47094: 33 Squalid Obeisance Latte


09 Sep

She sensed that he was a man who was doing what millions and millions of them try and do – recruit an army so that their history gets written out and remembered, a huge invention pouring into the other great things – cities, railroads, dams, armies, movies, books, a full version of themselves overreaching everything it touched so that, somehow as in miracles and connivances, they became more real to themselves and others, mortals ceding powers to them in droves of squalid obeisance. 

With him the usual combo was clear – sentimentality with a gentle hat figuring out brutality underneath. Which was hard, cold, solid and without the softness of human outwardness. She listened a little bit harder. She didn’t open her heart but took input from her own soul. She didn’t want more monsters with her. She wasn’t fair-minded but she was right in everything, was how she’d have put it. You can’t hold down just one thing. Suppression belies accuracy. This was one more example of external life’s strength, where everything was getting sucked in or down. She disliked the way he wanted justice but stood nevertheless in front of injustice and in front of terrible appearances, which was what everyone was now having to do. It was a fact and couldn’t be avoided, and on top of that wanted life as well. That was nuts. Like planting an apple tree even when you know the world is going to pieces the next day. 

When you stand like that you live but justice becomes nothing but a crank for sleep. It’s where afflictions come in and convert themselves into just one more idea. That’s the crying shame in all this, she conceded. What kind of mirror are we if that’s who we are? Filthy mirrors with cracks and distorted bits, and missing bits too, and mirrors need backing and that’s death according to some. So where there’s a break the backing shows through, and that’s where philosophy starts. She sometimes wished her thoughts would let her off. 

'This landscape is 8cm lower than the heath in King Lear,' she exclaimed silently to hobgoblins where the light is darkness and snares, pits and traps are all hither and thither, and with this man, winter rough and ready, a whole being presented as a long-standing gesture , valiant and isolating story after story according to an emphasis that seemed finessed, even gave tips, that slow luster he had with his beautiful turn of phrase even though there wasn’t that epithalamium of gentle thought , nor composure in a strange kind of unravelled intimacy. 

She resented the way he assumed this. As if just by way of speaking she’d be devoted to spending all her life with the coarse sifters of his curriculum, so to speak, bringing home his wisdom as a undergone consolation. This was a Danish stability. What next? Hamlet and then suicide somewhere out by the causes that came too thick and fast to write them all out but dense, and severe, unsoftened by expectancies that weren’t even spoken about but just there. Assumed and laid down in some patriarchal threshold, a salon of high tension and antagonistic energy that disqualified difference. She was here again. Another case. As if she was needing him to notice her stong, lean womanliness in the world, as if rapid sparkling snow had just become the most important thing to him and he had to just come out and say. No. There was such a thing as enough is enough. And what he said was to put a puncture in it, which was why she decided to not say anything but see what he did next. He was trying this, to play on her vanity.

As if saying: ‘I’ll make you perfect.’

There were always hints of dalliance with people. Snitching tips on intelligence and what counted. Which when you know its part of it, becomes slick, and wintry, as if he was doing service but saving something for their own. They signed you up to lose. Always. This battle was underground but she wasn’t put off by any amount or depth of obstacle. Of course it seemed clever and free to talk like he did but it had occurred to her that his nourishing heavy air and his befriending atmosphere might sit out her own nature and get busy tampering with her and it, lying on her finally as illusory as sunshine and with no more significance on her thoughts as her own hair. Yet he insisted on another latte and ignored the bad luck with the weather which was beginning to drizzle and blow unhidable slips of autumns at them. 

What she remembered him saying – that it’s possible to escape but not easy, and that of course its natural for people to avoid anything hard. What was he thinking of? He quoted Eugene Debs ; 

‘I don’t want to rise above the working class, I want to rise with them…’ and turned to the notion of a better liberation with a look she didn’t care for even though the ideas that flowed were attractive. 

But she stayed quiet, sensing that here was someone who was more in love with thoughts of apocalypse than any real one that happened along. His open heart was a false exit. She at least had insights as consolation. He demanded all too little of his soul in this democracy he saw ruined and belated. He had a special handicap now because of the way she silently and without breaking her manners pressured him with what might have seemed dumb concentration but which was a handcarved way of being ingenious. She didn’t give an inch even if she did drink the second latte and let him pay. He smiled away her own offer, which was half-hearted anyway because she was of the opinion that for all this he did owe her something. It was as if the making of whatever obscure injury he was causing was intimate and designed and custom-made, a daily fact of life as dismal, unknown and ordinary as oatmeal biscuits or a snarled up love affair. He was no prophet, nor a moment of triumph in a low period. He was what you do when self-confidence gets to a certain point, when you begin to feel free with explanations. 

Her flamy brilliance was nothing but menacing to him when he took stock of where he’d got to, a small conversation with a stranger who had seemed to bubble up in front of him as if from the underworld, whilst he prepared for the afternoon march and the politics that went to fly over the craters and glide as if under a new astronomical sign, everything breaking up and open where a new fire built up inside it and sought out new human sacrifices. Everyone disguised as gods, as birds, the burdens of history worn like severed heads round their necks, long lines of flailing and happy stumpers, each with a part of the rough territory they were going back to reclaim and set right. He was hoisting himself up. He was carried by these moments, the line of human advancement, his elementary imagination and rough store of solid ideas working like invisible spokes of a burning wheel orbiting justice and death and life. It is rare that we get to talk about real things. It is rare to do real things too. Too often when we agree to bear our disappointments it’s because they’re not ours but someone else’s. This great swell of marching people was conceived as if from sea foam, and asked whether the burning energy of society had considered enough the question whether it was right to burn everything and anything. Maybe some things were off limits.

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Read 47094 from the beginning here.

Read the complete novel  'The Ecstatic Silence' here.