I like the essay's intensity, its frankness and the way Krim gives it a thick texture. It feels like dough to knead and pound on.
Our secret is that we still have an epic longing to be more than what we are, to multiply ourselves, to integrate all the identities and action-fantasies we have experienced, above all to keep experimenting with our lives…The ‘failure business’ he writes about is the life of imagining yourself as different personae and trying to act them all out, rather than dedicating yourself to any one thing. The failure he describes comes from trying to be too many things, in a society (specifically, the US) that seems to make that possible and offer endless choices (though for many people, this isn't the case, and the US he describes here is largely a dream itself).
When do you stop fantasizing an endless you and try to make it with what you’ve got?It becomes addictive. It leads anywhere and nowhere. I like that he explores how self-defeating it can be, but at the same time not without its rewards. Sometimes it even pays off for people in practical terms. But the risks are steep. What happens when you realize you have little to show for the passing years? (Though you can also ask what "little to show" means. People can change profoundly and enrich themselves in ways that aren't obvious if you don't know them intimately.)
But if you are a proud, searching ‘failure’ in this society… then it is smart and honorable to know what you attempted and why you are now vulnerable to the body blows of those who once saw you robed in the glow of your vision and now only see an unmade bed and a few unwashed cups on the bare wooden table of a gray day.I like how this essay is a wry celebration and a lament. Krim writes with bitterness, but not without passion. He embraces disillusionment without sounding broken.