Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one. At one time it had been a sign of madness to believe that the Earth goes round the Sun; today, to believe the past is inalterable. He might be alone in holding that belief, and if alone, then a lunatic. But the thought of being a lunatic did not greatly trouble him; the horror was that he might also be wrong.
There have been ample opportunities since 1945 to show that material superiority in war is not enough if the will to fight is lacking. In Algeria, Vietnam and Afghanistan the balance of economic and military strength lay overwhelmingly on the side of France, the United States, and the Soviet Union, but the will to win was slowly eroded. Troops became demoralised and brutalised. Even a political solution was abandoned. In all three cases the greater power withdrew. The Second World War was an altogether different conflict, but the will to win was every bit as important - indeed it was more so. The contest was popularly perceived to be about issues of life and death of whole communities rather than for their fighting forces alone. They were issues, wrote one American observer in 1939, 'worth dying for'. If, he continued, 'the will-to-destruction triumphs, our resolution to preserve civilisation must become more implacable...our courage must mount'.Words like 'will' and 'courage' are difficult for historians to use as instruments of cold analysis. They cannot be quantified; they are elusive of definition; they are products of a moral language that is regarded sceptically today, even tainted by its association with fascist rhetoric. German and Japanese leaders believed that the spiritual strength of their soldiers and workers in some indefinable way compensate for their technical inferiority. When asked after the war why Japan lost, one senior naval officer replied that the Japanese 'were short on spirit, the military spirit was weak...' and put this explanation ahead of any material cause. Within Germany, belief that spiritual strength or willpower was worth more than generous supplies of weapons was not confined to Hitler by any means, though it was certainly a central element in the way he looked at the world.The irony was that Hitler's ambition to impose his will on others did perhaps more than anything to ensure that his enemies' will to win burned brighter still. The Allies were united by nothing so much as a fundamental desire to smash Hitlerism and Japanese militarism and to use any weapon to achieve it. The primal drive for victory at all costs nourished Allied fighting power and assuaged the thirst for vengeance. They fought not only because the sum of their resources added up to victory, but because they wanted to win and were certain that their cause was just.The Allies won the Second World War because they turned their economic strength into effective fighting power, and turned the moral energies of their people into an effective will to win. The mobilisation of national resources in this broad sense never worked perfectly, but worked well enough to prevail. Materially rich, but divided, demoralised, and poorly led, the Allied coalition would have lost the war, however exaggerated Axis ambitions, however flawed their moral outlook. The war made exceptional demands on the Allied peoples. Half a century later the level of cruelty, destruction and sacrifice that it engendered is hard to comprehend, let alone recapture. Fifty years of security and prosperity have opened up a gulf between our own age and the age of crisis and violence that propelled the world into war. Though from today's perspective Allied victory might seem somehow inevitable, the conflict was poised on a knife-edge in the middle years of the war. This period must surely rank as the most significant turning point in the history of the modern age.
Perhaps I am too tame, too domestic a magician. But how does one work up a little madness? I meet with mad people every day in the street, but I never thought before to wonder how they got mad. Perhaps I should go wandering on lonely moors and barren shores. That is always a popular place for lunatics - in novels and plays at any rate. Perhaps wild England will make me mad.
A fox will chew off its own foot before it calls for helpBut he saw glory in being a bird with broken wings And therefore he broke his own to fit into that illusion of false injusticeSomething to rebel againstA background story he saw as grandA painful childhood dreamt up by him aloneHe saw splendor in his wounds and majesty in his scarsWhich were all self-inflicted…self-proclaimedAll in attempt to be magnificent and madBut instability doesn't call itself unstableAnd a fox will chew off its own foot before it calls for helpAlas, life seemed more boundless if one had a limp A black-eyeOr scared wrists And instead of tattooing his story, he carved it in his own skinWith a rusty blade of self-pity and needA dull deep need that could never be quenched no matter how deep he cutIn a black and white world he wished for all to marvel at the red he could caress out of himselfA twisted delusion of what the world would revere atBegging with lies of pain and spasms for all to stay a little whileSee him as wicked…see him as perverse…anything but ordinaryBe in awe of his self-inflicted tragedy that was his falsehood and mistaken identityHe saw glory in being a bird with broken wings And therefore he broke his own to fit into that illusion of false injusticeHe saw splendor in his wounds and grandeur in his scarsAll in attempt to be magnificent and madBut instability doesn't call itself unstable
In the campaign of 1876, Robert G. Ingersoll came to Madison to speak. I had heard of him for years; when I was a boy on the farm a relative of ours had testified in a case in which Ingersoll had appeared as an attorney and he had told the glowing stories of the plea that Ingersoll had made. Then, in the spring of 1876, Ingersoll delivered the Memorial Day address at Indianapolis. It was widely published shortly after it was delivered and it startled and enthralled the whole country. I remember that it was printed on a poster as large as a door and hung in the post-office at Madison. I can scarcely convey now, or even understand, the emotional effect the reading of it produced upon me. Oblivious of my surroundings, I read it with tears streaming down my face. It began, I remember:"The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life.We hear the sounds of preparation--the music of boisterous drums--the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers..."I was fairly entranced. he pictured the recruiting of the troops, the husbands and fathers with their families on the last evening, the lover under the trees and the stars; then the beat of drums, the waving flags, the marching away; the wife at the turn of the lane holds her baby aloft in her arms--a wave of the hand and he has gone; then you see him again in the heat of the charge. It was wonderful how it seized upon my youthful imagination.When he came to Madison I crowded myself into the assembly chamber to hear him: I would not have missed it for every worldly thing I possessed. And he did not disappoint me.A large handsome man of perfect build, with a face as round as a child's and a compelling smile--all the arts of the old-time oratory were his in high degree. He was witty, he was droll, he was eloquent: he was as full of sentiment as an old violin. Often, while speaking, he would pause, break into a smile, and the audience, in anticipation of what was to come, would follow him in irresistible peals of laughter. I cannot remember much that he said, but the impression he made upon me was indelible.After that I got Ingersoll's books and never afterward lost an opportunity to hear him speak. He was the greatest orater, I think, that I have ever heard; and the greatest of his lectures, I have always thought, was the one on Shakespeare.Ingersoll had a tremendous influence upon me, as indeed he had upon many young men of that time. It was not that he changed my beliefs, but that he liberated my mind. Freedom was what he preached: he wanted the shackles off everywhere. He wanted men to think boldly about all things: he demanded intellectual and moral courage. He wanted men to follow wherever truth might lead them. He was a rare, bold, heroic figure.
He was walking around in circles, the smell of the old furniture suddenly very distinct. There was a newspaper in his hand and he started reading it, paying particular attention to the headlines which seemed to be floating towards him so that now a band of black print encircled his forehead. He was curled upon the bed, hugging his knees, when the next horror came upon him: those who heard him last night would now have to report his theft, and his employer would call the police. He saw how the policeman took the telephone call at the station; how his name and address were spoken out loud; how he looked down at the floor as they led him away; how he was in the dock, forced to answer questions about himself, and now he was in a cell and had lost control of his own body. He was staring out of the window at the passing clouds when it occurred to him that he should write to his employer, explaining his drunkenness and confessing that he invented the story of theft; but who would believe him? It was always said that in drink there was truth, and perhaps it was true that he was a convicted thief. He began to sing,One fine day in the middle of the night,Two dead men got up to fightand then he knew what was meant by madness.
But figure his thought, when Death is now clutching at his own heart-strings, unlooked for, inexorable! Yes, poor Louis, Death has found thee. No palace walls or life-guards, gorgeous tapestries or gilt buckram of stiffest ceremonial could keep him out; but he is here, here at thy very life-breath, and will extinguish it. Thou, whose whole existence hitherto was a chimera and scenic show, at length becomest a reality: sumptuous Versailles bursts asunder, like a dream, into void Immensity; Time is done, and all the scaffolding of Time falls wrecked with hideous clangour round thy soul: the pale Kingdoms yawn open; there must thou enter, naked, all unking'd, and await what is appointed thee! Unhappy man, there as thou turnest, in dull agony, on thy bed of weariness, what a thought is thine! Purgatory and Hell-fire, now all-too possible, in the prospect; in the retrospect,--alas, what thing didst thou do that were not better undone; what mortal didst thou generously help; what sorrow hadst thou mercy on? Do the 'five hundred thousand' ghosts, who sank shamefully on so many battle-fields from Rossbach to Quebec, that thy Harlot might take revenge for an epigram,--crowd round thee in this hour? Thy foul Harem; the curses of mothers, the tears and infamy of daughters? Miserable man! thou 'hast done evil as thou couldst:' thy whole existence seems one hideous abortion and mistake of Nature; the use and meaning of thee not yet known. Wert thou a fabulous Griffin, devouring the works of men; daily dragging virgins to thy cave;--clad also in scales that no spear would pierce: no spear but Death's? A Griffin not fabulous but real! Frightful, O Louis, seem these moments for thee.--We will pry no further into the horrors of a sinner's death-bed.
...What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day... If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things. Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased... I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do... I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation. The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study....Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.[Columbian Magazine interview]
Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon's hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly - once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don't tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear's caul. You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.
I pray that the world never runs out of dragons. I say that in all sincerity, though I have played a part in the death of one great wyrm. For the dragon is the quintessential enemy, the greatest foe, the unconquerable epitome of devastation. The dragon, above all other creatures, even the demons and the devils, evokes images of dark grandeur, of the greatest beast curled asleep on the greatest treasure hoard. They are the ultimate test of the hero and the ultimate fright of the child. They are older than the elves and more akin to the earth than the dwarves. The great dragons are the preternatural beast, the basic element of the beast, that darkest part of our imagination.The wizards cannot tell you of their origin, though they believe that a great wizard, a god of wizards, must have played some role in the first spawning of the beast. The elves, with their long fables explaining the creation of every aspect of the world, have many ancient tales concerning the origin of the dragons, but they admit, privately, that they really have no idea of how the dragons came to be.My own belief is more simple, and yet, more complicated by far. I believe that dragons appeared in the world immediately after the spawning of the first reasoning race. I do not credit any god of wizards with their creation, but rather, the most basic imagination wrought of unseen fears, of those first reasoning mortals.We make the dragons as we make the gods, because we need them, because, somewhere deep in our hearts, we recognize that a world without them is a world not worth living in.There are so many people in the land who want an answer, a definitive answer, for everything in life, and even for everything after life. They study and they test, and because those few find the answers for some simple questions, they assume that there are answers to be had for every question. What was the world like before there were people? Was there nothing but darkness before the sun and the stars? Was there anything at all? What were we, each of us, before we were born? And what, most importantly of all, shall we be after we die?Out of compassion, I hope that those questioners never find that which they seek.One self-proclaimed prophet came through Ten-Towns denying the possibility of an afterlife, claiming that those people who had died and were raised by priests, had, in fact, never died, and that their claims of experiences beyond the grave were an elaborate trick played on them by their own hearts, a ruse to ease the path to nothingness. For that is all there was, he said, an emptiness, a nothingness.Never in my life have I ever heard one begging so desperately for someone to prove him wrong.This is kind of what I believe right now… although, I do not want to be proved wrong…For what are we left with if there remains no mystery? What hope might we find if we know all of the answers?What is it within us, then, that so desperately wants to deny magic and to unravel mystery? Fear, I presume, based on the many uncertainties of life and the greatest uncertainty of death. Put those fears aside, I say, and live free of them, for if we just step back and watch the truth of the world, we will find that there is indeed magic all about us, unexplainable by numbers and formulas. What is the passion evoked by the stirring speech of the commander before the desperate battle, if not magic? What is the peace that an infant might know in its mother’s arms, if not magic? What is love, if not magic?No, I would not want to live in a world without dragons, as I would not want to live in a world without magic, for that is a world without mystery, and that is a world without faith.And that, I fear, for any reasoning, conscious being, would be the cruelest trick of all.-Drizzt Do’Urden
One might almost say that affinities begin with the letters of the alphabet. In that sequence, O and P are inseparable. You might just as well say O and P as Orestes and Pylades. A true satellite of Enjolras, Grantaire lived within this circle of young men. He dwelt among them, only with them was he happy, he followed them everywhere. His pleasure was to watch these figures come and go in a wine-induced haze. They put up with him because of his good humour. In his belief, Enjolras looked down on this sceptic; and in his sobriety, on this drunkard. He spared him a little lordly pity. Grantaire was an unwanted Pylades. Always snubbed by Enjolras, spurned, rebuffed and back again for more, he said of Enjolras, ‘What marmoreal magnificence'.
What do you expect? Think we were sent into the world to have a soft time and what is it? Float on flowery beds of ease? Think Man was just made to be happy?- Why not? Though I've never discovered anybody that knew what the deuce Man really was made for!- Well, we know not just in the Bible alone, but it stands to reason a man who doesn't buckle down and do his duty, even if it does bore him sometimes, is nothing but a... well, he's simply a weakling. Mollycoddle, in fact! And what do you advocate? Come down to cases! If a man is bored by his wife, do you seriously mean he has a right to chuck her and take a sneak, or even kill himself?- Good Lord, I don't know what 'rights' a man has! And I don't know the solution of boredom. If I did, I'd be the one philosopher that had the cure for living. But I do know that about ten times as many people find their lives dull, and unnecessarily dull, as ever admit it; and I do believe that if we busted out and admitted it sometimes, instead of being nice and patient and loyal for sixty years, and then nice and patient and dead for the rest of eternity, why, maybe, possibly, we might make life more fun.
Valuable and ingenious he might be, thought Jack, fixing him with his glass, but false he was too, and perjured. He had voluntarily sworn to have no truck with vampires, and here, attached to his bosom, spread over it and enfolded by one arm, was a greenish hairy thing, like a mat - a loathsome great vampire of the most poisonous kind, no doubt. ‘I should never have believed it of him: his sacred oath in the morning watch and now he stuffs the ship with vampires; and God knows what is in that bag. No doubt he was tempted, but surely he might blush for his fall?’No blush; nothing but a look of idiot delight as he came slowly up the side, hampered by his burden and comforting it in Portuguese as he came.‘I am happy to see that you were so successful, Dr Maturin,’ he said, looking down into the launch and the canoes, loaded with glowing heaps of oranges and shaddocks, red meat, iguanas, bananas, greenstuff. ‘But I am afraid no vampires can be allowed on board.’‘This is a sloth,’ said Stephen, smiling at him. ‘A three-toed sloth, the most affectionate, discriminating sloth you can imagine!’ The sloth turned its round head, fixed its eyes on Jack, uttered a despairing wail, and buried its face again in Stephen’s shoulder, tightening its grip to the strangling-point.
Two kisses in one kiss was all it took, a comfort, a warmth, perhaps temporary, perhaps false, but reassuring nonetheless, and mine, and theirs, ours, all three of us giggling, insane giggles and laughter with still more kisses on the way, and I remember a brief instant then, out of the blue, when I suddenly glimpsed my own father, a rare but oddly peaceful recollection, as if he actually approved of my play in the way he himself had always laughed and played, great updrafts of light, burning off distant plateaus of bistre & sage, throwing him up like an angel, high above the red earth, deep into the sparkling blank, the tender sky that never once let him down, preserving his attachment to youth, propriety and kindness, his plane almost, but never quite, outracing his whoops of joy, trailing him in his sudden turn to the wind, followed then by a near vertical climb up to the angles of the sun, and I was barely eight and still with him and yes, that was the thought that flickered madly through me, a brief instant of communion, possessing me with warmth and ageless ease, causing me to smile again and relax as if memory alone could lift the heart like the wind lifts a wing, and so I renewed my kisses with even greater enthusiasm, caressing and in turn devouring their dark lips, dark with wine and fleeting love, an ancient memory love had promised but finally never gave, until there were too many kisses to count or remember, and the memory of love proved not love at all and needed a replacement, which our bodies found, and then the giggles subsided, and the laughter dimmed, and darkness enfolded all of us and we gave away our childhood for nothing and we died and condoms littered the floor and Christina threw up in the sink and Amber chuckled a little and kissed me a little more, but in a way that told me it was time to leave.
In fact no one recognizes the happiest moment of their lives as they are living it. It may well be that, in a moment of joy, one might sincerely believe that they are living that golden instant "now," even having lived such a moment before, but whatever they say, in one part of their hearts they still believe in the certainty of a happier moment to come. Because how could anyone, and particularly anyone who is still young, carry on with the belief that everything could only get worse: If a person is happy enough to think he has reached the happiest moment of his life, he will be hopeful enough to believe his future will be just as beautiful, more so.
He slouches,' DeeDee contributes.'True--he needs to work on his posture,' Thelma says.'You guys,' I say.'I'm serious,' Thelma says. 'What if you get married? Don't you want to go to fancy dinners with him and be proud?''You guys. We are not getting married!''I love his eyes,' Jolene says. 'If your kids get his blue eyes and your dark hair--wouldn't that be fabulous?''The thing is,' Thelma says, 'and yes, I know, this is the tricky part--but I'm thinking Bliss has to actually talk to him. Am I right? Before they have their brood of brown-haired, blue-eyed children?'I swat her. "I'm not having Mitchell's children!''I'm sorry--what?' Thelma says.Jolene is shaking her head and pressing back laughter. Her expressing says, Shhh, you crazy girl!But I don't care. If they're going to embarrass me, then I'll embarrass them right back. 'I said'--I raise my voice--'I am not having Mitchell Truman's children!'Jolene turns beet red, and she and DeeDee dissolve into mad giggles.'Um, Bliss?' Thelma says. Her gaze travels upward to someone behind me. The way she sucks on her lip makes me nervous.'Okaaay, I think maybe I won't turn around,' I announce.A person of the male persuasion clears his throat.'Definitely not turning around,' I say. My cheeks are burning. It's freaky and alarming how much heat is radiating from one little me.'If you change your mind, we might be able to work something out,' the person of the male persuasion says.'About the children?' DeeDee asks. 'Or the turning around?''DeeDee!' Jolene says.'Both,' says the male-persuasion person.I shrink in my chair, but I raise my hand over my head and wave.'Um, hi,' I say to the person behind me whom I'm still not looking at. 'I'm Bliss.'Warm fingers clasp my own.'Pleased to meet you,' says the male-persuasion person. 'I'm Mitchell.''Hi, Mitchell.' I try to pull my hand from his grasp, but he won't let go. 'Um, bye now!'I tug harder. No luck. Thelma, DeeDee, and Jolene are close to peeing their pants.Fine. I twist around and give Mitchell the quickest of glances. His expressions is amused, and I grow even hotter.He squeezes my hand, then lets go. 'Just keep me in the loop if you do decide to bear my children. I'm happy to help out.' With that, he stride jauntily to the food line.Once he's gone, we lost it. Peals of laughter resound from our table, and the others in the cafeteria look at us funny. We laugh harder.'Did you see!' Thelma gasps. 'Did you see how proud he was?''You improve his posture!' Jolene says.'I'm so glad, since that was my deepest desire,' I say. 'Oh my God, I'm going to have to quit school and become a nun.''I can't believe you waved at him,' DeeDee says.'Your hand was like a little periscope,' Jolene says. 'Or, no--like a white surrender flag.''It was a surrender flag. I was surrendering myself to abject humiliation.''Oh, please,' Thelma says, pulling me into a sideways hug. 'Think of it this way: Now you've officially talked to him.
I need to give you one last bit of advice in the off chance this rather extraordinary and enviable situation in which you find yourself is actually true- that somehow you've fallen deep down into a Cordova story. I stared back at him. Be the good guy, he said. How do I know I'm the good guy? He pointed at me, nodding. A very wise question. You don't. Most bad guys think they're good. But there are a few signifiers. You'll be miserable. You'll be hated. You'll fumble around in the dark, alone and confused. You'll have little insight as to the true nature of things, not until the very last minute, and only if you have the stamina and the madness to go to the very, very end. But most importantly- and critically- you will act without regard for yourself. You'll be motivated by something that has nothing to do with the ego. You'll do it for justice. For grace. For love. Those large rather heroic qualities only the good have the strength to carry on their shoulders. And you'll listen.
You are all misleading one another, and are yourselves deceived. The sun does not go round the earth, but the earth goes round the sun, revolving as it goes, and turning towards the sun in the course of each twenty-four hours, not only Japan, and the Philippines, and Sumatra where we now are, but Africa, and Europe, and America, and many lands besides. The sun does not shine for some one mountain, or for some one island, or for some one sea, nor even for one earth alone, but for other planets as well as our earth. If you would only look up at the heavens, instead of at the ground beneath your own feet, you might all understand this, and would then no longer suppose that the sun shines for you, or for your country alone.
ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they dont know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I nearlost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we areflowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his lifeand the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because Isaw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always getround him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till heasked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over thesea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulveyand Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and thesailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes theycalled it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house withthe thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanishgirls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions inthe morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows whoelse from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market allclucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleepand the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps andthe big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands ofyears old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans likekings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda withthe old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for herlover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and thecastanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchmangoing about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O andthe sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets andthe figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streetsand the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and thejessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I wasa Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like theAndalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed meunder the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and thenI asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would Iyes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yesand drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes andhis heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
It might be useful here to say a word about Beckett, as a link between the two stages, and as illustrating the shift towards schism. He wrote for transition, an apocalyptic magazine (renovation out of decadence, a Joachite indication in the title), and has often shown a flair for apocalyptic variations, the funniest of which is the frustrated millennialism of the Lynch family in Watt, and the most telling, perhaps, the conclusion of Comment c'est. He is the perverse theologian of a world which has suffered a Fall, experienced an Incarnation which changes all relations of past, present, and future, but which will not be redeemed. Time is an endless transition from one condition of misery to another, 'a passion without form or stations,' to be ended by no parousia. It is a world crying out for forms and stations, and for apocalypse; all it gets is vain temporality, mad, multiform antithetical influx.It would be wrong to think that the negatives of Beckett are a denial of the paradigm in favour of reality in all its poverty. In Proust, whom Beckett so admires, the order, the forms of the passion, all derive from the last book; they are positive. In Beckett, the signs of order and form are more or less continuously presented, but always with a sign of cancellation; they are resources not to be believed in, cheques which will bounce. Order, the Christian paradigm, he suggests, is no longer usable except as an irony; that is why the Rooneys collapse in laughter when they read on the Wayside Pulpit that the Lord will uphold all that fall.But of course it is this order, however ironized, this continuously transmitted idea of order, that makes Beckett's point, and provides his books with the structural and linguistic features which enable us to make sense of them. In his progress he has presumed upon our familiarity with his habits of language and structure to make the relation between the occulted forms and the narrative surface more and more tenuous; in Comment c'est he mimes a virtually schismatic breakdown of this relation, and of his language. This is perfectly possible to reach a point along this line where nothing whatever is communicated, but of course Beckett has not reached it by a long way; and whatever preserves intelligibility is what prevents schism.This is, I think, a point to be remembered whenever one considers extremely novel, avant-garde writing. Schism is meaningless without reference to some prior condition; the absolutely New is simply unintelligible, even as novelty. It may, of course, be asked: unintelligible to whom? --the inference being that a minority public, perhaps very small--members of a circle in a square world--do understand the terms in which the new thing speaks. And certainly the minority public is a recognized feature of modern literature, and certainly conditions are such that there may be many small minorities instead of one large one; and certainly this is in itself schismatic. The history of European literature, from the time the imagination's Latin first made an accommodation with the lingua franca, is in part the history of the education of a public--cultivated but not necessarily learned, as Auerbach says, made up of what he calls la cour et la ville. That this public should break up into specialized schools, and their language grow scholastic, would only be surprising if one thought that the existence of excellent mechanical means of communication implied excellent communications, and we know it does not, McLuhan's 'the medium is the message' notwithstanding. But it is still true that novelty of itself implies the existence of what is not novel, a past. The smaller the circle, and the more ambitious its schemes of renovation, the less useful, on the whole, its past will be. And the shorter. I will return to these points in a moment.
The human eye has to be one of the cruelest tricks nature ever pulled. We can see a tiny, cone-shaped area of light right in front of our faces, restricted to a very narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. We can’t see around walls, we can’t see heat or cold, we can’t see electricity or radio signals, we can’t see at a distance. It is a sense so limited that we might as well not have it, yet we have evolved to depend so heavily on it as a species that all other perception has atrophied. We have wound up with the utterly mad and often fatal delusion that if we can’t see something, it doesn’t exist. Virtually all of civilization’s failures can be traced back to that one ominous sentence: ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ We can’t even convince the public that global warming is dangerous. Why? Because carbon dioxide happens to be invisible.
One of them hasn't got a uniform on or plainclothes either like the rest. He has on the white coat that is my nightmare and my horror. And in the crotch of one arm he is upending two long poles intertwined with canvas.The long-drawn-out death within life. The burial-alive of the mind, covering it over with fresh graveyard earth each time it tries to struggle through to the light. In this kind of death you never finish dying.("New York Blues")
And so, when the chips are down, I must say, though not without a sense of repugnance, that if you wish to show your belief in democracy, you also have to do so when you are in the minority, convinced both intellectually and, not least, in your innermost self, that the majority, in the name of democracy, is crushing everything you stand for and that means something to you, indeed, all that gives you the strength to endure, well, that gives a kind of meaning to your life, something that transcends your own fortuitous lot, one might say. When the heralds of democracy roar, triumphantly bawling out their vulgar victories day after day so that it really makes you suffer, as in my own case, you still have to accept it; I will not let anything else be said about me, he thought.
The ones who are not soul-mated – the ones who have settled – are even more dismissive of my singleness: It’s not that hard to find someone to marry, they say. No relationship is perfect, they say – they, who make do with dutiful sex and gassy bedtime rituals, who settle for TV as conversation, who believe that husbandly capitulation – yes, honey, okay, honey – is the same as concord. He’s doing what you tell him to do because he doesn’t care enough to argue, I think. Your petty demands simply make him feel superior, or resentful, and someday he will fuck his pretty, young coworker who asks nothing of him, and you will actually be shocked. Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if only relationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes.So I know I am right not to settle, but it doesn’t make me feel better as my friends pair off and I stay home on Friday night with a bottle of wine and make myself an extravagant meal and tell myself, This is perfect, as if I’m the one dating me. As I go to endless rounds of parties and bar nights, perfumed and sprayed and hopeful, rotating myself around the room like some dubious dessert. I go on dates with men who are nice and good-looking and smart – perfect-on-paper men who make me feel like I’m in a foreign land, trying to explain myself, trying to make myself known. Because isn’t that the point of every relationship: to be known by someone else, to be understood? He gets me. She gets me. Isn’t that the simple magic phrase?So you suffer through the night with the perfect-on-paper man – the stutter of jokes misunderstood, the witty remarks lobbed and missed. Or maybe he understands that you’ve made a witty remark but, unsure of what to do with it, he holds it in his hand like some bit of conversational phlegm he will wipe away later. You spend another hour trying to find each other, to recognise each other, and you drink a little too much and try a little too hard. And you go home to a cold bed and think, That was fine. And your life is a long line of fine.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12Divine sonship is not something that we gain of ourselves. Only to those who receive Christ as their Saviour is given the power to become sons and daughters of God. The sinner cannot, by any power of his own, rid himself of sin. For the accomplishment of this result, he must look to a higher Power. John exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ alone has power to cleanse the heart. He who is seeking for forgiveness and acceptance can say only,--"Nothing in my hand I bring;Simply to Thy cross I cling."But the promise of sonship is made to all who "believe on his name." Every one who comes to Jesus in faith will receive pardon.The religion of Christ transforms the heart. It makes the worldly-minded man heavenly-minded. Under its influence the selfish man becomes unselfish, because this is the character of Christ. The dishonest, scheming man becomes upright, so that it is second nature to him to do to others as he would have others do to him. The profligate is changed from impurity to purity. He forms correct habits; for the gospel of Christ has become to him a savor of life unto life.God was to be manifest in Christ, "reconciling the world unto himself." Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power, to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ, the fallen children of Adam might once more become "sons of God."When a soul receives Christ, he receives power to live the life of Christ.
Most people are not prepared to have their minds changed," he said. "And I think they know in their hearts that other people are just the same, and one of the reasons people become angry when they argue is that they realize just that, as they trot out their excuses.""Excuses, eh?" Well, if this ain't cynicism, what is?" Erens snorted."Yes, excuses," he said, with what Erens thought might just have been a trace of bitterness. "I strongly suspect the things people believe in are usually just what they instinctively feel is right; the excuses, the justifications, the things you're supposed to argue about, come later. They're the least important part of the belief. That's why you can destroy them, win an argument, prove the other person wrong, and still they believe what they did in the first place." He looked at Erens. "You've attacked the wrong thing.
No one ever said aloud any of the kinds of things he was so constantly thinking, because no one in the parish, not Alice, not Lady Higgs, not anybody, ever seemed to see the things he saw. If they thought as he did, if they saw what he did, they never mentioned it; and to have things which are precious to one eternally unmentioned makes one, he had long discovered, lonely. These August nights, for instance--quite remarkably and unusually beautiful, warm and velvety as he had never known them, ushered in each evening by the most astonishing variety of splendid sunsets--nobody had said a single word about them. They might have been February ones, for all the notice they got. Sometimes he climbed up to the top of Burdon Down towards evening, and stood staring in amazement at what looked like heaven let loose in flames over England; but always he stood alone, always there was no one but himself up there, and no one afterwards, when he descended from his heights, seemed to be aware that anything unusual had been going on.