At McDonald’s August 14, 2008 or What Happens When You Read Naipaul

(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.