The Omni-american


You’re goddamn right. It’s about time, what with all those particles and waves and outer space and all the stuff we now know. When you’re conscious of that, how can you cling to that other stuff? When you realize how precarious life is. This little chicken-shit star we’re on, it ain’t nothing, man. If you’re going to live in terms of that, what the hell is evil? Somebody gets cancer nine months after he wins a million dollars. Did money help him? Is his disease a punishment for some trespass? I don’t think so. So the problem is to find the way of accepting that it’s a farce.

• Well, most people don’t even get to the point where they perceive the nothingness, the absurdity. And if they do, they run from it as fast as they can by surrounding themselves with fictions, illusions, and comforts.

Now you’re getting to it. That’s the point. Love is something you want to hold onto when you find it. Friendship. All these things. You’ve got emotions. You are capable of delight. But if you’re sophisticated, you also go beyond that, because people are coming and going all the time. You see a guy at a funeral; he almost forgot about death. He should have known all the time it wasn’t going to last forever. But you keep going. See, that’s what Mann gets at in The Magic Mountain : I will never let death have sovereignty over my thoughts! That is the big moral of The Magic Mountain . In Mann, in Hemingway, you get beyond that lightweight stuff. The problems in Cosmos Faulkner are correctable, a matter of human fallibility. In Cosmos Hemingway the problems are inherent in the nature of things. Faulkner may have lots of complicated stuff going on, but Faulkner stops short of the void. Hemingway keeps going.