I am a man in turmoil, a boiling cauldron of sudden uncertainties due to brand-new doubts; I roll over in my sleep, in my mind, in my clothes. Things I thought I knew I no longer know. I used to think there should be no borders. I now dream of electric fences patrolled by electric dogs. I used to bristle at the intrusions of government spies in private business. I now make excuses for them. I used to believe in total freedom of speech. I now think, You better back that up with something, pal. Uniforms used to make me sick. I now see that women rather like them. I thought all wars, except for the Second World War, were wrong. Now I see where small wars have their place. I used to cringe at language like "collateral damage." I still do, but I don't go raging into the kitchen to scare Laura with my fury. I used to feel guilty for not having enough feelings; I now feel guilty for having these feelings. I get scared when I think that my metamorphosis might contribute to total war, censorship, and patriotard hysteria. I wonder if someone released a virus of conformism that is more effective and subtle than anthrax. Then I think it's just time and The Times. Then I think, Yeah, that's what "they" would have me believe, and "they" are just as vague as "they" have always wanted "us" to believe. And who "they" and "us" are I can't honestly tell any more. I remember when my generation turned into our parents, but I don't remember when our children turned into us. Maybe they haven't yet. I wonder how I can listen to phrases like "the axis of evil" and not run screaming into the snow. Probably because there is no snow. Or because, compared to the president's "axis of evil," the attorney general's fear of calico cats and nude statues puts it all in perspective. The "axis of evil" is long: Iran, Iraq, North Korea, calico cats, nude statues. And then I laugh. Thank God for the absurd. There is no one more absurd than God and look how long He's lasted. Happily, some things are forever. They do not change. Big corporations are still vampires. The small people still get suckered. Television is still getting worse. Hollywood blows eternally steady chunks. Still nobody reads. What used to pass for trivia still passes for culture. Pundits and prognosticators are still wrong. Without the steady verities, my cauldron would surely boil over. You can't, Heraklitus said, step into the same river twice. You're not the same person and the river is not the same river. But it's the same cauldron.