The blog is a strange creature, from where I sit. Not this blog, but rather the web log as a form of written communication. The modally average blog burns a lot of bits commenting on the “issues of the day” and commenting on others’ commentary on the same. I sometimes think I should do that, as it would give me material for the short, easily produced and digested posts that are the mainstay of bloggers everywhere. Now and then I do post a post like that, but gads, it’s been over a year.
You see, I’m … Nonplussed?
No. That’s not it. Plus, I’ve always hated that word. It’s the kind of word that shows up in 6th-grade readers out of plain bad taste. Something more apt is out there. “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug,” so the man said. Normally, I’d use the Oxford English Dictionary in a situation like this. But right now I don’t have access to it, so I’ll improvise.
Bewildered … is wrong too. Odysseus leaps to mind. He’s is trying to get home from Troy, Poseidon sticks his nose in, and the many-minded tactician is— bewildered. Bewildered folk want to get out of the woods; I follow Thoreau in thinking that staying lost has distinct advantages. And I’ve got no home to go to anyhow. That’s part of the problem.
Stupefied. There’s a word I like. Sam Elliott’s Stranger put a form of it to savory use in The Big Lebowski. But there are connotation problems here. I have known those who overindulge in marijuana to be stupefied by their habit. Stupefied and stupid are kissin’ cousins, etymologically speaking. I’d hate to give the impression that my faculties are impaired or inadequate to this rather modest task.
Dumbstruck. Struck dumb. Beaten into silence by the horrific spectacle before me. I’m a situational aphasiac; in my situation, by god, I look at the world and its news and my diction decomposes into froth. I’m like a rabid dog gargling seltzer with Cesium. There are no words.
The world is mad. Stark, raving mad. Words are all but useless. If the whole world’s a padded cell, packed with prancing Napoleons, do you prance along to get along? (Don’t think of calling the guards — they’re busy comparing imaginary mustaches and debating whether one and which of them is the Man of Steel and which of them may be instead the Antichrist.) Do you try to persuade the inmates that there’re better ways to go about the business of living than posturing with one hand thrust between your buttons?
What’s eloquence in the ears of lunatics? It’s shrilling fife and it’s fluid flowing out past the eardrums after a swift blow to the head. Eloquence is sweet, susurrant nothings uttered in air ionized by ten thousand sparking cattle prods.
Here’s a koan no Napoleon can crack:
Diogenes was knee deep in a stream washing vegetables. Coming up to him, Plato said, “My good Diogenes, if you knew how to pay court to kings, you wouldn’t have to wash vegetables.”
“And,” replied Diogenes, “if you knew how to wash vegetables, you wouldn’t have to pay court to kings.”
But that’s no koan at all to those of who don’t roll on our backs and pee at the sight of a flag-capped rotunda. To anyone willing to wash his own goddamn vegetables if it comes to it, the whole circus of modernity is superfluous. We don’t need a state to keep us off of each other’s throats. As we see it, Nature itself is a sufficient support for human life. It doesn’t need to be hussied-up by politicians and their puppeteers.
“[I]ndeed, it has often seemed to me as if anyone calling for an intellectual conscience were as lonely in the most densely populated cities as if he were in a desert.”
Perhaps I’m bewildered after all. And perhaps I shouldn’t worry, on second thought. I mean, look at the alternative.