Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Shrug it Off

“We should most of us agree, I think, that in the individual life of each of us there is much that, in the long run, one cannot do anything about. Death is a fact – one’s own death, the deaths of those one loves. There is much that makes one suffer which is irremediable: one struggles against it all the way, but there is an irremediable residue left. These are facts: they will remain facts as long as man remains man. This is part of the individual condition: call it tragic, comic or absurd, or, like some of the best and bravest of people, shrug it off.”
C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures: A Second Look (1963)

I was in the back room (hiding from pirates) the other day, when I came across the above quote that I’d dated April, 1989. I had been directed to this book by a wise librarian who said the (then) new publication of a book called “Innumeracy” (I think) was already written – citing CP Snow, who’s original book about the Scientific/Lay Person divide was written in the 1940s (I think).

Those plucky Brits, growing vegetables adjacent to their bomb shelters, grinning and bearing it through the Blitz. All I’ve ever withstood are the quotidian slings and dull arrows of outrageous fortune, like being woefully underpaid my entire professional career because I have tits. It’s a wonder I’m not bitter.

But Americans of a certain age have also made a passing acquaintance with the facts of life Snow recounts so depressingly. My Mom used to say “offer it up” when we complained of some hardship, some injustice at the hands of the sadistic nuns, or the occasional scraped knee. These days, my grown brothers, watching their small grandchildren stumble and fall, tend to say “Walk it off” or “Be a man,” (even to their granddaughters).

Watching the dragonfly make a monster shadow on the leaf where it rested, I was thinking of ranting about the idiots who deny global warming, who say Baby Jesus will take care of it, who drive big cars to compensate for their small anatomy. Then I thought I should be thinking about how we need to bridge that communication breakdown, not make it worse. However comma. I’m more inclined to want to marginalize the kooks by publicly laughing at their stupidity. I’m not sure I want to bridge any divide that separates me from the morons who say that, in the long run, one cannot do anything about the future. And not just because that’s a) redundant; and b) repetitious – the long run is the future.

Then, I thought I’d blog to speak out against the wave of domestic terrorism now sweeping our already violent country. Hypocrites who demonstrate their respect for life while condoning murder, deserve my contempt. I simply hate hate, and I simply won’t tolerate intolerance. If you outlaw abortions, outlaws will still have abortions. I know this from personal experience.

But then, I found something much more important to rant about: the San Diego County Fair is now underway at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. On local news the other night, the bubble-headed reporter at the fair asked a lady how she liked the newest midway treat: chocolate-covered bacon. The ginormous lady, who could have knocked Kirstie Alley over with a backhand slap, said it’s true she isn’t spending as much money at the Fair as last year, but she couldn’t resist the bacon. Antidote for bad economy? Chocolate covered bacon, she said.

Oscar Wilde said a gentleman is one who is never rude unintentionally. Accordingly, I think we can still claim to be a gentleman/gentlewoman and intentionally insult these fat rubes with guns and obese progeny. Should any insult so directed happen to inadvertently injure someone else’s feelings, I’ll hasten to apologize, instead of saying shrug it off you big baby.


tina said...

You write so well and truly express your feelings. I am glad you pointed out the dragonfly shadow as I would not have noticed it otherwise. Pretty neat. Don't think I'd like chocolate covered bacon.

el said...

I had to howl with the "offer it up" comment because my grandmother said this very thing to me with the addition of "...for the souls in purgatory," a little factoid unnoticed by me (this was the early 70s so I was a child) as being moot since Vatican II. I simply offered it up.

I read an article in one of those science journals I appear to be so fond of that basically elaborated on the "put a frog in a pot of water and turn on the stove" thing in that we humans cannot deal with the long-range as a concept. No, our little prey brains can ONLY think of the now, of immediate needs, thus, things like global warming can only be heard but not internalized.

Is it me, or is this water getting hot?

I don't know, but that chocolate-covered bacon sounds good.

chaiselongue said...

Chocolate covered bacon? Yuck! It makes me so angry that people who consider that to be a crisis-avoiding treat are having such an effect on the whole planet and on all of us. But as we ponder the (un)likelihood of there being a future, thanks for the beautiful dragonfly shadow picture. Much better than chocolate covered bacon!

Cicero Sings said...

My sister (childless and now quite sick) used to worry about global warming, doing all in her power to avert it ... until she noticed all those with children who SHOULD be worried about global warming ... and weren't ... so she said ... what the "h" why should I worry when I have no one to inherit the mess! Sometimes life deals us enough without worrying about the whole picture.

James A-S said...

This is a terribly good blog. Thank you. Shame on me for not commenting before.