Andrew Holleran in his essays collected in Ground Zero strikes a tone that borders on the ironic and then pulls away to a quiet, contemplative assertion of the value of pragmatic attention. Take, for instance, the conclusion to "The Absence of Anger" where heroics are celebrated in a muted comparison with histrionics.

And so, as with victims of rape or any misfortune, gay men have been silenced by a peculiar guilt induced by the misfortune — which makes the minority who have formed organizations, raised money, prodded government, gone on television to educate others, defended themselves against the Pat Buchanans and Robert Novaks and Jerry Falwells, all the more admirable. The fact that gay men did not throw rocks, set cars on fire, or besiege the White House was chiefly because they did other things that seemed more constructive at the time. They did march on Washington, they did print newspapers, they did criticize elected politicians. They did picket the airlines when Northwest refused to fly a sick man back from the Orient because he had AIDS. It is a long battle ahead, after all, and it will be necessary, of course, to confront this sort of unacceptable behavior each time it occurs. The fact is that in some curious way, though the people in this room have been told flat out that half of them will be dead in five years, none of them knows what else he can do about it — except for what he has already done. And because, most curious of all, most odd, most marvelous, the truth is none of them is really chilled by the assertion — each of them thinks he will escape, I suspect. As Freud also said, "No one really believes in his own death."

And so for day 525