Sunday, April 29, 2012

Looking for Mr. Marlowe

I decided this morning that what I TRULY need right now is my regular Raymond Chandler "fix" --- where I curl up and read two or three of his novels in a row, without barely removing myself from my cozy cocoon of comforters, blankets and pillows; rising, perhaps, only for the occasional cup of tea.

Chandler's Marlowe reminds me that there really is nothing, nothing at all, new in this world. He confirms that my profound cynism is not wrong, and that it is, in fact, a necessary survival mechanism. He reminds me, as well, that despite my cynicism, it is of utmost importance that I hold on to my (annoying to some, perhaps --- actually, annoying to many) avid curiosity about the 'who what when where whys" of situations I encounter. I have found over the years that most people prefer to be numb to the 'who what when where and why's' of life. And when you encourage them to look beyond the surface, they brush you off, they get mad and frustrated and they let you know that asking questions "isn't allowed." That's my experience, at least.

I've probably had far too much therapy over the years. That probably explains why I have to ask so many questions.

Anyway, in the end, Mr. Marlowe reminds that being aloof can be the one characteristic that will save your life, perhaps even your soul. Wait for it. Stuff is gonna happen. It always does. It may not be pretty; or the "pretty" will more likely be the just the shiny outer shell of a dead carcass.

Man has always been a venal animal. The growth of populations, the huge costs of war, the incessant pressure of confiscatory taxation – all these things make him more and more venal. The average man is tired and scared, and a tired, scared man can’t afford ideals. He has to buy food for his family. In our time we have seen a shocking decline in both public and private morals. You can’t expect quality from people whose lives are a subjection to a lack of quality. You can’t have quality with mass production. You don’t want it because it lasts too long. So you substitute styling, which is a commercial swindle intended to produce artificial obsolescence. Mass production couldn’t sell its goods next year unless it made what is sold this year look unfashionable a year from now. We have the whitest kitchens and the most shining bathrooms in the world. But in the lovely white kitchen the average [person] can’t produce a meal fit to eat, and the lovely shining bathroom is mostly a receptacle for deodorants, laxatives, sleeping pills, and the products of that confidence racket called the cosmetic industry. We make the finest packages in the world, Mr Marlowe. The stuff inside is mostly junk.

Raymond Chandler, from "The Long Goodbye"

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Bierce says a cynic is a "blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision."

    I like Mr. Bierce and Mr. Chandler.