Friday, November 13, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Fuel for Greatness, OR, "How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness" -Joshua Shenk in "Lincoln's Melancholy"

Listen to the audio version or download the MP3 of this week's Bathroom Monologue here.

The gnome was puzzled as soon as he departed the esophagus. His fellow gnomes were shoveling what looked like solid sadness into great ovens that burned around the president's stomach.

A slightly taller than average gnome approached him with a clipboard.

"You one of the new men?"

"Sir, yes, sir." The new gnome straightened his posture. "Reporting for duty in service of my country, sir."

"Good, good," said the superior gnome. "Fetch a shovel and get to burning that depression."

"Sir, is it constitutional to damage the emotions of the commander in chief, sir?"

The superior gnome frowned over his clipboard.

"That's why we're here, private."

"Sir, I read that depression was the cause of his greatness, sir."

"No, no. The fuel." The superior gnome came closer. "It's the fuel of his greatness. And what do you do with fuel?"

The new gnome kept his eyes forward.

"Sir, store it in something safe, sir?"

"You're a cute one. What do you do with gasoline? Burn it. What do you do with coal? Burn it."

"Sir, so what you're saying is..."

"What I'm saying is that if we want this president to get anything done we've got to find all his depression and set it on fire. Now come on. He's got to emancipate the slaves and win the biggest war this country's ever seen! It's going to take a lot of depression."

"And cause it, I'd assume.” And then he remembered to add, “Sir!"

The superior gnome pointed to the nearest oven, which billowed with a smoky melancholy.

"That is not our problem! Now fetch a shovel or start cleaning the stoves. The grease that builds up in there is figuratively and literally bad for morale."


  1. I agree with Michael.

    Your imagination is cleverly amazing.


  2. Gnomes, solid sadness for fuel...very imaginative piece here! Food for thought, nice.

  3. So it's all the gnomes fault is it? Creative and interesting, John. Never know what you are going to get with you and that's a good thing.

  4. You continue to amaze me, John. I am almost afraid to ask where the inspiration came from.

    Depression often is the fuel to greatness. But I think it's the gnomes who operationalize it.

    Peace, Linda

  5. Very imaginative. It was a good read.

  6. Great stuff, I am lost at what to put for a comment for fear of a cow falling over.

  7. I guess there really is Gnome one to blame for depression.


  8. Thank you all for the kind words! I like doing the weird stuff. It keeps the mind limber.

    Since Linda mentioned it and some might curious on the creative proceess here: the inspiration actually came from the title of Joshua Shenk's book, "Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness." I came across that title in his Bio beneath his fantastic Atlantic Monthly piece on studies in what makes us happy. That title was all the inspiration I needed. I loathe depression and fight with it now and again, so destroying it is in mindset. Fuel gets destroyed. Being a prickly editor, interpreting "fueled" literally was also in my nature. Could the "fuel" idea be taken even more literally? Who uses the fuel? How do they do it? What is their relation to the president? That was all a matter of being playful in a narrative. It's a boon of thinking in the bathroom.

  9. Wow! Amazing piece of flash John. You never fail to please.

  10. So, you're telling me that I have gnomes inside of me? Is that why I keep dreaming about them?

    Good stuff here!

  11. At last! A use for depression. I need a gnome!


Counter est. March 2, 2008