Right now I'm reading Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature and finding it very reassuring. As someone who grew up in Warriors-era New York City, I may find it easier than most people to believe that violence has declined worldwide, but despite my subjective impression, it's hard to argue with Pinker's assertion that we don't saw people in half for minor breaches of conduct anymore. Vlad the Impaler isn't famous because he was impaling people and boiling them alive when everyone else was being nice; he's famous because he had to impale people and boil them alive just to stand out from the mass of heads of state at that time, who were only marginally less horrible than he was. The Turks were running the show back then, remember, and you had to really reach for the stars if you wanted to intimidate the Turks.
What can I say, my brain turned off on Sunday. Bela used to rest like this, arraying himself like the flower he was.
I've been rewriting "Poor Thing" because everyone had some problems with it, especially the beginning, where it dumps a bunch of weird names on you. Like this:
I had loved him and so when I found him dead I was extremely upset and went to talk to Declan and Tancred-and-Tiffy and Gas Station and Nervous Necro, who hates that name but is stuck with it. We are none of us joiners except Tancred-and-Tiffy with each other but someone usually owes someone a favor so I thought one of them might know something. To find him like that, I said, was like someone pissing in my face. Which one of you pissed in my face?
“Fuck, just get another one,” said Gas Station. Of the six of us, or five if you count Tancred-and-Tiffy as one, he is the least methodical. Declan is the most and the rest of us are somewhere in between but I had been saving this one. How many times had I imagined it and then to have it come out like this?
“Are you sure you didn’t do it yourself?” asked Tiffy. I would have said a certain thing in response except that Tancred scares the daylights out of any rational person. He is about seven feet tall and I have seen what he can do. It is worse than anything I have ever done. Depending on your sensibilities I would say either Declan or Nervous Necro is the absolute worst, but Tancred-and-Tiffy come close. I started to cry because I had loved him and he was ruined now and Tiffy said she was sorry and Nervous Necro called me a fag. I punched him in the throat because he is about five and a half feet tall and though I have also seen what he can do it is impossible to be afraid of a face like his. He uses this to his advantage.
As compared to this:
I had loved him and so when I found him dead I was extremely upset and went to talk to the others, meaning all of them generally but specifically Nervous Necro, who hates that name but is stuck with it. He was the only one I thought might really have done it, but then I thought it could have been any one of them or maybe they were all in on it together, as a big funny joke on me. I’d thought they were my friends or at least some kind of friend equivalent and then when I showed up they would laugh themselves hoarse and the smart thing to do would have been to act like it was no big deal, but then what did it matter if they laughed? What would anything ever matter again?
So I didn’t pretend. To find him like that, I said, was like someone pissing in my face. Which one of you pissed in my face?
They didn’t laugh. “People do sometimes die,” Declan said, as if I hadn’t known that, and Gas Station said, “Just get another one,” as if my special one had been a spoon or a paperweight, but I didn’t want another one, I wanted that one, he was special and I’d been saving him and now life had no meaning. I sat down.
Tiffy patted my shoulder. “Are you sure it wasn’t like an accident?” she suggested. This was insulting but I couldn’t insult her back because her husband Tancred was there and he scares the daylights out of me and indeed any rational person. I know he isn’t actually seven feet tall but it kind of looks like it from down here. Anyway I have seen what he can do. So I just told Tiffy I was sure, and Tiffy nodded and said she was sorry. She seemed very sincere and somehow that was worse than if she’d laughed at me. I put my face against her shoulder. Everything is awful forever, I said, and Nervous who so far hadn’t said anything called me a fag. I punched him in the throat because he is about five and a half feet tall and though I have also seen what he can do it is impossible to be afraid of a face like his. He uses this to his advantage.
More commas and more social anxiety, that's my motto for this rewrite and possibly also for 2017 in general.