Napping is too luxurious, too sybaritic, too unproductive, and it's free; pleasures for which we don't pay make us anxious. Besides, it seems to be a natural inclination. ... Fighting off natural inclinations is a major Puritan virtue, and nothing that feels that good can be respectable.
The thing to remember is that children are temporary. As soon as they develop a sense of humor and get to be good company, maybe even remember to take the trash out and close the refrigerator door, they pack up their electronic equipment and their clothes, and some of your clothes, and leave in a U-Haul, to return only at Thanksgiving.
Coaches and headmasters praise sport as a preparation for the great game of life, but this is absurd. Nothing could be more different from life. For one thing sports, unlike life, are played according to rules. Indeed, the rules are the sport: life may behave bizarrely and still be life, but if the runner circles the bases clockwise it's no longer baseball.
In America, snobs who wouldn't be seen dead with a lottery ticket play the stock market. We like to gamble. Winning, we have closed our eyes, leapt across the yawning abyss, and landed knee-deep in daisies. Even losing has a certain gloomy glamour: the gods of chance are worthy opponents; we have engaged them in hand-to-hand combat and though we lost, at least we shrank not from the contest.
I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym. All of a sudden, we've got this voluntary prohibition that has to do with health and fitness. I'm not really in favor of health and fitness.
If we have a decent sort of cat to begin with, and have always treated it courteously, and aren't cursed with meddling, bullying natures, it's a pleasure to let it do as it pleases. With children, this would be wicked and irresponsible, so raising children involves a lot of effort and friction. They need to be taught how to tie their shoes and multiply fractions, they need to be punished for pocketing candy in the grocery store, they need to be washed and combed and forced to clean up their rooms and say please and thank you. A cat is... Read more »
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claims that a moderate beer drinker - whatever that means - swallows 11 percent of his dietary protein needs, 12 percent of the carbohydrates, 9 percent of essential phosphorus, 7 percent of his riboflavin, and 5 percent of niacin. Should he go on to immoderate beer drinking, he becomes a walking vitamin pill.
Poets and songwriters speak highly of spring as one of the great joys of life in the temperate zone, but in the real world most of spring is disappointing. We looked forward to it too long, and the spring we had in mind in February was warmer and dryer than the actual spring when it finally arrives. We'd expected it to be a whole season, like winter, instead of a handful of separate moments and single afternoons.
Are you seeing a psychiatrist?' as a conversation opener would nowadays earn you a punch in the nose, but for fifty years it was a compliment. It meant, 'One can plainly see you are sensitive, intense, and interesting, and therefore neurotic.' Only the dullest of clods trudged around without a neurosis.
For the first time in six or seven thousand years, many people of goodwill find themselves confused about art. They want to enjoy it because enjoying art is something they expect of themselves as civilized persons, but they're unsure how to do so. They aren't even sure which of the visible objects are art and which are furniture, clothes, hors d'oeuvres, or construction rubble, and whether a pile of dead and decomposing rats is deliberate art or just another pile of decomposing rats.
Once considered an art form that called for talent, or at least a craft that called for practice, a poem now needs only sincerity. Everyone, we're assured, is a poet. Writing poetry is good for us. It expresses our inmost feelings, which is wholesome. Reading other people's poems is pointless since those aren't our own inmost feelings.
In civilized places idleness, once the prerequisite for abstract thought, poetry, religion, philosophy, and falling in love, has become a character flaw. In America we've managed to stamp it out almost completely, and few people under forty can remember a single moment of it, even in earliest childhood. The phrase 'spare time' has vanished from the land.
Anyone who has raised more than one child knows full well that kids turn out the way they turn out - astonishingly, for the most part, and usually quite unlike their siblings, even their twins, raised under the same flawed rooftree. Little we have done or said, or left undone and unsaid, seems to have made much mark. It's hubris to suppose ourselves so influential; a casual remark on the playground is as likely to change their lives as any dedicated campaign of ours. They come with much of their own software already in place, waiting, and none of the... Read more »