Thursday, May 25, 2006

“What I was just saying was that, our aim is, we’re going to be looking at some things or aspects, in terms of driving? Meaning safety, meaning, is speeding something we do in a vacuum, or could it involve a pedestrian or fatality or a family out for a fun drive, and then here you come, speeding, with the safety or destiny of that family not held firmly in your mind, and what happens next? Who knows?”

“A crash?” said someone.

“An accident?” said someone else.

“Crash or accident both could,” said the instructor. “Either one might or may. Because I’ve seen, in my CPR role, as a paramedic, when many times, and I’m sorry if you find this gross or too much, I’ve had to sit in our rescue vehicle with a cut-off arm or hand, even of a kid, a really small arm or even limb, just weeping as if I hadn’t been thoroughly trained, as I know none of you have, but I have, and why was I holding that small arm or limb and bawling? Because of someone like you yourselves, good people, I know you are, I’m not saying that, but you decided what? What did you decide? Or they. That person who cut off that kid’s arm I was carrying that day I was just saying?”

No one knew.

“They decided to speed is what you did,” said the instructor sadly.
George Saunders, “The Barber’s Unhappiness”

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

O Vanity! How little is thy force acknowledged, or thy operations discerned? How wantonly dost thou deceive mankind under different disguises? Sometimes thou dost wear the face of pity, sometimes of generosity : nay, thou hast the assurance even to put on those glorious ornaments which belong only to heroick virtue. Thou odious, deformed monster! whom priests have railed at, philosophers despised, and poets ridiculed : is there a wretch so abandoned as to own thee for an acquaintance in publick? yet, how few will refuse to enjoy thee in private? nay, thou art the pursuit of most men through their lives. The greatest villanies are daily practised to please thee : nor is the meanest thief below, or the greatest hero above thy notice. Thy embraces are often the sole aim and sole reward of the private robbery, and the plundered province. It is, to pamper up thee, thou harlot, that we attempt to withdraw from others what we do not want, or to with-hold from them what they do. All our passions are thy slaves. Avarice itself is often no more than thy hand-maid, and even Lust thy pimp. The bully Fear like a coward, flies before thee, and Joy and Grief hide their heads in thy presence.

I know thou wilt think, that whilst I abuse thee, I court thee; and that thy love hath inspired me to write this sarcastical panegyrick on thee : but thou art deceived, I value thee not of a farthing; nor will it give me any pain, if thou should’st prevail on the reader to censure this digression as errant nonsense : for know to thy confusion, that I have introduced thee for no other purpose than to lengthen out a short chapter; and so I return to my history.
Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, And of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams