…there is no point to imagine anything better about ourselves. We are born carved in stone, whatever our original features and limitations — so be it, our power to change any of it is virtually nil. It is folly, then, to imagine draft two, improving the flow of thought and feeling, rendering it in more moving language.
“Well, that’s reductio ad absurdum, you know that,” said the skeleton of my father, much wiser now eleven years after his death. “An exaggerated straw man jackass position to try to make the adversary’s view look ridiculous.”
Well, in the case of this argument, my position is aided greatly by the exaggerated straw-man jackass absurdity of my adversary’s.
“Well, the proof of your position will be if you succeed, after a life of avoiding all contests. The proof will be if we read about this book, well-received in the New York Times. The proof will be a decent pay day, or not. I’m not the one to judge whether you are deluding yourself about there being a story here worth telling, Elie,” said the skeleton. “I’m also not the judge of whether you are the man to draw the story out of the stone I was carved in.”
It’s me or nobody, old man.
“‘Old man’ is for people who are alive. I am old, I am five, I am every age I ever was during my life. Who is the man, after his life is over?” the skeleton of my father paused meaningfully, expression mysterious as a Sphinx.
“My life is now a book, every week a paragraph, every few years a chapter, if you can make it so. Go ahead, if you can, see what you can make out of it. I wish you the best, I’d like to be remembered as more than a modest, sagacious man, to those who can read the Hebrew words carved into my headstone, should they happen on my grave in an obscure corner of Westchester.”
That is the plan, really my only plan at the moment. Why the hell not? There are virtually no other stories about anyone else in our brutally pruned little family, no more than a shard left of any of them. The wind whispering past your grave knows more about all this than anyone alive.
“Besides you, presumably,” said the skeleton, eyes on nothing.
Besides me, here for another few winks of an eye.