You got the life insurance. You got the advanced medical directives. You got what looks like a rock-solid will, and maybe you even got a religious service all picked out. But what about death? Have you given any thought to the sort of death you hope to have? Now I’m not talkin’ about physician-assisted suicide up there in Oregon where they smoke all that pot, or like that. No, this is more like what some folks call a “worthwhile” death. You know, one a them dignified deaths after a good, long life. But you also know you can’t control that. And deep down, you worry you’re gonna to die for no good reason, right?
There is a certain sort of person I can’t stand. You know the type I’m talking about. The one who effortlessly rattles off a list of restaurants in response to a breathless comment like, ‘Oh, I could really go for some vegan Peruvian tonight.’ The one who gets the perfect gift — you know, the gift that gets at the essence of the recipient’s personality, or captures the significance of the occasion for giving the gift. When you see the gift, you’re stupefied. You might even smack yourself on the forehead like in the V-8 commercials. It’s like one of those self-evident truths — when you see it, you think, ‘Duh, that’s so obvious. Why the hell didn’t I think of that?’ That person. The one who makes you feel like an idiot — or more properly, whose very existence is a constant reminder of the fact that, compared with this person, you are an idiot.
Quite a few found Trump’s mode of communication refreshing, and didn’t seem at all perturbed by the content. No oblique political talk for this straight shooter, who promised to “make America great again” by “winning.” This would be accomplished, by, among other actions, forcing manufacturers to keep jobs in the U.S., cracking down on “bad hombres,” barring Muslims from entering the country, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and eliminating environmental and business regulatory oversight.
Shortly after his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States at twelve Noon on January 20th, 2017, he began taking action on some of his campaign pledges, but dismissed others. It was not obvious how was one to know which he meant and which were comments tossed off the top of his head. Additional confusion was generated by extraordinary inarticulateness, which seemed to manifest in a rather disorganized management style and vague executive orders implemented in an apparently off-the-cuff style.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” the attendant says, averting his eyes. He reaches awkwardly for my mother’s elbow, then points down the hall. “This way.”
Mother looks dimly perplexed, as if trying to remember what she’s forgotten. Perhaps where she misplaced her purse or some other item indispensable to functioning outside the house? She does not notice that everything about her person is, as always, intact: muted paisley suit with matching hat and bag, sensible but stylish heels — no sling-backs for Mrs. Anderson — and short, fixed coiffure. She turns slowly in the attendant’s direction, an index finger lingering on her coral lips as if deep in thought and about to point out the result of her deliberation.
Horatio. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Hor-a-tio.
You know how some people say everything happens for a reason? I think they’re right. And anyway, if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. If this is a dream, don’t wake me. I am guilty, guilty, guilty, but I don’t care! I have begun watching reruns of CSI: Miami.
Horatio. Steps into the frame. Perpendicular.
It wasn’t long into my first episode of CSI: Miami that the perpendicularity of Horatio Caine announced itself to me. Subtle, at first. Tucked discretely beneath the cool paradoxically radiating heat. Insouciant pauses nevertheless throbbing between liquid phrases. Hypnotic repetitions of people’s names, people’s names, people’s names, pitched just low enough so you have to lean in to hear. But there’s more.
In Plato’s Apology, Socrates declares himself “a sort of gadfly” to Athens, constantly stinging it, ‘stirring it to life.’ Among other things, he is concerned with the idea that Athens’ survival depends upon the quality of its citizenry. That quality is determined by each individual’s continual self-examination, that is, reflection on what makes a good life and how to live it. This is no easy task. Just what is the method whereby one examines one’s life, and just how one recognizes what the good is, requires an investment of time and effort that many people find insupportable.