I have recently finished reading Charles Dickens’ 1840 novel, Barnaby Rudge. It is a novel of both romantic and political drama set in the period leading up to the famous London Gordon Riots of 1780. To offer a basic sketch of the story, it follows the lives of four families: the Haredales, the Willets, the Vardens, and the Rudges, between the years of 1775 and 1780, culminating in the riots of June, 1780.
In 1973, Ursula Le Guin wrote a short story about a utopian city called 'Omelas'. The story is, at its core, a philosophical thought experiment. To summarize: Let’s just accept for the sake of argument, a city that is so self-sufficient, and so devoid of want or suffering or strife that the people of the city were able to live in an unceasing state of joyous bliss. Every season involved weeks-long festivals of celebration, and nobody was deprived of any need, material, moral, or psychological.
My first visit to London, was during a holiday trip in 2007. Here’s how I memorialized it The ancient matron grasps longingly for the sky, a crowd of bony fingers stretching upward, black threads tied to each one, laden with dangling bits of civilization renewed. Below, in her bowels, a gritty brown aroma, and clattering, grumbling, tin boxes scatter frantically along well-worn paths, long sullen with a heavy memory of countless other footfalls.
[BRADLEY] “Jerry?“ [JERRY] ”Yeah, Bradley?“ [BRADLEY] ”Where are we?“ [JERRY] ”I ain’t quite sure, but I can smell that fruit gettin’ close, and I ain’t stoppin’ till I find it!“ [BRADLEY] ”Shouldn’t we be getting back to the pad?“ [JERRY] ”Goddammit, Bradley! You wanna be eatin’ mold your whole damned life?“ [BRADLEY] ”But I can’t see a thing, Jerry. I’m scared!“ [JERRY] ”Well, me neither, but Jes’ stay close, and you’ll be fine!
Look at yourself in the mirror this morning. See the lines of failure drawn out from the points of your eyes. Remember that face before they were there. Ask yourself what you were doing before those were there. Consider, for a moment, what you could be doing today, instead of what you have to do. Think of something encouraging to shake off the melancholy. Chuckle at the silliness of this ritual of self-pity, turn toward the shower, and step in.