What of the spiritual longings of atheists? What is one to make of them? Yearnings of solitude. Cosmic solicitations. Death of a salesman.

Knock-knock; who’s there?

One can live without God, if you ask me, but not without a code of conduct. This is what is lacking. We now are a people in need of potty-training. Our children won’t shut up. Armed, they are dangerous. The men want to wear their mothers’ underwear and try on her makeup. Those who don’t are told to keep quiet.

No one smokes but everyone has cancer. We refuse to be vaccinated and many sign petitions to end pasteurization. We’ve gone vegan, prefer anal sex, and murder anyone who tells us we are fat. People stand in lines that snake around the block to attend exclusive gangbangs and bukkake ejaculation circles. Walmart rents meth labs, sells marijuana, and welcomes bottomless female customers in leopard skin leotards.

Some have gifts without talent: like Susan Sontag, like Jonathan Franzen. Great things to offer but not genius, not vision; in Sontag’s case, no imagination. In Franzen’s, no poetry. Sontag, it must be said, had taste, exquisitely defined and defended, but no realizable literary talent, not even a little. But that’s okay. What is sad is that Sontag knew it and suffered. Franzen, too, no doubt, sees his limitations, only one can’t be sure of Time Magazine, which is always on the lookout for far more than nature can provide. It wants a Shakespeare who is also a song and dance man. Sammy Davis, Jr., James Joyce, and Martin Luther King all rolled into one. Another Man of the Year. This is what our media has in mind: the discovery of a person who can walk on water while on Mars.

Camus was not the first to question the integrity of intellectuals who spend their time explaining the distinction between good and bad concentration camps. Then as now they turn themselves inside out trying to explain away anti-Semitism; then Stalin’s, now ours. The quest to strike virtuous poses has put the progressive mob in bed with those original thugs of Munich, the ones ever so ready to tell us how much they care. All the same, one supposes that justifying labor camps and summary executions beats the hell out of dying in a Facel Vega wrapped around a tree.

Sontag who was right about so much got this wrong. Buttocks do not reign. It is as she said elsewhere: we live in the age of photography. One doesn’t remember one’s first kiss; one cherishes the memory of one’s first dick pic: sending or receiving. The best and most long-lasting memory is of one’s first dick pic selfie: that Kodak moment. This, one can set aside. The ones from others can be tossed.

Bowel movement art is what it is. Canned ravioli, Lucky Charms, Sprite…difficult to define, but we all know it when we eat it. How low can one get? Today they are recasting The Brady Bunch with dwarf drag queens. In the remake of Dennis the Menace, George and Martha Wilson groom young Dennis to submit to their sexual advances. Tonight, at the Rialto, there is scheduled a double-bill: Hiroshima Mon Amour and Rambo.

Suffering: surely the most valuable word in the English language. A word for people to feed off, especially in America, especially by those who make their livings in the sympathy business like media stars, entertainers, and caregivers. Oh, how the doctors suffer. They will tell you in exquisite detail, but none with as much precision and depth as the grandchildren of the executed. Having had murdered grandparents can prove a goldmine for descendants. Far richer than any hope chest in the bedroom of a Victorian virgin bride. To have had ancestors murdered as political prisoners, martyrs, or, heaven forbid, to be the child of a murdered gang member! Cha-ching! Watch your fingers as you wipe away the tears. Ancestors killed at Krakatoa? Are you kidding? The Titanic? Talk about post-traumatic stress disorder! Especially, if they were Irish stowaways! Not so much if they were Astors; the rich don’t suffer, even when they drown. Pogroms? Get yourself an agent.

Back to Munich: Goebbels, Göring, Bormann, Speer, and Himmler used to meet at Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a cute little café in Berlin’s Anhalter Station that served vegetarian cuisine. Adolf loved it. Plant-based burgers. Tofu ice cream. Let your imagination run wild.

Hey, somebody’s daughter’s wrestling team was short that year, the year being 1935. Couldn’t some Nazi be persuaded to wear pink panties and change in the girls’ locker rooms? Let her hair grow out and learn to giggle? Fulfill her dreams? Take ballet lessons after school? Where can she sign up? What would Harriot Beecher Stowe have said?

The Germans dumped Robinson Crusoe and Don Quixote and took up Karl May, imagining themselves riding mustangs on the open plains. Turns out that Bormann’s daughter changed her name to Conrad Twitty and looked just fine in a jockstrap. The boy she replaced (whose name must remain anonymous) took her spot on the girls’ team and impressed them all with her good sportsmanship. She went on to be killed in the firebombing of Dresden.

Adolf Hitler might have been the last world leader to possess an extensive library and to have read Schopenhauer. In 1935, the New Yorker reported that he held 6,000 volumes. Many will counter that illiteracy is preferable. Who would argue? Better an ignorant fool than a well-read monster. The best-selling writer of American-style westerns, Karl May, convinced the madman that he could do to the Jews what the Americans had done to the Indians.

The soaring number of deaths is worrying. I don’t know what the Japanese are doing right, but I praise them for being worried about the 300-year-old shop that makes candles. In such current affairs, I am an eyewitness. As to matters pertaining to the Third Reich, it is a matter of hearsay and rumor. A distant relative was a waitress at Berlin’s Adlon Hotel. Her husband was Hitler’s interior designer. Adolf preferred the smell of lilacs in the toilet.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano no longer declares gay marriage wrong. What’s its take on transgender surgery? This might be a way to sneak in women priests. The Vatican wouldn’t have the expense of converting papal locker rooms to accommodate women. A good way to save money, the Pope would surely agree, and the Church could merge convents with monasteries. Males and females could wear habits. Fellini films could be repackaged as documentaries.

“He treated them like family but could fire them on the spot.” Yes, this is very Southern. Everyone is your friend until they dismiss you. I learned this in the seventh grade. My girlfriend dumped me when she learned Barry would give her a more expensive Valentine’s present. “Better to learn it young,” Father said, laughing. “This is why girls are called whores,” Ackerman, my best friend, added.