View Full Version : Mania: Too Much of a Good Thing

James Brody
July 10th, 2005, 06:25 PM
Tennyson described Ulysses as sworn to seek, strive, find, not to yield. There are modern examples. I saw a biker on Route 84 between Hartford and Waterbury: he stood upright on his pegs, wore not a helmet but a pair of dark sunglasses, and stuck out his tongue as he rolled his head side to side. He rode toward the sunset at 80 mph. He appeared to be about 40 years old, will he reach 41? The biker, perhaps reacting to the same stimuli as a speeding fish or bird and with the same neural foundations, was another Ulysses. So, however, was a moth...
the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be be bored all the while

so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

And if psychopathology is the genetic foundation for mate choice, we can imagine the biker and the moth falling in love.


Marquis, D. (1973) archy and mehitabel New York: Anchor, pp 107-108.
Maes, H. H., Neale, M. C., Kendler, K. S., Hewitt, J. K., Silberg, J. L. Foley, D. L., Meyer, J. M., Rutter, M., Simonoff, E., Pickles A., & Eaves, L. (1998) Assortative mating for major psychiatric diagnoses in two population-based samples. Psychological Medicine, 28(6), 1389-1401.

Copyright, James Brody, 2005, all rights reserved.