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May 12 2020: Despair is Perfectly Compatible with a Good Dinner

May 12 2020: While doing research for something else, I came across this quote:

“Despair is perfectly compatible with a good dinner, I promise you.”

William Makepeace Thackeray

While it’s a great quote, for reasons I’ll get into momentarily, I hate random quotes without context. I managed to track it to an 1860 story he wrote called Lovel the Widower. As much as I love Thackeray (come on, he wrote Vanity Fair) as part of my overall weird thing with Victorian novels, I’d neither read nor heard of this one. I wasn’t able to find a single review or synopsis of it online. Which means I have been sucked into reading it. Finding it was a pain, too. It’s not on Project Gutenberg! I had to drop .99 on Amazon to buy the Delphi Complete Works of W. M. Thackeray. That, in turn, means I’m going to end up reading a lot of Thackeray in the coming weeks and months.

Perfectly Compatible with a Good Dinner

Anyway, the two constants in my life right now seem to be despair and a good dinner. I can’t argue their compatibility. I also make no promises to you about it. All I know is that my cupboards are well-provisioned against this interminable apocalypse, and people make me sad. For a hot minute I thought a pandemic would be that thing that could pull us all together. Of course not. It didn’t take long for us to fall back into the familiar pattern of flinging our feces as one another.

That brings us full circle to why I love to read old novels. I may not know how the story ends, but I know that the human races survives the Victorian Era. There are going to be world wars and colonialist atrocities, sure, but as a whole we’re still plugging away and theoretically moving forward as a species. I don’t have that sort of assurance with current events. There’s no arguing that tomorrow will come, but who the hell knows what it’s going to look like?

Amidst the chaos and despair, though, I rest assured that I still have some pork chops in the freezer.

May 12 2020

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