’ll be separate but equal. i didn’t think it was possible to say that phrase unironically anymore but turns out i was wrong. yes i was.
more than a decade on the job and a quarter-mil in lost opportunity wages. well paid in disdain and disrespect though. and a dean says, i can’t administrate collegiality. evidently can’t administrate people fulfilling obligations or not using vile nicknames in class for students either. not taking the money and running. not talking without listening, not touching my thigh at a campus event like that one guy but it is a pretty good thigh if i do say so and now i’m working out i guess i can expect more of that. well anyway.
i’ll tell you what i’ve changed into a new jacket the color of chameleon. how’s that you say. back a month ago i was at a dinner with the dean. i was still churmish then and told a story about my old chevy luv truck its sheepskin seat cover and the parking lot of the southern baptist convention center in nashville tennessee. i thought it was a good and true story but people looked at me lock I was ignert. friday past i discussed curtain rods with my mother-in-law for 20 minutes and they were already bought. that’s how i mean.
going to keep more company with dumbbells and eat good and look up in the trees a lot. smile as wide as a presidential campaigner. ignore the ignert and ignoble. light out on my own mentally anyway in the “erect position .” did that ever sound innocent even to emerson. i doubt it.
by the way when our dean shakes yer hand it by-god stays shook yes it does it's an inspiration.
yessir i sure am mellow with all that greek yogurt and tuna fish and indoor-fins in me. oh sure I’m not funny anymore as seinfeld says and I can’t write but ignerts is bliss.