Monday, October 24, 2005

I live like a hermit in my own head

Well, it turns out listening to DCFC can be hazardous to your health. Sort of. The NYT has its faults of late, obviously, but it saved you from reading a bunch of nonsensical whining. Two things in the NYT brought me some hope today.

The first is something I do not bother to write about much, because I cannot even believe it is still a matter of debate- unintelligent design. In the last few months, however, the science and academic communities are starting to actually grow a spine about the situation. In addition to a few editorial journal articles I have come across issuing a call to arms, Cornell University's interim President, Hunter Rawlings III, came out swinging on Friday against ID. Sure, he is only an interim appointee, and was kind of setting himself on fire in a final blaze of glory, but at least someone from the university set is finally coming out and calling a spade a spade. Every time someone calls this issue a matter of tolerance, my brain implodes. And that is problematic, because I am running low on brain cells, people. I need all my neurons to study those pesky viruses.

The second story is more near and dear, and unexpected. The NYT reviewed a recently published book on Lincoln that focuses on his depression. What's interesting is that the author of this book has had his struggles with depression himself. There are people who have real chemical imbalances and need medication to live their lives. Believe me, I'm not going to start accusing people of being glib or anything. But here's something Lincoln wrote in 1841 that really resonated with me:
"I am now the most miserable man living. . . . I must die or be better"
Again, don't get me wrong- there is no need to mail order a straightjacket for me. But there's something to be said for hitting rock bottom, and coming to the decision yourself that you have to pull yourself up from the mire. There are problems with Shenk's analysis of Lincoln. I don't think it's fair to attribute all of Lincoln's greatness to his battle with depression.

But the idea that you might be miserable, that you might fall into a deep low, and that you might someday be able to fix your thoughts on something you find meaningful, that you might use it as your compass, that it might ultimately steady you- well, that's cause for optimism and swoons.

I had a bad weekend, and I can't even explain why. I brought it completely, wholly on myself. But yesterday, I gave myself a much-needed kick in the pants. And by night fall, when the fog was descending on the city, I was back from the ether. That has to count for something.

P.S. To the reader who found me through googling "antisocial misanthrope", I think we are meant to be.

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