Today I drove some forty miles from Berkeley, California to Atherton, in Silicon Valley for a family style Thanksgiving dinner. For me, something of a bookish ne’er-do-well, to visit the successful folks living in the most famous center of economic creativity of the last fifty years, is a bit of an emotional contortion. I really like them and respect what they are doing which is very socially productive, and economically rewarding. But as wonderful as it is, it is their life, and it is a perfect one for them, but for me a visit to that world a time or two per year is just right. I like getting home to my clutter and shelves of books and piles of books. I like my computer, and my blog and my grandiose plans, and feeble attempts to fulfill them. I guess home feels good because it is comfortable, and it is meaningful to me in a way that I feel goes way beyond my personal needs and ambitions.
I would like living in an esthetically more pure environment where everything is lovely, clean and in a proper place and in proportion to where it should be and I could probably learn to live in that well ordered style rather easily, but underneath it all I like my clutter, redolent with old books, current magazines, a good Internet connection, with every day filled with new and potentially abrasive ideas. These seem to be made up of inherent clashes which perhaps necessitates a certain amount of mental clutter, but gleaming through it all there is the possible thrill of discovering something, something which no one has ever seen. That’s the real thrill of my way of living—to see clearly something which no one has ever seen before—to throw a clear beam of light out into the mental confusion and darkness and to see … who knows … a white bear rearing up in an carbon black night.