A night alone meant I could get a jump on The Uses of Freedom. At this rate there was every possibility of my finishing inside of the year. "Why don’t you just write the thing," Dan said. "It would probably be faster."
"But how would I ever come up with Der Unternehmungsgrund der Individuums on my own?"
When I first read about this ground for the individual’s action, I could at last put an unwieldy and foreign name to what I had felt had been missing from my life ever since puberty struck and my prep-school days commenced, more or less at once, and I’d begun to proceed unsteadily from day to day as if I were on a bridge swaying in the wind while both sides of the canyon–I mean past and future–disappeared in foggy weather. Suddenly I’d lost the sensation of there being either a source or an end to my life, an original birth or ultimate death, and was therefore amazed at how everyone seemed to consider me a solid reliable young man. Otto Knittel, I was learning as a much older young man, was way into forests, so while reading him I would imagine decamping from the city and going to live in the woods in Vermont. With a dog. Or several dogs. The idea was to inhabit a cabin, baking bread and hardly even watching TV, petting and talking to the dog, or dogs, and drinking tea instead of so much coffee. Sunlight, wide floorboards, caller ID for the phone . . . And old friends from the city could drive up to admire my aura of wisdom and calm benevolence that I would be too egoless even to notice. I felt that in these circumstances the ground for my actions might sort of percolate up through me in this slow molten way, and a prayerful clarity of consciousness would finally pop into my brain. Then I would know what to do.