“. . . I do all things required of me to make me a citizen. . .” (David Ignatow)

This afternoon I remembered to call the Municipal Court at the Highland Park, TX, City Hall.

That, in itself, is not remarkable. Even my purpose is not remarkable. A very kind and courteous member of the Highland Park Police Department gave me a ticket a few weeks ago because he saw that the inspection sticker on my car was expired. He didn’t give me another ticket for my inability to show him my current proof of insurance (I had last year’s, and the current one was at home in a file). A record of a car’s insurance is online for police to look up.

Since that day I have had “11” in my mind in connection with the whole sorry and ridiculous affair. I do have, if not a memory, at least the ability to hold an impression in my mind. I’m grateful that the officer said “11” because I am much more likely to remember something I hear than something I read. Calling the Municipal Court was important because the 11th of the month, I supposed, is the date by which I have to take care of the ticket, and it is fast approaching. I couldn’t check it on my own; at some point I brought the ticket into my apartment because I could not read it without my reading glasses, and I needed to check the date.

However, the ticket must be in the same file as my proof of insurance. That is, in a place I cannot remember. I remembered a few days ago to call the agent and have them fax me a new copy of the proof of insurance. At least I will have that when I go to the motor vehicle department to get a new inspection sticker. After, of course, I take the car to have it inspected.

I must insert here a note about receiving the ticket. I was on Mockingbird Lane between Inwood and Hillcrest on my way to SMU at 8:45am. That street is surely the most crime-ridden area in all of the Dallas “metroplex.” In that couple of miles I have on occasion counted as many as four police officers parked at intersections waiting for the next criminal to approach. That the street is in a state of decline that would foster criminal activity is easy enough to discern.


Crime-ridden neighborhood

On March 29, 2015, I blogged here about my dislike of driving, a dislike that begins with the philosophical/theological understanding that

I was not intended by my maker to drive. It’s as simple as that. I don’t like it, I am frustrated by it, I don’t want to do it, I resent living in a society where such an unnatural, dangerous, and self-serving activity is not only the “norm,” but perceived to be “necessary.” This is not septuagenarian thinking. I’ve had this opinion of driving for decades. It is, however, a septuagenarian way of talking/writing. I’ve finally arrived at the place where I don’t care what anyone thinks of my thinking.

Not too long ago I had an appointment with my doctor. I drove the two miles or so to his office. When I arrived, I went almost immediately to the examination room, an unusual occurrence. The nurse immediately took my vital signs. Blood pressure: 170 over 120. She freaked. I told her to take it again in 15 minutes. She did. 120 over 80. Driving is “an unnatural, dangerous, and self-serving activity.”

My thesis in this writing really has nothing to do with driving except as it is the most obvious example in support of my thesis: About 90% of what we require each other to do in order to “make [us] citizen[s] of sterling worth” is nonsense. I want to write something much stronger than that, but I’m going to have to work up to that.

I am not a misanthrope. I am not an anarchist. I am not a sociopath.

I could be a hermit (if I had any courage). I could be a radical (if I had a cause). I could be philosopher who understands the meaning of life (if I had any brains).

Anyone who took a good English literature class in high school or college knows William Wordsworth’s poem, “The World Is Too Much With Us.” It is, I suppose, the great first salvo in the struggle of the Romantics to find a way to live in “nature.”

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! . . .

I am not smart or brave or thoughtful enough to join a movement designed to move us closer to living naturally. I am mainly simply frightened by much of what I am (we are) required to do to live together in society.

Today I stumbled across a poem by one of my favorite poets, David Ignatow. It was the impetus for this writing. This writing has no obvious goal. It has no thesis. It is a work in progress, the opening salvo in what may be (if I don’t chicken out) a bit of writing in which I try to explain to myself what I mean by all of this.

Sorry to leave it hanging. But that’s the way writing is. We write to know what we think. And I still don’t know what I’m thinking.

“I Close My Eyes,” by David Ignatow
I close my eyes like a good little boy at night in bed,
as I was told to do by my mother when she lived,
and before bed I brush my teeth and slip on my pajamas,
as I was told, and look forward to tomorrow.

I do all things required of me to make me a citizen of sterling worth.
I keep a job and come home each evening for dinner. I arrive at the
same time on the same train to give my family a sense of order.

I obey traffic signals. I am cordial to strangers, I answer my
mail promptly. I keep a balanced checking account. Why can’t I
live forever?

From Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994.



About Harold Knight
Retired English prof, SMU. Old man. Musician. Passionate about justice, equality, freedom. Therefore, I am a fervent supporter of and advocate for the Palestinian People as they struggle to survive genocide. That also means, of course, I have no use for US 45.

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