July 05, 2008

Why Does WikiPedia Fascinate Me?

Is it some sort of self-destructive urge to squander my talent, or is this more like the William Butler Yeats problem?—

The Fascination of What's Difficult

The fascination of what's difficult

Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of my heart. There's something ails our colt

That must, as if it had not holy blood

Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,

Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt

As though it dragged road-metal. My curse on plays

That have to be set up in fifty ways,

On the day's war with every knave and dolt,

Theatre business, management of men.

I swear before the dawn comes round again

I'll find the stable and pull out the bolt.

But we almost never do, and most of us are never quite sure whether that drive to do the Hard Thing (oh, shut up, ya pervs) is a measure of sickness, or the spark of something divine in human nature. How thin is the line, after all, between heroism and dysfunctionality? There are places where it is crystal clear, but they are in ministries and war zones: where I live, it's more complicated.


So, here's a true story: I'm eating brunch with Dr. Nurse, the Sexy Anglican Biblical Scholar. There is a salmon dish in front of her, and some sort of exquisite salad at my place setting, and no bottle of wine on the table.

Because if we order an entire bottle of wine, that indicates Intent. Far better to simply buy by the glass. Sure: it might cost more&mdaash;especially on Montana Avenue—but pinot grigio by the glass is Morally Sound, and you can't put a price on that. Furthermore, if the spirit strikes, you can order five glasses, which last time I checked is greater than 4.5. [Perhaps my engineering and/or math-oriented readers can back me up on the arithmetic.]

(Oh, get off your high horse: like we don't walk along Montana Avenue for two hours afterward, and window-shop and talk about sex and theology. It's not like I'd let her drive tipsy: I barely tolerate her driving without any alterations in her biochemistry at all. But I'm not her husband—for better or worse—so I'm not supposed to worry about all this.)

The point of this story being that she's smarter than I am, and once in a while it really shows. For instance, I only know the first two and the last two lines in the Yeats poem, but the good doctor is grilling me about why business is so interesting to me. (Perhaps it's because I need the money, Doll-face. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

"Oh," I mutter. "Just the fascination of what's difficult." I grab a bite of salad, being careful to spear lettuce, cheese, and papaya on my fork, all together. Otherwise, why bother?

"Right," she responds. "It's dried the sap out of your veins, and rent

Spontaneous joy and natural content

Out of your heart. There's something ails your colt

That must, as if it had not holy blood

Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,

Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt

As though it dragged road-metal. So your curse on plays

That have to be set up in fifty ways,

On the day's war with every knave and dolt,

Theatre business, and management of men."

I swallow my bite of salad. "You got it, Babe," I tell her. "I swear, before the dawn comes 'round again I'll find the stable, and pull out the bolt."

But, as discussed, we know I will not.

I flag down the waiter and ask him for two more pinot grigios, and flash him some eye-contact in case that might speed things up. (Laugh if you must, but it does: I got carded again on Thursday.)

Posted by Attila Girl at July 5, 2008 02:18 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I always suspected that "Eat To The Beat" referred to more than just mastication and swallowing.

Posted by: Darrell at July 5, 2008 02:11 PM




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