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Fall 2023 | Volume 6, Issue 1


Some time ago, I witnessed a prescient scene of life. Upon leaving a place, a man was asked by another man what he planned to do when he got back home. The departing man replied, “I don’t know.” His stride was unbroken as he moved towards this undefined home. A third man, unconnected to either party, quickly and boisterously interjected, “Quite right man!.” His stride was also unbroken, except to nod his approval. The interloping man was a philosophical genius. What he witnessed was a revolution.


I enjoy the endings of things. It’s not because I’m enlightened and in rhythm with nature and prepared for the next thing, or any phony, implausible, aphoristic nonsense like that. It’s sort of for the opposite reason. The death of a great actor or a bad president; the end of an academic year or the anniversary of an assassination or more natural disaster—grant us permission to ponder the advent of things; to discuss matters that aren’t happening right now—to do something other than that which we are obligated to do, even if we have no plan for our next thing.


We live small now. Beholden to external expectation or false covenant or social appearance and caring only for what we must do rather than what invigorates, we violate ourselves. We then memorialize our violations by posting about them in public forums. We then condemn our identities further by rating and debating the quality of such postings until there are no next things, just brands and vibes, somehow both ubiquitous and elusive. And so soon forgotten—an age of fewer and fewer contemplative endings. I think understanding is a kind of anathema to love. It’s hard to love those we claim to understand—it’s all too clinical, and too diminishing to claim to “get someone.” Love is the suspension of analysis—willful hypocrisy of judgment motivated by craving. 


I actually love next things, when they confront us, and all the sudden become impossible to resist. Endings are necessary for that too. I founded this literary society around the same time that I was finishing my first book, maybe in part to extend that feeling, to give my theories a forum long after they had been forgotten by the masochistic few that had actually read them. But we did better than that, and that’s not what we do here now. I even realized it was time for me to do another book—pushed by people who work harder than me, pushed by the people who come to study with us and write in these pages. I couldn’t have predicted that. The first era of the Sancho Panza Literary Society has ended, but indulge me for just one more moment in one of the permitted, contemplative endings of things described above, as there may be a few things I wrote at our advent that remain true.


College is just as it always has been—a kind of lucid and livable waking dream characterized by the constant sight of overgrown trees lining always green campus lawns. The air is always diaphanous and the scene is always the same, save the pitiable detail of which exact people are walking by these lush lawns on any given day. That is the joy and the deadening brand of sadness it evokes. It is all a place that can never end and a place that no one person can ever stay. It is Whitman’s corpse waiting the proper time in the doorway; its otherwise divine beauty diminishing in exact proportion to how long one overstays one’s welcome. It has eternity but no repetition. It’s possible that we don’t come of age but are remnants of certain ages.  And that’s probably alright.



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