The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.
Let us see how this works out in practice. Let us say that I have five things which have to be done before the end of the week: (1) a basketful of letters to be answered, some of them dating from October, 1928, (2) some bookshelves to be put up and arranged with books, (3) a hair-cut to get, (4) a pile of scientific magazines to go through and clip (I am collecting all references to tropical fish that I can find, with the idea of someday buying myself one) and (5) an article to write for this paper.
Now. With these five tasks staring me in the face on Monday morning, it is little wonder that I go right back to bed as soon as I have had breakfast, in order to store up health and strength for the almost superhuman expenditure of energy that is to come. Mens sana in corpore sano is my motto.
As I lie in bed on Monday morning storing up strength, I make out a schedule. “What do I have to do first?” I ask myself. Well, those letters really should be answered and the pile of scientific magazines should be clipped. And here is where my secret process comes in. Instead of putting them first on the list, I put them last. I say: “First you must write that article for the newspaper.” I sometimes go so far in this self-deception as to make out a list in pencil, with “No. 1. Newspaper article” underlined in red.
I then seat myself at my desk with my typewriter before me and sharpen five pencils. (The sharp pencils are for poking holes in the desk-blotter, and a pencil has to be pretty sharp to do that. I find that I can't get more than six holes out of one pencil.) Following this I say to myself, “Now, old man! Get at this article!”
Gradually the scheme begins to work. My eye catches the pile of magazines, which I have artfully placed on a near-by table beforehand. I write my name and address at the top of the sheet of paper in the typewriter and then sink back. The magazines being within reach, I look to see if anyone is watching me and get one off the top of the pile. Hello, what’s this! In the very first one is an article by Dr. William Beebe, illustrated by horrifying photographs! Pushing my chair away from my desk, I am soon hard at work clipping.
- Chris Elliott (Rockefeller Center)
- Ben Stiller (filming in Park Slope)
- John Lurie (eating in Angelica’s Kitchen)
- youngest daughter from Rosanne (outside Angelica’s Kitchen on a busy night, trying to jump the line)
- Martin Amis (shared a car on the subway)
- Bill Clinton (motorcade passing through Astor Place at 1 AM–he waved)
- Michelle Obama (motorcade down 6th Avenue as I was coming out of the Waverley; her husband was presumably waving at people on other side of the street)
- Gary Giddins (Upper East Side)
- guy who played the main victim in the movie Dahmer (serving drinks at Lower East Side bar)
- Dave Atell (outside Caffe Reggio)
- John Lovitz (with college-age son, on Amsterdam Avenue)
- Lou Reed (in pink velvet rock-star pants, on line inside the lobby of Cinema Village–what were we waiting to see??)
- Willem Dafoe (Swedish restaurant on Orchard Street, with cute blonde girl)
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt (walking out of the Apple store on Prince Street)
- Martin Sheen (as the president on West Wing, filming outside Katz’s Deli on Houston)
- Doug Heywood (walking the other way on Houston)
- Nicole Kidman (filming on Stuyvestant Street)
- Wallace Shawn (walking with wife on Carmine Street, from café window)
- Steve Buscemi (smoking outside bar on Spring Street, weekend afternoon)
- Conan O’Brien (walking with wife and baby on 72nd and Central Park West, after my dentist appointment)
- Tim Robbins (rollerblading up 6th Avenue)
In the woods there is a bird; its song stops you and makes you blush.
There is a clock that does not strike.
There is a hollow with a nest of white beasts.
There is a cathedral that goes down and a lake that rises.
There is a little carriage abandoned in the thicket, or that races down the road with ribbons on.
There is a troupe of little actors in costume, spotted on the road through the edge of the woods.
And in the end, when you are hungry and thirsty, there is someone who chases you away.
Hey son come here a minute. I want you and me to have a little talk. How come you always turn pale when we have a little talk. You delicate? Pore delicate little flower? Naw you ain’t, you’re a man, son, or will be someday the good Lord willin’. But you got to do right. That’s what I want to talk to you about. Now put down that comic book and come on over here and sit by me. Sit right there. Make yourself comfortable. Now, you comfortable? Good. Son, I want to talk to you about your personal habits. Your personal habits. We ain’t never talked about your personal habits and now it’s time. I been watchin’ you, kid. Your personal habits are admirable. yes they are. They are flat admirable. I like the way you pick up your room. You run a clean room, son, I got to hand it to you. And I like the way you clean your teeth. You brush right, in the right direction, and you brush a lot. You’re goin’ to have good gums, kid, good healthy gums. We ain’t gonna have to lay out no money to get your teeth fixed, your mother and I, and that’s a blessing and we thank you. And you keep yourself clean, kid, clothes neat, hands clean, face clean, knees clean, that’s the way to hop, way to hop. There’s just one little thing, son, one little thing that puzzles me. I been studyin’ ’bout it and I flat don’t understand it. How come you spend so much time washn’ your hands, kid? I been watchin’ you. You spend an hour after breakfast washin’ your hands. Then you go wash ’em again ’bout ten-thirty, ten-forty, ’nother fifteen minutes washin’ your hands. Then after lunch, sometimes an hour, sometimes less, it varies. I been noticin’. Then in the middle of the afternoon back in there washin’ your hands. Then before supper and after supper and before you go to bed and sometimes you get up in the middle of the night and go in there and wash your hands. Now I’d think you were in there playin’ with your little pecker, ’cept you a shade young for playin’ with your little pecker and besides you leave the door open, most kids close the door when they go in there to play with their little peckers but you leave it open. So I see you in there and I see what you’re doin’, you’re washin’ your hands. And I been keepin’ track of it son, you spend ’bout three-quarters of your wakin’ hours washin’ your hands. And I think there’s somethin’ a little bit strange about that, son. It ain’t natural. So what I want to know is how come you spend so much time washin’ your hands, son? Can you tell me? Huh? Well, can you? Huh? You got anything to say on this subject? Well, what’s the matter? You’re just sittin’ there. Well come on, son, what you got to say for yourself? What’s the explanation? Now it won’t do you no good to start cryin’, son, that don’t help anything. OK kid stop crying. I said stop it! I’m goin’ to whack you, kid, you don’t stop cryin’. Now cut that out. This minute. Now cut it out. Goddamn baby. Come on now kid, get ahold of yourself. Now go wash your face and come on back in here, I want to talk to you some more. Wash your face, don’t do that other. Now go on in there and get back in here right quick. I want to talk to you ’bout bumpin’ your head, son, against the wall, ’fore you got to sleep. I don’t like it. You’re too old to do that. It disturbs me. I can hear you in there, when you go to bed, bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump. It’s disturbing. It’s monotonous. It’s a very disturbing sound. I don’t like it. I don’t like listenin’ to it. I want you to stop it. I want you to get ahold of yourself. I don’t like to hear that noise when I’m sittin’ in here tryin’ to read the paper or whatever I’m doin’, I don’t like to hear it and it bothers your mother. It gets her all upset and I don’t like your mother to be all upset, just on accounta you. Bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump, what are you kid, some kind of animal? I cain’t figure you out, kid, I just flat cain’t understand it, bump bump bump bump bump bump bump. Dudden’t hurtcha? Dudden’t hurtcha head? Well, never mind about that right now. Go on in there and wash your face, and then come on back in here and we’ll talk some more. And don’t do none of that other, just wash your face. You got three minutes.
“A Manual for Sons”
I ask, “Was Martin bookish as a child?”
“Not a bit. He read nothing but science fiction till he was fifteen or sixteen. I didn’t think he was university material.”
“How do you find his novels?”
“I must say I find them pretty difficult to get on with.”
“Is it their subject matter?”
“I really don’t know what their subject matter is. It’s his style. I can’t get to the end of a paragraph. It’s too ornate. It reminds me of what someone said about Kipling–‘bombarded with felicities.’ It’s very important to write a dull sentence from time to time–such as, ‘She felt so weary she lay down and fell asleep on the spot.’ You don’t want to bombard the reader with felicities. It goes back to one of Martin’s heros–Nabokov. I lay it all at his door–that constant demonstrating of his command of English. Martin can be the funniest writer, and I admire his intelligence and discipline, but there’s a terrible compulsive vividness in his style.”
“Is this perhaps an American influence?”
He looks as though some bad fish needs taking out. “Martin’s fallen in bad company. He once remarked to me, ‘Motivation in the novel has more or less had its day.’ I said, ‘Oh, really.’ It’s all those ideas about fiction–they’re fatal to a novel. Martin says, ‘I want people to read me twice.’ Well, it’s got to be able to be understood for its significance the first time around, as it stands.”
“Do you think he’s reacting against you?”
“I think he’d write the same way whether or not I existed.”
“Did you ever try giving him some, uh, helpful hints?”
“Whenever I walked into a room where he was writing, he would put his hand over the paper in the typewriter.”
“Have you ever had this conversation with him?”
Charles Michener, “Britain’s Brat of Letters”
Esquire, January 1987
. . . did your mother tell you we’re moving? That we’re moving back to California finally this spring? We’re moving, son, I’m harking one last attempted time to that celluloid siren’s call, I’m giving it the one last total shot a man’s obligation to his last waning talent deserves, Jim, we’re headed for the big time again at last for the first time since she announced she was having you, Jim, hitting the road, celluloid‐bound, so say adios to that school and that fluttery little moth of a physics teacher and those slumped chinless slide‐rule‐wielding friends of no now wait I didn’t mean it I meant I wanted to tell you now, ahead of time, your mother and I, to give you plenty of notice so you could adjust this time because oh you made it so unmisinterpretably clear how this last move to this trailer park upset you so, didn’t you, to a mobile home with chemical toilet and bolts to hold it in place and widow‐webs everyplace you look and grit settling on everything like dust out here instead of the Club’s staff quarters I got us removed from or the house it was clearly my fault we couldn’t afford anymore. It was my fault. I mean who else’s fault would it be? Am I right? That we moved your big soft body with allegedly not enough notice and that east‐side school you cried over and that Negro research resource librarian there with the hair out to here that . . . that lady with the upturned nose on tiptoe all the time I have to tell you she seemed so consummate east‐side Tucsonian all self‐consciously not of this earth’s grit urging us to quote nurture your optical knack with physics with her nose upturned so you could see up in there and on her toes like something skilled overhead had sunk a hook between her big splayed fingerling’s nostrils and were reeling skyward up toward the aether little by little I’ll bet those heelless pumps are off the floor altogether by now son what do you say son what do you think . . . no, go on, cry, don’t inhibit yourself, I won’t say a word, except it’s getting to me less all the time when you do it, I’ll just warn you, I think you’re overworking the tears and the . . . it’s getting less effec . . . effective with me each time you use it though we know we both know don’t we just between you and me we know it’ll always work on your mother, won’t it, never fail, she’ll every time take and bend your big head down to her shoulder so it looks obscene, if you could see it, pat‐patting on your back like she’s burping some sort of slumping oversized obscene bow‐tied infant with a book straining his pronator teres, crying, will you do this when you’re grown? Will there be episodes like this when you’re a man at your own tiller? A citizen of a world that won’t go pat‐pat‐there‐there? Will your face crumple and bulge like this when you’re six-and‐a‐half grotesque feet tall, six‐six‐plus like your grandfather may he rot in hell’s rubber vacuum when he finally kicks on the tenth tee and with your flat face and no chin just like him on that poor dumb patient woman’s fragile wet snotty longsuffering shoulder. . . .
If you look at the reasons I offer for the fear I have of you, you might answer: “You maintain I make things easy for myself by explaining my relation to you simply as being your fault, but I believe that despite your outward effort, you do not make things more difficult for yourself, but much more profitable. At first you too repudiate all guilt and responsibility; in this our methods are the same. But whereas I then attribute the sole guilt to you as frankly as I mean it, you want to be ‘overly clever’ and ‘overly affectionate’ at the same time and acquit me also of all guilt. Of course, in the latter you only seem to succeed (and more you do not even want), and what appears between the lines, in spite of all the ‘turns of phrase’ about character and nature and antagonism and helplessness, is that actually I have been the aggressor, while everything you were up to was self-defense. By now you would have achieved enough by your very insincerity, for you have proved three things: first, that you are not guilty; second, that I am the guilty one; and third, that out of sheer magnanimity you are ready not only to forgive me but (what is both more and less) also to prove and be willing to believe yourself that–contrary to the truth–I also am not guilty. That ought to be enough for you now, but it is still not enough. You have put it into your head to live entirely off me. I admit that we fight with each other, but there are two kinds of combat. The chivalrous combat, in which independent opponents pit their strength against each other, each on his own, each losing on his own, each winning on his own. And there is the combat of vermin, which not only sting but, on top of it, suck your blood in order to sustain their own life. That’s what the real professional soldier is, and that’s what you are. You are unfit for life; to make life comfortable for yourself, without worries and without self-reproaches, you prove that I have taken your fitness for life away from you and put it in my own pocket. Why should it bother you that you are unfit for life, since I have the responsibility for it, while you calmly stretch out and let yourself be hauled through life, physically and mentally, by me. If I am not very much mistaken, you are preying on me even with this letter itself.”
My answer to this is that, after all, this whole rejoinder–which can partly also be turned against you–does not come from you, but from me.
Franz Kafka, “Letter to His Father”
The presence of my children affects me with deep weariness and depression. I do not see them until luncheon as I have my breakfast alone in the library, and they are in fact well trained to avoid my part of the house, but I am aware of them from the moment I wake. Luncheon is very painful. Teresa has a mincing habit of speech and a pert, humourless style of wit; Bron is clumsy and dishevelled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest; Margaret is pretty and below the age of reason. In the nursery whooping cough rages I believe.
Evelyn Waugh’s diary
December 23, 1946
was that he reserved the right not just to deny affection to his children but to advertise an acute and unqualified dislike of them. This was always conditional on their own behaviour up to a point, and seldom entirely unjustified, but it was disconcerting, nevertheless, to be met by cool statements of total repudiation.
As the number of children increased–by 1950 there were six of us–he spent longer periods away from home, much to the relief of all of us. As I have said, even at the time, I half-suspected that he was aware of the relief we felt when he was away, that his great act of disliking his children and shunning their company was at any rate in part an acknowledgement of his tragic inability to relax with them.
In fact the most welcome aspect of him, as a parent, was his lack of interest in his children, at any rate until they were much older and became fit subjects for gossip. I have described how no noise could be made in the front of the house, but that was as far as his reign of terror extended. So long as we were out of sight and sound, we could do whatever we wanted. Similarly, he was unconcerned about school rules and school reports, holding all authority in derision until the threat of expulsion brought with it the danger that children might be returned home.
Auberon Waugh’s autobiography
and as a remedial exercise insisted he tell a new joke every day. In desperation James bought a book of a thousand and one American jokes, and stammered through each day’s instalment at lunchtime, while his father sat stony-faced, refusing to laugh.
~ Selina Hastings’ biography of Waugh
Your Office, Desk and myself bent over in front of you - w4m - 28
Reply to: email@example.com
Date: 2005-10-03, 3:36PM EDT
Looking for a man, preferably mature, who is capable of giving not only a good spanking but also a verbal humiliation as well.He''ll have his own private office, & will arrange a convenient time for me to come & see him, perhaps on the pretence of an interview or meeting? I'm a professional & work in the legal world so no one would be any the wiser. You will instruct me exactly what to wear. Once in your office, I will be subject to whatever type of spanking, paddling & humiliation you require? I am tall, 28 years old, 34D and think you will find my ass perfect for a good spanking. Perhpas you might need to lay me down on your desk after the spankings and inspect my pussy and see if my titties require a spanking too? A cold metal ruler to my pink hard nipples usually has the desired effect.
Professionals only need apply. I look forward to hearing back from you with any more thoughts or ideas you may have in order to add to this scenario, and when we might carry this out.
Indian and an Arrogant Prick? I Want You. - w4m - 34 (Midtown)
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2007-08-25, 1:03PM EDT
If you are foreign-born, well-dressed, highly educated, and would enjoy making me feel inferior --- you can own me. I am a rather pretty, submissive black female.
Please send a headshot.