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Dead Letter Office

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I would prefer not to
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This is a tribute to our friend, Bartleby. It's also an answer to the question he always asked us: "What are you reading?"

"The report was this: that Bartleby had been a subordinate clerk in the Dead Letter Office at Washington, from which he had been suddenly removed by a change in the administration. When I think over this rumor, I cannot adequately express the emotions which seize me. Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? Conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters and assorting them for the flames? For by the cart-load they are annually burned. Sometimes from out the folded paper the pale clerk takes a ring:—the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the grave; a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:—he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death.

Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!" -- Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener, 1853.
alasdair gray, anti-stalinism, auden, battle of algiers, beer, being a recluse, being listened to, ben katchor, bibliomania, books, bookselling, buses, c.l.r. james, cats, cemetery man, children of paradise, china mieville, christopher hitchens, christopher lasch, comfortable silence, crazy cat ladies, cuddling, dan bern, departee, downward mobility, dr. strangelove, drunks against mad mothers, dwight macdonald, eeyore, elvis costello, eugene genovese, evelyn waugh, flaneurie, flannery o'connor, force of evil, freaks, fritz leiber, gallows humor, ghost world, graveyards, hal draper, hal hartley, history, hopeless causes, howard waldrop, irvine welsh, johnny cash, kafka, katha pollitt, keep the aspidistra flying, la guerre est finie, leftist trainspotting, libraries, life of brian, little blue books, love and death, lovecraft, making fun of bobos, marxism, max shachtman, michael harrington, mike davis, miller's crossing, moviegoing, mr. arkadin, my city, negative capability, nerdy women, not dancing, not driving, not watching tv, obituaries, obscure references, old books, origins of racism, orson welles, orwell, paul lafargue, personals as outsider art, philip larkin, poe, public transportation, repo man, silence, slacker, slave revolts, sleep, sleeping in late, smart women, social retardation, socialism, socialized medicine, solitude, spanish civil war, staying up late, subways, the baffler, the handsome family, the magnificent ambersons, the pogues, the-common-ruin-of-the-contending-classes, tim powers, tom disch, tom waits, trotsky, unions, used book stores, victor serge, walking, washington dc, z.

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