Does this seem a fine distraction? This is urban, unpopular talk. The world only exists in your eyes—your conception of it. Though the present writer was not so entangled—having at the time not tasted so much as a glass of beer for six months —it was his nervous reflexes that were giving way—too much anger and too many tears. The world only exists through your apprehension of it, and so it's much better to say that it's not you that's cracked—it's the Grand Canyon. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered of both. Sometimes, though, the cracked plate has to be retained in the pantry, has to be kept in service as a household necessity.
If I could do this through the common ills — domestic, professional and personal — then the ego would continue as an arrow shot from nothingness to nothingness with such force that only gravity would bring it to earth at last. A clean break is something you cannot come back from; that is irretrievable because it makes the past cease to exist. I slept on the heart side now because I knew that the sooner I could tire that out, even a little, the sooner would come that blessed hour of nightmare which, like a catharsis, would enable me to better meet the new day. Like most Middle Westerners, I have never had any but the vaguest race prejudices — I had always had a secret yen for the lovely Scandinavian blondes who sat on porches in St. The phrase may also be used to mean that someone is so focused on or distracted by something that he or she is oblivious to other things. They won't mind—what the hell, they get it most of the time anyhow.
With what, in retrospect, seems some equanimity, I had gone on about my affairs in the city where I was living, not caring much, not thinking how much had been left undone, or what would become of this and that responsibility, like people do in books; I was well insured and anyhow I had been only a mediocre caretaker of most of the things left in my hands, even of my talent. The phrase to get caught up in something has a few different meanings. And just as the laughing stoicism which has enabled the American Negro to endure the intolerable conditions of his existence has cost him his sense of the truth—so in my case there is a price to pay. I am learning to bring into it that polite acerbity that makes people feel that far from being welcome they are not even tolerated and are under continual and scathing analysis at every moment. The reasons that the Soviet Union did not crack down on its former subservient satellite are both obscure and complex. But I had a strong sudden instinct that I must be alone. This means that caught up has a different meaning than caught.
I'm still working on that smile. Life yielded easily to intelligence and effort, or to what proportion could be mustered of both. Though the present writer was not so entangled — having at the time not tasted so much as a glass of beer for six months — it was his nervous reflexes that were giving way — too much anger and too many tears. But now I wanted to be absolutely alone and so arranged a certain insulation from ordinary cares. I took a dollar room in a drab little town where I knew no one and sunk all the money I had with me in a stock of potted meat, crackers, and apples. In this silence there was a vast irresponsibility toward every obligation, a deflation of all my values.
During a long summer of despair I wrote a novel instead of letters, so it came out all right, but it came out all right for a different reason. I saw that the novel, which at my maturity was the strongest and supplest medium for conveying thought and emotion from one human being to another, was becoming subordinated to a mechanical and communal art that, whether in the hands of Hollywood merchants or Russian idealists, was capable of reflecting only the tritest thought, the most obvious emotion. Inevitably it was carted here and there within its frame and exposed to various critics. William Seabrook in an unsympathetic book tells, with some pride and a movie ending, of how he became a public charge. And if you were dying of starvation outside my window, I would go out quickly and give you the smile and the voice if no longer the hand and stick around till somebody raised a nickel to phone for the ambulance, that is if I thought there would be any copy in it for me. One harassed and despairing night I packed a briefcase and went off a thousand miles to think it over.
For a man who's lived as I have, that's all you could ask. I could lie around and was glad to, sleeping or dozing sometimes twenty hours a day and in the intervals trying resolutely not to think—instead I made lists—made lists and tore them up, hundreds of lists: of cavalry leaders and football players and cities, and popular tunes and pitchers, and happy times, and hobbies and houses lived in and how many suits since I left the army and how many pairs of shoes I didn't count the suit I bought in Sorrento that shrank, nor the pumps and dress shirt and collar that I carried around for years and never wore, because the pumps got damp and grainy and the shirt and collar got yellow and starch-rotted. But in difficult situations I have tried to think what he would have thought, how he would have acted. I saw honest men through moods of suicidal gloom—some of them gave up and died; others adjusted themselves and went on to a larger success than mine; but my morale never sank below the level of self-disgust when I had put on some unsightly personal show. He is in the fur business in the Northwest and wouldn't like his name set down here.
I have now at last become a writer only. The decision made me rather exuberant, like anything that is both real and new. I was always saving or being saved — in a single morning I would go through the emotions ascribable to Wellington at Waterloo. Life, 10 years ago, was largely a personal matter. The conjurer's hat was empty. I was so caught up in my homework that I forgot about it. The first time was twenty years ago, when I left Princeton in junior year with a complaint diagnosed as malaria.
As a sort of beginning there was a whole shaft of letters to be tipped into the wastebasket when I went home, letters that wanted something for nothing—to read this man's manuscript, market this man's poem, speak free on the radio, indite notes of introduction, give this interview, help with the plot of this play, with this domestic situation, perform this act of thoughtfulness or charity. I saw that for a long time I had not liked people and things, but only followed the rickety old pretense of liking, I saw that even my love for those closest to me was become only an attempt to love, that my casual relations — with an editor, a tobacco seller, the child of a friend, were only what I remembered I should do, from other days. Some old desire for personal dominance was broken and gone. It was very distinctly not modern—yet I saw it in others, saw it in a dozen men of honor and industry since the war. Lenin did not willingly endure the sufferings of his proletariat, nor Washington of his troops, nor Dickens of his London poor.
Only when this quiet came to me did I realize that I had gone through two parallel experiences. It was not the natural thing but the unnatural—unnatural as the Boom; and my recent experience parallels the wave of despair that swept the nation when the Boom was over. The big problems of life seemed to solve themselves, and if the business of fixing them was difficult, it made one too tired to think of more general problems. Examples of To Get Caught up in Something This conversation between two coworkers demonstrates how the phrase is used to refer to scandal and legal proceedings. Of course within the practice of your trade you were forever unsatisfied—but I, for one, would not have chosen any other. There was to be no more giving of myself—all giving was to be outlawed henceforth under a new name, and that name was Waste. I forgot to add that I liked old men — men over 70, sometimes over 60 if their faces looked seasoned.
Francis of Assisi, has been relegated to the junk heap of the shoulder pads word for one day on the Princeton freshman football field and the overseas cap never worn overseas. I saw that even my love for those closest to me had become only an attempt to love, that my casual relations—with an editor, a tobacco seller, the child of a friend, were only what I remembered I should do, from other days. Not long before, I had sat in the office of a great doctor and listened to a grave sentence. Getty Images This led me to the idea that the ones who had survived had made some sort of clean break. You can make it as big or as small as you want to. When a new sky cut off the sun last spring, I didn't at first relate it to what had happened fifteen or twenty years ago.