Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, April 14

notebook: 10-14-87

Would it be possible to capture the inflations
of optimism and the deflations of pessimism
that surround the life of a petty
bureaucrat who wishes to imagine that he
has a noble heart? With each elaborate
strategy to realize some scheme which
would establish his importance in his own
eyes and the eyes of the world, eventually
there emerges a crushing disappointment
which brings home to him in no uncertain
terms the futility of his resolve. For it
becomes more and more clear to him that
in a society in which comfort and prosperity
are the only conceivable goals for the
individual or for the mass, there is no
hope, none whatsoever to realize the ultimate
fruits of the moral passions implanted in
him by the religious fervor of his youth.
The noble worlds and ringing phrases which
he read again and again at that time
can never be totally abolished in his mind
or heart by cynicism because
neither his ideals nor those of his
lover will permit this. On the other hand,
a fiery rage has gradually grown within
him as a result of all of this, a
rage which vents itself meaninglessly on the
small injustices which emanate from the
(mostly) naive incompetencies of those people
he comes in contact with in his daily
life who have- by necessity or choice- embraced
and maintained a station in life
similar to his own. And long since has
he ceased to pump himself up from
within by employing feelings of superiority
over those who have been less fortunate
than he. If nothing else, his training as a
helper of others has taught him that these
slight "advantages" may be ascribed not
to any superior effort or qualities of his
own, but basic accidents of
background and early family life.

How desperately he wishes to
believe that there is some social path which can
be opened to him which would lead to
a wellspring of potential actions which- in taking-
would serve to continuously demonstrate his
good will. But ultimatelly he becomes
suspicious of this impulse (which is really
nothing more than "caring") because those
around him either frustrate it or
deride it or are threatened by it. Like
Melville's heroes, he stops himself
short- again and again- of the total
self-destruction which is the only
possible outcome of the continuous cultivation
of the impulse to "love and serve"
his fellow man. Is it nothing more than
a distorted replica of an impulse to find
love with a particular woman and found his
own family? "Book the first" would
end with this?

Reference Camus- The Fall,
Melville- Billy Budd