Saturday, October 30, 2004

From the Journal of a Discarded Man

I love reading journals, both of the famous and of the obscure. Among the latter, I find my own especially intriguing for some reason. Here is an excerpt from Journal of a Discarded Man by one Walter Morris. He was in his mid-fifties at the time of this entry and has recently lost his job:

29 December 1962, Saturday. Five more makes sixty. This thing is moving right along. At twenty-one I thought I was going to be twenty-one forever.("The feeling of immortality in youth," as old Hazlitt put it.) A thirty, one is taken aback; at forty, startled; at fifty, incredulous and depressed. Midway between fifty and sixty, time’s fleet foot seems fully revealed and I see no logical reason for being taken by surprise from now on out – but who’s logical? Today is a day for homilies and platitudes, old saws and bitter-sweet droppings. "If I had to do it all over again. . ." "If I knew then what I know now. . ." These pious exercises are all right, though. They take us away from our close work and present a vista, and in this focus Everyman is a philosopher.

All right. If I had to do it over again, I’d learn a trade (for bread and butter) and for the high, orbital shot I’d concentrate on painting. The pip-squeak world of the white-collar employee I’d avoid like the plague. This is hindsight, pure, fatuous and futile. . . (From Michael Rubin, Men Without Masks: Writings from the Journals of Modern Men, Addison-Wesley, 1980, p. 194.)