Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Back to L.A.

Well, Bush, the vacation is over. Later today, we head back to Los Angeles and our usual routine. Meantime, Gerald Ford's funeral cortege is headed down Pennsylvania Avenue as I write, and the dignitaries await his arrival at the Washington Cathedral. I have seen the other former presidents with their wives and families, but I have not yet spotted you in the crowd--though I imagine you must be back from Crawford and dressed for the occasion.

I have been thinking much about death these past few days, thanks, largely, to the book I have been reading: Philip Roth's Everyman.

It's a sad book, really. The main character--I first wrote "hero", then went back and changed it: you could hardly describe this sad, complex, internally conflicted man as a hero--contemplates the history of his personal relationship with death, from his earliest youth, including the death of his father and other family members and friends. He contemplates, too, with agony--and with envy for his robust brother--his declining health as his body ages, the illnesses and hospitalizations that have plagued his life, his failed marriages, his isolation... And then he dies. If this sounds like a bleak read, Bush, well, then, I guess it is. But it's also a very deep exploration of the psyche of a human being--truly, an "everyman"--and has much to tell us about ourselves. The saddest part of it, for me, is that this man is bereft of spiritual resources, and that he dies without any sense of meaning or achievement in his life.

Ah, well. So I finished that and switched on the television set to watch the Rose Bowl. Pleased that USC won the game--I used to teach there, many years ago. I imagine Gerald Ford would have been rooting for the other team...

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