Scott Riley

Proverb “Unformed people delight in the gaudy, in novelty. Cooked people delight in the ordinary.” —Zen proverb

But isn’t, then, to delight in noveltythe most ordinary? Sitting all evening,watching YouTube videos of Tesla’sCybertruck, pricing the monthly payment,deciding, hypothetically, to buythe Tri-motor sans Full Self Driving—$70,000, about a year’s salary—I enjoy like anyone a good bout of consumerism; it cleanses the palate,reminds me I was raised on sitcom adspromising the cleanest possible sheen—no different from anyone my age bornin late imperial America, Reagan-omics and so forth; that I’m situatedin time and space, discrete; unaccustomedto limitations, I find ordinarythings like presidential terms and place-namesdelightful. In other words, maybeI’m unformed, or maybe everyone is,or maybe there’s no difference between what’s gaudyor novel and ordinary; i don’t know, but I’m tiredof thinking of myself as better, smartermore recondite than the average joe. The unformed think they’re extraordinary; the cooked know they’re not. That’s my proverb.

Scott Corbet Riley holds a Ph.D. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and a B.A. in Rhetoric and Creative Writing from UC Berkeley. His poems and essays have appeared in Rattle, Berkeley Poetry Review, Yemassee, and the Walt Whitman Quarterly, among other publications, and he has taught at UC Santa Cruz, Foothill College and Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He currently lives on Mercer Island, Washington, and teaches Latin at Lakeside School in Seattle.