Strangers When We Meet
What I want to do –act- represents an inexplicable ambition that intimidates them and, by its nature, will leave them behind.
I begin to consider them cowardly, living only little lives, full of bold talk, but doing nothing and going nowhere. It is not until later that Florence teaches me that part of being successful is the ability to bear envy and plain dislike.
We discuss the emptying out; fear of living; the creation of a wasteland; the denigration of value and meaning. I tell him melancholy was part of my interior scene and that I considered to be the way the world was, until I stood against it.
I feel like an intruder and am reminded of the sense I had as a child, when visiting friends’ houses, that the furniture, banter and manner of doing things were different from the way we did them at home. The world of Archie and Florence is not mine.
London seems to be made only of hard materials and the dust cannot settle on it; everything is angular, particularly the people.
She looks the same but as if a layer of healthy fat has been scraped from her face, revealing the stitching beneath.
… his eyebrows look like patch of corn from which a heavy creature has recently risen.
That Was Then
We are unerring in our choice of lovers, particularly when we require the wrong person. There is an instinct, magnet or aerial which seeks the unsuitable.
Literature makes no recommendations. It’s not a guidebook but you did learn the imagination lifts something up and takes it somewhere else, altering it as it flies. The original idea is only an excuse.
… where else could you get the complexity and detail of inner motion except in fiction? It’s the closest we can get to how we are inside.
But what appeared to frighten them was all the mundane, the familiar, the ordinary.
He thought that pleasures erase themselves as they occur –you can never remember your last cigarette. If happiness accumulates it is not because it remains in the bloodstream but because it is the bloodstream.
This was the most she could do. At other times she wanted, badly, to harm herself. But self-mutilation was an inaccurate language. Scars couldn’t speak.
“Creativity is like sexual desire. It renews itself day by day.”
Seeing her had robbed Marcia of something. She had emptied herself out, and Aurelia was full. Where would she find the resources, the meaning, to carry on?
They’ve got everything to hand.
She might, she knew, turn into her mother, sucking stones at the TV night after night, terrified by excitement.
A Meeting, At Last
… the ability to see feeling…
Identified with the puritanical left…
The way things looked, smelled, tasted, held no fascination for him; nor did the inner motives of living people.
Distil the spirit of a working love.
As they walked back in silence, he wondered who she was, the layer upon layer on her. They were peeling and scraping, both hoping to find the person underneath, as if it would reveal the only useful truth. But in the end you had to live with all of someone else.
If he thought she was regal, it was not because she was imperious, but because she was still.
What evil had marauding men caused in the twentieth century!
Cold turkey, psychosis and death –all at once.
It was atavistic but abstract; mostly the people did not know one another. It had made him aware of how people clung to their antipathies, and used them to maintain an important distance…
Morning in the Bowl of the Night
It was grief; a packed, undigested lump of grief in his chest.
As the snow thickened, a rare and unusual silence also fell on the city.
…we all grow different and change, everyday; it was that, only that.
“A good man cannot suffer any evil, either in life or after death.” Socrates
In their own, clumsy way, they were each fighting to preserve themselves.