My day began with a feeling that today would NOT be the best of all possible worlds. F. Scott Fitzgerald said THERE ARE NO SECOND ACTS IN AMERICA, but his statement is widely misunderstood. Most people – including me, up til today, when I read an article about him – thinks this means that our brilliance is followed by eternal darkness. This is not what he was saying at all. What he DID mean relates to the idea of the classic three-act dramatic arc, specifically pertaining to tragedies, in that the second act sets up a conflict which results in the tragic results which are portrayed in the third act. What Fitzgerald was saying is that in America there IS no second act – we traverse from our lives as we wish them to be to our lives a utter catastrophe with no transition – with no mitigation. My day began in blissful ignorance of his sentiment. Camus said that YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY IF YOU CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR WHAT HAPPINESS CONSISTS OF. YOU WILL NEVER LIVE IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE. Like he knew what he was talking about. I mean the guy just sat on his ass in some cafe in Paris smoking cigarettes in that snobby way that the French have of holding their cigarettes, wearing a beret and acting like he was better than everybody else. He had a superiority complex, him and Sartre and all those other damned French existentialist intellectuals, riding around on bicycles and carrying baguettes and smoking Galouises and carrying on endlessly, spouting bon mot after bon mot, hangers-on fascinated – just FASCINATED – by their intellectual tidbits and breadcrumbs, just damn pontificating their moral superiority and the wisdom of their insights. Camus. Makes me sick. Ever read THE PLAGUE? Bunch of nonsense if you ask me. BUT WHO’S ASKING ME? It doesn’t matter, cos I’m writing this drivel, and you’re dumb enough to read it. I’m sorry – did I insult you just now? I beg your forgiveness. Can we get closure here? Can I get a witness? I think I’m getting off the subject. This is a constant here, so I guess I’M STICKING TO THE SUBJECT JUST FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Did you ever see ANIMAL HOUSE? I ask that for no particular reason. The world is divided into two camps – those that’ve seen ANIMAL HOUSE and those that haven’t. For those that’ve seen ANIMAL HOUSE, the world is divided into two further camps – those that liked it and those that didn’t. ANIMAL HOUSE is like a night where you close your windows and the sky becomes a crystal house where the windows glow and the moon shines through them, through the whole house and a single star beams down on a crystal cable and draws a line through the earth.
Scott Fitzgerald Archive
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that “there is no confusion like the
confusion of a simple mind,” and although he didn’t know him,
this observation would characterize Jim quite exquisitely. I have been
witness to Jim’s confusion a number of times and I’ve seen the
electric buzz-saw look of unmitigated and confused fear etched in his
eyes when his challenged mind proved totally incapable of calculating a
course to take – *any *course, even the wrong one.
Yes, dear reader – trusted friend – this confusion paralyzed
Jim into doing nothing, and inaction, as any village fool can tell you,
results in thinking about your lousy predicament even more, which only
results, if your mind is as feeble as Jim’s, in further confusion and
inaction – a feedback that might result in a blown fuse, halting the whole
mess, but Jim’s mind – or yours – isn’t equipped like that.
Jim was on the train at night going to see his cousin Erin who worked as a waitress at a truck stop out on highway 9, a lonesome stretch of road between Duluth and Red Falls where in winter it was so cold that the truckers wouldn’t shut off their rigs even if they stopped for the night at the motel there for fear of their engines freezing and not starting the next morning. He lived in Hibbing, home of Bob Dylan, out on the Mesabi Range where, as Dylan reminisced, “the winds blow heavy on the borderline.” “Yeah, they sure do, Bob,” thought Jim as he looked at the window at the night and the stars and the moon. He had come a long way since he left California, and, like F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “his dream was so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.” At least he thought that was it. How could Jim know that it was still back in San Luis Obispo, with Pedro and Anthony and all that he’d left behind.