Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Others Were Feeling Like Today #10


There is a dead and static mouse in the lily-pond. I feel like that mouse - static, obese and decaying. Vita [Sackville-West, his wife] is calm, comforting and considerate. And yet (for have I not been reading a batch of insulting press-cuttings?) life is a drab and dreary thing. I have missed it. I have made a fool of myself in every respect.

Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God?

Very glum. Discuss finance. Vita keeps on saying that we have got enough to go on with. but when one goes into it, that represents only two months. I must get a job. Yet all the jobs which pay humiliate. And the decent jobs do not pay. Come back to Long Barn. Arrange my books sadly. Weigh myself sadly. Have put on eight pounds. Feel ashamed of myself, my attainments and my character. Am I a serious person at all? Vita thinks I should make £2000 by writing a novel. I don't. The discrepancy between these two theories causes me some distress of mind.

Harold Nicolson


What makes daily life so agreeable in America is the good humour and friendliness of Americans. Of course, this quality has its reverse side. I'm irritated by those imperious invitations to 'take life easy', repeated in words and images throughout the day. On advertisements for Quaker Oats, Coca-Cola and Lucky Strike, what displays of white teeth - the smile seems like lockjaw. the constipated girl smiles a loving smile at the lemon juice that relieves her intestines. in the subway, in the streets, on magazine pages, these smiles pursue me like obsessions. I read on the sign in a drugstore, 'Not to grin is a sin.'
everyone obeys the order, the system. 'Cheer up! Take it easy.' Optimism is necessary for the country's social peace and economic prosperity. If a banker has generously lent fifty dollars without guarantee to some Frenchman in financial straits, if the manager of my hotel takes a slight risk by cashing his customers' cheques, it's because this trust is required and implied by an economy based on credit and expenditure.

Simone de Beauvoir

Taken from The Assassin's Cloak.

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