“It is the Same” – The Sameness of Change in Shelley’s “Mutability”

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
                                         I.
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
    How restlessly they speed and gleam and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever:—
                                         II.
Or like forgotten lyres whose dissonant strings
    Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
    One mood or modulation like the last.
                                        III.
We rest—a dream  has power to poison sleep;
    We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:—
                                       IV.
It is the same!—For, be it joy or sorrow,
    The path of its departure still is free;
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
    Nought may endure but Mutability.

In Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Mutability”, the speaker explores the tension that is experienced as a result of change; this change is seen in nature in the first four lines, music in the next four lines, emotion in the following four lines, and finally the speaker resolves the conflict in the concluding quatrain by expressing that “It is the same” (ll. 13). Although this seems to be a strange conclusion to come to considering the contrasting and oftentimes combating conundrums within the quatrains, it is in fact the only fitting final thought that can ultimately untie the knot and alleviate the pressure that is contained within each line. Through creating tension with contrasting imagery within the same lines, Shelley adeptly accentuates the truth that change, whether it be drastic or subtle, is a part of our existence as humans that must be reconciled with.

As an introduction into the tension surrounding change, the speaker utilizes the image of a cloud covering the moon as a way to show the mutability inherent in nature. The opening line expresses the idea that we are “as clouds that veil the midnight moon” (ll. 1). This picture has within it subtle tension with the use of the verb veil. The clouds are in motion, but the speed of this motion is slow, and uncertain. It isn’t until the following line that the speed of the motion is revealed to the reader. The tension increases with the addition of descriptors like how the clouds speed “restlessly” (ll. 2). The clouds aren’t just slowly veiling the moon; they are rapidly shrouding it. This creates a feeling of encroaching darkness and gives the reader a sensation of claustrophobia. The light created by the moon is being cloaked by the incoming cloud cover.

Although there is definite dissonance in the movement of the clouds across the moon, the speaker deepens this dissonance through contrasting light and dark. Normally, when clouds cover the moon the light is squelched behind a veil. This is not so in this case. The light of the moon “gleam[s], and quiver[s]” (ll. 2). The light is still present, but it quivers with the coming of the clouds. Tension rises in the following line as the clouds “[streak] the darkness radiantly!” (ll. 3). The juxtaposition of the streaking of darkness radiantly propels the pressure created by the contradicting wording until the tension is finally released in the last line of the quatrain: “yet soon / Night closes round, and they are lost forever” (ll. 3-4). The contrast of light and dark and the way in which the light, oftentimes white, clouds act as an agent of streaking the darkness creates and exhibits the tension that comes with changes in nature visually.

The changes that occur in the physical world, as addressed in the first quatrain, are heightened as the speaker continues their exploration of mutability in the realm of music and sound. In the first quatrain, the reader receives a visual representation of dissonance; the second quatrain examines auditory mutability. The speaker tells of “forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings / Give various response to each varying blast” (ll. 5-6). The tension in the first two lines of the quatrain is heard through the words “forgotten,” “dissonant,” “various,” and “varying.” These sounds were once audible yet forgotten. The audio-memory of the lyre and the music that was once played thereon is fading further into memory. This image elicits a tone of sad longing for a half-remembered tonal memory that, just like the clouds covering the moon, will soon be “lost forever” (ll. 4). Rather than using contradicting phrasing like that of the first quatrain, the speaker builds upon the tension through compounding the melancholic mood by describing the “various response[s]” of the lyre as possessing a “frail frame” that is constantly changing with no “mood or modulation [being] like the last” (ll. 6-8). The tension isn’t totally resolved with the final line of the quatrain, for it is made more manifest through the motion of the mood and modulation, which perpetuates the pressure presented in the first two quatrains of the poem.

The perpetuation of pressure is proclaimed in the opening two lines of the third quatrain, as it is in the first quatrain, through creating cacophony in each individual action in the line. The speaker suggests that “We rest,” connoting that rest is a natural human experience. The complication surfaces immediately following the dash: “– A dream has power to poison sleep” (ll. 9). Although sleep is something that we all do, there is a potentially dangerous element of slumber that has the power to poison. Likewise, in the following line, the image of sleep is juxtaposed with the initial “We rise.” This rising, which usually holds within it a denotation of rebirth and redemption, is contrasted later in the line following the dash with, “– One wandering thought pollutes the day” (ll. 10). As compared to the previous two quatrains, the speaker condenses the tension like the spikes seen in that of a shrill noise captured in a microphone. This tension, although very much present in this quatrain, is short and more representative of the “varying blast[s]” described in the second quatrain (ll. 6).

The rest of the quatrain, which continues exploring dissonance in emotions, shortens the tension to an almost syllabic sensation, thus making for an even quicker and sharper conflict-resolution than the previous two lines. Instead of dividing the dissonance between one half of the line and the other, the tension is evident between neighboring words. “We feel,” the speaker states, “conceive or reason” (ll. 11). Each of these words are ways in which humans receive and perceive sensations. Although these words are used to describe sensations, each word is vastly different than the other. “Feel” connotes a response to physical sensations, “conceive” holds reference to a response to visual or audio sensations, and “reason” sides closer to the metaphysical response to sensations. Within the three verbs provided by the speaker, there is a lexical and connotational chasm that is concocted in the remainder of this line as well as the line following.

This dissonant divide in diction drives the tension further as the discord is directed and focused more fully in the final three words of the line: “laugh or weep” (ll. 11). These two basic human emotive actions are on completely opposite sides of the spectrum, yet they are pressed together tightly like the positive sides of two magnets. These magnetic forces of expression, when pushed together literally or metaphorically, cover the chasm constructed in the beginning of the line with a taut rope that eventually allows the reader to cross the deep without the fear of falling to one side of the other. Though not entirely concluded, the speaker admonishes the reader to “embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away,” suggesting that the reader has the ability to choose whether they will embrace the mutability of physical nature and human nature, or to cast it away (ll. 12).

Regardless of what the reader will do after being shown the sheer shakiness surrounding the unstable and mutable nature of all things, the speaker provides the reader with comfort knowing that “It is the same!” (ll. 13). The speaker exclaims that “be it joy or sorrow, / The path of its departure still is free,” suggesting that though pressure is presented in the poem, as well as in the lives of the individual readers, the capability to resolve the tension is ultimately left in the hands of the reader. They are free to view the tension however they would like to. They can see it as sorrow or joy, and they can react to it by laughing or weeping. Either way, it is the same! The way in which the conflict is resolved depends solely on how each individual reader chooses to alleviate it.

To further complicate the constant stream of cacophony, the speaker concludes by claiming that the only constant in life, whether that’s physical life (as is evident in the example of the moon and the lyre in the first and second quatrains) or metaphysical life (evidenced by the emotional and existential elements evoked in the third and fourth quatrains), is mutability itself. The speaker simply concedes that “Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow,” hearkening back to the notion of “no second motion bring[ing] / One mood or modulation like the last” in the second quatrain (ll. 15, 8). No day in the past, present, or future can ever be exactly the same ever. Clouds will always cover moons, the music of long-forgotten lyres will always fade into the fog of memory, and human emotions will fluctuate as frequently as syllables succumb to succeeding syllables in a poem.

The speaker releases the pressure that has thus far been congregating in the previous fifteen lines of the poem by reiterating that the only constant character in the conundrum of choices surrounding tension is mutability itself. As the speaker states, and as Shelley strives to suggest through his utilization of contrasting imagery within selfsame stanzas and lines throughout the poem, “Naught may endure but Mutability” (ll. 16). The capitalization of the word “Mutability” gives the idea and the action pertaining to the word an almost deity-like demeanor. By ending the poem with this God-like image, the necessity for accepting the changeable nature of things generally becomes more of a charge from on high than a challenge negatively charged with the impossibility of completion. Nothing can or will ever remain the same. Nature is in constant flux. The strings of a lyre will oftentimes be discordant and out of tune. Human emotions will forever, frequently find themselves frazzled in the fray of feelings. Yet, it is through understanding the need for tension in existence that the reader is able to truly come to terms with the constant creation and resolution of tension in the poem and in their own lives.

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“Crossing the Bar” as Tennyson’s Poetic Signature

Near the end of his life, poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson instructed all editors of his works to put his elegy ‘“Crossing the Bar’ at the end of all editions of [his] poems” (Hill 496). Since this request, all editors have kept this promise. Tennyson’s career as a poet, playwright, and writer spanned sixty years. In those six decades, he wrote and published scores of poetry ranging from his narrative poems in “Idylls of the King” about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and his 1854 narrative poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” about a heroic charge made by horsemen during the Crimean War, to his poems that explored ancient Greek mythology such as “To Ulysses” and his dedicatory poem to his good friend and fellow poet Alfred Henry Hallam, “In Memoriam.” Considering the vast array of lyrics laid down by Tennyson during his tenure as a poet, I feel like it’s important to understand what makes “Crossing the Bar” the one poem that Tennyson chose to put at the end of every published edition of his poetry. What is it with an elegy that describes a dying man’s journey from sunset to twilight, from shore to open sea, that warrants its becoming Tennyson’s poetical signature?

Lord_Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Crossing the Bar” goes as follows:

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,

Too full for sound and foam,

When that which drew from out the boundless deep

Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell, 

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place

The flood may bear me far,

I hope to see my Pilot face to face

When I have crost the bar.

Old English Elegies

Before diving into Tennyson’s work, it’s important to consider one of the oldest recorded English elegies and how it compares to “Crossing the Bar.” In the poem “The Seafarer“, which is found in a collection of poetry reportedly written in the late 10th century AD by Christian monks that was compiled in a book called The Exeter Book, expresses similar sentiments to that of Tennyson’s.

In “The Seafarer”, we see a man sailing upon the sea. He’s cold, alone, and very far from home. The speaker of the poem laments the bitterness of the sea and the coldness of being alone in a ship. His view on his current predicament is mournful. The imagery that he uses to describe the scene that lays before him is like looking at a monstrous wave before it crashes against a canoe. The religious tone of the poem is not in any degree hopeful. He explains that those who have lost faith in God and have turned to gold rather than God are fools and “Death leaps at the fools who forget their God” (106). Rather than providing reassurances, the speaker only speaks of the pitfalls of pride. After describing the destruction of the wrath of God on those who place material goods  above their Creator, the speaker gives suggestions. It’s not advice that helps one come closer to God. It’s more advice on how to avoid the wrath of God.He then praises God and asks permission to “rise to that eternal joy” in God’s presence.

Most of the elegies found in the Exeter Book are similar in their approach to discussing death, destruction, and mortal finality. They lament the evil that is inherent in the world and how evil, evil works, and sin are the reasons why the earth is such a cold and dark place. They describe a scene of total loneliness and isolation. The word bleak doesn’t seem to suit when describing the desolation of death in Old English elegies. There’s not a whole lot to look forward to on the horizon. Everything is just dead and there’s nothing that can really be done about it except kind of hope that a wrathful God won’t totally waste you. Kind of depressing. Although this poem is saturated in sadness, somehow floating in the frozen, frigid yet raging waters of a life where God lays waste to the wicked and seeks to do the same to the remnants of mankind, there is one blip of optimism that is the impetus of the hopefulness that is found in “Crossing the Bar.” In “The Seafarer,” before the speaker goes into listing all of the “Thou Shalts” of avoiding destruction, he presents an interesting thought: “Our thoughts should turn to where our home is.” The speaker could be talking about our physical home, like, where Mom and Dad live or where his family is waiting for him. He could be referring to a heavenly home. It could be both. As we consider the idea of home in Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar” as well as his poem “To Ulysses,” we can understand why he would place an elegy, a typically somber and reflective poem about death, in the back of every printed copy of his collected poetry.

Ulysses and Life After Death

Crossing the Bar” was written in 1889, three years before the poet’s death in 1892. He reportedly wrote it after recovering from an illness. By this time, Tennyson was in his eighties and, for anyone around that age, an illness was almost always synonymous with death. Death was on his mind, but not in the fireballs from heaven, struck dead just for trying to balance the Ark of the Covenant [put link] sense of the word. Death wasn’t the end of life for Tennyson. This propensity toward life beyond death can be seen in Tennyson’s 1843 poem, “To Ulysses.” In “To Ulysses,” he writes as if he were the famed Odysseus, one seafarer who sailed the Aegean Sea in order to return back to his home on the island of Ithaca. At the end of his life, he reflects on what will become of his life after he passes through the harbor of mortality and into the seas of the beyond. He speaks that even after passing on to “newer world[s]… Some work of noble note, may yet be done, / Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.” He wishes “To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths / Of all the western stars.” He wants to continue until there’s nothing left to continue to. For Tennyson, and the speaker, there is something beyond death. There is something to look forward to. Something beyond that begs him to return.

The speaker examines the boring nature of halting. “How dull it is,” he remarks, “to pause, to make an end.” Death as a halt or a hiccup in the journey is borderline blasphemous. It should be, according to the speaker, part of the journey beyond the sunset.

Crossing the Bar

In “Crossing the Bar,” Tennyson sees the passing from life to death as something that all humans will experience whether they are wicked or righteous, and rather than giving a litany of things to do to be prepared, he simply offers hope. Rather than focusing on the cold and the crags like the author of “the Seafarer,” Tennyson’s speaker emphasizes stars and sounds. In the poem we meet a man in a harbor looking out beyond a sandbar into the sea. The sun is setting and he contemplates what will happen once he proceeds past the precipice of the bar and into the ocean. In the opening stanza of the poem, the speaker describes the scene: “Sunset, and evening star” (1). The sun is setting indicating the inevitable arrival of night. Although the sun will soon set, the speaker presents the image of a star. A light that will still be there even when the light of mortality is extinguished. A constant light in the sky. As the sun descends behind the horizon, the speaker hears “one clear call for [him]” (2). A call that is accentuated by the dimming of the day and the movement of the tide. This call is timely. It comes first as the sun sets and later at the tolling of the evening bell, reminding the speaker that his time has come to cross the bar and there isn’t a whole lot he can do about it. He doesn’t want people to mourn for him or be sad for him as he sails across the bar. He just wants to sort of glide into the sea amid the sonorous sounds of the surf and make the transition between life and death as easily as possible. He doesn’t want fanfare. He would much rather drift off noiselessly without making a ruckus.

The tide is described as being drawn “from out the boundless deep.” The ocean is unknown, maybe even foreboding or intimidating. It is nothing like the supposed safety of the harbor, yet, the speaker realizes that the call came from the ocean and not from the harbor. He must take the step into the unknown as a he crosses the bar. As the tide recedes, it “turns again home”. The use of the word home as opposed to the “boundless deep” earlier in the stanza brings with it feelings of connection with the ocean. Although it is something unknown to the speaker, there is something familiar about it. Something welcoming. The call, this charge, to cross the bar is more than a realization that the speaker’s mortal clock has ticked its last tock. It is filial. It’s not the wrath of a calloused God causing chaos and desiring to destroy man. It is a call from a Creator to His creation. It’s a call from home. It’s hopeful. Rather than agonizing over the lost and fallen state of man in the presence of a vengeful deity, the speaker desires to cross into the familiar unknown of the sea beyond the bar.

His experience of crossing is marked by the coming of twilight and the evening bell, “and after that the dark.” Though the sun has now set and he doesn’t know entirely what lies beyond the bar, the appearance of the evening star provides him with the assurance that this treacherous traversing from harbor to sea will all be okay in the end. The speaker concludes hopefully, though the scene is shrouded in darkness and uncertainty, that “For tho’ from out our borne of Time and Place, / The flood may bear me far, / I hope to see my Pilot face to face / When I have crossed the bar.” The hope that is present in the end of the poem penetrates the firmament and gives the speaker and the reader hope that there is something more beyond the threshold of time and place and that they might have the chance to look their Pilot, their Creator, face to face upon crossing the bar.

A contemporary of Tennyson’s, Lionel Johnson, in writing about death uses the exact same images as Tennyson. In Johnson’s 1887 poem “In Falmouth Harbour” the speaker is sailing just as the speaker in “Crossing the Bar” is. The only difference is that rather than crossing the bar to the ocean, the speaker is leaving the ocean of life into the harbor of the grave where no waves are made and where travelers can rest from the restlessness of the sea. Daniel Rutenberg of West Virginia University observed that in “Crossing the Bar,” Tennyson views and “[treats]… death as a welcome challenge” and Johnson on the other hand turns death into a sort of “redemption” (179).  Johnson sees death as more of a victory rather than another phase in the battle. Although both poems view death in a very valid and mostly positive way, Johnson’s perception of death as a harbor presents a lack the faith in Falmouth Harbour’s speaker that Tennyson’s speaker is able to exercise in his act of crossing the bar. Rutenberg compares two quatrains from each poem to show the similarities in form along with the differing ideologies surrounding death:

Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea,  

(“Crossing the Bar”, 1-4)

And

“I have passed over the rough sea

And over the white harbour bar;

And this is Death’s dreamland,

Led hither by a star.

(“In Falmouth Harbour”, 29-32)

Though the imagery is the same in both of these quatrains, the thoughts regarding death stand in stark contrast. Rutenberg states that the ages of each of these poets when they wrote these poems might explain the differing tones. Tennyson was in his eighties when he wrote “Crossing the Bar” and Johnson was barely in his twenties when he wrote “In Falmouth Harbour.” Tennyson had the experience of a full life. He knew sorrow, he knew happiness, and above all he knew that, as his American contemporary Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned,

“Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not the goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.”

Tennyson, when asked about the Pilot’s presence beyond the sight of the speaker, simply stated that “the Pilot has been on board all the while, but in the dark I have not yet seen him.” The Pilot is, “that Divine and Unseen Who is always guiding us” (Hill 578). By stamping “Crossing the Bar” at the end of every edition of his poetry, Tennyson wanted anyone that would read his poetry to understand this one fundamental truth. Though our bodily frames will eventually waste away, deep down each human being is divine. When we are about to be “called home” we can hope for something better after this life and not fear death. Although we, as Paul the Apostle stated, “see through a glass, darkly,” there will come a time when we will see things clearly. We will eventually see the Pilot face to face. With the knowledge of the Pilot who made it possible for us to, like the tide, “turn again home,” we can rest assured knowing or at least hoping that our crossing of the bar will be peaceful and placid.

Works Cited:

Hill Jr., Robert W., Tennyson’s Poetry: Authoritative Texts, Criticism. W.W. Norton Company, 1999.

Rutenberg, Daniel. CRISSCROSSING THE BAR: TENNYSON AND LIONEL JOHNSON ON DEATH. Victorian Poetry; Summer 1972; 10, 2; pg. 179-180

Spaces, Spaces Everywhere and Not a Spot to Park

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner bemoans the wrath that is brought upon him and his crew after he shoots the albatross that was circling around their boat. In the heat of the following days,their circumstances become dire and the mariner exclaims:

Water, water, every where,The Ancient Mariner

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

There are definitely times in each of our lives when we metaphorically shoot an albatross. We binge watch series on Netflix instead of study for a test. We pig out on ice cream instead of eating something that is actually healthy. We stay up late for no good reason and wake up groggy and irritable. Our actions have consequences. Sometimes we do something knowing wholeheartedly that it will bring ill fortune. We can’t escape the consequences of our actions. But, what if killing the albatross is the only option? What if there is no other way? Who should bear the brunt of the consequences? I am a strong believer that every man and woman is responsible for their actions and is therefore responsible for the consequences. While each person is, quoting poet William Ernest Henley, in a large part the “master[s] of [their] fate” and “captain[s] of [their] soul,” there are definitely times when the albatross has to go.

captain philips

My albatross was shot sometime around 1:00 this morning. I got to my apartment late last night. There is permit parking that is available to those who possess permits. And there is free street parking, which goes faster than a pack of gum in a middle school. Upon my arrival, all free street parking was taken. Each spot was occupied down to the trickiest parallel parking positions. Although the supply of free spots was exhausted, there were several permit spots still up for grabs. I had inquired about a parking tag before I moved in and felt pretty confident that I would be able to get one, but that was most definitely not the case. Knowing completely what I was getting myself into, I pulled up to a spot marked “Permit Parking Only.” I sat in my car for a while before taking my keys out of the ignition. “I know that parking here will result in me getting in trouble, but there is no other way.” I could empathize with the Ancient Mariner there was definitely water everywhere, but not a single drop that I could drink. I fell to the temptation of parking in the permit only parking without a permit. I went to bed and really didn’t think that much about it.

I woke up this morning and went to get something out of my car. While on my way to work this morning with a container of fried rice in one hand and my keys in the other, I discovered that my car had been booted. It wasn’t one of those cute boots you see on infants. It wouldn’t look cute in a family photo. My heart sank and I honestly heard the sound of metal hitting the blacktop. The yellow-black boot was utterly, unabashedly, and absolutely unfashionably preventing my vehicle from moving. I was a bit upset, but I did what I needed to do to get the boot off. I called the company’s very expensive shoe horn to remove the boot. I shot my albatross by staying out too late.

College towns are notorious for difficult parking customs and laws. I love when I am able to safely secure a spot for my 2003 Acura 3.2TL, or ODB as I call him. There is satisfaction in knowing that your car has a home. I understand how it feels when someone takes my spot in a parking lot, or when someone without a parking tag prevents me from parking. I’ve had nights when I’ve had to drive around for an hour looking for a spot at like midnight and managing to secure a spot a good mile away from my apartment. I have had to park in a neighborhood I’m not familiar with because some bonehead without a tag took my throne. The throne that I paid for, mind you. I get it during regular semesters. More people are around which means more cars. There is a high supply in students with cars and a very limited amount of parking spots. It’s basic economics. It makes money for both the apartment complex through selling stickers and the parking enforcement makes money through tickets, giving boots, and even impounding cars. People need money. It’s a part of life. But, I would have to argue that the summer is definitely different. There are less students. Less students equals less cars.The ratio of cars to parking spots changes as a result of graduations and move-outs.

The summer is a time of relaxation, recharging, and regeneration. There is no better time to get things in order than the summer. People drive down long coastal roads with the windows down blasting their favorite summer songs. Kids are out of school. Everyone is outside. It’s a happy time. Or at least it should be.

Getting booted, getting a ticket, or even getting impounded impedes the flow of happiness during a time when excitement and happiness abounds. Everyone should be happy. Even the institutions bend on cutting students’ pockets and dripping their debit cards dry enjoy happiness every once in a while. The happiness of both apartment complexes and parking police comes from siphoning students salaries. While this is both awful and outright unjust, there should be some way for tenants and tyrants to meet in the middle. I don’t suggest being more lenient during the leisure seasons. I’m not an advocate for anarchy. Order must be maintained, and laws must be abided by.

My plan to pursue both the purse of the parking police and the public interest will be fair to both parties. Impartial to all who own cars. I hereby propose the end-all solution to  automotive woes of students all over America.

With the institution of parking tickets, more and more people race to buy parking tags. It usually doesn’t cost that much, but due to limited parking in most college towns, these spots are finite. I feel like competition is very American. And I love America. So, the stakes should be higher when it comes to parking in a college town. Not only should the students be subject to the rules of having or not having a parking sticker, but everyone in town should be. It would create a friendly competition of who should lay claim to spots in the ever increasingly coveted car parks.
To make things interesting, each parking lot will be equipped with a keypad where each driver will input the current number of miles on their odometer for that particular day. If a car doesn’t have the requisite amount of miles, then the car cannot be parked in that spot. If drivers are able to get the needed amount of miles, then they will be granted access to the parking lot. No more parking stickers. Parking police will still be able to enforce parking laws, but instead of getting people for not being in the right spot, they will only be able to cite those who aren’t able to get a spot period. The police will be able to go around at midnight for 15 minutes and check who wasn’t able to find a spot. It will be like a giant game of musical chairs and hide and seek.

Along with this, to involve the whole community, drivers who are able to consistently drive the required amount of miles will be given discounts. Cheaper gas, cheaper tune ups, and maybe even coupons and VIP passes to restaurants. And for students, cheaper tuition and books. Sounds pretty nice, right?

With these incentives, there will also be penalties for those who aren’t able to find spots by midnight. If the parking police catch you driving past midnight still looking for a spot, they can get you and you have to pay a flat fine of $30, or a box of donuts for everyone in the car. You have to pay the fine before the sun rises that morning or else the fine is compounded. The money that is collected by the parking police will be used to build parking garages that adequately meet the needs of the community. Although this might lead to the creation of tribes and factions in the community and maybe even a civil war, it would definitely solve the parking problem. In a community like this, the albatross that we have to kill won’t be our paychecks. We’ll actually be saving money. The only albatross we would have to worry about is the OZone layer. Sure, by driving so much and using so much gas, we’d burn a hole right through the atmosphere. This might be a small sacrifice to make, but it’s definitely worth it. We might have a Mad Max: Fury Road situation on our hands if things get too out of control, but in the end if we are able to drive our cars enough to deserve a parking spot, we’ll be able to have a stress free summer, and sleep soundly at night knowing that in the morning, our cars will be safe, secure, and above all bootless.

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

 

In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” doubtful and insecure Mr. Prufrock contemplates whether he has any right to do anything in the universe especially with the presence of “a bald spot in the middle of [his] hair.” After mulling through his thoughts and the hypothetical thoughts of women regarding the pattern developing atop his head, he asks the question, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” For centuries, men (and sometimes even women) have dealt with the discomfort of the chroming of the dome. The falling of the hair follicles has been proclaimed as the demise of mankind’s capabilities of doing anything remotely cool. In an attempt to forgo the inevitability of the passing of one’s pompadour, many have resorted to covering their craniums with caps and combovers. Some succeed in securing the sensation of being seen as “not-the-guy-who-started-losing-hair”; while others flounder. Whether we like it or not, we are surrounded by Mr. Prufrocks; those whose loss likely leads them to question their quote-unquote confidence in themselves. Although there are definite drawbacks when it comes to the degradation of the dome, there are an equal amount of benefits to being bald. Through weighing the good, the bad, and the ugly of the quaint cue ball, we can see that there are numerous adages that can be said about those whose heads are hairless on top of “bald is beautiful.” And when considering the question Mr. Prufock proposes, it is imperative to understand that some of the most powerful men around lack luscious locks, yet they compensate this loss of locks with their actions.

The Bad of Being Bald

Before we get into the benefits of baldness, let us first address the negative aspects of the infamous glabrous life. The first folly of the depilated dome can be seen in the example of one of modern literature’s favorite knight errants, Don Quixote. In Miguel de Cervantes’ story of the legendary lancer Don Quixote, one of the first things that Cervantes mentions about Quixote is that he became mentally unbalanced because his brain was fried. Sunburns are bad. They hurt, they’re miserable, and they lead to peeling skin. Some people enjoy peeling skin, but no one likes when their skin is peeled. Imagine sunburning a shaven head. There’s no protective barrier between your skinhead and the violent UV rays from the sun. Baldness often leads to burnt brain, in the case of Quixote, which subsequently leads to Quixotic behavior and overall decaying of mental and ultimately physical faculties. If you are considering going chrome, I offer one piece of advice: don’t go outside when the sun’s out unless you’ve first slathered your head with the strongest sunscreen on the market, and capped your chrome with an adequate covering. Please take the necessary precautions.

Along with the prospect of brain burns, inherent with hairlessness is acquiring the title of “lucky friend” in addition to being the bald buddy. Every cohort of friends has at least one bald or balding friend. It’s essential. When the Jazz-Rockets game is close, luck (and even some prayers) is necessary. When the prayers have been offered, the next step is to go to the lucky bald friend. Everyone crowds the bald buddy and rubs his head. Not only is this practice weird, it is uncomfortable for all parties involved and is absolutely fruitless. One bald man tried rubbing his own head and this is what he said: “I rub my bald head all the time.. Don’t think it’s given me any luck .yet.” Another person said regarding the rubbing of a bald head, “eww i think its very strange if you rub a bald mans head you get good luck.i dont believe in that stuff.” Although this practice has been almost entirely devoid of fruition, some bald men had said that they rub their own heads for good luck and it works. One man declared, “I’m bald and I need to rub my own head for good luck!! lol!!” Rubbing a bald head may not be lucky for the rubber, but it might provide immense benefits to the lucky friend.

Benefits of Bald Spots

There are many reasons why being hairless is so heinous, but in actuality being glabrous is great and glamorous. You don’t ever have to worry about having a bad hair day. You can’t have bed head. You will never have to buy combs. You may still have to use shampoo and conditioner, but it’s totally your choice. And most of all, there are many successful bald men to keep you company in the event that your hair escapes your head.

Lex Luther. Former associate of Superman. He was a very successful business magnate and owner and creator of LexCorp, the incredibly lucrative aerospace engineering firm based in Metropolis. He made some of his most important life decisions immediately after losing his locks in a lab accident. Rather than moping around complaining about losing his hair, he took initiative and moved up in the world.

Walter White. Before he was Heisenberg, he had a full head of hair. This isn’t to say that men who manage to maintain their manes are less successful than those who fail to do so. Walter was a high school chemistry teacher, but it wasn’t until he got cancer that he unleashed his full potential. Although the hair loss came initially as a result of chemotherapy, he decides to keep his dome clean even after he goes into remission. As is so with Lex, Walter made himself into the man we know him as today after bic-ing his head. If it weren’t for his decision to shave his head, the crown he would later inherit as the meth kingpin of the Southwest region of the United states wouldn’t have been able to fit. He wouldn’t have made the decision to kill his rival and former boss Gustavo Fring. He wouldn’t have been able to earn sufficient funds to pay for his cancer treatments, and he wouldn’t have been as remembered as he currently is. Some say that being bald makes you blend in and get lost in the crowd. This is not so. Being bald makes people remember you even more. Once you make the choice to go chrome, people will remember your name and they will say it.

Thanos. Last on the list is one of the most powerful men in the universe. He hails from one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. Many people have been upset that the Russo Brother’s portrayal of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War isn’t true to the comics because Thanos is always shown wearing armor; particularly a helmet. Although some say that he doesn’t look as fierce as he would with a helmet or with armor, without the helmet he is able to accomplish his goal of showing what he calls “mercy” to the universe. Thanos considers Mr. Prufrock’s question, “Do I dare disturb the universe?” and answers with a resounding and universe-shaking “yes.” Of all the bald men listed, Thanos shows bald men can be successful and indeed have the commitment and drive to disturb the universe. He stands as a pillar of the band of bald brothers universally. His work ethic and commitment to a cause and his goals is definitely something to snap to.

So, whether you, or your friends suffer from acute or actual depilated dome, don’t worry too much. You’re in good company and you don’t have that much to fret about. Mr. Prufrock asks the questions, “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?” and doesn’t give a straight answer. He states that “[he] shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.” He continues claiming that he “[hears] the mermaids singing each to each,” but he doesn’t “think they will sing for [him].” Rather than allowing the chroming of the dome to cripple your confidence, take courage in the fact that you can be successful like the aforementioned shaven yet highly outstanding men and make your mark and disturb the universe.