March 16, 2013

Are you "wasting the most poignant moments of night and life"?

Well, then, come read this sentence from "The Great Gatsby" and talk to us about it — the sentence, the loneliness, the loitering, the solitary dinner:
At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others — poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner — young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.
Enchanted and haunting speak of bewitching and ghosts. The twilight — the dusk — is magical, the most poignant moments, and yet the poor young clerks throw this time away. It's now that they should be connecting with other people, but they loiter, merely waiting for it to be late enough to eat dinner. Our narrator is alone, and his loneliness is exacerbated by seeing this loneliness in other men.

But where is the pain? The word most expressive of pain is poignant, and it is the poignant part of night and life that the narrator and the ineffectual clerks do not enter. 

40 comments:

Darrell said...

If you have to wait for the second seating, you have to wait. Only the pie is good at the automat. Sometimes you need meat.

edutcher said...

I think you're waiting for something melodramatic and Scotty is being very good here.

This is a more immediate version of Prufrock, as it were.

edutcher said...

Perhaps a more intimate version of, "What fools these mortals be" .

Lem said...

This sentence is too depressing.

Jeff Teal said...

I thought the sentence was about the waste and pain of following social convention.But then I remember Fitzgerald as one of the more pompous authors.Imean people were supposed to like Fitz-but not really.

betamax3000 said...

Young Solitary Diner Robot says:

I sit alone at a formica table, seated upon a hard wood bench. Outside the window people pass by in twos and threes, oblivious to my thoughts.

betamax3000 said...

The Rich have no need for me; the poor, too busy to care.

betamax3000 said...

I write things in the latest of my Notebooks. Things that can Happen if Circumstances Align.

betamax3000 said...

It takes but a Single Grand Gesture to change this world, if only for a Few Moments.

betamax3000 said...

In my Notebook I have sketches of maps and columns of numbers that would make Sense to no one but Me.

betamax3000 said...

I do not have time for idle flowery Sentences. Stories do not Transport me.

betamax3000 said...

Poignancy is wasted upon me: only those with no true worries can choose to be Wistful.

Chip Ahoy said...

This sort of melancholy is seen in museums.

The Art Institute of Chicago, specifically. Original purchase price $3,000.00 and that's a LOT!

betamax3000 said...

In my Notebooks I keep track of the comings-and-goings of Certain People. Times, addresses, paths: I take note.

betamax3000 said...

In my tiny apartment I keep more Notebooks, and Tools of a Certain Use.

betamax3000 said...

Certain People have never been Lonely: they have been Protected from all but Distracting Matters of the Heart. Their Precious Times I scratch through with my Pen.

betamax3000 said...

After my meal of Salisbury Steak and Potatoes I walk through the the smatterings of dispersing crowds: the cold is setting in and Good People are fitfully leaving to their Good Homes.

betamax3000 said...

How their Night would Change if a Stranger interrupted their Obliviousness. In the morning a nasty bump on the forehead, a fur coat perhaps sliced along its back. I write this in my Notebook: my penmanship is Clear and Precise.

betamax3000 said...

At Work no one knows my True Thoughts. I Smile and Reply in Kind Words. It is as if I'm Not There at All.

betamax3000 said...

The name Gatsby shows up in my Notebooks with Increasing Frequency. There are sentences, and there are sentences scratched out, only to be written yet again.

betamax3000 said...

In my apartment there is a cigar box inside the night-stand. Inside the cigar box there is a Gun and a Pair of Scissors. These are carefully cataloged in my Notebook.

betamax3000 said...

As much as I would love to approach Gatsby I believe I will never get an unencumbered chance. I will not be Severino Di Giovanni or Luigi Galleani.

creeley23 said...

Jeez! This reads like one of those dreadful poetic interludes on a Moody Blues album.

betamax3000 said...

I believe that the Lonely can come together, if only briefly, by a Dramatic Act achieved by one of their Own. It simply takes Will.
I have written in my Notebook many times about this so that Future Understandings will be Clear.

betamax3000 said...

I have taken extra steps in improving my Appearance, and have has photographs taken of me in crisp white shirts. I have chosen to ensure how I will be Remembered.

These Photographs are glued carefully inside my Latest Notebook.

betamax3000 said...

Many will find it hard to Fathom that it was indeed Me behind these Acts.

Surprise is Success.

betamax3000 said...

They will read my Notebooks through the Newspapers and realize What They Can Do, if only they Commit.

Commitment is the Truest Thing one can Achieve.

betamax3000 said...

Gatsby himself will read in those Newspapers my thoughts of Him and His World: he will look at Himself through My Eyes.

betamax3000 said...

He will be compelled to read the lines over and over. He will not be able to help himself.

betamax3000 said...

All who Know Him will See Him Differently.

He will See it in their Eyes.

betamax3000 said...

Each Day I awake with the same Thought: perhaps as soon as tomorrow, perhaps as soon as Today.

betamax3000 said...

As Hemingway wrote:

"Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another."

betamax3000 said...

I will Stand Alone.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "Jeez! This reads like one of those dreadful poetic interludes on a Moody Blues album."

Feel free to play along on flute.

betamax3000 said...

If I had Chip Ahoy's skills I would animate Robert DeNiro from Taxi Driver following Robert Redford as Gatsby.

betamax3000 said...

This week I have been a Despondent Hamster, a Disconsolate Infant, an Anorexic Woman, a Snow Maker Robot dressed in painted hyena hides and an Anarchist Gatsby Stalker. I like the Althouse Internet.

creeley23 said...

Does anyone, aside from Althouse, appreciate betamax3000 shotgunning Gatsby topics into oblivion with repetitious drivel?

I'm interested in what others might say but less so if I have to wade through a thread that is 80% betamax droppings.

wyo sis said...

I usually don't read them, but when I do they're quite clever. I just don't particularly like that kind of thing.

betamax3000 said...

Re: creeley23 said...

"I'm interested in what others might say but less so if I have to wade through a thread that is 80% betamax droppings."

Point taken.

Paco Wové said...

"if I have to wade through a thread"

Collapse comments is your friend.