We lay on the ground and kissed. Perhaps you smile. That we only lay on the ground and kissed. You young people can lend your bodies now, play with them, give them as we could not. But remember that you have paid a price: that of a world rich in mystery and delicate emotion. It is not only species of animal that die out. But whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know. But pity yourself for what it did.
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Medieval theologians used to dispute how the angels in the heaven spent their time, when not balancing on needle points and singing anthems to the Lord. I know. They slump glued to their clouds, glasses at the ready, as the Archangel Micheal (that well-known slasher) and stonewalling St Peter open against the Devils XI. It could not be Heaven, otherwise.
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It's no good. I've been trying to sleep for the last half-hour, and I can't. Writing here is a sort of drug. It's the only thing I look forward to. This afternoon I read what I wrote... And it seemed vivid. I know it seems vivid because my imagination fills in all the bits another person wouldn't understand. I mean, it's vanity. But it seems a sort of magic... And I just can't live in this present. I would go mad if I did
I suppose I'd had, by the standards of that pre-permissive time, a good deal of sex for my age. Girls, or a certain kind of girl, liked me; I had a car-not so common among undergraduates in those days-and I had some money. I wasn't ugly; and even more important, I had my loneliness, which, as every cad knows, is a deadly weapon with women. My 'technique' was to make a show of unpredictability, cynicism, and indifference. Then, like a conjurer with his white rabbit, I produced the solitary heart.
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Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the young prince believed his father. But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace. He came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore. Are those real islands?' asked the young prince. Of course they are real islands,' said the man in evening dress. And those strange and troubling creatures?' They are all genuine and authentic princesses.' Then God must exist!' cried the prince. I am God,' replied the man in full evening dress, with a bow. The young prince returned home as quickly as he could. So you are back,' said the father, the king. I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully. The king was unmoved. Neither real islands, nor real princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully. The king was unmoved. Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist.' I saw them!' Tell me how God was dressed.' God was in full evening dress.' Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?' The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled. That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived.' At this, the prince returned to the next land, and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress. My father the king has told me who you are,' said the young prince indignantly. 'You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician.' The man on the shore smiled. It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell, so you cannot see them.' The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eyes. Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?' The king smiled, and rolled back his sleeves. Yes, my son, I am only a magician.' Then the man on the shore was God.' The man on the shore was another magician.' I must know the real truth, the truth beyond magic.' There is no truth beyond magic,' said the king. The prince was full of sadness. He said, 'I will kill myself.' The king by magic caused death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses. Very well,' he said. 'I can bear it.' You see, my son,' said the king, 'you too now begin to be a magician.
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You do not even think of your own past as quite real; you dress it up, you gild it or blacken it, censor it, tinker with it... fictionalize it, in a word, and put it away on a shelf - your book, your romanced autobiography. We are all in the flight from the real reality. That is the basic definition of Homo sapiens.
I had always believed, and not only out of cynicism, that a man and a woman could tell in the first ten minutes whether they wanted to go to bed together; and that the time that passed after those first ten minutes represented a tax, which might be worth paying if the article promised to be really enjoyable, but which nine times out of ten became rapidly excessive.
Love is the mistery between two people, not the identity. We were at the opposite poles of humanity. Lily was humanity bound to duty, unable to choose, suffering, at the mercy of social ideals. Humanity both crucified and marching towards the cross. And I was free, I was Peter three times to renounce - determined to survive, whatever the cost.
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It's despair at the lack of (I'm cheating, I didn't say all these things - but I'm going to write what I want to say as well as what I did) feeling, of love, of reason in the world. It's despair that anyone can even contemplate the idea of dropping a bomb or ordering that it should be dropped. It's despair that so few of us care. It's despair that there's so much brutality and callousness in the world.
I hate what G.P. calls the New People, the new class people with their cars and their money and their tellies and their stupid vulgarities and their stupid crawling imitations of the bourgeoisie. (...) The New People are still the poor people, it is the new form of poverty. The others hadn't any money and these haven't any soul.
Staring out to sea, I finally forced myself to stop thinking of her as someone still somewhere, if only in memory, still obscurely alive, breathing, doing, moving, but as a shovelful of ashes already scattered; as a broken link, a biological dead end, an eternal withdrawal from reality, a once complex object that now dwindled, dwindled, left nothing behind except a l like a fallen speck of soot on a blank sheet of paper.
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I am Emma Woodhouse. I feel for her, of her and in her. I have a different sort of snobbism, but I understand her snobbism. Her priggishness. I admire it. I know she does wrong things, she tries to organize other people's lives, she can't see Mr Knightley is a man in a million. She's temporarily silly, yet all the time one knows she's basically intelligent. Creative, determined to set the highest standards. A real human being.
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You may think novelists always have fixed plans to which they work, so that the future predicted by Chapter One is always inexorably the actuality of Chapter Thirteen. But novelists write for countless different reasons: for money, for fame, for reviewers, for parents, for friends, for loved ones; for vanity, for pride, for curiosity, for amusement: as skilled furniture makers enjoy making furniture, as drunkards like drinking, as judges like judging, as Sicilians like emptying a shotgun into an enemy's back. I could fill a book with reasons, and they would all be true, though not true of all. Only one same reason is shared by all of us: we wish to create worlds as real as, but other than the world that is. Or was. This is why we cannot plan. We know a world is an organism, not a machine.
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