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From Lessons from Television

Susan Stewart


You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.
Music swells the emotions;
music exists to punctuate seeing.
Emotion, therefore, is punctuation.
The condition of freedom is abasement.
Abasement is as infinite as desire.

You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.
Those who are not demons are saints.
You are not a demon or a saint.
Women are smaller than men.
Faces in close-up are always in anguish.
Hair and teeth are clues to class.

You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.
Beds are sites of abasement.
The news is about the news.
Women always want something.
You're either awake or asleep.
Clothes are changing, changing up or down

And change itself is a laugh.
Cause can't be figured
and consequence is yet to come.
Children are never with groups of children
unless they are singing in a chorus.
Their mothers cannot

Do enough, although there's
always room for improvement.
Saints will turn to the worse.
Demons die if they can be found.
Nature is combat, weather is sublime.
Even weather can make you laugh.

People you don't know are louder than you are,
but what is far away cannot harm you--
just remember to laugh.
Books are objects, families are inspiring.
Animals protect their young;
The young come with the territory.

English is the only language.
Reading is an occasion for interruption.
Something is bound to get better.
And there is a pill with
your name on it.
When indoors, stick with your own race--

That way you'll feel free to laugh.
Strangers are paying attention to your smell.
A camera will light like a moth on disaster.
Pity will turn to irony.
The street is a dark and frightful place.
Fires are daily.

Your car is your face.
You must laugh at yourself, laugh and laugh.



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