Sunday, September 18, 2011


Some years back I was in a coffee house thoroughly caffeinated into a babbling blend of erudition and nonsequitor overkill , arguing with someone , a young man dressed in black and brandishing a dogfaced copy of Ecce Homo that life had no meaning because it had no real structure, no arguable basis for being something other than an accident of molecules colliding at precisely the right point and time. Whew, I offered, that is the best Dime Store nihilism I've come across in a long time, and recommended that he put it on his blog, ;under a pilfered photograph of Richard Nixon. I went further and remarked that I had to disagree on the matter of life having no structure. Then the coffee really kicked in. 

Life, actually , does have structure, in the communities we create and the institutions we formulate to hold them together,and in the culture that is shared that provides a diverse citizenry with a sense that there is a purpose to where and the way we live, and that there are the means to improve, correct, or change the conditions of our lives. This is structure. While life has no narrative arc, per se, literature certainly does, and it is in the art of that narrative that the contingencies of life, all those things that one cannot predict (let alone prevent from happening) are contained in fictive form and which can be appreciated as drama, comedy, moral instruction, what have you. Literature is a means to make sense of life, to provide resolutions to brief joys and large traumas, and it is a way to prepare a reader for what ever strange turn one's life might come to.

1 comment:

  1. Albert Beverage4:23 PM PDT

    You do seem to be on a tear today, Ted. The real moral to the story you are relating here is that coffee drives people INSANE. Remember that TV ad starring Cecily Tyson that babbled about "The Coffee Achievers"? You don't hear much about her these days, do you? It's probably because she is in a rubber room somewhere, wound up like a ticking time-bomb on caffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeine.....


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