The Mystery at the Middle of Ordinary Life by Don DeLillo

MANA MAN and a WOMAN in a room.

WOMAN: I was thinking how strange it is.

MAN: What?

WOMAN: That people are able to live together. Days and nights and years. Five years go by. How do they do it? Ten, eleven, twelve years. Two people making one life. Sharing ten thousand meals. Talking to each other face to face, open face, like hot sandwiches. All the words that fill the house. What do people say over a lifetime? Trapped in each other’s syntax. The same voice. The droning tonal repetition. I’ll tell you something.

MAN: You’ll tell me something.

WOMAN: There’s a mystery here. The people behind the walls of the brown house next door. What do they say and how do they survive it? All that idle dialogue. The nasality. The banality. I was thinking how strange it is. How do they do it, night after night, all those nights, those words, those few who do it and survive?

MAN: They make love. They make salads.

WOMAN: But sooner or later they have to speak. This is what shatters the world. I mean isn’t it gradually shattering to sit and listen to the same person all the time, without reason or rhyme. Words that trail away. The pauses. The clauses. How many thousands of times can you look at the same drained face and watch the mouth begin to open? Everything’s been fine up to now. It is when they open their mouths. It is when they speak.


MAN: I’m still not over this cold of mine.

WOMAN: Take those things you take.

MAN: The tablets.

WOMAN: The caplets.


MAN: Long day.

WOMAN: Long day.

MAN: A good night’s sleep.

WOMAN: Long slow day.

[Lights slowly down.]


Another Repetitious Monologue About Herpes And Sangria

John Belushi rolls up a hundred dollar bill, leans down, quickly inhales a massive bump of cocaine, stands up, looks at Dick Cavett, raises one eyebrow, hands the rolled up hundred dollar bill to Cavett, watches as Cavett partially inhales another massive bump of cocaine, then waits for Cavett to stand up, raises the other eyebrow, and watches as Cavett leans down and inhales the rest of the bump: “This song, you know what this song reminds me of, it reminds of the time I was invited to a pool party where I knew I was going to be peer-pressured into skinny dipping, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal except at the time I had a Herpes Simplex two breakout near my jonquils, and my jonquils were a mess, but I went to the pool party anyway, and guess what, I got pressured, by my peers, into skinny dipping, and so I drop my shorts and everyone’s looking at my jonquils but no one is saying anything because they’re all a bunch of artists and musicians and actors, so they wanted to pretend like it didn’t bother them, but I could tell, it did bother them, it bothered them a lot, I mean, my jonquils are just like, they’re like, they’re like covered in Herpes Simplex two, but what am I supposed to do, they keep pressuring me, these are my peers, and they’re pressuring me, hey, they say, hey, hey, take off your shorts, man, take them off and go skinning dipping, and I guess I could have said something, said something like, hey, hey, I got some Herpes Simplex two right now, you should see my jonquils, but I didn’t say anything, they probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway, it would have encouraged them to keep egging me on, so I said to myself, I remember this, I remember saying to myself, okay, you invited me to this pool party, and you keep telling me to take off my shorts, so I’m going to take off my shorts, because I’m at a pool party with a bunch of artists and musicians and actors, and that’s what you do, you take off your shorts when they tell you to take off your shorts, whether you got Herpes Simplex two or not, so that’s what I did, I took off my shorts, and there it was, all over my jonquils, and I felt self-conscious about it for a second, but that was it, I jumped in the pool, and then I got out, poured myself a glass of Sangria, and this song was playing, normally I would hate this song, but there was something about listening to it while drinking Sangria that just made, it made, it made sense, because I hate Sangria and I hate this song but they seem to complement each other, you know, like two halves making a whole, and that’s what it was, the song and the Sangria combining to rid me of my ambivalence, although hate isn’t really ambivalence, it’s hate, that’s a feeling, ambivalence is a lack of feeling, and I definitely have feelings for this song, and Sangria, I hate both of them with equal intensity, but not together, together I find them rather pleasant, mellow, and that’s not what I am, normally I hate, and I hate, and I hate, there are so many things in this world I hate, if you took everything away that I hate there would be nothing left for me to do, you know, I mean, thank Christ for hate, and I hate this song, and now that I think about it, I hate that for a moment I didn’t hate this song, but I blame it on the Sangria, and vice versa for the, the, the, the lack of hate, I know hate Sangria, but I didn’t hate Sangria, and I blame this song, with me standing there, with my Sangria and my jonquils covered in Herpes Simplex two and it was a nice moment, now that I think about it, even though, you know Amy Irving, I mean, I know you know Amy Irving, but I mean, she was at this pool party and she comes up to me while I’m standing there with my Sangria in my hand and she pulls me aside and she tells me how she’s a big fan and tells me how cute I am and then she tells me, get this, she tells me that she really wanted to sleep with me, and she was going to, but then she saw my jonquils and she decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I’m thinking, you’re right, it’s probably not a good idea to sleep with me at the moment considering my condition, but then I’m thinking, you know what, I’m thinking, why would you tell someone that you were going to sleep with them but then you decided it wasn’t a good idea, I mean, who says that to someone, what a buzzkill, it’s not like I was planning on sleeping with anyone at this pool party, I was just there to have a good time, and I was having a good time, and then Amy Irving, she totally ruins it by telling me this, and I tell her this, I tell her she’s a buzzkill, I call her a buzzkill, and she gets this real snotty look on her face, and she walks away from me and then she turns around a gives me this look, she looks at my jonquils and then she looks back at me and then she looks at my jonquils and she shakes her head like she’s disgusted with me, and it hurt my feelings, I’m being honest with you, it really hurt my feelings, because, you know, despite myself, I have feelings too, you know, and Jesus fucking Christ would somebody please put on another song, for the love of all that is holy, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take it anymore, turn it off, somebody better turn off this song or somebody better get me a glass of Sangria, a huge glass of Sangria, because you have no idea how long this song is, it’s long, so it better be a huge glass, as big as that vase right over there, somebody better take out all those orchids, clean that vase, and then pour some Sangria in that vase and give it to me, forget it, I’ll do it myself, watch out, here I come, out of the way, this looks heavy, better not forget to use my legs.”

An Excerpt From Chapter 1: Dead Zones Of The Imagination: An Essay On Structural Stupidity, From The Utopia Of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity And The Secret Joys Of Bureaucracy, By David Graeber

“…the hidden reality of human life is the fact that the world doesn’t just happen. It isn’t a natural fact, even though we tend to treat it as if it is – it exists because we all collectively produce it. We imagine things we’d like and then we bring them into being. But the moment you think about it in these terms, it’s obvious that something has gone terribly wrong. Since who, if they could simply imagine any world that the liked and the bring it into being, would create a world like this one?”

An Excerpt from Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s The Mark of The Sacred

“…[Guther] Anders recognized that on 6 August 1945, human history entered into a new phase, its last. Or, rather, that the sixth day of August was only a rehearsal for the ninth – what he called the ‘Nagasaki Syndrome.’ The atomic bombing of a civilian population, once it had occurred for the first time, once it had made the unthinkable real, inevitably invited more atrocities, in the same way that an earthquake is inevitably followed by a series of aftershocks. History, Anders said, became obsolete that day. ┬áNow that humanity was capable of destroying itself, nothing could ever cause it to lose this ‘negative all-powerfulness’ not even a general disarmament, not even a total denuclearization of the world’s arsenals. Apocalypse having been inscribed in our future as fate, henceforth the best we can do is to indefinitely postpone the final moment. We are now living under a suspended sentence, as it were, a stay of execution. In August 1945, humanity entered into an era of reprieve (die frist), the ‘second death’ of all that had existed: since the meaning of the past depends of future actions, it follows from the obsolescence of the future, from its programmed end, not that the past no longer has any meaning, but that it never had one.”

Server Brings Scrambled Egg Whites

This morning I read an interview with a highly regarded contemporary novelist whose passion seems to lie more in typography than prose, who writes quasi-supernatural post-modern novels which have an element of user participation that I feel is there to cover up for his lack of thematic weight or ability to create characters or anything resembling a human moment in time, all of which is neither here nor there, because what I really want to talk about is the interviewer, or, rather the editor of the piece, who thought it was a good idea, during the middle of the almost-interesting conversation between interviewer and interviewee, to inject a parenthetical which reads (Server brings scrambled egg whites), that’s right, Server brings scrambled egg whites, because, I don’t know, I guess it’s important that we know that Mr. Novelist eats scrambled eggs whites, because, well, I have absolutely no fucking clue why this is a piece of information I need to know, but now I do, I know that a man who consciously decided that you, the reader, needed a book that, in order to read it, you need to turn it like a steering wheel, no shit, in order to read the book he wrote you have to turn the book, while you are holding it, like a steering wheel, this guy, who, by the way, went to Harvard, in case you didn’t know that, he went to Harvard, if you’ve ever read an interview with this guy you know for sure that he went to Harvard, and I’ve read more than my fair share of interviews with this guy because I’m trying to figure out why he is so highly regarded, because he is highly regarded, and I have no idea why, but I do know one thing, and it’s that this guy went to Harvard and that he likes to eat scrambled egg whites, (Server brings scrambled egg whites), and when I read that the first thing I said to myself is what Vietnam vets used to say to themselves whenever they witnessed some unholy horror in the jungle, or some absurd circumstance that put the whole experience into relief, the sheer pitch black humor of it all, what my Uncle still says to this day when shit hits the fan (I don’t have an Uncle who served in Vietnam): “There it is.”