“If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. . . If a man says (for instance) that men have a conspiracy against him, you cannot dispute it except by saying that all the men deny that they are conspirators; which is exactly what conspirators would do.”
— G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
The same small-boned woman (not pictured) gave birth to both of these children. She dressed both of them and paid for the photograph. She didn’t know if one or both of them would live to twenty. She didn’t know if one or both of them would grow up to be gentle lovers, disappointed speculators, clowns. Or if one or both of them would eventually go insane. She washed the dirt off their faces and set them in front of the camera. She didn’t know that a smile would have gone a long way to convince us of their happiness.
Well, one of them lived, and one of them died, and the one who lived made a few more of the same kind of people with a mate who was a little different but mostly the same as he was. And that happened again a few times. It does.
Two brothers are still alive with the same know/not know inside them. Grown and living in California. One is a famous artist and the other is not. The famous artist is very compulsive, he has no control over his behavior. What it feels like is this: he wakes up with one plan in mind, but then his compulsions take over and lead him around the world like he is on a leash. No one else can see his leash, not even his wife and his girlfriend. He has both. They see he is unhappy. They don’t see his leash. He’s going to leave them and start all over with someone else who is a little different, but mostly the same. He is never going to figure his shit out.
They know that, without knowing it.
The other brother works on a horse farm. He has bad breath, not because he has bad habits. Just because he was born that way, with stiff intestines that don’t get along with each other. It travels all the way up to his teeth and his mouth. His mother left his father before his breath turned foul. Left them all. He works with animals.
Yes, maybe the long ago children should have smiled.
But all those songs about smiling hadn’t been sung yet. Or even written.