The Easiest Virtue

As far as money goes, if the mere not-having of it were a virtue, every trailer park would be a light unto the world and every silly hippy with food stamps a Martin Luther King, Jr. I just can’t muster anymore that special blend of self-deception, self-justifying crackpot sociology and nervous energy necessary to produce art in the face of the extensive empiric experience of disinterest. If you can find a way to do it, I’ll be the first one out of my seat for a standing ovation when they call your name at the Booker Prize banquet.

But for me, my nightmare image: a 22-year-old, would-be poet at my feet adoring me for my sacrifice at the altar of poetry. “You’re life is so pure, Curt, you kept doing it even though you never got published — you did it all for Art.” *boom* “Oh, my God, he’s dead! Why! Why!? Oh, me! Oh, life!… He was a great man, though the world never knew him. You see he lived in a tiny apartment urinating into his long underwear and writing poems on the back of stolen Denny’s menus and the dry parts of adult diapers. He died happy, because he didn’t mistake the point of life for accumulation of material possessions like pants and stereo equipment and SUVs and potatoes. He died happy because he wasn’t a Yuppie!”

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