Monday, October 20, 2008


I don't recall ever having done that before, mocked the insane like that. It was a real letter, found here. I tweaked it a little, or a lot, but the tone is what it is.

Point is, that site, Kook's Museum, has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but it's all, mostly, the product of diseased minds. An interesting study, and good to be aware of, but there's not really any genuine humor in it. Pathos, at its root, is after all pathetic. You know the saying -- to the feeling man life is a tragedy, to the thinking man it is a comedy. Pathos is a feeling word.

I'm just finishing up the collected works of Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel, and there's a couple of long pieces on a fellow named Joe Gould -- a derelict in mid-century New York who pretended to be writing the longest book in the world, An Oral History Of Our Time, that would be read for ages. All he ever really seemed to have written, rewritten, endlessly, in composition books, were four essays, on the death of his father, of his mother, on tomatoes, and on his experience measuring craniums on a North Dakota reservation. Over and over, booklet after booklet, year in and year out. Living by begging for contributions to the Joe Gould Fund, filthy, drunken, malnourished, and completely self-absorbed. It frightened me last night, when I realized how like Gould I was. Self-absorbed and only pretending to do what I was born to do.

That's the heart of it. The self-obsession. That's sort of what Jack H is all about. My own little self-absorbed and -deprecating joke. I hope that my hand falls not too heavily on his broad back. I'm fond of him, in my way, but we do get tired of his endless circling around the drain. Question is, how much is real? It might not actually be parody, after all. I have found that I can say true things that nobody believes. There's a lot of safety in that -- allows for some safe honesty. I'm tempted to give examples here, now, but you'd know they were true, and they're so absurd, and about my family, that it could only be disrespectful to them. It only works as absurdist humor. As honesty, it's pathetic. And I'm feeling the need of gentleness, more gentleness in the world. I'm tired of disrespect.

That Philippians passage made an impression. Thankfulness. I used to know the difference between prayer and supplication. It's slipped my mind. But thankfulness hasn't been in my mind at all, in the past few years. I knew an agnostic once that I'd talk to on biblical matters and the like. An Armenian émigré who acted briefly as my lawyer. He'd mentioned once how he was disturbed by his sister's lack of gratitude at what he'd done for her. Months later, in the depth of a soulful discussion, I brought it down to the simple fact that whether or not he was grateful for it, Jesus had died for him. I let that sink in, then reminded him of his feeling about his sister's ingratitude. How much greater, how much more, had Jesus done? And left it at that. Not long afterward he told me he'd become Christian. One of the bright spots of my life.

Well? It doesn't stop being valuable once you own it.

I'm finding it useful to thank God for the blessings that he will give me. It's a kind of hope. And I have been negligent regarding my son. I find that I'm looking forward to reading some New Testiment book, of an evening. Fill my head for a time with something worthwhile. Crowd out the garbage. You know what demons do when they find freshly swept-out houses. Something's gotta fill it up. With these "kooks", they're filled up with themselves. Same as me, mostly. You'll have to decide for yourself, about you.

It's not that God likes tragedy or pain. It's that he finds it's the most useful time to get people to change.



chuck e. boy said...


They might disinvite you from their dojo, you keep on like this.

Jack H said...

Hm. "chuck e. boy".


chuck e. boy said...

I see you haven't lost your sense of humor.

chuck e. boy said...

You DID have me worried there for a minute though.

jack h said...

Oh yes, it's so easy to be glib with someone else's anguish. The world doesn't deserve me.

chuck e. boy said...

Actually, I wasn't being glib. Since you seemed to be uncertain yourself as to their reason for excluding you, (unless I missed that part) I couldn't help wondering if that wasn't at the core of their motivations.

Just speaking from experience, that's all.

jack h said...

Someone has said it was to avoid confrontation. But that would only explain the later conduct. The exclusion would have been because their feelings were hurt.

And as for glib, the only group I can see in the present context that would disinvite me must be the kooks. Don't try to wiggle your way out of it. It was glib. But my soul is grand, and I have elected to overlook it this once.

chuck e. boy said...

My apologies.

jack h said...

I was just going to ignore you, the chill of my silent disapproval tearing through you the way an iceberg calves. But I take pity on your misery, and condescend to forgive you. I'm so noble.