My daughter, now twenty-one, is a sociologist. She concerns herself passionately with the underprivileged, the down-trodden, the weak, the homeless, the unfortunate, the abused, the groundlings. Her intellect and emotions coalesce in a remarkable display of humanity invoked, tearing at the antiquated structures of our uncivilized civilization to reform the reality into a better brave new world.
I agree almost entirely with her driven desire to right the world’s wrongs. I support and enable and cheer her efforts to improve existence. I am proud in serious ways of her idealism and hands-on involvement in a overly-herculean task.
But I do not share her passion. I am cynical and disinterested in day-to-day existence. I fully expect humanity to rip itself at the seams and destroy piece by piece all that is good and right in the world. It is not my role to get involved. I will attend the tragedy and applaud the fall of Rome.
My passion, for better and worse, is literature. I care deeply for the poetry of life. I exist to revel in the telling. I want the psychology and philosophy of the human experience. I crave the crisis and the conflict. I would not need to eat the apple to fall from paradise. I would be clawing at the walls, desperate to leave. I have no need of happiness, except in a moment of transition from one plot to the next. I am no reformer. I am the artist.
To love literature is a lonely business. I am resigned to living in severe isolation from the mass of the masses. Among our fellows, there are few who read. Among those who read, only a tiny minority read anything worth reading. Among that sliver, there is a handful who can actually appreciate the real beauty of literature. Maybe a dozen, at most, spread across the vast expanses of this planet. Of that twelve, I agree with none. My love of literature is idiosyncratic and isolated. It may be another hundred years before I have a peer in thought. And I’m fairly sure that they’ll get it wrong.
But such is my passion. My daughter struggles to conquer a beast that is indestructible. I struggle to find expression to explain the inner-workings of that self-same monster. We are equally idealistic, though headed in different directions. We are similarly alone and equally unappreciated.
Yet we share a passion. In that, we are one.