Our sins describe us, and our prohibitions describe our sins.
You must not obey a majority, no matter how large, if it opposes your principles and opinions.’ He said this to each new volunteer and repeated it over and over to him, until it was engraved on his mind. ‘The largest majority is often only an organized mob whose noise can no more change the false into the true than it can change black into white or night into day. And a minority, conscious of its rights, if those rights are based on moral principles, will sooner or later become a just majority.
Mourning can be very selfish. When someone you love has died, you tend to recall best those few moments and incidents that helped clarify your sense, not of the person who has died, but of your own self.
We pass between sea and sky with unaccountable, humiliating ease, as if there were no firmament between the firmaments, no above or below, here or there, now or then, with only the feeble conventions of language, our contrived principles, and our love of one another’s light to keep our own light from going out; abandon any one of them, and we dissolve in darkness like salt in water.
But I understood Bear Otto’s desire to become a noble man, a man like Billy Ansel, and I respected that, naturally. I just wished the boy had more ways of imagining the thing than by becoming a good soldier. But that’s boys, I guess.
We all lose our innocence soon enough; it’s inescapable. Most of us aren’t emotionally or intellectually ready for it until our thirties or even later, however, so when one loses it prematurely, in childhood and adolescence, through divorce or the sudden early death of a parent, it can leave one fixated on that loss for a lifetime. Because it’s premature, it feels unnatural, violent and unnecessary, a permanent, gratuitous wounding, and it leaves one angry at the world,
Knowledge of the facts of Bob’s life and death changes nothing in the world. Our celebrating his life and grieving over his death, however, will. Good cheer and mournfulness over lives other than our own, even wholly invented lives – no, especially wholly invented lives – deprive the world as it is of some of the greed it needs to continue to be itself. Sabotage and subversion, then, are this book’s objectives. Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.
By this evening,
a fully flowered narcissist.
From then on, we were simply different people. Not new people; different.