152 Comments

"...and died covered in Twitter trolls instead of leeches."

That is some inspired imagery, even if the masses on Twitter find it most unflattering.

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Dear Still Wet Behind the Ears,

Welcome to the time when you're not close to death, but you can see it from here. I struggled with that after my second retirement at your age or thereabouts, but started a new career and my own business the next day. Struggle over.

Today I'm 73, still running one business and mentoring some entrepreneurs, otherwise busy dying. I have multiple incurable fatal illnesses; I'm tracking empirical data that show some time in June or July of next year I go from "will probably wake up tomorrow" to "probably won't." It's liberating. I've never cared what others thought of me, and now I have an excuse.

I'm at peace with the situation. I tell my religious friends and acquaintances that, if they pray, only ask that God's will be done. Whatever it is, it will be better than I deserve. I'm sharing thoughts in my own substack, "One Foot in the Gravy." I've actually learned two things in life.

- Acceptance always beats understanding.

- Every day I am astounded by the growing vastness of my ignorance.

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This was a great read, thanks Matt and happy birthday. I think the reason I gravitate to your work is that even though you’re a journalist, deep down you write with the soul of a free-spirited artist and that comes through in your work.

That bit about the modern world demanding moral purity/clarity from its artists really hits home for me, and is getting more depressing by the minute to think about so I’d better find something else to do, haha.

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Great non-news related post, thanks! The nose story reminds me of a scene in Dostoevsky's "The Possessed" where a character declares that he "Won't be led by the nose," whereupon the anti-hero Stavrogin proceeds to grab the fellow by the schnoz and drag him around the room to everyone's horror and dismay.

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Life is but an unfortunate interlude between two eternities of bliss.

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Lol. I turned 44 two weeks ago. I don’t really feel that old. Except my oldest son is turning 15 in April which is making me freak out more than my age does. Our culture worships youth to the detriment of us all. We need to learn to value wisdom and grace.

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"grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches" damn that cuts deep.

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A pup? Try zygote from someone who is turning 67. Gogol was everything you said he was; in addition to the stories,Dead Souls captured the utter corruption combined with his yearning for personal and national redemption. Who else at that time could have caught the issues and personal foibles in The Inspector General? Maybe Dickens or later Trollope in English,

Interesting if maybe apocryphal story about the later. If true it shows that the leadership had a very good idea as to what was going on, if no sensible ideas about what to do about it When the Inspector General came up, the censors tabled it in toto. Somehow Nicholas I, the most reactionary Tsar of all, got a hold of it, read it and over rode them. Indeed he insisted that he see it in public and was heard to say to courtiers “We deserve everything we got, especially me!

Thank you for this post. I hadn’t thought of him in years,

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Thank you for this very funny column. I won't tell you my age, except to say I too have seen the eternal footman hold my coat, and snicker.

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founding

Thank you from a Simply (un)Pleasant Lady.

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"Youth is wasted on the young."

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Your existence is a balm for our mental health.

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So you're 51. That's a milestone, in a way. I was in denial of aging until I got past 50, but now, at 62, that's no longer tenable.

Thanks for the Gogol. I will commit this line to memory: "[R]ecoil[ing] in horror, grasping the awful truth: we all, eventually, run out of patches."

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“Gogol would not do well in the modern world, which demands that artists be great people in addition to providing clear moral direction in their work.”

Biden’s POC spokesxir Cardi B’s “Wet Ass Pussy” was awarded song of the year. She also admitted to drugging and raping johns in her earlier career as a journalist...er, prostitute.

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Beautiful piece. Thank you.

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Brother Matt, very happy to read this. I died laughing at Diary of a Madman when I was about 18, and probably scared people on the L Train in New York, where I used the time to read Dead Souls on the way to work. People expect literature to be a drag and are usually, for some reason, especially displeased when I tell them how funny Dead Souls is. They can't see the humor in a book with a title like that, nor in Dostoevsky, Kafka, Faulkner, Proust. Bellow kills me as well, another writer who remains under read and under appreciated. All of them presumed to be dull and serious, but actually fucking hilarious if you just open up your eyes. Do you rate any living American novelists as worth the time? I browse the new books, I read a bit here and there, I'm not impressed and I usually return to my old dead writers.

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