Israel Potter


I wish I could remember more of the Melville I’ve read. After I finished Pierre I also read Israel Potter a long time ago: very dark and depressing but so true from a certain point of view. I don’t recall how it begins, but Potter is shanghaied and forced into service aboard ship, during which he meets the original John Paul Jones who was an American buccaneer. Generally the book is a tale of woe that only gets worse until he dies homeless, penniless, and friendless somewhere in England. Melville is great if you agree with his fatalism. I relate to it because from the time I was in high school I was mostly invisible, an anonymous wallflower, suffering blow after blow to my health and later my sanity. So it’s tempting to believe that the stars rule our destinies, or that life is a game of probabilities, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. At the end of the rainbow is there a pot of gold, or a piece of cheese for the mouse in the maze? It’s always possible to end up like Israel Potter, a sober reminder from Herman Melville, while the beat of old Duran Duran music in my head goes on indifferently: the grotesque and the glamorous seem to coexist. Beauty and the beast. I’d rather go where there is substance than with shallow appearance. 


Lap of Luxury

Six fifty.

I’m just up from having dreams about Faust. So far the play is about living life to the fullest, particularly regarding romantic love and the things that make us happy. It seems to me that people are more often persecuted for their joys and pleasures. Obviously there’s something wrong with this. People are never free in a world where they are condemned. We’re never free anyway. When am I going to finally break with the church? All I get from it is oppression and grief. Too many people will tell you what you can and can’t do, say, and even think. Even more absurd when we pay them for their opinion. I will absentee myself from church this Sunday because there’s no percentage for me anymore.

Nine fifty. I was treated very well at the store and when I stopped at the salon. Even DHS showed kindness by bumping up my food stamps. Melissa said a lot of people experience the same thing. It appears to me that many of us are just scraping by to eke out an existence, so it’s really a Charles Dickens kind of world. I wish I liked his writing better, else I would read it. Goethe is relatively highbrow stuff, quite aristocratic and not very relevant to the lives of most of us… We might have freezing rain by tomorrow morning, what everyone dreads. I just hope our power stays on in this event. I learned yesterday that my sister is feeling better, luckily. I am second thinking on church this Sunday. Attendance could pay off later on. I think it’s good to participate in the community as we can.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”