When, Drunk, One
Moça com Livro, José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior, 1850-1899
From The Paris Review:
Living in rural Vermont, I enjoy proximity to wilderness, though I observe its sickness at close range. In spring, my family marks the return of swallows and red-winged blackbirds on the barn door. But the migrations are off, and the frosts are late, the harvests erratic, and the thaws early. Though the landscape looks bucolic, and the foliage bright, industrial perfluorooctanioic acid poisons our wells and the herons in town fish from polluted ponds. This year, the maple season started three weeks earlier than ever recorded, and some ski resorts saw only a few days of snow.
In the last decade, as I’ve followed the harrowing environmental data, I’ve experienced sharp pangs of human guilt and fear of the future. Fortunately, I’m able to turn to books like medicine in times of crisis. Recently, on an eighty-five degree October day, my crimson dahlias unusually fat and healthy outside, I felt my anxiety bloom and looked to Alan Watts’s The Wisdom of Insecurity, A Message for an Age of Anxiety.
The title is a nod to W.H. Auden’s long, psycho-historical poem “The Age of Anxiety,” written in 1947, and considered by many to be the christening of a new era. Watts believed that the key to man’s psychological security was to cease obsession with the future and material wealth. In prose befitting both a stylist and a serious thinker, he discussed sex, cheap food, ancient Chinese art and Buddhist narratives. He urged readers to accept the wisdom of the body and inhabit the richness of the present.