You explained that you would not have continued, except that at exactly the right moment you won a prize.
"I was validated," you said. You said it like it was something very real, something I myself ought to drive downtown and acquire, like a parking sticker or a hunting permit.
And why don't people talk about being in-validated -- since, it seems to me, that happens much more often? We invalidate each other on the train, and then at work, and then in the evening we go out to the bars --
But almost never do you hear someone say: I was found to be entirely invalid! In fact, I'd expired some time ago!
Validation seems both necessary and awful, like morphine, which is horribly addictive, which distorts consciousness, which mutilates lives -- and wouldn't it be just perfectly lovely to have some right now!
On one hand, imagine how it would feel, if a use could be found for oneself.
On the other hand, do flowers stand around thinking, "I'm doing this for the community."
On one hand, consider the vast resources that have been expended on one's behalf: the trees expelling oxygen, the cows slaughtered, the overworked professors, the mother who doubtless would have rather taken a long bath.
On the other hand, have my good intentions done any less harm than my bad intentions? Have my bad intentions achieved any less good?
On one hand, I absolutely agree -- all aspirants should be made to recite "I am not Miss Emily Dickinson of Amherst" until they get it through their heads.
On the other hand, wouldn't it be easier and more satisfactory if everyone seeking validation got an enormous dildo, broadcast on Cam4, and left the university presses alone?
On one hand, validation would mean I wasn't just some narcissist doing this for my own masturbatory glee and self-aggrandizement.
On the other hand, not necessarily.
On one hand, how can it be real if it doesn't connect somewhere?
On the other hand, is nothing worth doing for its own sake?
On one hand, it would be easier somehow.
On the other hand, it's not like I'm going to stop anyway.
On the one hand, I am vastly ashamed there is nothing to be shown for me.
On the other hand, I am venomously proud.
On one hand, how exquisite, at exactly the right moment, to win a prize.
On the other hand, I have discovered that nothing worthwhile ever enters my life unless I have first prepared a ground of perfect complete hopelessness.
On one hand, my dear handsome professor, imagine how much better you would like me, if I could do even the slightest thing to advance your career.
On the other hand, please consider: it used to be enough for poets to do their work simply to acquire lovers.
On one hand, never mind!
On the other -- who gives a damn?