I’m sorry. I just don’t like you in that way. I know we’ve been friends for a long time, but I just never developed those kind of feelings for you, even after eleven hundred pages. I feel like we only moved forward in fits and stops, and we were just never able to sustain a kind of even-handed development of the kind of chills and thrills a person really likes. Shock someone enough times with snot running out of their nose, and it just becomes a little meaningless. And there are only so many ways to view a dead body before one gets kind of numb instead of apprehensive. Using the journal device to move things forward seems a little crude, when what we really need to do is talk.
I have to confess, I’ve felt kind of uncomfortable watching you struggle with religion and spirituality. You sparked my interest when you posited that this might be the battle between the age of reason and that of “irrationalism,” and the dark man was the last vestige of doomed rationalism. I thought for a few minutes we were headed somewhere really special, but you didn’t seem very confident, and the theme fell apart.
I will say there were a few surprises along the way, which I found pleasant. I appreciate you avoiding the obvious character arcs, especially when it comes to redemption. I was glad to meet most of your friends, especially Joe/Leo, Stu and even Kojak. Your military friends bored me out, though, especially Starkey; I don’t even get why you like spending any time with those guys. Such a bunch of fossils. I do have to say, I was really impressed with how you must have studied disease modelling and progression–I almost felt like was there.
Sometimes I get the feeling that you don’t really see me as a person, just a baby-maker. You even have an extended soliloquy about it, as if I wasn’t even here reading your words. It bothers me, because you took the time to develop nuanced male relationships (Larry, Stu, Lloyd), but the women were about reproducing or were cannon fodder. Since you allowed technology to remain, I’m not going to buy into your lowest most-functional society mentality, no matter how many sociological theories you throw at me. And then there’s the elderly black woman as representation of all that’s spiritual. Perhaps even Mother Earth? If I’m rolling my eyes, it’s because it’s another aspect of compartmentalizing women as either maiden, matron or crone, and people of color as closer to God(s)(being savage and all, as you so helpfully illustrate in your “The Circle Closes” afterward). Honestly, it’s kind of juvenile, and a little disappointing when I know you are capable of so much more.
It’s time for me to move on. I’m sure you’ll find someone special eventually, Stephen, because you are such a really great guy. And so unusual, too.
With Three Stars,
Your Friend Always.