Saturday, February 14, 2009

Donald Barthelme stories we love: "The Baby"

Scrolling down, these post titles are looking kind of relentlessly negative, so let's have something happy for once, shall we?

Here. Read it. It's short.

Why is it great? Well, obviously, it's the abrupt transition at the end. If it were a thing where the narrator gradually realizes that his overly rigid ways--"there were many, many rules,"-- are not a good thing, it would just be banal. But as it stands the sudden change--after all this time of thinking it's NOT okay to rip out pages and painting himself into a corner, deciding, apropos of nothing in particular, okay, it IS okay after all, and as long as we're tipping into anarchism, why not smash a few windshields--illustrates the way we could very easily solve a lot of problems that we have if not for the compulsive need to cling to pre-established dogmas and structures. I know that sounds sort of obvious just spelt out like that, but it's really, really not EASY to think of our problems in those terms, and seeing Barthelme illustrate it as he does causes a kind of happy cognitive dissonance: "wait...all that effort, and suddenly he just...stops? What? Can he really DO that?" But obviously, he can. And I find that inspiring. If this story doesn't bring a manic grin to your face, I think there may be something wrong with you. Then, the hard part: trying to actually APPLY this lesson.

1 Comments:

Blogger marcus pontificated to the effect that...

well yes, inspiring indeed and for what it's worth I myself quit the ratrace for the allure of low stress at the tender age of 56.75 and really haven't looked back since because I'm too damn busy following up on this move out the damn door of a fucking job I hated after 20 years so I gave in and retired come hell or high shit to the wind and I haven't felt this good in years.
My puppy and me is doin good yep I stopped complaining and so did she.

11:48 PM  

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