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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life is the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Monday, December 12

Henry David Thoreau

Last night, I woke up at my usual time, 3:30 a.m., that black hole in the night when sleep is impossible and the mind wanders up and down darkened, unfamiliar avenues. And I thought about Christmas and how much we as a nation spend on things to give to ourselves and to each other. That led me to my own changing thoughts about the things in my life and how much less I value them as I age. And that led me to Henry David Thoreau and what he had to say about “stuff.” “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” he said. “I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.” Also, “The cost of a thing is the amount of which I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it.” And, “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Now, back to Christmas and the obtaining of these things he was referring to. We all seem to be driven to buy things, and the companies and corporations that sell them pound us with commercials to drag us, drive us, to the checkout. We’re called “consumers,” a word that describes us so very well: We consume things, gobble them up like Big Macs and fries. Your cell phone is a year old? Well, here’s an even better one, so you’d better buy it. Your refrigerator isn’t working anymore? Well, naturally it’s not, since we have built-in obsolescence to get you to buy another on a regular basis. We no longer build things to last forever because then you wouldn’t be spending enough, consuming enough. We build and we buy and we throw away, and that keeps the economy thriving. Thoreau would be appalled. But then, Thoreau wasn’t living in a time when it’s become nearly impossible to simplify life down to his standards. I’m sure that today, Thoreau would be one of our homeless people, living in a cardboard box and diving into dumpsters for sustenance. At Walden Pond, he built a small, one-room cabin with a bed, a table, and three chairs, “One,” he said, “for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society.” He lived there for over two years, observing nature and human nature and then writing about them. So much of what he said is as true today as it was back then, but is now too impractical or impossible to apply to the modern world. He never married, never had children, never had a need for much except a few changes of clothing, a small cabin for shelter, and a benevolent nature to provide sustenance. He left the management of the nation and the world to others. And though it would be nice if it were possible, “That government is best which governs least, and the best government of all is no government.” This sounds good but is an impossible viable alternative. No government is the same as anarchy, or pandemonium, a state of affairs which results in all (pan) overrun by demons (demonium). By the time I got to this last mid-night observation, I fell asleep. Now I’m trying to piece these thoughts together again. And while I’m at it, Thoreau also said, “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.” Time, that bastard thief, keeps tapping me on the shoulder to remind me of his shallowness. I wonder what I’ll think of at 3:30 tomorrow morning.

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