It often seems to me that the sheer uniqueness of our existence, its frailty, and the uncertainty of my own survival beyond the span of a few years would call for outbursts of celebration, outbursts of a different sort than the ones coming from me. Instead, I’m spending my time with myopic affairs. This is the only way to advance in Science, but it makes for a subdued, insignificant life outside its perimeters. The attention to detail carries over from Science to Fiction, with disastrous or at best comical results. Here is one example: one morning I wonder, in the back of my mind as I shave myself in the mirror, how much drag I would experience when I do my fast early morning walk along the river if I didn’t shave. With energy consumption kept constant, how much farther could I walk? The comical aspect comes into it through scale, as in the examples my son has cited: in physical terms, the influence of the bristles of my beard on my speed is undeniable, just as objects stuck out of the car window will inevitably slow it down, but the magnitude of this effort is miniscule, and to waste ball-point ink on it — or the energy to strike the keys on my laptop — in writing down these observations, or to waste breath for that matter, in explaining the idea to a friend, seems frivolous considering the priorities of other matters we must attend to before the curtain falls. So now the thought, ridiculous as it is, does not leave me: each time I see myself in the mirror, each time I get ready for my morning walk, each time I see my walking outfit, spread out over the rim of my bath tub, each time I touch my own face . . .

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