APPROACH Rain is falling. Winter approaches. I drive towards it. In the slow rain. In the semi-darkness. Cello music is playing in the car. The deep sad sound of the cello. It almost swamps me. Routine endeavours to swamp me. The everyday paying of bills. But I paint men walking in a city of icebergs and crystal. Some of the icebergs are red. I paint a woman swimming in green wavy water. Surrounded by desert mesas. Bright orange in the sunlight. With darker orange for shadows. I paint two people. With purple and pink and yellow and blue circles overlapping the boundaries of their bodies. Dancing. Life is not ordinary. When I see you tonight I will press my lips to your eyelids. Each one in turn. I will rub my fingertips over the skin on the back of your hands and around your wrists. I will sigh. I will growl. I will whinny. I will gallop into your smile. One sharp foot after the other.
When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.
In this particular tub, two knees jut up like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap navigates the tidal slosh of seas breaking on legendary beaches; in faith we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail among sacred islands of the mad till death shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.
He's a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy. And though he's not a Lord, he does have a curse hanging over his head. I have the book to prove it.' William growled low in his throat. 'Anya! Must you share my secrets with everyone?' He flattened his palms on the arms of his chair. 'Fine. If you can spill, I can, too. Anya's the reason the Titanic sank. She was playing chicken with the icebergs.' Scowling, Anya anchored her hands on her hips. 'William had a bronze made of his penis and placed it on his mantel.
For thousands of years, it had been nature-and its supposed creator-that had had a monopoly on awe. It had been the icecaps, the deserts, the volcanoes and the glaciers that had given us a sense of finitude and limitation and had elicited a feeling in which fear and respect coagulated into a strangely pleasing feeling of humility, a feeling which the philosophers of the eighteenth century had famously termed the sublime. But then had come a transformation to which we were still the heirs... Over the course of the nineteenth century, the dominant catalyst for that feeling of the sublime had ceased to be nature. We were now deep in the era of the technological sublime, when awe could most powerfully be invoked not by forests or icebergs but by supercomputers, rockets and particle accelerators. We were now almost exclusively amazed by ourselves.
Alain de Botton
I recall certain moments, let us call them icebergs in paradise, when after having had my fill of her -after fabulous, insane exertions that left me limp and azure-barred-I would gather her in my arms with, at last, a mute moan of human tenderness (her skin glistening in the neon light coming from the paved court through the slits in the blind, her soot-black lashes matted, her grave gray eyes more vacant than ever-for all the world a little patient still in the confusion of a drug after a major operation)-and the tenderness would deepen to shame and despair, and I would lull and rock my lone light Lolita in my marble arms, and moan in her warm hair, and caress her at random and mutely ask her blessing, and at the peak of this human agonized selfless tenderness (with my soul actually hanging around her naked body and ready to repent), all at once, ironically, horribly, lust would swell again-and 'oh, no, ' Lolita would say with a sigh to heaven, and the next moment the tenderness and the azure-all would be shattered.
It has often been suggested to me that the Constitution of the United States is a sufficient safeguard for the freedom of its citizens. It is obvious that even the freedom it pretends to guarantee is very limited. I have not been impressed with the adequacy of the safeguard. The nations of the world, with centuries of international law behind them, have never hesitated to engage in mass destruction when solemnly pledged to keep the peace; and the legal documents in America have not prevented the United States from doing the same. Those in authority have and always will abuse their power. And the instances when they do not do so are as rare as roses growing on icebergs. Far from the Constitution playing any liberating part in the lives of the American people, it has robbed them of the capacity to rely on their own resources or do their own thinking. Americans are so easily hoodwinked by the sanctity of law and authority. In fact, the pattern of life has become standardized, routinized, and mechanized like canned food and Sunday sermons. The hundred-percenter easily swallows syndicated information and factory-made ideas and beliefs. He thrives on the wisdom given him over the radio and cheap magazines by corporations whose philanthropic aim is selling America out. He accepts the standards of conduct and art in the same breath with the advertising of chewing gum, toothpaste, and shoe polish. Even songs are turned out like buttons or automobile tires-all cast from the same mold.