Review: Analyzes the stages in his crack-up and partial recovery in which he learns not to care about personal crises of others so long as it does not occur to him. "I felt like the beady-eyed men I used to see on the commuting train from Great Neck fifteen years back—men who did not care whether the world tumbled into chaos tomorrow if it spared their houses. I was one with them now, one with the smooth articles who said:
'I'm sorry but business is business.' Or:
'You ought to have thought of that before you got into trouble.' Or:
'I'm not the person to see about that.' "'
Quote: "Of course all life is a process of breaking down, but the blows that do the dramatic side of the work—the big sudden blows that come, or seem to come, from outside—the ones you remember and blame things on and, in moments of weakness, tell your friends about, don't show their effects all at once. There is another sort of blow that comes from within—that you don't feel until it's too late to do anything about it, until you realize with finality that in some regard you will never be as good a man again. The first sort of breakage seems to happen quick. The second kind happens almost without your knowing it but is realized suddenly indeed."
Quote: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
Quote: "Life, ten years ago, was largely a personal matter. I must hold in balance the sense of the futility of effort and the sense of the necessity to struggle; the conviction of the inevitability of failure and still the determination to 'succeed.' '':
Quote: "And then, ten years this side of forty-nine, I suddenly realized that I had prematurely cracked."
Quote: "But I had a strong sudden instinct that I must be alone. I didn't want to see any people at all."
Quote: ".. .that every act of life from the morning tooth-brush to the friend at dinner had become an effort."
Quote: "...occurred to me simultaneously that of all natural forces, vitality is the incommunicable one."
Quote: "This is what I think now: that the natural state of the sentient adult is a qualified unhappiness."
Quote: ".. .that end that comes to our youth and hope."
Quote: "...and my recent experience parallels the wave of despair that swept the nation when the [financial] boom was over."
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books. 1995.