No. 152: White Dwarf. Christmas was always so overwhelming it made him feel small. It wasn't the grandeur of the longago Jesus babe in its humble manger. It was the accelerating flurry, the feral grabbing, the Holly Jolly Christmas ringing porously through the loudspeakers in every store--even his groceteria. At Christmas, he refused all invitations to parties, dinners, gatherings. He wasn't a snob. It was just that everything made him so goddam sad. Christmas day he would be reading Ralph Waldo Emerson's little book "Nature" (1836)--as he had done each Christmas day for as long as he could remember. Emerson insisted that man ought to live in an original, nourishing relation to the universe. But that seemed an increasingly inexplicable ideal "Man is the dwarf of himself," Emerson had written, sounding a bit like the Nietzsche to come. Man is "disunited with himself . . . is a god in ruins." His reading would require the support of a heavy glass of Black Bush.

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