Always and Always Alone

“We are all animals, and therefore, we are continually being attracted. That this attraction should extend to what is called love is a human misfortune cultivated by novelists. It is the horror we feel of ourselves, that is of being alone with ourselves, which draws us to love, but this love should happen only once, and never be repeated, if we have, as we should, learnt our lesson, which is that we are, all and each one of us, always and always alone.”
Henry Green, Letter to  G.W. 9 June 1954


Illuminated Squares

“Through tree-lined streets, past the terraced houses, I float, catching glimpses of those other, happier, families through the illuminated squares of their little brick boxes.”
Viv Albertine, Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys (2014)

This Is Where We Would Have Done It

“Next to my primary and junior schools, in the small town where I grew up (Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) was a large recreation park. During term time we played there at lunchtimes; in the summer holidays, we spent whole afternoons playing football. At one corner of the rec was something we called the Hump: a hump of complicated dirt with trees growing on it — all that was left, presumably, of the land that had been cleared and flattened to form the rec; either that or — unlikely given the size of the trees — a place where some of the detritus from this process had been heaped up. The Hump was the focal point of all games except football and cricket. It was the first place in my personal landscape that had special significance. It was the place we made for during all sorts of games: the fortress to be stormed, the beachhead to be established (all games, back then, were war games). It was more than what it was, more than what it was called. If we had decided to take peyote or set fire to one of our schoolmates, this is where we would have done it.”
Geoff Dyer, White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World (2016)

Waking the Dead

“Today, nostalgia is almost as unacceptable as racism. Our politicians speak of drawing a line under the past and turning our back on ancient quarrels. In this way, we can leap forward into a scrubbed, blank, amnesiac future. If [Walter] Benjamin rejected this kind of philistinism, it was because he was aware that the past holds vital resources for the renewal of the present. Those who wipe out the past are in danger of abolishing the future as well. Nobody was more intent on eradicating the past than the Nazis, who would, like the Stalinists, simply scrub from historical record whatever they found inconvenient.”
Terry Eagleton, “Waking the Dead,” New Statesman 12 November 2009

Umbrella in the Stand

“Is the true self this which stands on the pavement in January, or that which bends over the balcony in June? Am I here, or am I there? Or is the true self neither this nor that, neither here nor there, but something so varied and wandering that it is only when we give the rein to its wishes and let it take its way unimpeded that we are indeed ourselves? Circumstances compel unity; for convenience’ sake a man must be a whole. The good citizen when he opens his door in the evening must be banker, golfer, husband, father; not a nomad wandering in the desert, a mystic staring at the sky, a debauchee in the slums of San Francisco, a soldier heding a revolution, a pariah howling with scepticism and solitude. When he opens the door, he must run his fingers through his hair and put his umbrella in the stand like the rest.”
Virginia Woolf, “Street Haunting: A London Adventure,” Selected Essays