09 Jan
The Anesthetists' Reception 11

Chapter 11: Automating Assistance for Decisions

Everything happening that morning was a bit rushed and a bit rough, as if of provisional interest. 

When he got off the underground at Hammersmith and wended through the walkways to the road going down to the hospital there was nothing he could do about anything, so the whole thing was like an executed outline, with little more than a suggestion for futures in it which is hardly enough. 

The traffic was loud and rushing and there was no use complaining, nor delving nor even going for a touch of tenderness. What did he want them to do? Perhaps all stop and let him pass with a quiet sort of bereavement mood might have helped he supposed - something pretty and done as a blur, something without a care for the gallows ahead perhaps.

 That would have been a high kitsch dream though. But he actually did have the daydream, with its inbuilt ruined irony and lame joke and aweful silence whilst he walked past the brash traffic and all the noise and bash and muscle and dirt of life going on at high octave and bratty pace which was high anxiety mixed with mutation mixed with illness mixed with surveillance mixed with global warming mixed with fragmentation which was, and is, let's face up to it,  what traffic in an urban setting is and Hammersmith particularly, we think. 

'I'll never come back here like this,' he resolved to himself, but this didn't seem like the time for promises, stealthy nor crippled notwithstanding.

The hospital building made him stop for a moment by the railings taller than his prow, where from outside the grounds on the narrow pavement  he could see where some patients in dressing gowns and nothing but the quiet footfalls dying behind them were standing around having a smoke and some cars were awkwardly parked like choir stalls in the middling ages. 

Like museums and art galleries, hospitals are good because they go beyond the usual preoccupation with money and commerce and those kinds of detours and seem more of cathedral or Gudwara maybe, the temple or what not, some Saxon Stutzenwechsel even. 

But unlike the galleries and museums, and so much more more like the Cathedral, Gudwara, temple and so forth, what is in them is not shining, gleaming, labelled and the best of now or the past or whatever but rather the stealthy emptyhanded and crippled soulfulness of our tortuous bodies that are all falling in their own way, but not without souls, and in luminous mysteries and puzzles . 

They are where we mix our dereliction and indifference as a dialectic and find restoration and even redemption, and who doesn't like that?

 We magically think there’s a higher value coming out of this. Which he felt as he stood there in its funny glow because it seemed good and one of civilizations' higher achievements, where often the last crisis slides out of sight into the open cry of shepherd's gates, angelic bears and the wide circumferance of vaguely familiarbut impossible love. 

The building seemed glassy and big and strikingly enjoyable, like it displayed an achievement, which was itself, and he agreed with this self assessment, and bathed in the extraordinary radiance shed by way of contrast with the dark street and noisy traffic . 

Of course, it was an assessment he’s assigned so of course he was going to nod and enjoy the charm of it all because in a off-hand way it affirmed himself too, as if recollecting his own genius for the slow and light and empty. 

But of course the last bit about genius was a joke he added to keep everything at the right level, because no matter how your soul is tortured its good to keep it at a level that’s not so pressurizing and overbearing because we can’t stand that because it feels like we’re being bullied by our own conscience. 

He watched the smokers in their dressing gowns, some of them with plastic tubes poking out of them, mortal and themselves alone, and felt a warmth towards them as he watched their smoke make silver dishevelling, curvling signs up into the dawdling air, as if they were all quintessential and displaying a great humanity and charm in shapes that looked like a mad, bare alphabet spelling out a forgiving word or more likely misspelling it, whatever it was, which he couldn’t tell because in the end this was just whimsical and another way of bringing down the weight and making the slight work for the next ten paces or whatever it was. 

And as he stood there he worked out that he could think about death even if maybe only at a three-quarter scale, because unlike before there’s always hope in us these days, with quick marvels and a few laughs to heighten any aversion we might have. 

So that’s not so bad after all, he thought. 

He was almost smiling as he walked in. Everyone seemed furtive and attending to business elsewhere. Arriving in his working clothes, as if he quite expected to be leaping out from his hospital bed by mid-morning and rushing back to his office, he felt that his grey suit and the bright tie normalized the whole situation somewhat. 

He’d made his own way by tube and walked in to the hospital just as he’d learned to walk into all kinds of institutions. It was a familiar architecture, and seemed to have that small-minded unrest these places do. 

He felt he might be wasting the best time he had by coming here, as if speeding along postponed consolations to a point of no return. But then came a new mood, or the same mood but with a slant to it. What the mood wasn’t was the fraudulence of sadness or the unwillingness to understand. It was as if the fear of death was so corny and uncool when faced head-on that this was a matter of holding it at a distance, like you might hold a toad. 

So he felt like this was not the thing itself but just a performance, as if by walking into the hospital he was saying ‘go ahead, these aren’t my legs’ and everyone was agreeing and going along with the show. 

But immediately he sensed this he wanted to resist it. He wanted to pull someone aside and let them know that this was something else, as if suddenly something was ebbing away and this now seemed more than ever the time, the first time, and ripe, when he might ask for mercy. 

He felt like someone should show more respect for this walk. For the whole thing. For the sense that he was taking steps towards the very conclusive last step of all, one which would be the final part of the story of his life, a story he hadn't told, he thought testily, and no one would ever know, himself included, he added without comment.

But everyone knows that the best way to defend something is to disparage it somewhere else. He was growing in confidence as you can tell as he walked along past a big aquarium display of exotic fish swimming about. What were the fish doing? They were swimming about. 

So they had freedom but not the same freedom we have, which is to go East or West, maybe North or South, raised without hope, uphill or downhill to the bouevards and housefronts, the blossoming squares and paling colours of faces and throngs all towards the blind void of course. 

More likely though they just don’t mind going round in circles. But we’d find it an imposition if restored to just that kind of antic. Because it wasn’t like a moody travelling they were doing. They couldn’t scramble meanings and play with hope in their eyes and the chance of someone touching you and going fathom deep inside. 

This is what he was thinking when he passed the bright fish. 

And he was a little pleased with the spontaneity of his thinking because again it meant he had more things going on than the fish. But they had beauty. They were bright and shiny, almost luminous in their negative watery space. So this gave them a mystery, he felt. 

But he was feeling the mystery not them, which felt like he was bestowing on them a courtesy in the end. 

There were cramped and ill people around the place where he walked, with clothes smelling of sulphur, dismantled, implied, bearable but nevertheless needing the shelter of these public cloisters. 

'Thank the fuck for the NHS,' he thought, finding that sentiment one of  charity with its trousers pulled up to the groin. 

There was a horrible low brutality in the air and also an impulse to feel both a little disgusted with them for being ill like that but also an inclination to laugh along with it, like a ringing bell. 

It was as if everything in the large hospital space was an improvised narrative, impulsive and a bit claustrophobic and crude, but at the same time minimal and simple, naked and penniless. Feelings spluttered up and then died away constantly, like patches of frosting on glass or breath. 

There were the usual things a hospital has in its shop – balloons with the messages of hope on them, and stuffed animals – which made him wonder about how illness and children seemed to go together - and the strange light as if following rain and unfinished business and conversations flowing as if from quays and rivers but maybe in the wrong direction. He liked that last aside. 

Old people seem closer to the earth than the young who all peer up towards the bright heavens. Metaphorically of course because of who we are these days. 

That’s the thing about your own life: you always want everyone else’s first and come back to yourself, so to speak, feeling a little ashamed. But when you see the young you half remember when you were like that. There’s an unabashed zest and relish in their trade winds, he surmised, that interrupts everything else and cools and refreshes the hot dooms that can sometimes bend over into you like those red burning autumns where you were on fire and blazing with it, them, life and love, and you'd have gladly turned back to then then, for the first time, he realised with sorrow at this interim.

The architecture and the furniture were without a country  but the people were dragging everything towards something more universal, base and twilight, something that, once experienced, would never be forgotten, like people surviving evil are forever changed and can never be at peace. 

And he was thinking about how illness worked like that wherever it was found, doffing hats courteously and discreetly, being neither servile nor insolent. Illness brings up what we don’t want to hear about from the basement or bedclothes. It’s a bit too intimate and shocking, usually in a strange accent with vowels and consonants as clean as a chamber pot and always a bit of a shocker with textures of pure invention that slowly distress. 

And some illness pushes itself ahead of emotions and is an estrangement and skirmish, a kind of siege . That’s what he thought. It gives you both monologue and dialogue that then becomes a bit of a heinous smear and a harrowing sequence, like a note written in body fluids. 

So then he started to reel away these thoughts as he moved past the fish and the busy gift shop and was glad to find a solid concrete wall with no hint of excitement or effluvia. Because you can’t help but have thoughts of horror creep in no matter how witty you try and be, or calm. 

It was as if he was getting past the possibility of testimony or reporting. He looked at a group huddling in a corner. He couldn’t tell if they were coming or going. It reminded him of how it used to be clever to say things like: 'the body is no longer centred.' Which was then supposed to make sense of the astonishing tonal control. It was something psychological and fluxy. 

But whereas everyone having that conversation were just undercurrents of empty mannerism, the people in the huddle were being intense and grafted onto their lives with a solid fierce aftermath of silence. Their faces were twisting all over the place and their arms were gesticulating and waving, and one of them rocked backwards and forwards as if unbridled. 

How come we don’t see this normally and think it kind of mental to be so full of life when here, as direness overwhelms us, it becomes salutary and a gesture of sincerity and clarity? 

He thought of this and looked around at the hospital which was neither tentative nor obscure but to him was an unsettled, unfinished setting for his drama, good humoured even, though thinner than that too. 

There was a dazzlie to this hour, and a complexity which was mixed in with the gruesome and the sentimental – all those hugs and long faces and the way people didn’t want to leave each other – and it all seemed better than being cultivated. And for a moment he wondered about this inversion, and then thought maybe he was being a bit snobbish in an inverted way, which wasn’t better than just being it the right way round. 

But the hospital building and everything in it seemed to put all the writhing things in a frame and made sense of them for once, he thought. There is an exciting sense of an international style in the aesthetics of any hospital building, and suddenly he felt that geometry was important and was encasing their dilemmas in exactness. 

Which made him feel a bit more relaxed, as if you had something to hold onto outside the writhing and pain, something which was mathematical and secure. This was the sort of thinking he was doing as he moved into the hospital , like an actor mentally getting into the right space of the theatre, emotionally blank but ready to project images of her alienation and so forth according to the script. 

Because this all seemed like a way we might grasp alienation and existentialism and all that jazzy stuff in a real situation that even had an expansive space for it like a theatre, the hospital itself and its distinct factual way. 

Because here was where people were having babies and having deaths and it was better than the way we usually think about it because unbridled and unpretentious with a doomed engagement was his thought. 

For a moment he frowned as he thought of those who wanted to give birth at home without anesthetics and with the sound of the sea on a tape with nettle tea and all their friends around them chanting with their long hair hanging low. He had always thought they were just being pretentious and were expecting us to believe in all of it  like trying to believe in the anger in a Spice Girls song or something but then he felt a little shame because he knew some people who had done both that and that and they were sweet and intense and gave him a lot of energy from time to time so he knew he was being unfair and a grumpy old man, even though he wasn’t old even if ramifying, jumped-up, bitter and small . 

But he still thought that there was something about the wonky streamlining of a large hospital working at full throttle that contrasted well with nutty unreason and virtue that walked away from technology, modern life and institutions like hospitals, and hospitals particularly. 

Did home birthing and dying proceed by going back to a source? he wondered. 

He knew old people and never was sure what sent them off the rails, or whether in fact what seemed like being off the rails wasn’t something better than that, like a protest against the living, the ones they were leaving behind, like a refusal to eat your greens or wash your beetroot face. 

Because he was thinking something like that too, come to think about it. He was resentful that he too was on the way out like the olden ones and everyone he left would get a chance to just keep on going and if this marked a kind of love for life or the ones he was leaving it was a love that made him sadder and thinner and plainer and more dismayed. 

This went beyond looking at things that were distressing, disgusting and depressing, those obdurate things that it wasn’t really possible to look at, not even in the mind, and went more to an entirely different question: Were you ok to have used up all your freedom, and had it been wasted on you? 

Put like that he realised that all along freedom was about being able to scratch your arse and drink your beer, laugh a little and take care for the winter frosts and summer comedies. 

And now, anyway, without fuss and no palaver, he was going towards a room which would stop those mercies. The mystery and transcendence of being alive was going to its full stop covered with a kind of glaucus moss. 

This is the timeless humane truth everyone faces like some sort of baffling miracle, he next said to himself, and maybe his lips moved whilst he did it. But then he thought he didn’t care because atrocity seeped in rather than away with that thought and he felt aghast and everything took on the air of pointed black melodrama, like a pair of exquisite shoes worn by a judge. 

Except this was really happening in its own flesh and in its own time, as it were,  and not as a staged event that he could think about afterwards and agree that it was a bit much or appreciate the way the grim condolences had humour in them or that the lighting was excellent and rigorous in just the right way. 

And he felt there was something on top of what he’d been thinking about, some honest pressing matter, which was that in the light of circumstances everyone all looked a bit harrowing now. Because once you've got this death thing going on then what you saw took to it through and through, so that everyone seemed to have it in their eyes and their tongues wriggled too wet like they were sex worms. Which was a digusting and inappropriate thought but lay out the problem as accurately as you needed to, because there were hints everywhere of that Freudian cliché of sex and death construing themselves all over the place like the beast with two backs and all that spillage, as if all the thousands of years of civilization had been covering this stuff up, or at least directing traffic if you like,  and now was letting it out for a long last anarchic permeation before your inner voice and your outer voice  just stopped kidding themselves and converged on what had been known all along. 

Of course when this isn’t your situation, but an imagined one, or someone else’s, then we can feel the timeless derangement as something a bit delicious and intriguing. But it's unhinging when its yours and about you and then a taint of madness creeps in. So it’s not that we’re all mad all the time and we should recognize that, but rather that some things can make you go mad for a while, and there are things you will always feel in ways that make you think you’re going to pieces. It’s part of the bitter frieze of life is how the great thinkers might put it as they sweep up the significance of death for us. 

Which when you’re in hospital with mortal disease is an ironical psychological torture to have to listen to even in the inner ear. But it’s something that people drone on about all the time in that privation,  and he was so used to it that he abated a little, especially with his long-felt inner suffering, because that wasn’t very important when you compare it with the disease. 

He felt that had he been a more confident type he might have found a way of condensing all this suffering into some spectacle which would have amazed the living left behind. But the very thought was both daft and an ego trip, he felt and shallow because it doesn’t matter and no one wants to know and why shock people when there are too many shocks out there in the first place what with horror and disgusting catastrophes and cruel people and rudeness which we live with all the time and from which he concluded that it’s better not to flaunt your own suffering because unless you’re really good at it, no one likes a flaunter. 

And yet somehow when someone does it even poorly there’s always a little bit that’s beyond harrowing in it nevertheless, and sometimes we feel it’s good to be harrowing and to be harrowed, and to go beyond. 

‘I like to look at them, like being on a train looking backward through the window at all the rushing things. When people who you love die I understand that it’s the last thing they do for you, as if they’re proving that things endure afterwards,' he remembered this about himself with a forlorn relief. Yet he couldn't think of anyone who'd want his gift that day.

His next thoughts went like this:

'There is a kind of happiness in dreams that carries you away from the miseries that come in the daylight, surrounded by anxious existence. It’s as if we really begin to live when someone very dear to us casts off.' 

'What remains explicable is outside of me.'

' I feel there is a grief in everyone’s house.'

' Once I thought I could overturn my existence by way of walking on my hands. But I think standing rather than walking might have been the better way. Standing straight and egotistical, without a shadow and stretching my roots down whilst doves and crows roost in my branches and in my shade frost flowers. That might have been a stranger thing to do but better.'

'I wondered about what parents do. The way they replace their children with all their caring or not caring – whatever they do – making them into something they’d not been before and wouldn’t have been without. I prefer those who don’t want children of their own but instead take care of the ones already suffering. But this is going to continue, a weird bifurcation splitting us open so we laugh looking forward, and weep behind the laugh. These are bad years to be born.'

' Tyrant dictators seem to be coming up all the time and what is odd is that no one calls them that.'

' Proofreading is a better way of spending time than trying out new ideas. I have managed to make my own language a foreign one. This has taken serious bouts of discomfort and effort. I practiced with acquaintances and turned people into a breed of poetry, as if impatient.'

' To be philosophical in these dire times is to be satirical. But I am nailed fast to an unusual degree of resilience. And can tolerate high degrees of ignorance about the world, people, diet, nature, literature, philosophy, geography, engineering, technology, medicine, money, beauty, sex, violence, war, politics, religion, sociology, psychology, shoes that pinch, spelling, grammar, sport, leisure, work, melancholia, energy, music, the arts, guilt, forgiveness, childhood, middle age, old age, death, gossip, birth, mouths, anatomy generally, science, authors, obligations, orbits and dancing. I suppose this comes from realizing that there’s a huge commotion outside everything I do and know, and that nothing is better or worse depending on whether it likes or dislikes me. That is the main syntax of this.'

' Phrasemongers and aphoristic types are just sheep.'

' The real work happens when you stop circling the belly-button of your inventions. Nostalgia ends in the centre of the belly.'

' Sentimentality and nostalgia need to be treated with a certain amount of roughness so we make them exit and we can start counting and turning.'

' I knew someone who could talk to trees. There’s little doubt that she had the best conversations and had therefore no need for abstractions that can’t be seen if they’re not concrete. Of course trees have consciousness was what she said when I looked puzzled.'

' If you think hope is a lie then on the same grounds is despair. There’s a start.'

' The worse thing is when you look at yourself and take everything that mattered to you and start to see the funny side. As if you’re really just a joke.'

' Some wounds are better left open.'

' No one goes mad over big things. It’s the little snitchy elements that scratch and scratch at us inside until we can’t stand it anymore. And no one can understand because they’re so small and insignificant. If we went mad shouting: ‘China is a dictatorship’ or ‘The President of the United States is a fascist’ and then went mad everyone would be able to nod and see the justice in it. But it’s likely to be something like the angle of a leaf falling or the kind of smile we’re using these days that sends us over the edge. Those little endurances that at first seem so perfunctory and then become everything.'

' On certain hot, sunny, summery days reserve can be a person’s downfall because he won’t say what’s bugging him, and yet if he does, that’ll crush him too, because then he’ll have become so objective about himself he’ll be speaking of his own ruin in terms of determinism.'

' It seemed that we might always think we know the way out and this was the problem. Maybe we’d have done better relying on others, putting yourself in their hands. But if you say this out loud someone is bound to object and reveal who they are to everyone too. But somehow they’re not seen as bad.'

' Here’s how we live: say what we want, why it’s impossible for various reasons and then settle back into the life that allows a quiet groove. That’s how clever we are. It’s takes a bit of difficulty to see that this kind of life is having difficulty with belief and obedience. Without a spin on that equation there’s no action from the first premises, and what happens are covered by excuses. I guess that if we read Pascal these days we’d find the equation worked out in him. Somehow it strikes me that there’s a connection between this kind of clever stupid life and envy, the way it wants to abolish distinctions. But all this rambling is a bit like trying to be exact about the time of day by tracking shadows. There’s definitely something to it. But nevertheless it doesn’t match what the physics professor can do, which is answer questions to many decimal points. What comes with the decimal points of course is an exactness coupled with distracting uncertainty as to what exactly it all really means.'

' It seems we’re always pulled back and forth between looking at shadows and experts. There are times when we lose sympathy with the experts and then we’re like sheep egging on the wolf to kill the shepherd.'

' There’s money and there’s mercy and we’re always arguing, under cover of all sorts of nonsense of course, which is best. I’d say mercy. Which explains why I haven’t money. But where’s my mercy? Like sex, mercy is where you’ve got it, you give it away, you’ve still got it. It’s not like a brothel where you have it, you sell it, you’ve still got it, because mercy isn’t for sale. I think that’s a good lesson and I put it down to my upbringing. So although bringing up children is laughable and often horrible to see, I have to say there are things that happen that aren’t mediocre, snobby or vicious.'

' When we’re being crushed by the world if we’re lucky someone comes along and advises us. Once the fear is over it’s always difficult to stay in touch with this person because they remind us too much of the pain and weakness, but I keep mine close because there’s no way I could believe that I’ve managed to keep going because I’m so strong and valiant. That would be a joke to me. And then I’d be despairing again because I’d think my life was a joke and full of self-deceit. What a twat, I’d think about myself and my life. But having people that have helped me stay the course up to now, that is heartening and endearing and gives me a feeling that this isn’t a joke. That’s why I like grey weather and not so much sunshine. It reminds me that it’s when there’s a bit of a storm happening that I’ve had people who came along to help. It’s like the grey rainy weather is a developing theme and it can look more and more beautiful if I work the theme. It’s a way of dashing away the shallow bright ego.'

' Forgiveness comes in long afterwards. Not on the day. It’s a delayed, worked up theme. It takes development. It takes a lot of hard graft and sometimes puzzles people, as if you’re being perverse. I saw this when at school, when I watched the prefects standing in assemblies. I wondered how they looked so strange and about to die. And I remember as I sat on the floor of the assembly hall wondering what they were going to die for. It was a strange thing to happen but it did. It was against the grain of the situation. No one else indicated they were having similar thoughts, but then again, I was impassive so neither did I. I wondered if there were seducers amongst them. Maybe they’d be the ones with the power to save us. That’s what I thought at eleven, with the smell of my new satchel all around me. It struck me as a vital paradox, although why a paradox I don’t know. But it seemed that somewhere in what I was thinking was a truth intended for me alone that only the most brilliant person would be able to get. And I wasn’t that person. So here I was setting out as clearly as I could a thought that was just mine, but was beyond me, but which demanded that I work it out in full knowledge that I never could. I think it was then that I had always the inclination to view myself comically.'

' I read the Kierkegaardian critic Mike Bracewell explain that the punk epitath ‘no future’ was about how a certain generation could only look towards their youth and so had nothing before them.'

' Conversation was an art form in the seventeenth century. It started then. Zeitgeisty conversation has mutated from elegance to appropriation. Neither then nor now was it just talking. It was the performance of talk, like choreography isn’t dancing but the performance of dancing, and so on. And reposing now isn’t posh outspreading with glam monarchical glitter on plush but restless repressions going wild in a pale light with drugs.'

' What I always wanted to do was to lay hold on the eternal. It’s what struck me at eleven in that assembly whilst watching the prefects lolling against the walls as the headteacher droned on. Because I thought about how these older boys and girls were rushing on, and wouldn’t stop, into life. And they’d never reach it.'

' When the doctor came to tell me that I could be dying of this disease he didn’t dare say the words dying or name the disease. What kind of brave age are we in where we can’t hear those words? Everyone seems to be rushing around in terrible haste so that they don’t hear stuff. I think that’s what has happened. Everyone seems to be always in a hurry to get somewhere because they might die of fright if they didn’t. What happens with time as long as eternity in days like these?'

' The melancholy of barristers: they are observers. Like teachers and police officers and nurses, they have to stick their fingers into the world and hold their opinions to themselves, through bouts of soft breathing that to a degree is exactly what human compassion is.'

' When sitting in the assembly cross legged with my brand new leather satchel on my knees I had the thought that only by being literally with the most wretched would there be any sense of anything. But of course this was always too much for everyone and so too myself. So what came of this bright September morning assembly was something like a clutch of tears followed by absurd laughter.'

' What makes life comic is its matter of degrees that betray us.'

' It’s too easy to imitate what we want to be.'

' When Hannah Arendt thought, she lay down on a couch. I tried that but each time just dozed off. That kind of indolence can be written off as insolence. But maybe the melodrama is in the philosopher on her couch. Maybe she was just making it up because it was good drama to have a thinker doing thought like that. But that’s another way the zeitgeist comes and makes us suspicious of anything corny land posed. It seems like the way a film director might get us to think that a character is deep and existential but nowadays we see through the act and think it’s just ridiculous and that she should get up and have a coffee with beignets from Starbucks. But maybe we’re a tad bitter about this one in particular because she slept with Heidegger and he was a Nazi and so the whole episode is a kind of insurrection. It gets sometimes so intense that we can’t hear ourselves speaking or thinking and everything sinks down into it like a torpor has gripped us and we feel impotent. That’s a modern thing though, and sometimes we listen to people and think that they’re just making an excuse and they could do more. Grr we think about impotence, impotently.'

' Some concepts are homesick. Sometimes they’re not but they make us.'

' If you think too hard about pleasure and happiness they can dissolve because of that.'

' What if God poeticized us to think ourselves the source of all divinity? That’s a thought that hung across every student’s room and the cigarettes we smoked and the booze we drank. It was the star thought we all liked to have. Some of us could carry the star thought and in others it just sounded windy and empty.'

' We’re all afraid of ourselves, which is right, but no one should be arrogant and leave others out because then, who will save you and how will you save them?'

' When walking around school it was always easy to turn your back on someone. But the worst were those who said they were walking towards you but were actually back-peddling, with bright smiles and sagacity.'

' I had an inward sense of what was needed but it was so gripping and tight that I think there was something of the lunatic in me. I once had a fist fight with a boy and then took him to the sinks and helped wash away all the blood over his face and patted him on his back. There looked like a contradiction was working itself out but there wasn’t because everything was in touch with that inner sense. The tragedy of each person is that there can be this sort of variant not reflected in anything ethical, aesthetical or practical.'

' There’s a one-sideness in some people that makes all the difference.'

' Nothing of greatness is admirable si placet, but is merely a requirement, is the thought.'

' When grown up I liked being a secondary school teacher because in talking to those children there’s always the hope they can become people with that sort of demand in them. Well, nothing is as quick and easy as that, but it’s a nocturnal thought that comes and can be superficially comforting. Nevertheless there is always an element of finding glory when doing that, even though we know we don’t think much of it, and lives are really quite short and so never enough.'

' Some secrets are what makes everything worth while. And there’s always a time to come when it’ll be unmasked, and no midnight deal will avoid it.'

' Art is about possibilities and ethics, work. Religion is a kind of robbery. Politics is deep cravings and longing for actions, comparisons and medals honoured in the breach.'

' With a friend you’re stronger than yourself. Friends tell others who you wanted to be and are intercepted mirrors which show things the way they really are only more abundantly. They help a person catch up with himself as much as education in fact.’

He subsided for a while by a water fountain with a stuck faucet.

Chapter 10

Chapter 9


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