Nebraska Center for Writers

THE OBSERVATORY
by CARL JONAS

"WITH AN EXPERIENCE OF THIS KIND," remarked Cecil Harley-Smith, the Englishman from the Tavistock Institute, during the discussions at the Fool's Gold Colloquium of 1954, "a full measure of despair . . ."
He was referring to that peculiar national trauma we all lived through those Eisenhower years.
"With an experience of this kind it is sometimes possible to develop a reflowering of hope of a more realistic and creative brand, of a less anxious and defensive character so that in the end the unconvincing and broad smile may be replaced with one which is certainly a little sadder but more direct and genuine."
It is with that "reflowering of hope"--if there be such a thing--that I would like to concern myself now.
My name: Robert Jointer.
My profession: Teacher, at the Municipal University of Gateway City where I headed the English department up until about a year ago, but now Director of the Fool's Gold Academy of Extended Research.
My condition: Divorcing.
Very crudely put--which was the way it was put at home in Gateway City--I had run away from my wife with my brother's wife and rather brazenly carried on the affair out there in Fool's Gold. The story went on; I had been no more successful in my affair than I had been in anything else. The whole business had ended tragically in an automobile crash in one of those road races they used to have out there, a crash after which it was uncertain for a while whether my brother would live but which served to bring his wife to her senses....

Reprinted with permission
from The Observatory
Copyright © 1966
by Carl Jonas
W.W. Norton

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