Rest in peace Jean
* All about them the golden girls, shopping for dainties in Lairville. Even in the midst of the wildmaned winter’s chill, skipping about in sneakers and sweatsocks, cream-colored raincoats. A generation in the mold, the Great White Pattern Maker lying in his prosperous bed, grinning while the liquid cools. But he does not know my bellows. Someone there is who will huff and will puff. The sophomores in their new junior blazers like Saturday’s magazines out on Thursday. Freshly covered textbooks from the campus store, slide rules dangling in leather, sheathed broadswords, chinos scrubbed to the virgin fiber, starch pressed into straightrazor creases, Oxford shirts buttoned down under crewneck sweaters, blue eyes bobbing everywhere, stunned by the android synthesis of one-a-day vitamins, Tropicana orange juice, fresh country eggs, Kraft homogenized cheese, tetrapacks of fortified milk, Cheerios with sun-ripened bananas, corn-flake-breaded chicken, hot fudge sundaes, Dairy Queen root beer floats, cheeseburgers, hybrid creamed corn, riboflavin extract, brewer’s yeast, crunchy peanut butter, tuna fish casseroles, pancakes and imitation maple syrup, chuck steaks, occasional Maine lobster, Social Tea biscuits, defatted wheat germ, Kellogg’s Concentrate, chopped string beans, Wonderbread, Bosco, onion rings, escarole salads, lentil stews, sundry fowl innards, Pecan Sandies, Almond Joys, aureomycin, penicillin, antitetanus toxoid, smallpox vaccine, Alka-Seltzer, Empirin, Vicks VapoRub, Arrid with chlorophyll, Super Anahist nose spray, Dristan decongestant, billions of cubic feet of wholesome, reconditioned breathing air, and the more sholesome breeds of fraternal exercise available to Western man. Ah, the regimented good will and force-fed confidence of those who are not meek but will inherit the earth all the same.
* But breathes there a soul
with man so dead
who never to his head has said
“Is there anything happening, Fitzgore?”
* I tried to write a story about a reunion between my father and myself in heaven one time. An early draft of this book in fact began that way. I hoped in the story to become a really good friend of his. But the story turned out perversely, as stories about real people we have known often do. It seemed that in heaven people could be any age they liked, just so long as they had experienced that age on Earth. Thus, John D. Rockefeller, for example, the founder of Standard Oil, could be any age up to ninety-eight. King Tut could be any age up to nineteen, and so on. As author of the story, I was dismayed that my father in heaven chose to be only nine years old.
I myself had chosen to be forty-four-respectable, but still quite sexy, too. My dismay with Father turned to embarrassment and anger. He was lemur-like as a nine-year-old, all eyes and hands. He had an endless supply of pencils and pads, and was forever tagging after me, drawing pictures of simply everything and insisting that I admire them when they were done. New acquaintances would sometimes ask me who that strange little boy was, and I would have to reply truthfully, since it was impossible to lie in heaven, “It’s my father.”
The point is to understand everything, to realize everything, every impossibility, every stone wall; not to reconcile yourself to a single one of the impossibilities and stone walls if the thought of reconciliation sickens you; to arrive by way of the strictest logical syllogisms at the most repulsive conclusions on the eternal theme of how you are somehow to blame for the stone wall itself, even though once again it is abundantly clear that you are not to blame at all, and in consequence of all this to sink voluptuously into inertia, silently and impotently gnashing your teeth and reflecting that there isn’t even anybody for you to be angry with, that an object for your anger can’t even be found, and perhaps never will be, that this is all a fake, a conjuring trick, a piece of sharp practice, and there is nothing there but a morass; nobody knows what, nobody knows who, but in spite of all the mysteries and illusions, you ache with it all, and the more mysterious it is, the more you ache.
When workmen have finished work, they at least receive their money, they go and spend it in the pub, they get hauled off to the police-station – that’s enough to occupy them for a week.
You thirst for life and try to settle the problems of life by a logical tangle. And how persistent, how insolent are your sallies, and at the same time what a scare you are in! You talk nonsense and are pleased with it; you say impudent things and are in continual alarm and apologising for them. You declare that you are afraid of nothing and at the same time try to ingratiate yourself in our good opinion. You declare that you are gnashing your teeth and at the same time you try to be witty so as to amuse us. You know that your witticisms are not witty, but you are evidently well satisfied with their literary value. You may, perhaps, have really suffered, but you have no respect for your own suffering. You may have sincerity, but you have no modesty; out of the pettiest vanity you expose your sincerity to publicity and ignominy. You doubtlessly mean to say something, but hide your last word through fear, because you have not the resolution to utter it, and only have a cowardly impudence. You boast of consciousness, but you are not sure of your ground, for though your mind works, yet your heart is darkened and corrupt, and you cannot have a full, genuine consciousness without a pure heart. And how intrusive you are, how you insist and grimace! Lies, lies, lies!”
Of course I have myself made up all the things you say..
That, too, is from underground.