I work with a great deal of discipline, although I usually take on more than I can handle and often have to extend due dates. I have always been appalled by bohemianism because of its laziness, disorder, and moral weakness. I understand that this way of living is a response to the fact of human frailty, but it leans too far in one direction. Being a little more buttoned up doesn’t mean that you’ll get so brittle that you’ll break. Nor does it mean that you don’t understand tragedy, loss, and, most of all, human limitation.I am more than well aware of those things and I feel very strongly, but on the other hand I like to run ten miles and return to a spotless well-ordered room, and I like my shirts heavily starched. When I used to go on a long run on Sunday morning when I lived on the Upper West Side, I would pass thousands and thousands of people in restaurants eating . . . (I won’t say this word, because I hate it so much, but it rhymes with hunch, and it’s a disgusting meal that is supposed to be both breakfast and lunch). There they were—having slept for five hours while I was doing calisthenics and running—unshaven (the women too), bleary eyed, surrounded by newspapers scattered as if in a hamster cage, smoking noxious French cigarettes, and drinking Bloody Marys while they ate huge quantities of fat. They looked to me like a movie version of South American bandits. I would never want to be like that. I prefer to live like a British soldier.
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I work with a great deal of discipline, although I usually take on more than I can handle and often have to extend due dates. I have always been appalled by bohemianism because of its laziness, disorder, and moral weakness. I understand that this way of living is a response to the fact of human frailty, but it leans too far in one direction. Being a little more buttoned up doesn’t mean that you’ll get so brittle that you’ll break. Nor does it mean that you don’t understand tragedy, loss, and, most of all, human limitation.I am more than well aware of those things and I feel very strongly, but on the other hand I like to run ten miles and return to a spotless well-ordered room, and I like my shirts heavily starched. When I used to go on a long run on Sunday morning when I lived on the Upper West Side, I would pass thousands and thousands of people in restaurants eating . . . (I won’t say this word, because I hate it so much, but it rhymes with hunch, and it’s a disgusting meal that is supposed to be both breakfast and lunch). There they were—having slept for five hours while I was doing calisthenics and running—unshaven (the women too), bleary eyed, surrounded by newspapers scattered as if in a hamster cage, smoking noxious French cigarettes, and drinking Bloody Marys while they ate huge quantities of fat. They looked to me like a movie version of South American bandits. I would never want to be like that. I prefer to live like a British soldier.

-Mark Helprin

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