Prophesying a brilliant future for a busted violin

Last night, as I lazed through these passages below, reading them slowly and aloud, and being deeply and profoundly moved by them, a conflict of perspectives occurred within me; that’s to say, I flat out caught myself in the absurdity stall with my pants down.

Thomas Nagel would be delighted, or not.

From Whitman we get this:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Song of Myself 

And from Chekhov this:

The transmutation of substances! But what cowardice to comfort oneself with that cheap substitute for immortality! The unconscious processes that take place in nature are lower even than the stupidity of man, since in stupidity there is, anyway, consciousness and will, while in those processes there is absolutely nothing. Only the coward who has more fear of death than dignity can comfort himself with the fact that his body will in time live again in the grass, in the stones, in the toad. To find one’s immortality in the transmutation of substances is as strange as to prophesy a brilliant future for the case after a precious violin has been broken and become useless.

Ward No. 6

Now, I affirm both passages, simultaneously, with a clear intellectual conscience, because absurdity demands that both are true, and prevails.


3 Responses to Prophesying a brilliant future for a busted violin

  1. Lower even than the stupidity of man! That’s pretty low.

    The beginning paragraph of Gottfried Keller’s Green Henry is on this exact theme, and splits the difference, I think. I know this because I read it 15 minutes ago. The narrator begins the story of his life by describing the town cemetery.

  2. Anthony says:

    Oh, I must read Whitman. That fragment is brilliant.

    • Whitman is grand. I prefer to him over other poets by a long stretch, and would rather spend my time with him than either Emerson or Thoreau. If you begin to read Whitman, please give me a heads up…

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