The weekend was 1) f—–g cold, and 2) tiring. I met a friend of a friend for a drink after work, then met D coming in from Brussels at the champagne bar at St. Pancras station (heated seats!) and then went off to meet someone else at a concert which turned out to be at least one awful band. Saturday was spent on a trip to find a bookstore called John Sandoe near Sloan Sq, and being slightly disappointed by it, but eating a nice brie and cranberry jam sandwich and vowing not to shop in London on weekends during Xmas. Back to the apt. for a nap, being woken up by Angeline’s sister who stopped by for a glass of wine and some convo, and then going to a “shiny” party hosted by a young diplomats association.
Sunday, needless to say, was somewhat of a haze which involved Skypeing with the boys in the morning and making up a story for Q’ool with two small stuffed elephants I have from Rwanda to keep his attention. Then reading the awful newspaper over Thai food at a local pub but not getting warm enough, and having D come over for the evening and going for tapas and wine on the High Street and realizing that I was still exhausted at the end of the weekend.
Yes. It is ridiculous. I went and saw Malcolm Gladwell speak this evening at the Lyceum Theater. I enjoyed his talk. I equally enjoyed the McDonald’s two cheeseburger meal I ate on the walk to the Tube station.
Two days of relative non-activity except that I have to rent a tuxedo somewhere, then A arrives on Thurs morning until Sunday. And people ask me if I’m going to cook a turkey this year. Incredible.
One of my favorite writers/journalists/essayists is George Packer. The last line of this entry on his blog caught my attention.
And to becoming, in my middle years, a bit of an élitist.
George, it’s time to take the next step and just say it: there is nothing wrong with being an elitist in this country, for Pete’s sake, particularly when you know what the word means (nice use of the accent aigu, btw.) It’s time to stand up for knowledge, education, and aesthetics.
Need more food for thought? Try here, here.
(written on the back of my appointments schedule)
That became the tread of my days. Some days up and then suddenly a fantastic low, a mood that hollowed me out; where I sank into an approximation of gloom burdened with a nagging guilt at my unease. It felt wrong to be ungrateful, and this was the worst part of those down days. One day I envisioned what a graph of my life looked like and saw a sine wave, like a radio frequency with sharp oscillations of static noise. Was that really what life was meant to be? It seemed illogical really — here I was with every opportunity (including the opportunity to be left alone if I so chose) and daily I struggled still. There were few useful comparisons and even less sympathy for my condition. My family couldn’t understand my lack of conviction, to them it seemed I was creating problems where none had existed. This was because they lacked the capacity for self-reflection.
There were many who had moved on of course. Often I noticed that these types quickly became possessed by a missing zeal which is ever present in American society — to “do good” or “give a voice to the voiceless.” The ferocity with which they began to champion causes of all sorts astounded and unnerved me. Sometimes I found myself engaged in a debate about a topic for which I cared little or not at all. Often I sounded ridiculous, as anyone might who was arguing a point about which he didn’t truly have a a feeling one way or another. Before I became too disturbed by my losing record as a debater, though, I began noticing a commonality in the people I argued with. They all showed signs of — and some eventually became — a strain of nihilism in their discourse. Behind the passion and conviction lay the real sense that there was no answer, that things, all things, would in the end fall short, achieve little, and bring ruination. The world had become (frequently “because of the West”, whatever that meant) hopelessly corrupted and broken. Even if they won their argument with me, they lost. The game had been pre-cooked. It was beautiful how their notions contained a rejection of fate and repudiation of any natural balance to the universe.
“But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”