Wednesday, October 29, 2008 – Watching the Gulls
Near the end of Samuel Butler's famous novel The Way of All Flesh (1903), the hero of the story – or, if not really much of a hero, at least the one who suffers greatly, loses all and learns much – is dealing with despair and deep depression and a general feeling of hopelessness, or maybe just bewilderment. Poor Ernest Pontifex – forever trying his best to do the right thing and understand the world, and making a mess of it all, he finally has to seek medical help. His wise doctor does his assessment and determines that Ernest's dire condition does not call for medication or any sort of medical procedure. The doctor prescribes visits to the zoo – spend a few hours watching large mammals, and he specifically recommends elephants. Oddly, this works just fine. This gets you out of yourself, or over yourself, or something.
Out here, this is why you drive over to Malibu and just watch the seagulls. You can think about aerodynamics if you wish.