Wake up to a cloudy day Dark rolls in and it starts to rain Staring out to the cage-like walls Time goes by and the shadows crawl Crushin’ Candy Crush-ing pills Got no job, mom pays my bills Textin’, Nexus, get my feels Sweatin’ bullets, Netflix-chills World’s out there singin’ the blues Twenty more dead on the evening news Think to myself: “really, what’s the use?” I’m just like you, I was born to lose
Why oh why can’t you just fix me? When all I want’s to feel numb But the medication’s all gone Why oh why does God hate me? When all I want’s to get high And forget this so-called life
I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate (I medicate) I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate (I medicate)
Can’t wait to feel better than I ever will Attack that shit like a kid on Benadryl Chase it down with a hopeful smile Hate myself, if I can go for miles They say family is all you need Someone to trust can help you breathe Inhale that drug, but you start to choke You follow the outs of an inside joke
Why oh why can’t you just fix me? When all I want’s to feel numb But the medication’s all gone Why oh why does God hate me? Cause I’ve seen enough of it, heard enough of it, felt enough of it I’ve had enough of it
I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate (I medicate) I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate
Medicate Medicate Medicate Medicate
Superman is a hero But only when his mind is clear though He needs that fix like the rest of us So he’s got no fear when he saves that bus All the stars in the Hollywood Hills Snapchat Live while they pop them pills All those flavors of the rainbow Too bad that shit don’t work though
Your friends are high right now Your parents are high right now That hot chick’s high right now That cop is high right now The president’s high right now Your priest is high right now Everyone’s high as fuck right now And no one’s ever coming down
I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate (I medicate) I am so frickin’ bored Nothing to do today I guess I’ll sit around and medicate
Medicate Medicate Medicate Medicate
(Lyrics: David Brenner, Tyler Connolly, Dean Back, Joseph Dandeneau.)
(Songwriters: by Salaam Remi / Nasir Jones / Amy Jade Winehouse, featuring Nas)
—— [Chorus] I never wanted you to be my man I just needed company Don’t want to get dependent on Your time or who you spend it on I lose it when you love me Like smoke, I hung around in the unbalanced Woah, ohh
[Verse 1: Nas] It’s not a movie, this is not a script to proofread I spit some untruths to dumb fools and groupies Fun to punctuate, pronounciate the funds I make The miles I take put in your face Oh, my mistake, you’re not a floozy, then excuse me Before I talk, my style introduce me Get your name and phone number like 1-2-3 Y’all know the story, y’all know the commentary I kick the narrative, this is legendary The good Samaritan, hood thespian Like a polygamist, with a twist Will I marry again? Maybe, I guess I hold a lady’s interest I just met The love scholar, she’s the teacher’s pet Every other eve’, we meet and make each other sweat I feel triumphant, no strings, just a fling to have fun with I be out in London, Camden Huntin’ for the answers, why did God take away the homie? I can’t stand it I’m a firm believer that we all meet up in eternity Just hope the big man show me some courtesy Why? ‘Cause I’m deemed a heart breaker Like smoke, girls linger ‘round a player, yeah yuh
[Chorus] I never wanted you to be my man I just needed company Don’t want to get dependent on Your time or who you spend it on I lose it when you love me Like smoke, I hang around in the unbalanced Woah, ohh
[Verse 2: Nas] Yo, this recession is a test It’s affectin’ my complexion Misdirectin’ my affection My concerns of bill collections The facts is the taxes, they after me Chapter three, my property My handlers, they dealt with me improperly I say some things I should probably keep privately Evaluate the world bank trusts like I’m IEG There’s fly suites and my bourgeoisie Tall freak, she wouldn’t protest with me at Wall Street She says, “No, you’re so deep” I said, “No, let’s go through it” Historically so ruthless, Feds came for Joe Louis She said, “My man, you need to laugh sometimes” Classifies me as a bore, I told her have some wine You colder than penguin pussy, in her dismay She’s thinkin’ that’s just so silly to say But if you really think about it, hussy See, a penguin, he drags his ass on the ground all day And it’s a dragon, it’s a bastard you’re in tune with, just lust I’m through with you after I crush So is that humorous enough? The smoke I puff Tell the car to go to Aura, Funky Buddah, Whisky Mist on Mayfair I hope I meet some Monie Love so she can show me love NYC to UK, I might stay there Everybody in the club tonight say, “Yeah” You know how me and Amy are, straight players…
[Outro] Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh
[Chorus] I never wanted you to be my man I just needed company, yayy Don’t want to get dependent on Your time or who you spend it on I lose it when you love me Like smoke, I hung around in the unbalanced
[Outro] Woah, ohh
[Outro] Ohh, ohh, ohh, ohh
(Collected on Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures, LP, 2011)
A diary of 2016—the year of Trump, Brexit, and Carol the fox by David Sedaris—Reblog (link…)
March 9th, London
While we were eating lunch yesterday afternoon, my friend Jeff told me about a friend of his who believes there’s a secret planet hidden behind the sun that the U.S. government knows about but is keeping to itself.
On the bus home, I Googled “hidden planet” and came upon the following, which was posted by someone named XZiled, who calls himself a journalist: “Proof of an Object Behind the Sun that NASA Has Removed from Their Images,” it’s headlined. “Almost 6,000 years ago, the ancient Sumerians told of planet Nibiru existing in our solar system. The ancient Hebrew text, called the Kolbrin, also described this mysterious planetoid and called it ‘The Great Destroyer.’ ”
A number of people responded to the post, including this guy: “OK, I am a little confused. A planet ‘behind’ the sun? One that people who lived 6,000 years ago knew about even though they hadn’t yet figured out that the earth was round? I think it’s time to get some Science up in this bitch!” He then listed a number of reasons the hidden planet was bullshit. Later, Jeff told me about an American musician named Bill Callahan who once released an album called “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle.” God, I wish I’d thought of that.
March 20th, Rackham, Sussex
On this week’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher predicts that, if elected, Donald Trump will do away with the eagle as the symbol of America and replace it with a turtle fucking a shoe.
April 6th, New York
There are only two guest elevators at the Excelsior Hotel. They come infrequently, so, if I’m in the lobby, waiting to go up, I always check to see if anyone else is coming before I press the button. Late yesterday morning, it was a group of four middle-aged women, all plump and American. “Thank you, thank you,” they panted, as they piled in behind me.
“No problem,” I said, changing my mind as each of them pressed a button for a different floor.
“We’re all over the place!” one of the women cried, and the others shrieked. Their laughter was sudden and shrill, and the sound of it caused me to wince.
“Marcie here’s the crazy one,” a woman in a brown turtleneck said, and again they all cracked up.
“Me?!” the one named Marcie countered. “What about you on that double-decker bus!”
My floor was eleven, but our first stop was two, where I glared at the woman getting off and thought, Couldn’t you have walked? There are stairs off the lobby. I’ve taken them a thousand times. Making it worse, instead of just stepping out of the elevator, the woman turned to hug her friends and say how much she was going to miss them. “You tell Gary hello from me.”
“You say the same to Mark.”
The door started closing, so one of them held it open, and that set them all to laughing as well. How funny! We’re holding things up!
Next it was five, where again hugs were exchanged. “Thank you so much, Mary Beth, for organizing the trip.”
“No, thank you for coming.”
“Are you kidding? I’ll take any excuse to get away from Brian and the kids.”
On nine, the third woman got off. Hugs were exchanged, and, after the door had closed behind her, the one remaining woman turned to me, her eyes moist from laughter. “I bet you’d have never held the elevator if you’d known we were all so crazy!”
“Actually, no,” I said, my voice flat and cold. “I wouldn’t have.”
Then it was just weird and uncomfortable up to ten, where she finally got off.
May 21st, Emerald Isle, North Carolina
I returned from my walk last night to find Dadin the living room. “Hey there, paunchy,” he said.
“I don’t have a paunch,” I insisted. “It’s my shirt billowing.”
“You’re just sucking your stomach in,” he said.
At breakfast this morning, I asked him what he thinks about Trump.
“Well, he’s a businessman. I think he’s got a lot of courage.”
“Courage like when he said that Ted Cruz’s father was responsible for the Kennedy assassination?”
“I think the bigger problem is the news media,” Dad said. “Places like the New York Times, they have a definite . . . agenda.”
I nodded. “I bet the only place that’s not biased is Fox News.”
“Well, as a matter of fact, that’s right,” Dad told me.
“It’s because they say so on air,” I continued. “ ‘Fair and balanced.’ ”
“They do say it, but only because it’s true,” Dad said.
He was an old-school fiscal Republican until the advent of cable news. Now he believes whatever Bill O’Reilly tells him to, though he gets a bit confused as to why.
While walking along Ocean Drive yesterday, the stretch that’s situated off the Coast Guard Road, I passed a house with a sign out front reading “TEAM TRUMP: REBUILD AMERICA.”
Over dinner last night, Amy recalled the time her sixth-grade health teacher separated the girls in class and asked, “If you were naked and had only a washcloth, which would you cover, your top or your bottom?”
Amy’s answer—“I’d cover my face”—is, I think, the best possible response. But, still, what a question.Illustration by Graham Roumieu
May 30th, London
I worked until three-thirty yesterday and then cut through the park. It was warm and sunny, and among the couples lying on blankets in the grass I saw two young men with their arms around each other. I could never have done that when I was their age, not unless it was Pride Day and every single person in the park was a homosexual. How different young gay people’s lives are today. How wonderful.
June 6th, Rackham
I was working yesterday and looked out the window to see Hugh on what was surely the world’s first riding mower. It looked like a buggy almost, and he was bobbing up and down in the seat. I laughed so hard.
“It’s like a Model T,” I said, “but it’s also like you should have a whip in your hand.”
“It’s Tom and Thelma’s,” he explained, which would make it a Model T & T. Later in the day, he tried transplanting some sweet peas he’d grown from seeds. “Neela tells me they’re like caviar to slugs,” he said, sighing. His painting studio is closed for the summer. Now it’s just piano and gardening. I came home from picking up trash last night and found him on the bench beneath the tree drinking a Manhattan and surveying his freshly cut lawn. This is my favorite encounter: him at the end of the day, drink in hand, sun-kissed and in a good mood. The house feels like a wonderful decision then—no matter how much trash I’ve picked up, it’s all worth it. We always seem old in these moments, but not in a dreary way. It’s rather like we’re celebrating something that was hard-earned. We were young once, and now we have all this.
June 9th, Rackham
On the Daily Beast yesterday morning, I read a list of demands presented by students at various colleges and universities this past year. Included was: no “cross-ethnic” food in the cafeteria. Taco Tuesdays amounts to cultural appropriation, as does stir-fried chicken. On one campus, they’re insisting that white people should not be allowed to have dreadlocks, which is something I’ve been saying for years.
June 13th, Rackham
A gunman opened fire in an Orlando gay baron Saturday night, killing forty-nine people and wounding another fifty-three. An article in this morning’s Times described the weapon he used—an assault rifle that was easy to buy. After the bodies were carted away, the President made a speech, people piled flowers and Teddy bears on a curb, and an N.R.A. spokesman undoubtedly released a statement saying that one lone crazy person shouldn’t be allowed to ruin things for everyone else.
But one lone crazy person is always ruining things for everyone else. Some nut puts explosives in his shoe, and suddenly everyone has to walk through the security arch in stocking feet. One person sneaks a liquid bomb onto the plane, and the next day you can no longer fly with more than three ounces of shampoo. A handful of people who jumped from the high floors of hotels made it so that all the windows are sealed.
So why can’t one lone gunman ruin automatic rifles for everyone else?
“Shame about the killings,” the FedEx driver said this morning, when he came to deliver a package. We got to talking about guns, and he said that a few years ago he took his kids to New York. “They wanted to have lunch at McDonald’s, but I made us go to the Wendy’s across the street, because you never hear of shootings there. McDonald’s, on the other hand . . .”
Also curious is that the Orlando shooter dialled 911 during his rampage and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. To 911?
Trump tweeted what amounts to I told you so, but I don’t think this qualified as an ISIS attack. Rather, it sounds like a lone crazy person who decided, What the hell, might as well join the club, before killing a lot of gay people. It’s like a deathbed conversion.
Trump gave a speech and said that the killer was “born in Afghan.”
“Like the blanket?” Hugh said.
The guy was actually born in New York.
June 14th, Rackham
Walking home from Storrington, I passed a pro-Brexit sign reading “VOTE LEAVE.” It’s the first one I’ve seen, but it’s not surprising, given the area. City people and the young are more in favor of remaining in the E.U., but will they vote in sufficient numbers? What would it mean for everyone who works at Starbucks and Costa and Whole Foods and Ryman’s and everywhere else that relies on foreign workers?
June 16th, Rackham
On my walk, I listened to a bit of a sermon delivered on Sunday by Roger Jimenez, of Verity Baptist Church. “What if you asked me, ‘Hey, are you sad that fifty pedophiles were killed today?’ Um, no, I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job. I wish the government would round them all up, put them up against the firing wall, put a firing squad in front of them, and blow their brains out,” he said. “I’m not saying we should do it. I’m not saying we should go, you know, blow up Planned Parenthood. All I’m saying is this: if God had His way, that’s what He would do.”
Then I listened to a similar sermon from a church in Sacramento. This guy, too, used the words “homosexual” and “pedophile” interchangeably and said that the tragedy was that more gay men weren’t killed.
Hearing the snippets, I wondered if I haven’t missed feeling hated and discriminated against. Just a little, maybe. Here in Sussex, everyone’s so welcoming. “And where’s your partner? Are you married?” There’s no outside anymore.
Hugh and I were talking about the Orlando shooting, and, when I got into how easy it is to buy an automatic weapon in America, he said it didn’t matter. “If it was more difficult, the guy would have just made a bomb.”
“Certain people might, but most won’t even make their own piecrust,” I argued, “and I think that, if you made the guns more difficult to get, they’d do like everyone else and just yell and scream when they got angry.”
“What kind of person wouldn’t make his own piecrust?” Hugh asked. I pointed out the window at the greater world. “There are people out there,” I told him, “who don’t even make their own eggnog.”
“But that’s so . . . easy,” he said, finally as sad and confused as the rest of us.
June 22nd, Bucharest
On Monday, our babysitter from the publishing house was I., but yesterday it was G., who is thin and twenty-seven and relentlessly negative. She’s not a complainer, necessarily, just a storm cloud, though not without reason. Her parents had her late in life and suffered relatively early from poor health. Her father died of cancer a few years ago, and her mother has Parkinson’s. “What with my genes, I’m really looking forward to aging,” she said.
G. had nothing good to say about Romania: all the politicians are crooked, there’s no hope of improvement, etc. If I tended to believe her, it was likely owing to the heat. She met us at the hotel at eleven, and by the time we reached the Village Museum it was easily ninety-seven degrees outside. It’s a beautiful place, on a lake, and the old houses were stunning. Most were wooden and simple, with roofs that were peaked, sometimes thatched and sometimes covered in small shingles.
“Now all the houses in villages are so ugly you would not believe it,” G. moaned. “Most are painted the most horrible pink you ever saw in your life, or orange.” She frowned at a nearby tree. “I hate orange.”
There were a lot of stray cats living at the museum. Food was left out for them, and they dozed in the staggering heat, some with their tongues hanging out of their mouths.
For lunch, we walked to the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. There’s a beautiful restaurant there, so we sat and were waited on by a woman who looked so much like my sister Tiffany when she was young that it stopped my heart. She was blond, but her nose was the same, as were her eyes and her build. It’s her, I thought. It was insane to believe that, instead of dying, Tiffany had moved to Romania, drunk from the fountain of youth, and found a waitressing job, but for a moment I was convinced that it was actually her. It was so eerie, seeing this young woman. I couldn’t stop staring at her.
June 24th, London
England voted by a slim margin to leave the E.U., and already the pound has dropped to its lowest level in more than thirty years. Against the dollar, it’s now at $1.35. When we bought this house, it was $2.06. These are just the first rumblings. If I believe what I read in the New York Times, wages will fall, and median incomes will shrink, yet still on the radio I hear people cheering: “We won! No more Brussels telling us what to do! We have our identity back!” You hear that word a lot, “identity.” It’s like me saying, “I don’t know if I’m a North Carolinian, an American, or a North American!”
Do people really lie awake at night worrying about such things?
In London, it’s like someone died. “The important thing is not to make any snap decisions,” Hugh says. Our friends Frank and Scott said they’d move back to the U.S. if England voted to leave.
Can it be as bad as all that? I’d wanted to get my British passport, since it meant I could live anywhere in Europe. Now it means I can just live here.
As we were sitting in traffic on our car ride from Ruse, Bulgaria, to the Bucharest airport yesterday, our driver asked if we’d like to hear some traditional Romanian music. We said yes, and, as the first song played, he translated it. “ ‘I sold my soul for a . . . few bucks. I am having some bad habits, and when I sleep in the morning . . . I said some bad words about myself.’ ”
The next song amounted to “I am old. No one has any use for me.” The song after that was also about being ugly and unhappy. Then came one that was just about regret. “ ‘At a restaurant I used to like there was a girl with . . . black hair and dark eyes and . . . a red face who had a very nice body. Then I find out that . . . she loves somebody else.’ ”
After our passport control on the border, we stopped for gas, then drove on unimpeded, passing farmers in horse-driven carts and grand houses—or, rather, the shells of grand houses—built by Roma. “Many times they live in tents in the back yard, and the horses live inside,” the driver explained. It was a hundred degrees outside, and I felt sorry for everyone we saw.
At the airport, we got our tickets and moved easily through security. The sad lounge was upstairs, and it had no air-conditioning. I sat there sweating until six, when we boarded and I learned that I had a middle seat. Our plane was delayed, owing to striking air-traffic controllers in France, so we sat on the runway for another hour, waiting to get clearance from London. After takeoff, the woman in front of me shoved her seat all the way back and the woman next to her put on some horrible melon-scented hand cream. I couldn’t have been any more miserable. When we got back to London, it was so muggy that I had to pull the fan out. Today it’s drier. The sun was shining when I was woken up at six by Hugh, who looked at his phone and said, “It’s done. We’re out.”
It took me a moment to realize what he was talking about—Brexit.Illustration by Graham Roumieu
July 18th, Rackham
Every night, at dusk, Carol the fox arrives. “Bold as brass,” we say. On Saturday, she trotted by the open kitchen door. We put the bone from that night’s côte de boeuf in the pasture and peeked out of the house at eight-thirty to see her in the spot where we’d left it. She walked away as if she’d been caught at something, as if to say, I was just standing here, but now I think I’ll stand over there instead. She ambled over to the orchard, but a few minutes later she was back and had the bone in her mouth.
We’re just crazy about Carol. I think of her as half dog and half cat. I’d considered leaving her some canned food but read this morning that foxes are naturally pretty lazy, and if you feed them they’re likely to stop defending their wider territory. Then you go away on vacation and they’re, like, Fuck.
August 8th, Emerald Isle
As Hugh and I went for a swim yesterday, I tried to think of a name for the pink house we’d bought next to the Sea Section. “What about Come Shell or High Water?”
He loved it, which is nice but puts it squarely in the “no” category. A “yes” is when he moans or says, “That’s disgusting. That’s awful.”
He’s happy here, but I just don’t get it. Walking anywhere, in any direction, is a pain, even if it’s not a hundred degrees outside. I’ve passed a house called the Fighting Cocks in West Sussex a thousand times, always happily, but, if I have to walk by the Emerald Isle CVS once more, I’ll scream.
“But look at it,” he says. “Look at the ocean!” He sits on the landing and stares at the water in the morning with a cup of tea in his hand, in the afternoon with coffee, at dusk with a gin and tonic or a Manhattan. “It’s like Somalia,” he says. “I have my youth back.”
I say, “You’re crazy.”
He says, “You don’t understand.”
After our swim, I went out again and walked to the Food Lion, where I bought three boxes of Jell-O for myself and a pack of hot dogs to throw into the canal. The store was jammed with newly arrived vacationers, their carts heaping. “I ain’t never seen it this bad,” said the woman in front of me. She was buying frozen chicken fingers and a jug of water, and when she turned around I saw that a big chunk of her nose was missing. Skin cancer, most likely. She was as small as a child—four feet ten maybe—and wore a sun hat, a sleeveless top, and long pants. When we finally got close, the woman placed her items on the belt. I did as well and watched as she studied what I was getting. “Looks like you eat about how I do.”
I wanted to tell her that the Jell-O was ironic and the hot dogs—the cheapest there were, red hots, actually, the color of dynamite—were for snapping turtles, but it seemed pretentious.
“I don’t cook either,” she said. “No time—not that I’d do it if I was retired. I’m eighty-one and still work. My husband died five years ago.”
“Where do you work?” I asked.
“Yonder at the campground,” she said. “I manage it.”
I bet you do, I thought admiringly.
August 14th, Emerald Isle
Dad is incensed over a woman my age he recently saw at a funeral. “I don’t understand these people with no discipline. I mean, she’s enormous—legs that go straight down into her shoes. Just . . . Jesus. And makeup an inch thick. There’s nothing . . . feminine there. Nothing of beauty.” He made a series of disgusted faces, and Amy and I laughed. “It’s not funny,” he said. “You should have seen her!”
He arrived yesterday afternoon wearing white shorts with a matching T-shirt. We hugged, and he was just bones with a slightly humped back.
“So how’s the Muslim situation over there in England? Do you feel targeted because you’re homosexual?”
Dad either hopes or worries that ISIS will blow up a theatre during one of my events.
I said, “Where do you get these ideas from?” Though I know exactly where he gets them from: Fox News.
Later, when talk turned to guns and how easy it is to get one in the U.S., he said, “Well, that’s just the media.”
There were reports of a shooting in the food court of Crabtree Valley Mall yesterday. I turned to my niece. “I’m sorry to have to tell you, Maddy, but all your friends are dead,” I said. “All of them.”
Was it ISIS? everyone wondered. Was it a disgruntled employee?
As far as I know, it was a false report. Police closed the place but found no shooting victim and no shooter. Still, we thought of it on the beach yesterday, under the umbrella, tan-talking. This is different from regular talking. It’s lazier and more meandering.
“Is Jack Frost married?” I asked.
“That’s a good question,” Amy said.
August 20th, Rackham
I had the kitchen door open and looked over at around midnight to see Carol not exactly peeking in but standing not far away, waiting to be noticed.
“Well, hello!” I said. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”
And it’s true. I’ve been calling for her since we got back from our trip. On Thursday and Friday night, I put out dog food, over Hugh’s strenuous objection.
Last night, I returned from my walk and found him at the table outside my office, drinking a Manhattan. He’s been cranky and depressed, threatening to get on the next plane back to North Carolina. When he saw the dog food I’d bought, he said that if I put it out he wasn’t going to make me dinner.
“Oh, you are so.”
He insists that my feeding Carol will ultimately make things harder for her—“What happens when you take off for three months?”—and I argue that she could get hit by a car tomorrow. “How nice for her to come upon a windfall. You don’t know what it’s like out there night after night, lucky if you come away with two grubs and a millipede.”
When Carol arrived, I took off my iPod and sat on the top step outside my office with a bag of frankfurters. They were all I could find at the Waitrose, no big hot-dog selection like you’d get in the U.S. Carol came pretty close and might have taken it from my hand had I been more patient. As it was, I felt like I was causing her undue stress. She doesn’t like making eye contact and isn’t crazy about eating in front of people. The three thin frankfurters I gave her were carried away and looked funny hanging from her mouth. “Carol, you nut!” I said.
The chicken back she ate in front of me, ditto the dog treat. Between feedings I tried to wake Hugh. “Come downstairs. Our friend is here. We’re fellowshipping.”
“What does that mean?”
“You know what it means. We’re hanging out. It’s beautiful.”
He says I’m manipulating her. “It’s what you do, the puppet master. It’s the same thing with people—you try to buy them.”
He’s just jealous. Oh, Carol.
August 26th, Rackham
In the Times, I read about Martin Blackwell, a Georgia man who threw boiling water on the gay son of his girlfriend. He got the son’s boyfriend as well, and both of them had to have skin grafts. They were “moaning” and “hollering,” and “stuck together like two hot dogs,” Blackwell said. “They’ll be all right,” he insisted, when the police came. “It was just a little hot water on them.”
September 29th, Rackham
I was getting ready to take a bath and was in the bedroom undressing when I felt a sudden, severe pain on what would be the instep of my left foot if I had an instep. I was in my stocking feet and had just removed the sock, expecting to find a sliver of glass, when I saw a wasp writhing on the floor beside my bed. “Son of a bitch,” I said. “You come into my house and sting me on the foot when I’ve never done anything to you?”
What was he doing walking? Had the joy of flying worn off? I picked him up with Kleenex, and, after throwing him in the toilet, I continued to berate him. “Asshole. That’s right. Who are you going to sting now?”
God, did it hurt. If I’d been a child, I’d have cried for at least twenty minutes. As it was, I winced for a while, took my bath, and was in bed by one-forty-five. A few hours later I awoke, my foot alternately throbbing and itching. I’ve never been one to make a fuss when wasps alight on an outdoor restaurant table, but maybe I’ll change that. I’m also going to stop feeling sorry for whatever it is that’s going on with bees now, whatever that problem they’re having is, confusion or mass suicide. From this point on, bees can kiss my ass. I mean it.
November 8th, Santa Fe
I was driven to the airport this morning by a tall, pale, blond fellow who referred to his bosses as “gals”—two gals who were married to each other. Here it was, Election Day, he said, and he had no idea who he was going to vote for, or if he was even going to vote.
“Of course you are,” I said. “You’re going to vote for Hillary Clinton.” What I thought was, Gads, man, pull yourself together!
“I’m just not sure,” he continued. “I mean, I drove Ivanka once and she gave me a pretty big tip.”
“That’s no reason to vote for her father,” I said. “Chelsea Clinton would have tipped just as big; she just never happened to get into your car.”
“I just hate not to vote.”
“Then do it,” I said. “And do it for Hillary. That tape that leaked, Trump saying that because he was famous he could do whatever he likes with women—that’s not what a decent person would say. Hillary Clinton has her drawbacks, but she’s qualified, and you’re going to vote for her—end of story.”
I wonder if he will.
November 9th, Portland, Oregon
“How are we doing this morning?” the hostess of the hotel restaurant chirped.
I said, “Really? You’re honestly going to ask me that?”
Trump won, and I’m in shock. Here it is, not even eight, and already three American friends have written to ask if they can live in our back yard in Sussex.
I got into bed early, before Clinton lost, and every fifteen minutes I checked my iPad. He won Ohio. He won Florida, and North Carolina. Like everyone else I know, I started getting uncomfortable.
He flipped Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. He won.
Every pundit was wrong, as were all the polls. Trump won by uniting white working-class Midwesterners without a college education. They’re people who voted against their best interests. Bye, health care; bye, fifteen-dollar minimum wage.
Like always, I blame those who didn’t vote. I mean, he won Pennsylvania?
November 24th, Emerald Isle
I waited around for Lisa, Bob, and Dad to arrive, but by five-thirty they still weren’t here, so I set off on my walk, which took me past the Pacific Superstore. Like any number of other places along the main road, it sells rafts and T-shirts and bathing suits. In its enormous windows hung two extra-large beach towels with Confederate flags on them.
Really? I thought.
When I returned to the Sea Section, the others still hadn’t arrived. Kathy planned to grill fish for dinner, and, just as she was carrying it downstairs, they pulled up. Lisa has continued to lose weight since I last saw her. You can see it clearly. “I told Dad I was down twenty pounds, and he said, ‘Lose any more and you and I are going to have a love affair.’ Isn’t that creepy?”
It made me think of what Trump had said about dating his daughter Ivanka. “Since when do men do that?” I asked Lisa.
At the table I told everyone about the Confederate-flag beach towels I had seen. “That’s just terrible,” Dad said, forking asparagus into his mouth.
Lisa mentioned the recent rise of hate crimes, and Dad said he’d heard there was a lot of bad stuff going on. “I wonder what precipitated it?”
“You wonder?” we all said in unison.
“It’s Trump,” Lisa said.
“Baloney. He has nothing to do with it.”
This was the conversation we were all hoping to avoid, or at least postpone until our brother Paul arrived, but now we were having it.
“He actively courted racists,” I said. “They were front and center at his rallies, and, since winning, he’s done nothing to disavow them.”
“He doesn’t have time for crap like that,” Dad said. “He can’t disavow every group he doesn’t like—he’s too busy.”
“Not too busy to tweet about ‘Hamilton’ at 3 a.m.,” I said. “Or to complain that ‘Saturday Night Live’ is one-sided.”
“Oh, baloney. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“How could you vote for that asshole?” I asked.
“Donald Trump is not an asshole!” Dad shouted, which I thought was funny. I mean, he pretty much ran on it.
“Any kid in America can go online now and hear his or her new President say the word ‘pussy,’ ” I said, my voice raised, my heart in my throat. “Is that the person you want your children to look up to? What kind of a man says that sort of thing?”
“It was locker-room talk.”
“He wasn’t in a locker room. He was at work,” I shouted. “And don’t tell me about locker-room talk. I’m in them five days a week and never hear anyone speaking like that. And, if I did, the last thing I’d think is, Oh, I wish that guy were my President.”
Amy jumped in. “It’s the most important job in the world, and you voted for someone with no experience?”
“He has plenty of experience. Business experience.”
“Steve Bannon in the White House?” I said. “Steve Bannon, who said he didn’t want his kids going to a school in L.A. because there were too many Jews there?”
“He never . . . I don’t know where you’re getting this crap. Trump is a wonderful man, the best thing that’s happened to this country in a long time.”
“He’s a con artist. He’s a huckster.”
“You’re wrong,” Dad said. “All of you are wrong.”
“You want to go for a walk?” Lisa asked.
“I’d love to,” I said.
We went five miles on steam. Idiot . . . asshole . . . how dare he . . .
“I was going to write Dad’s obituary in the car on the way here, but I was too upset,” Lisa said. “I’d wanted to get all the facts straight, but now I really don’t give a damn.”
By the time we returned, it was midnight. Dad had gone to bed, and we stood in the kitchen outside his room rehashing the argument with Amy and Hugh until we were all repeating ourselves. “Well, I’m going to go to bed,” Lisa said, sighing, at one o’clock.
“With Bob or Dad?” Amy asked.
I’ve never seen Hugh laugh so hard.
December 4th, Rackham
It’s bright and bitterly cold this morning. The yard is white with frost, and lying on the ground outside my office—frozen now, but still glistening—are the four slices of lamb’s liver I bought for Carol on the night I returned to Sussex.
“Thelma hasn’t seen her since we left in early October,” Hugh said over dinner last night. “Face it—she’s dead.”
But I don’t want to face it. It’s too early for that. I called for her after sunset, great clouds of steam coming from my mouth and dissipating. I read last summer on some wildlife site that fifty-eight per cent of foxes die before they’re a year old—hit by cars, most of them. Others are poisoned, or maybe they starve to death. Carol seemed pretty young to me. I expected that she would mate right about now and take a turkey leg from my hand on Christmas Day. I had it all planned out. In the spring she’d have her litter. I imagined her bringing the kits straight to me, and I thought of how I’d spoil them and their children in turn. This is different from having a dog or cat go missing. Carol was/is a wild animal. There’s no collar around her neck. I can’t put signs up. She wasn’t “mine,” but that didn’t stop me from being hers. And so the lamb’s liver remains where it is. I’m just surprised that crows haven’t taken it.
December 5th, Rackham
I can’t seem to put this election behind me. There was hope last week—crazy hope—that Jill Stein’s requested three-state recount would go in the Democrats’ favor, but, if it were likely, the Times would have mentioned it. Hugh promised last year that, if Trump won, the C.I.A. would “take him out,” but I don’t see that happening either. By this point, Clinton won the popular vote by three million, a result that Trump, with no evidence, is attributing to “massive voter fraud,” a claim that his surrogates, with no evidence, are supporting. I’ve never been this upset by an election and can’t shake the feeling that it’s somehow my fault, that I could have done more. That makes me sound grandiose—what do I think I had the power to do? It all comes down to a handful of people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. A handful in each state, and the stupid Electoral College that allows a vote in Wyoming to count more than a vote in California. In the paper, I look at people who attended his victory rally and wonder, Who are you? Then I think of Paul announcing with great authority that Trump is a man of peace and of Dad saying he’s the best thing that’s happened to this country in ages. My God, I think. Those people share my last name.
At four o’clock yesterday, Hugh and I drove to Storrington for his piano recital. There weren’t any cars parked in front of the teacher’s house, so we knocked and learned that we were an hour early. “Really?” Hugh said. He’d been a nervous wreck all day and probably would have played his brief piece (Schubert’s “Serenade”) then and there if he could have. Rather than leaving with me, he stayed and helped his teacher set the buffet table. I picked up a big sackful of trash and returned at five to find the small parlor packed with people. Kids sat on the floor while adults occupied the chairs and sofas. There was one seat left in the back of the room, and I took it just as an eighteen-year-old named Hannah stepped forward to play a piece that she had memorized. She and a serious-looking ten-year-old named Tom were clearly the best, but they seemed to take no particular pleasure in their superiority. Neither of them smiled at the accomplishment, much less pumped a fist. Is it an English thing, this modesty?
I liked that everyone was brief. “Now here’s William to play ‘Tearful Mouse.’ ”
“Charlie is a bit sick today, unfortunately, but had hoped to entertain us with ‘The Stegosaurus Stomp.’ ”
Hugh practices every day for hours, so I thought he’d do much better. It was painful watching him approach the bench. He was the only one who spoke to the teacher while playing, who acted like this was a lesson rather than a recital. I’ve never seen him so vulnerable. That said, he was a good sport about it. “I wanted to be perfect,” he said over dinner. “I . . . need to be perfect.”
It’s such a burden to place on yourself. Say you are perfect—who’s going to recognize it? Few things are like the Olympics, where judges hold up scorecards. How does one paint perfectly? Or lawyer perfectly?
The key is to fill the space between your skill level and perfection with charm. That said, you can’t do it consciously. Charm can’t be constructed that way. Maybe the word I’m looking for is self-forgiveness, the contagious variety. There, that happened, so can we all now agree to put it behind us?
After Hugh, a twelve-year-old blasted “My Heart Will Go On” on the trumpet. It was such a jarring instrument for that song—I loved it. A man played the Irish pipes with great skill, and then another child played, and another after that. It was such a lovely way to spend an early evening.
December 8th, Paris
“Ah!” cried Dr. Barras when I showed up for my semiannual periodontal appointment. “You wore green socks to match our walls!”
She was in a good mood yesterday. “I got a pain in my side after your election and worried I’d have to be hospitalized,” she said. “It’s Trump! How can so many people in your country be so stupid?”
Her assistant agreed. “Horrible. What a stupid, stupid man.”
I didn’t have as much plaque as I did the last time, but it was a bloody undertaking nevertheless. Afterward, I was given a training session with an electric toothbrush. Dr. Barras held up a mirror, and, after thinking that my teeth looked pretty good, I realized I was looking at my implants, which are only “mine” in the way that my socks are, meaning I bought them. My real teeth looked slightly better and slightly worse than I thought they would. Basically, they’re just old-person’s teeth, tea-stained and chipped. I’d love not to have so many gaps between them but am not sure I want braces again at age sixty. I’ll get them off just in time to be cremated.
(Excerpt: A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), by David Sedaris, out this October from Little, Brown.)
Please click the space/link below for the original ariticle:
1. The way shown how we come by any knowledge, sufficient to prove it not innate. It is an established opinion among some men, that there are in the understanding certain innate principles; some primarily notions, characters, as it were, stamped upon the mind of man, which the soul receives in its very first being and brings into the world with it. It would be sufficient to convince unprejudiced readers of the falseness of this supposition, if I should only show (as I hope I shall in the following parts of this discourse) how men, barely by the use of their natural faculties, may attain to all the knowledge they have, without the help of any innate impressions, and may arrive at certainty without any such original notions or principles. For I imagine, any one will easily grant, that it would be impertinent to suppose the ideas of colours innate in a creature to whom God hath given sight, and a power to receive them by the eyes from external objects: and no less unreasonable would it be to attribute several truths to the impressions of nature and innate characters, when we may observe in ourselves faculties fit to attain as easy and certain knowledge of them as if they were originally imprinted on the mind.
But because a man is not permitted without censure to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when they lead him ever so little out of the common road, I shall set down the reasons that made me doubt of the truth of that opinion as an excuse for my mistake, if I be in one; which I leave to be considered by those who, with me, dispose themselves to embrace truth wherever they find it.
2. General assent the great argument. There is nothing more commonly taken for granted, than that there are certain principles, both speculative and practical (for they speak of both), universally agreed upon by all mankind; which therefore; they argue, must needs be constant impressions which the souls of men receive in their first beings, and which they bring into the world with them, as necessarily and really as they do any of their inherent faculties.
3. Universal consent proves nothing innate. This argument, drawn from universal consent, has this misfortune in it, that if it were true in matter of fact that there were certain truths wherein all mankind agreed, it would not prove them innate, if there can be any other way shown, how men may come to that universal agreement in the things they do consent in; which I presume may be done.
4. “What is, is;” and, “It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” not universally assented to. But, which is worse, this argument of universal consent, which is made use of to prove innate principles, seems to me a demonstration that there are none such; because there are none to which all mankind give an universal assent. I shall begin with the speculative, and instance in those magnified principles of demonstration: “Whatsoever is, is; ” and “It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” which, of all others, I think, have the most allowed title to innate. These have so settled a reputation of maxims universally received that it will, no doubt, be thought strange if any one should seem to question it. But yet I take liberty to say, that these propositions are so far from having an universal assent, that there are a great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known.
5. Not on the mind naturally, imprinted, because not known to children, idiots, etc. For, first, it is evident, that all children and idiots have not the least apprehension or thought of them; and the want of that is enough to destroy that universal assent, which must needs be the necessary concomitant of all innate truths: it seeming to me near a contradiction to say, that there are truths imprinted on the soul which it perceives or understands not; imprinting, if it signify anything, being nothing else but the making certain truths to be perceived. For to imprint anything on the mind without the mind’s perceiving it, seems to me hardly intelligible. If therefore children and idiots have souls, have minds, with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to these truths; Which, since they do not, it is evident that there are no such impressions.
For if they are not notions naturally imprinted, how can they be innate? And if they are notions imprinted, how can they he unknown? To say, a notion is imprinted on the mind, and yet at the same time to say that the mind is ignorant of it, and never yet took notice of it, is to make this impression nothing. No proposition can he said to be in the mind which it never yet knew, which it was never yet conscious of. For if any one say, then, by the same reason, all propositions that are true, and the mind is capable ever of assenting to, may be said to be in the mind, and to the imprinted; since if any one can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, it must be only because it is capable of knowing it; and so the mind is of all truths it ever shall know. Nay, thus truths may be imprinted on the mind which it never did, nor ever shall, know: for a man may live long and die at last in ignorance of many truths which his mind was capable of knowing, and that with certainty. So that if the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know will, by this account, be every one of them innate: and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking; which, whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing different from those who deny innate principles.
For nobody, I think, ever denied that the mind was capable of knowing several truths. The capacity, they say, is innate; the knowledge acquired. But then, to what end such contest for certain innate maxims? If truths can be imprinted on the understanding without being perceived I can see no difference there can be between any truths the mind is capable of knowing in respect of their original: they must all be innate, or all adventitious; in vain shall a man go about to distinguish them. He therefore that talks of innate notions in the understanding, cannot (if he intend thereby any distinct sort of truths) mean such truths to be in the understanding as it never perceived, and is yet wholly ignorant of. For if these words (“to be in the understanding”) have any propriety, they signify to be understood. So that, to be in the understanding and not to be understood; to be in the mind, and never to be perceived; is all one as to say, anything is, and is not, in the mind or understanding. If therefore these two propositions: “Whatsoever is, is;” and, “It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” are by nature imprinted, children cannot be ignorant of them; infants, and all that have souls, must necessarily have them in their understandings, know the truth of them, and assent to it.
6. That men know them when they come to the use of reason, answered. To avoid this, it is usually answered, that all well know and assent to them, when they come to the use of reason; and this is enough to prove them innate. I answer,
Doubtful expressions, that have scarce any signification, go for clear results to those who, being prepossessed, take not the pains to examine even what they themselves say. For, to apply this answer with any tolerable sense to our present purpose, it must signify one of these two things; either, that, as soon as men come to the use of reason, these supposed native inscriptions come to be known and observed by them; or else, that the use and exercise of men’s reasons assists them in the discovery of these principles, and certainly makes them known to them.
7. If reason discovered them, that would not prove them innate. If they mean that by the use of reason men may discover these principles, and that this is sufficient to prove them innate, their way of arguing will stand thus: viz. That, whatever truths reason can certainly discover to us and make us firmly assent to, those are all naturally imprinted on the mind; since that universal assent which is made the mark of them, amounts to no more but this – that by the use of reason we are capable to come to a certain knowledge of, and assent to, them; and by this means there will be no difference between the maxims of the mathematicians and theorems they deduce from them: all must be equally allowed innate, they being all discoveries made by the use of reason and truths that a rational creature may certainly come to know, if he apply his thoughts rightly that way.
8. It is false that reason discovers them. But how can these men think the use of reason necessary to discover principles that are supposed innate, when reason (if we may believe them) is nothing else but the faculty of deducing unknown truths from principles or propositions that are already known? That certainly can never be thought innate which we have need of reason to discover, unless, as I have said, we will have all the certain truths that reason ever teaches us to be innate. We may as well think the use of reason necessary to make our eyes discover visible objects as that there should be need of reason, or the exercise thereof to make the understanding see what is originally engraved in it, and cannot be in the understanding before it be perceived by it. So that to make reason discover these truths thus imprinted, is to say, that the use of reason discovers to a man what he knew before; and if men have those innate impressed truths originally, and before the use of reason and yet are always ignorant of them till they come to the use of reason, it is in effect to say that men know, and know them not, at the same time.
t will here perhaps be said, that mathematical demonstrations, and other truths that are not innate, are not assented to, as soon as proposed, wherein they are distinguished from these maxims and other innate truths. I shall have occasion to speak of assent upon the first proposing, more particularly by and by. I shall here only, and that very readily, allow, that these maxims and mathematical demonstrations are in this different – that the one has need of reason using of proofs to make them out and to gain our assent; but the other, as soon as understood, are, without any the least reasoning, embraced and assented to. But I withal beg leave to observe, that it lays open the weakness of this subterfuge which requires the use of reason for the discovery of these general truths, since it must be confessed, that in their discovery there is no use made of reasoning at all. And I think those who give this answer will not be forward to affirm, that the knowledge of this maxim, “That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” is a deduction of our reason. For this would be to destroy that bounty of nature they seem so fond of, whilst they make the knowledge of those principles to depend on the labour of our thoughts; for all reasoning is search and casting about, and requires pains and application. …
BOOK II, CHAPTER I: OF IDEAS IN GENERAL, AND THEIR ORIGINAL
l. Idea is the object of thinking. Every man being conscious to himself, that he thinks, and that which his mind is applied about, whilst thinking, being the ideas that are there, it is past doubt that men have in their mind several ideas, such as are those expressed by the words, “whiteness, hardness, sweetness, thinking, motion, man, elephant, army, drunkenness,” and others. It is in the first place then to be inquired, How he comes by them? I know it is a received doctrine, that men have native ideas and original characters stamped upon their minds in their very first being. This opinion I have at large examined already; and, I suppose, what I have said in the foregoing book will be much more easily admitted, when I have shown whence the understanding may get all the ideas it has, and by what ways and degrees they may come into the mind; for which I shall appeal to every one’s own observation and experience.
2. All ideas come from sensation or reflection. Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper [tabula rasa], void of all characters without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, From experience: in that all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. Our observation, employed either about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds, perceived and reflected on by ourselves is that which supplies our understandings with all the materials of thinking. These two are the fountains of knowledge, from whence all the ideas we have, or can naturally have, do spring.
3. The object of sensation one source of ideas. First. Our senses, conversant about particular sensible objects, do convey into the mind several distinct perceptions of things, according to those various ways wherein those objects do affect them; and thus we come by those ideas we have of yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet, and all those which we call sensible qualities; which when I say the senses convey into the mind, I mean, they from external objects convey into the mind what produces there those perceptions. This great source of most of the ideas we have, depending wholly upon our senses, and derived by them to the understanding, I call, “sensation.”
4. The operations of our minds the other source of them. Secondly. The other fountain, from which experience furnisheth the understanding with ideas, is the perception of the operations of our own minds within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got; which operations, when the soul comes to reflect on and consider, do furnish the understanding with another set of ideas which could not be had from things without and such are perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we, being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understandings as distinct ideas, as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called “internal sense.” But as I call the other “sensation,” so I call this “reflection,” the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operations within itself. By reflection, then, in the following part of this discourse, I would be understood to mean that notice which the mind takes of its own operations, and the manner of them, by reason whereof there come to be ideas of these operations in the understanding.
These two, I say, viz., external material things as the objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within as the objects of reflection, are to me, the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings. The term “operations” here, I use in a large sense, as comprehending not barely the actions of the mind about its ideas, but some sort of passions arising sometimes from them, such as is the satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought.
5. All our ideas are of the one or the other of these. The understanding seems to me not to have the least glimmering of any ideas which it doth not receive from one of these two. External objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us; and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations.
These, when we have taken a full survey of them, and their several modes, combinations, and relations, we shall find to contain all our whole stock of ideas, and that we have nothing in our mind which did not come in one of these two ways. Let anyone examine his own thoughts; and thoroughly search into his understanding, and then let him tell me, whether all the original ideas he has there, are any other than of the objects of his senses, or of the operations of his mind considered as objects of his reflection; and how great a mass of knowledge soever he imagines to be lodged there, he will, upon taking a strict view see that he has not any idea in his mind but what one of these two have imprinted, though perhaps with infinite variety compounded and enlarged by the understanding, as we shall see hereafter.
6. Observable in children. He that attentively considers the state of a child at his first coming into the world, will have little reason to think him stored with plenty of ideas that are to be the matter of his future knowledge. It is by degrees he comes to be furnished with them; and though the ideas of obvious and familiar qualities imprint themselves before the memory begins to keep a register of time and order, yet it is often so late before some unusual qualities come in the way, that there are few men that cannot recollect the beginning of their acquaintance with them: and, if it were worth while, no doubt a child might be so ordered as to have but a very few even of the ordinary ideas till he were grown up to a man. But all that are born into the world being surrounded with bodies that perpetually and diversely affect them, variety of ideas whether care be taken about it, or no, are imprinted on the minds of children. Light and colours are busy at hand every where when the eye is but open; sounds and some tangible qualities fail not to solicit their proper senses and force an entrance to the mind; but yet I think it will be granted easily, that if a child were kept in a place where he never saw any other but black and white till he were a man, he would have no more ideas of scarlet or green, than he that from his childhood never tasted an oyster or a pine-apple has of those particular relishes.
7. Men are differently furnished with these according to the different objects they converse with. Men then come to be furnished with fewer or more simple ideas from without, according as the objects they converse with afford greater or less variety; and from the operations of their minds within, according as they more or less reflect on them. For, though he that contemplates the operations of his mind cannot but have plain and clear ideas of them; yet, unless he turn his thoughts that way, and considers them attentively, he will no more have clear and distinct ideas of all the operations of his mind, and all that may be observed therein than he will have all the particular ideas of any landscape or of the parts and motions of a clock, who will not turn his eyes to it, and with attention heed all the parts of it. The picture or clock may be so placed, that they may come in his way every day; but yet he will have but a confused idea of all the parts they are made of, till he applies himself with attention to consider them each in particular. …
CHAPTER III: OF IDEAS OF ONE SENSE
l. Division of simple ideas. The better to conceive the ideas we receive from sensation, it may not be amiss for us to consider them in reference to the different ways whereby they make their approaches to our minds, and make themselves perceivable by us.
First, then, there are some which come into our minds by one sense only.
Secondly. There are others that convey themselves into the mind by more senses than one.
Thirdly. Others first are had from reflection only.
Fourthly. There are some that make themselves way, and are suggested to the mind, by all the ways of sensation and reflection.
We shall consider them apart under these several heads.
There are some ideas which have admittance only through one sense, which is peculiarly adapted to receive them. Thus light and colours, as white, red, yellow, blue, with their several degrees or shades and mixtures, as green, scarlet, purple, sea-green, and the rest, come in only by the eyes; all kinds of noises, sounds, and tones, only by the ears; the several tastes and smells, by the nose and palate. And if these organs, or the nerves which are the conduits to convey them from without to their audience in the brain, the mind’s presence-room, (as I may so call it,) are, any of them, so disordered as not to perform their functions, they have no postern to be admitted by, no other way to bring themselves into view, and be received by the understanding.
The most considerable of those belonging to the touch are heat and cold, and solidity; all the rest – consisting almost wholly in the sensible configuration, as smooth and rough; or else more or less firm adhesion of the parts, as hard and soft, tough and brittle – are obvious enough.
I think it will be needless to enumerate all the particular simple ideas belonging to each sense. Nor indeed is it possible it we would, there being a great many more of them belonging to most of the senses than we have names for. The variety of smells, which are as many almost, if not more, than species of bodies in the world, do most of them want name. Sweet and stinking commonly serve our turn for these ideas, which in effect is little more than to call them pleasing or displeasing; though the smell of a rose and violet, both sweet, are certainly very distinct ideas. Nor are the different tastes that by, our palates we receive ideas of, much better provided with names. Sweet, bitter, sour, harsh, and salt, are almost all the epithets we have to denominate that numberless variety of relishes which are to be found distinct, not only in almost every sort of creatures but in the different parts of the same plant, fruit, or animal. The same may be said of colours and sounds. I shall therefore, in the account of simple ideas I am here giving, content myself to set down only such as are most material to our present purpose, or are in themselves less apt to be taken notice of, though they are very frequently the ingredients of our complex ideas; amongst which I think I may well account “solidity” which therefore I shall treat of in the next chapter.
Source: ”An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, 1689, 38th Edition from William Tegg, London
Glass Animals are a band of unruffled spirits. Their sultry indie pop has the feel of a musical travelogue from many nations, built from layers of clanking percussion, flirtatious electro-pop, and fragments of riffs and motifs. Dave Bayley’s come-hither croon—an audible ache in songs such as 2016’s “Youth”—acts as the fulcrum around which their sound revolves. His presence is the unifying thread that ties together the electro-soul of “Life Itself,” the slinky falsetto funk of “Toes,” and their coquettish, whispery slow jam “Gooey.”