Thurlow drank from a water bottle. He said, "Now, I know what people say. They say that extreme detachment usually means mental ill¬ness, but that the pioneering spirit of individuality just means you're American. Freethinking and unencumbered. But what we have today? When so many of us are destitute of intimacy with other people intimacy of any kindthat's American, too. And it's not right. Now, be¬lieve me, because I know. I know firsthand. From my life and also from polling and statistical modeling procedures that corroborate a decline in frequency of every single form of social, civic, religious, and profes¬sional engagement since 1950. These stats are the God of tedium. But I've read them. The Roper Social and Political Trends survey, the General Social Survey, the DDB Needham Life Style studies, Gallup opinion polls, Mason-Dixon reports, and Zogby files. The bottom line? We are cocooned in all things, at all times, and it's only getting worse. Today we debrief with our pets and bed down with Internet porn. So what can we do?" He paused here while the crowd said, "Tell me something real!"
"That's right," he said. "Tell me something real. Talk to each other. Get back to basics. And start feeling better."
As he spoke, he managed to contact the audience with his eyes, to see people one by one, and in this way to blinker and laser his attention.
When he was done, he thanked everyone for coming. He said they'd made his day.
Cheers, applause, exeunt.
Excerpted from Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel. Copyright © 2013 by Fiona Maazel. Excerpted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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