I’ve never had an original thought. I’ve never written an original sentence. And to lift an idea from Kurt Vonnegut, I will never compose Beethoven’s 10th symphony. This makes writing an interesting blog problematic. At a couple of junctures in my life I thought I had come up with original thoughts, only to later read that someone else had already published it. For example, I grew up in a village of 800 souls, went off to Redneck U and chose to major in a field whose jobs do not exist in small towns. Now and then I’d return home and visit Mom. There’s not much to do in small towns, so we’d sit outdoors and I’d down a couple of cold ones while we talked about nothing. One day, doing just that, a big black dog strolled down the middle of the town’s main street, blue highway LA 538. Mom saw him and wondered out loud “What’s old Skokie doing down here?”
“Who’s Skokie?” “That black dog in front of the Powdrill’s house. He’s Plute McConnell’s dog. They live over in the subdivision.” (The ‘subdivision’ is a mile away, quite a trip for a dog to make on his own.) I realized why I couldn’t live the rest of my life where I’d grown up: everybody needs a certain amount of privacy, and if you live in a town so small that everybody knows everybody else’s dog’s business, they’re gonna know your business, too.
That scene occurs in nearly identical fashion on page 89 of Swann’s Way, Volume I of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. I only got 90 pages into the book; it was a crushing blow.
And then a few years ago I began to wonder what happened to the kids I went to school with, especially, the ones who didn’t care about school. Think of your high school: How many ‘students’ did no homework, rarely studied for a test, and spent most of their class time passing notes? In mine it was around 80%. Here’s the Big Thought: 80% of the USA did not pay attention in class, but somehow, somewhere, they make a living. Some are in government, some are cops, some are in the sales, and some are in management. No wonder our world is dysfunctional: far too many people who did not pay attention in class hold positions of responsibility, vote, and serve on juries.
Two months ago for this blog I researched Al McGuire the basketball coach and philosopher. I needed another quote from him to go along with the one about Kamikazi pilots and helmets. And here it is: “The world is run by C students.”
I tell you, I get no respect.
There I go again.