Friday, August 3, 2007

BARTLEBY and Brooklyn

I relish in my dreams. Wet between the toes and tossed into the far depths of my makeshift bed, I sleep until the sun stops trying to get me off the floor. Why so despondent and complacent? I could just as easily run around and spend my money; i.e. look busy. Here in Brooklyn--or any of the respective 5 Burroughs--one must run around. Yet I enjoy the finer simplicities of life; i.e. reading, music, writing. I agree that as one who is lucky enough to be financially stable due to knowing the right people and sheer chance, I am not able to speak for the 9 to 5ers. Yet, one must not discount the urge to stay still. To take oneself out of the race for a minute and gain perspective.
Herman Mellville's "Bartleby The Scrivener" uses Bartleby to display the strange attraction to and application despondency can have in our modern society. When asked by his boss to complete a task, Bartleby replies, "I would prefer not to". Stunned by the conviction in his voice, the boss can do nothing but muse why Bartleby is so unmotivated. The boss doesn't wish to do away with Bartleby; in fact he becomes a charity case where those around him become emotionally involved with him.
Why does Melville use this character at all? What is the attraction? Perhaps it is a hint of Marxism--i.e. the alienation of the worker--or perhaps, less pointedly, it is a comment the faulty sense of accomplishment we have in moving in the rat race. Since we have no need to hunt anymore for ourselves, there is little need to stray further then the grocery store. I am not ignorant to our physical and social desires, but one must not dismiss idleness for idiocy or sloth.

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