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Thoreau interviews me as we sleep
2004-07-14 | 11:18 a.m.

I was interviewed in my dream last night by Henry Thoreau! Wow well let's just get right to it then!

Thoreau: Why are you calling me? How did you get this number?

me: uh... Emerson sent me, and I --

Thoreau: Olde Ralphy, dearest chap! Although he was always a proponent of isolation, it was I that had that fervent audacity to actually live in seclusion, seeking out the essential questions that haunt even the most cosmopolitan man, although Ralph, bulwark of urban inquisition, will always remain a close --

me: I was under the impression that you guys had a falling out when you had an affair with his --

Thoreau: I am outraged that you seek to usurp me from my place as interviewer! I shall do the asking of the questions! Now, why are you so materialistic?!

me: well, I am trapped in a society which forces me to be a consumer, although I try to do my part by --

Thoreau: Do not be a feeble-minded simpleton with me. What nonsense! You seem to be under some ridiculous, unfounded impression that it was somehow easy for me in the early 1800s! Absurd. I was pushed into a society of abhorrent quilting bees, loathesome barn raisings, quietly cultivating corn, whispering to it the sacred secrets of --

me: Okay, you're right... I'm sorry about the corn, and everything...

Thoreau: I condescend to forgiveness of your materialistic hedonism. So what is it you wish to accomplish in this life, young one?

me: Actually, that is a constant source of frustration and anxiety for me, Henry.

Thoreau: Do not call me that! I prefer to be called Dr. Thoreau, D.D.S. And I predicted long, long ago that the turn of the century would usher in even new, unprecedented heights of superficiality! The 1900s are nothing but empty years, devoid of meaning or importance, to be completely forgotten in the coming years. The trouble with your meaningless --

me: There have been two century turns since your death, I'm afraid. I guess I just feel so alone, unguided, sufficient and yet unable to transcend my surroundings.

Thoreau: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

me: I know, I read your book. Maybe I'll join the military, just to know what it's like, or maybe I'll be an egg donor. If I had my way, I would create my own planet, with a very careful screening process that would filter out everyone that we dislike.

Thoreau: Do not attempt to put us in the same catagory! You are naught but a woman, frittering your life away on the most mundane of pursuits, knitting, child-rearing, stealing men off in the night with your terse seduction techniques, the soft down of your legs, the velvet of your --

me: umm, I'm hardly a seductress. I avoid people in general, and I don't really knit. I'm a terrible cook.

Thoreau: It's hardly surprising that you're so unhappy, wasting your time away on such meaningless pursuits as dreaming about me in this way! First of all, learn how to cook. I recommend planting fields of ripe, exhausting vegetables, until they push through the moist soil with their lilting life, allowing your hoe to play Rans des Vaches to the attentive beans -- and you dress as a man dresses! You appear a demonic hybrid, hideous and unappealing --

me: Actually, I'm already planting some vegetables -- I hope to be self sufficient someday. Truly. I will even grow my marijuana and have chickens and hopefully I'll never have to talk to anyone I do not want to ever again.

Thoreau: yes, yes... dream your insignificant little dreams... now, where was I? Oh, yes. I think that being aware of your pastimes and passions will give us insight into your peculiar condition.

me: condition?! Well, last night I smoked a bit and drove cars around on grand theft auto with a bit of wonderment, it seemed so real. I don't really care much about the missions part. On a less superficial level, I --

Thoreau: I know not what you speak of! If a car is a bit like a potato, then I can only guess as to what cryptic phrases you utter. You are entirely stupid, and not at all helpful. Now what do you feel is your biggest obstacle to happiness?

me: umm, spelling? Sometimes I will consider a word until it seems so peculiar that I am no longer aware of how it is spelled. And although I mostly spell words correctly, I'm always nervous that I've gotten something wrong. just kidding. actually, my biggest problem is people -- individually, they are easy to empathize with, but collectively, they are oppressive and I'm filled with despair. I don't like interacting. I feel as if no one understands me. That can be frustrating. And yet I seek to understand the world around me, to get a somewhat accurate glimpse of it, and to avoid people would be counterproductive. Most people think about other people -- how they interact with them, how they can be more liked. And my honesty about my misanthropic condition comes off as pretense, sheer pretentiousness, it is a fault. You cannot be humble while condemning others, but I don't want to condemn. I just wish that everyone else was better, peaceful, intelligent. And I don't really understand them. Dr. Thoreau DDS? You're being unusually quiet, I was wondering if you're okay?

Thoreau: Do not concern yourself with the incomprehensible things that I am preoccupied with! I was merely napping while you babbled to yourself for awhile. Sometimes talking to oneself can be quiet helpful, as I found out long long ago, on a delightful summer day, coddled by the heat of the noon, alone, prancing by the side of the river...

me: It's like a jungle sometimes; it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.

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