The writer’s biography, in summary: a strenuous pursuit, lasting several decades, of the Right Word, which got away.
Idleness: a nonparticipatory and unproductive state from which no profit may be derived, in most cases more innocuous in its consequences than its better reputed alternative, sometimes confused with laziness by economists and with wisdom by spiritualists, arising only after one has lost all hope, all vanity, all desire for revenge.
Every invitation he received to come to America, Ruskin declined. He could not, he said, “even for a couple of months, live in a country so miserable as to possess no castles.” Faced with an excuse so unanswerable in its altitude, so wonderfully (and ludicrously) majestic, so frank yet refined in the scorn it displays, who can ever feel justified in saying “no” again? Until we have learned to wriggle free of what is asked of us with a finesse and fraud equal to that of this Victorian master of contempt, we are basically obliged to yield. It is incumbent on anyone incapable of rivaling Ruskin in the art of rejection to agree . . . to agree to everything.
What is shocking is not that we should occasionally think we’re wasting our time but that we should ever think we aren’t. For in the end what else can be done with time but to waste it? If we’re not wasting it in one way, which our own insistent self-reproach spotlights, we’re wasting it in another which, at least for now, under the spell of some gratifying misperception, we laxly characterize as profitable. Yet in retrospect all of our enthusiasms and all of our devotions are revealed as void or illusionary, while the hopes which upheld our efforts in the prosecution of this or that enterprise are inevitably exposed as vain.
Amateur archeologist of my own online publications, I have unearthed four rare artifacts of inestimable value which I present to you now.
A task no solar deity can afford to ignore. One of the first tasks I ever composed (or should I say assigned?): a pioneering work in a new genre.
If you like my writings but have not yet read my books, here is the page you’re looking for.
Until the next time, I remain, as ever, your trusted guide to literature’s highest altitudes and a lamp of truth by whose scintillating light you may see into the human soul’s most inaccessible abysses.