Well, I certainly was the arrogant one, I knew some people were going to get fired but I didn't think one of them would be me. I don't remember where I read it but apparently the origin of the term "to get fired" came from a charming ancient tradition wherein if the people of a town/village/collection of huts didn't like one of their neighbors, they'd set the person's house on fire. Guess you'd be traveling light after that, if you weren't burnt to a crisp. I certainly was burnt out at my job (these fire metaphors are fascinating) but I was scared to death of quitting. Now I'm on the dole, getting paid to babysit, basically.

This poem is by Howard Nemerov.


Flaubert wanted to write a novel

about nothing. It was to have no subject

And be sustained upon style alone,

Like the Holy Ghost cruising above

The abyss, or like the little animals

In Disney cartoons who stand upon a branch

That breaks, but do not fall

Till they look down. He never wrote that novel,

And neither did he write another one

That would have been called La Spirale,

Wherein the hero's fortunes were to rise

In dreams, while his waking life disintegrated.

Even so, for these two books

We thank the master. They can be read,

With difficulty, in the spirit alone,

Are not so wholly lost as certain works

Burned at Alexandria, flooded at Florence,

And are never taught at universities.

Moreover, they are not deformed by style,

That fire that eats what it illuminates.