The long quote below is from The Anthologist, the latest book by Nicholson Baker, who happens to be one of my favorite writers. The book is about poetry, about thoughts and doubts of a middle-aged, medium-successful poet. It struck me how well his bleak vision applied to us designers, to the entire life effort of so many of my friends and colleagues.
“And now it’s like I’m on some infinitely tall ladder. You know the way old aluminum ladders have that texture, and that kind of cold gray color? I am clinging to this telescoping ladder that leads up into the blinding blue. The world is somewhere very far below. I don’t know how I got here. It’s a mystery. When I look up I see people climbing, rung by rung… Tiny figures, clambering, clinging. The wind comes over, whsssew, and it’s cold, and the ladder vibrates, and I feel very exposed and high up… And I look down, and there are many people behind me. They are hurrying up to where I am. They’re twenty-three-year-old energetic climbing creatures in their anoraks and goggles, and I am trying to keep climbing. But my hands are cold and going numb. My arms are tired to tremblement. It’s freezing, and it’s lonely, and there’s nobody to talk to. And what if I just let go? What if I just loosened my grip, and fell to one side, and just – ffshhhoooow. Let go. Would that be such a bad thing?”