The Dinghy

The Dinghy

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Monday, April 14, 2003
A great man, probably Adelard of Bath or Octavio Paz, once said "In apathy there is hope." Since we (I speak for all of us) have no urge to affirm or refute either this assertion or this citation, we can only hope they are true. Thus apathy props up optimism.

If monotony (see below) is the cudgel, and tedium (see below) the scalpel, then the metaphor most aptly applied to apathy is the speculum. Monotony, the cudgel; tedium, the scalpel; apathy, the speculum. Why? Yes, why indeed.

Apathy, if appropriately formed and deployed by the psyche, addresses a concern of utmost import to our mental health. It vouchsafes the sanctity of our monotonous undertakings. These daily monotonous undertakings (see below) are the very bedrock of our lives, our relationships, our society, and ultimately, our universe.

Greet your co-workers: Feeling chipper, skipper. Watch your coffee bask in the insidious glow of "micro"waves each morning. Shine your cordovan shoes. Do not waver, do not waffle. Without routine, without monotony, there can be no tedium. Without tedium, there can be no pleasure (because, as we said before, pleasure is a-tedium). You follow me. I know you do. This is review. We are reviewing what we have already covered.

Apathy vouchsafes monotony by insuring that we abnegate any urge to seek new stimuli. New stimuli, the enemy army opposing apathy, arm themselves and deploy in great hoardes, seeking to assail the monotony and tedium of our daily lives. If, in an individual, apathy is not appropriately arrayed to buttress monotony, that individual becomes exposed to the vile dangers of new stimuli. New stimuli, no matter how they shriek and dance, no matter how they bang upon the citadel gates, no matter how they beat their drums, cannot, under any circumstances, be allowed to encroach upon our daily lives. Apathy is our guardian and protector, our servant and champion.

Some may take issue with this advocation of apathy. Some may argue that the assiduous seeking of monotony (see below) is actually at odds with the apathetic. How can one embrace apathy if he is striving so vigorously to establish monotony? Good point.

The true nature of pure monotony is in the automatic. True monotony is second nature; when true monotony is achieved, striving ceases. Establish patterns. Create order. Excise chaos. It is only when an activity is automatic that it is truly monotonous. And when an activity is truly monotonous, apathy works to protect it.

The goal of attaining true and pure monotonous undertakings (such as unvaried morning greetings to co-workers, uniformly gleaming cordovan loafers and lukewarm daily instant coffee) is not a simple one, nor easily achieved. But it can be done.

Other nay-sayers may say "Hey! A-tedium is a break in monotony. A-tedium, as you define it, is pleasure. A-tedium is stimulus. Why establish monotony at all? Why not embrace stimuli? Why not just grab up all the pleasure?" This line of thinking is simply ridiculous.

I will not waste space with a rebuttal, but say only--this way lies chaos.

Establish monotony. Once established, to safeguard that monotony, embrace apathy. Await tedium. Take pleasure in a-tedium. This is the roadmap to what philosophers and kings call "the sufficient life." Encourage monotony. Embrace apathy. Explore tedium. Be sufficient.

Some wax fell out of my ear today. It was blackish-orange. It looked a little bit like Halloween candy. I threw it in the toilet.

Tomorrow's essay: Apathy and its place in American society.

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