All this is an evasion of the true disease, the disease which I try to drown in books, in bright pictures.  All day long I pace the museums, inspecting the relics of our history, all carefully laid out and labelled in scholarly hands on postcards.  At night I meditate on the quantities of pure gold which we house so carelessly in glass cases, unaware that this same putrid stuff is decaying in our arteries.  Is it possible to keep the vitality of the centuries in a bottle, with a postcard on it to hint at an identity long since lost!  My own history, my present, is confused by the death which I see gathered around me, here a jawbone, there a femur, here a wedding ring, there a pickaxe.  I cannot live because the decomposing bodies of my ancestors dog me at every turn.  They are not living in their myth, but dead, influencing my dying, not my life.  That is why action is so erratic, so full of extremes, because the hypaethral universes which should live in us today are dead, and behind glass.  Instead of nourishing us they are the umpires of our defeat, our decline and fall.

The circuit is complete.  We have put our myths in the cellar and must start building again with new implements, a new tongue.

Lawrence Durrell, The Black Book.


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