Tuesday, August 07, 2007

On the Other Side

I've been reprocessing distant and recent events lately, for a whole host of reasons (including that I return to them under times of regular stress, and that I still haven't adequately established what being so sick earlier this year really means). At the same time I'm reading Hip: The History by John Leland (New York: Harper, 2004).

I came across this:
"In an oft-quoted passage from Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, the hero, Sam Spade, tells a story to explain why he does what he does . . . It concerns a real estate man named Flitcraft, who went to lunch one day and narrowly missed being crushed by a falling construction beam. For Spade as for Flitcraft, this brush with random, meaningless death was a lulu. 'He felt that somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works.'" If death could come at any moment, what of this life he was living? "He kept walking, leaving behind his name, his job and his family."
But here's the best part: "When Spade tracked him down a few years later, Flitcraft had rebuikt a life nearly identical to the one he left behind, falling into it with the same inevitability as the beam that had nearly killed him" (90).
What to make of Flitcraft's story? Is it such a bad thing?

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