Aspiring fools of words -- and I am one -- dream of artful editions of 500, with an elegant typeface and covers handmade on the letterpress. To be read by sophisticated contemplative people -- as well as a few nice-looking barbarians who maybe didn't actually read the book, but are anyway willing to sleep with the author. Money and fame are unnecessary, thank you, I would just like to communicate, connect and in some small way matter.
Still, I wonder what this imagination is worth, when it is so slow to catch up with the current situation. When Shakespeare has been forgotten a thousand years, the plastic coffee lids through which I sipped while I thought all my deep thoughts will continue to poison birds, to break down further in the ocean, but they will never become nothing.
There is no longer any doubt that I will have, even after my death, significant influence. The fifteen or so transcontinental flights I took, while obtaining an MFA, will continue to make a modest, but deeply felt, contribution to the atmosphere. How much difference is there really, on the scale of conspicuous luxury, between MFA and SUV? There are days I feel like a perfectly ornamental human being.
My endless book purchases help support small presses and unheralded writers. But, considering the gas, I've contributed much more generously to jihad and the brutality against women.
It is likely that our trash will outlast our best ideas, to say nothing of what we consider our venial and mortal sins. How can we possibly fast-forward our moral imaginations fast enough to recognize that failures in recycling may be more serious than coveting the neighbor's ass? I doubt any bar fight I ever get myself into will ever do the harm of one trans-Pacific flight.
I write because I don't want to die without the world knowing how I loved it. I mean to witness and to praise -- and meanwhile I play my part in poisoning the world. I hoped to be remembered. Well then, very good: if I think all my plastic, and give it the name "soul", I can be confident that I am, indeed, immortal after all.