If she had been left alone she would have gone on, in her own way, enjoying herself thoroughly, until people found one day that she had turned imperceptibly into one of those women who have become old without ever having been middle aged: a little withered, a little acid, hard as nails, sentimentally kindhearted, and addicted to religion or small dogs.
When my kids were toddlers, they had all these rotomolded plastic things. My life became surrounded by big, hollow plastic toys - from the scale of playhouses down to rocking horses, and everything in between - which we would then take to the secondhand store. But we'd get sentimentally attached and hate to see them go.
More than fantasy or even science fiction, Ray Bradbury wrote horror, and like so many great horror writers he was himself utterly without fear, of anything. He wasn't afraid of looking uncool - he wasn't scared to openly love innocence, or to be optimistic, or to write sentimentally when he felt that way.
But I've been turning over in my mind the question of nostalgia, and whether I suffer from it. I certainly don't get soggy at the memory of some childhood knickknack; nor do I want to deceive myself sentimentally about something that wasn't even true at the time""love of the old school, and so on. But if nostalgia means the powerful recollection of strong emotions""and a regret that such feelings are no longer present in our lives""then I plead guilty.
ERIC: What are you always writin' in that book anyway? RODNEY: Poetry. TYRONE: Poetry? Rodney stops sketching and sentimentally flips through a few dozen pages of sketches and handwritten poems and notes. RODNEY: Poetry and pictures. Snapshots of our lives developed in the darkrooms of our souls." From CENTRAL PARK SONG - a screenplay
Little Mr. Bowley, who had rooms in the Albany and was sealed with wax over the deeper sources of life but could be unsealed suddenly, inappropriately, sentimentally, by this sort of thing-poor women waiting to see the Queen go past-poor women, nice little children, orphans, widows, the War-tut tut-actually had tears in his eyes.
Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everything else we love-everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires'-it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run.
As a society, we've become suspicious of such acts. Out of ignorance or laziness or timidity, we've turned the Luddites into caricatures, emblems of backwardness. We assume that anyone who rejects a new tool in favor of an older one is guilty of nostalgia, of making choices sentimentally rather than rationally. But the real sentimental fallacy is the assumption that the new thing is always better suited to our purposes and intentions than the old thing. That's the view of a child, naive and pliable. What makes one tool superior to another has nothing to do with how new it is. What matters is how it enlarges us or diminishes us, how it shapes our experience of nature and culture and one another. To cede choices about the texture of our daily lives to a grand abstraction called progress is folly.
Here I would point out, as a symptom equally worthy of notice, the ABSENCE OF FEELING which usually accompanies laughter. It seems as though the comic could not produce its disturbing effect unless it fell, so to say, on the surface of a soul that is thoroughly calm and unruffled. Indifference is its natural environment, for laughter has no greater foe than emotion. I do not mean that we could not laugh at a person who inspires us with pity, for instance, or even with affection, but in such a case we must, for the moment, put our affection out of court and impose silence upon our pity. In a society composed of pure intelligences there would probably be no more tears, though perhaps there would still be laughter; whereas highly emotional souls, in tune and unison with life, in whom every event would be sentimentally prolonged and re-echoed, would neither know nor understand laughter.
That was the real secret of the Tarahumara: they'd never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that running was mankind's first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle-behold, the Running Man. Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running, or you wouldn't live to love anything else. And like everyhing else we ove-everything we sentimentally call our 'passions' and 'desires' it's really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. We're all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.
If only I could cry. I am beyond that. The light, the light, lending itself to empty downtown Saturday, but still the stupid insensate cars flush by oblivious to their stupidity, my silent plea. It isn't Mexico. It's not Paris. It's a painting by Hopper come to life. I am trapped inside a dead thing. Language is impossible here, even in English. Who has the arrogance to say: I'm mad, this is my crazy view of things, help me. I'm trapped in a silent world, a tableau of forty years ago. The walls are different, the tables, the heights of the veiling and the chairs. I loom above this letter. The view past the rows of cakes in the plate glass window is unfamiliar. I am a ghost. There is nothing now between me and death. Death is the unfamiliarity of everything, the strangeness of the once familiar. The same spatial configurations only the light is hollow, sick. I think I lack the energy to hit expensive discos which I don't know where they are to be rejected tonight. I look passable. My energy's low. I love to dance but despair is not a good muse. This Mexico, babe. Men who don't love you but act wildly as if they do initially. Self-involved, narcissistic men... The men drink and philosophize about pain. The women live it solo and culturelessly. No one cries, except easily, sentimentally. The devil, therefore God, exists. Oaxaca was a pushover compared to this. Pain had boundaries there. Spare us big cities, oh lord!
The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism - are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this. The emotions of man are stirred more quickly than man's intelligence; and, as I pointed out some time ago in an article on the function of criticism, it is much more easy to have sympathy with suffering than it is to have sympathy with thought. Accordingly, with admirable, though misdirected intentions, they very seriously and very sentimentally set themselves to the task of remedying the evils that they see. But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it. Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease. They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor. But this is not a solution: it is an aggravation of the difficulty. The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible. And the altruistic virtues have really prevented the carrying out of this aim. Just as the worst slave-owners were those who were kind to their slaves, and so prevented the horror of the system being realised by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, in the present state of things in England, the people who do most harm are the people who try to do most good; and at last we have had the spectacle of men who have really studied the problem and know the life - educated men who live in the East End - coming forward and imploring the community to restrain its altruistic impulses of charity, benevolence, and the like. They do so on the ground that such charity degrades and demoralises. They are perfectly right. Charity creates a multitude of sins.
So it hadn't been wrong or dishonest of her to say no this morning, when he asked if she hated him, any more than it had been wrong or dishonest to serve him the elaborate breakfast and to show the elaborate interest in his work, and to kiss him goodbye. The kiss, for that matter, had been exactly right-a perfectly fair, friendly kiss, a kiss for a boy you'd just met at a party, a boy who'd danced with you and made you laugh and walked you home afterwards, talking about himself all the way. The only real mistake, the only wrong and dishonest thing, was ever to have seen him as anything more than that. Oh, for a month or two, just for fun, it might be all right to play a game like that with a boy; but all these years! And all because, in a sentimentally lonely time long ago, she had found it easy and agreeable to believe whatever this one particular boy felt like saying, and to repay him for that pleasure by telling easy, agreeable lies of her own, until each was saying what the other most wanted to hear-until he was saying 'I love you' and she was saying 'Really, I mean it; you're the most interesting person I've ever met.' What a subtle, treacherous thing it was to let yourself go that way! Because once you'd started it was terribly difficult to stop; soon you were saying 'I'm sorry, of course you're right, ' and 'Whatever you think is best, ' and 'You're the most wonderful and valuable thing in the world, ' and the next thing you knew all honesty, all truth, was as far away and glimmering, as hopelessly unattainable as the world of the golden people. Then you discovered you were working at life the way the Laurel Players worked at The Petrified Forest, or the way Steve Kovick worked at his drums-earnest and sloppy and full of pretension and all wrong; you found you were saying yes when you meant no, and 'We've got to be together on this thing' when you meant the very opposite; then you were breathing gasoline as if it were flowers and abandoning yourself to a delirium of love under the weight of a clumsy, grunting, red-faced man you didn't even like-Shep Campbell!-and then you were face to face, in total darkness, with the knowledge that you didn't know who you were. (p.416-7)