Recent Work By Julia Ingalls

Perhaps the most notable thing about the passing of essayist Christopher Hitchens was not that he retained his atheism to the end, but rather that he retained his love of alcohol. His esophageal cancer, which owes its appearance partially to genetic factors, was not aided by a lifetime of pre-noon scotches. But he never apologized for his drinking. He was born, he drank and wrote prodigiously, and then he died. At no point did he waste time with regret. A clean and sober Hitchens may have been humorless, or perhaps he would have reached Einsteinian levels of insight. Ultimately, his drinking was a choice he made that shaped who he was and how he died.

Occupy Wall Street is not fueled by the brutal historical repression of Tahrir Square or the savvy political message of a PAC. It is, instead, the last stand of messy humanity. These are the people who never accepted spreadsheet-driven indifference as a method of keeping social order. And they’re not going to hurry up and formulate their message because it isn’t a message; it’s a litany of arguments about how society is run.

1. The Visionary Stage.

The idea is brilliant; so brilliant, in fact, that it is best described as a “vision.” No one has thought to combine these elements/metal components/animal JPEGs before. The world is laughably behind. This vision will overtake the critics and investors, necessitating that cash be shipped to you via truck freight.

 

2. The Gritty-Eyed Stage.

Month four: you’re still springing out of bed in the mornings, but it’s mainly because your back is knotted with stress. You landed that big commission in Australia, but now you’re working weird hours and none of your traditionally employed friends understands why when you laugh, it sounds like you’re crying. It’s thrilling to be able to earn money for your vision, except that the currency exchange rates are killing you a little more each month. Also, the word “month” in Australia translates to “60 days” in the U.S. The electric bill is an unfriendly color.

 

3. The Scotch Drinking Stage.

The Australians just got hit with a major flood. Despite their initial enthusiasm for your groundbreaking project, you’re now back in the ranks of the unemployed. Except you can’t collect unemployment because you haven’t been employed full-time for over six months by anyone aside from your own misguided ambition. On a whim, you picked up a minor commission from some English people a few weeks back “for a little extra cash.” Oh, ha! Your friends are short on sympathy. Not only are you a loser; you’re a loser in a time of the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Maybe you should have just made nice with that asshole at the old 80-hour a week job who drove you screaming from the building. No, you can’t go that far. Whatever happens, never trust anyone named Gavin.

 

4. The Royal Tenenbaum Stage.

Perhaps it’s time to turn to crime: after all, your fingertips are now polished smooth from exertion. For entertainment, you imagine likely organ solos at your funeral as you treat yourself to a cup of cooked rice. The English people don’t like how the project has worked out and have refused to pay your last bill. This, despite the hours you spent on Skype patiently explaining the nuances of your ingenuity. You’ve got some leads with a few Canadians and a guy who calls himself “MajorDomo51.” You’re going to die in the company of used cardboard containers. The only way people will remember you is with mockery, especially that dickweed Gavin.

 

5. The Jazz Bar Stage.

The darkest hour comes before checking your email. After discarding the grammatically pioneering messages from BestPenis, you discover an explosion of interest from half a dozen serious investors. Maybe it’s the genius of the new Google algorithm or the simplicity of critical mass, but this integrity-plagued existence of yours is starting to turn a profit. You haven’t kowtowed to anyone in over two years, and you’ve settled this evening’s bar tab with unleveraged cash. The feeling is so good that you start swapping anecdotes with the guy sitting next to you. After you explain that you’re your own boss, you see that look in his eyes. It’s the look of a man who has an idea; no, a VISION.

 

Ten miles of rough road separate the ghost town of Bodie from the paved highway. Swift-moving clouds add to the particularly scenic melancholy. In a group of people, Bodie is charming, even a little mysterious; but when you stand alone in the shade of a crumbling house, you feel the severed edge of civilization. Bodie’s allure runs deeper than the harpsichord in the schoolroom or the bleached swatches in the window of the general store. Bodie embodies the hope that no matter how brutal our present, the past was infinitely worse.