From the euphoria of a mystical echocardiogram, I come down to earth and bump up against this poem by Irish poet Galway Kinnell:
In a Parlor Containing a Table
In a parlor containing a table
And three chairs, three men confided
Their inmost thoughts to one another.
I, said the first, am miserable.
I am miserable, the second said.
I think that for me the right word
Is miserable, said the third.
Well, they said, it’s quarter to two.
Good night. Cheer up. Sleep well.
You too. You too. You too.
(“In a Parlor Containing a Table” by Galway Kinnell, from The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ Into the New World.)
If I ever heard an expression of existential angst and aimlessness, there it is — leavened with Kinnell’s dry humor. This is not just a modern condition, although we moderns often act as though we think it were. No, it goes a long way back, as witness this etching from 1653 by Adriaen van Ostade:
Pretty good image, yes? But if you REALLY want to encounter existential boredom and suffering, you have to meet Henri, the French cat. Anyone old enough to remember French films (in black and white, of course) from the 50’s, 60’s, even 70’s, will find this oh so true to life. (Younger people may be baffled; you are warned.)
Enjoy! (if that’s the right word) and if you need another dose, there’s a sequel here: