Tuesday January 18th, 2011

A Selection

From Light Years by James Salter:

He wanted one thing, the possibility of one thing: to be famous. He wanted to be central to the human family, what else is there to long for, to hope? Already he walked modestly along the streets, as if certain of what was coming. He had nothing. He had only the carefully laid out luggage of bourgeois life, his scalp beginning to show beneath the hair, his immaculate hands. And the knowledge; yes, he had knowledge. The Sagrada Familia was as familiar to him as a barn to a farmer, the “new towns” of France and England, cathedrals, voussoirs, cornices, quoins. He knew the life of Alberti, of Christopher Wren. He knew that Sullivan was the son of a dancing master, Breuer a doctor in Hungary. But knowledge does not protect one. Life is contemptuous of knowledge; it forces it to sit in the anterooms, to wait outside. Passion, energy, lies: these are what life admires. Still, anything can be endured if all humanity is watching. The martyrs prove it. We live in the attention of others. We turn to it as flowers to the sun.