Saturday, October 17, 2009

Palinurian splinters

There are also solitary bees, and it is not claimed that they are biologically inferior.

When we see someone living alone, like a beech-tree in a clearing, with no other signs of life around him yet proclaiming his freedom, displaying his possessions and maintaining his devotion to his friends, we can be sure that such a person is an ogre and that human bone-meal lies buried under his roots.

Why do ants alone have parasites whose intoxicating moistures they drink and for whom they will sacrifice even their young? Because as they are the most highly socialized of insects, so their lives are the most intolerable.

Streets of Paris, pray for me; beaches in the sun, pray for me; ghosts of the lemurs, intercede for me; plane-tree and laurel-rose, shade me; summer rain on quays of Toulon, wash me away.

For a dark play-girl in the night-club I have pined away, for a dead school boy, for a bright angel-vixen I have wept in vain, If this thoughtless woman were to die there would be nothing to live for, if this faithless girl forgot me there would be no one for whom to write. These two unseen and otherwise occupied figures compose the fragile arch of my being and constitute a Tribunal which they have long ceased to attend.

A child, left to play alone, says of quite an easy thing, 'Now I am going to to do something very difficult'. Soon, out of vanity, fear and emptiness, he builds up a world of custom, convention and myth in which everything must be just so; certain doors are one-way streets, certain trees sacred, certain paths taboo. Then along comes a grown-up or a more robust child; they kick over the imaginary wall, climb the forbidden tree, regard the difficult as easy and the private world is destroyed. The instinct to create myth, to colonize reality with the emotions, remains. The myths become tyrannies until they are swept away, when we invent new tyrannies to hide our suddenly perceived nakedness. Like caddis-worms or like those crabs which dress themselves with seaweed, we wear belief and custom.

We pay for vice by the knowledge that we are wicked: we pay for pleasure when we find out, too late, that we are disappearing.

- The Unquiet Grave
A Word Cycle by Palinurus (Cyril Connolly)