why do i still insist on trying to write, when v.s. naipaul already said the only things i had to say, and so much more?!?!? all i can do is try to not copy the whole book here, but to quote discriminately. but read it-read it-read it. oh.
*”I didn’t want to go back. not the first time. i didn’t think my heart could stand it. but the airplane is a wonderful thing. you are still in one place when you arrive at the other. the airplane is faster than the heart. you arrive quickly and you leave quickly. you don’t grieve too much.and there is something else about the airplane. you can go back many times to the same place. and something strange happens if you go back often enough. you stop grieving for the past. you see that the past is something in your mind alone, that it doesn’t exist in real life. you trample on the past,you crush it. in the beginning it is like trampling on a garden. in the end you are just walking on ground. that is the way we have to learn to live now.”
*”i thought when i went to england i would put all that behind me. i had no plans beyond that. the word ‘university’ dazzled me, and i was innocent enough to believe that after my time in the university some wonderful life would be waiting for me. at that age three years seems a long time – you feel that anything can happen. but i hadn’t understood to what extent our civilization had also been our prison. i hadn’t understood either to what extent we had been made by the place where we had grown up, made by Africa and the simple life on the coast, and how incapable we had become of understanding the outside world. we have no means of understanding a fraction of the thought and science and philosophy and law that have gone to make that outside world. we simply accept it. we have grown up paying tribute to it, and that is all that most of us can do. we feel of the great world that it is simply there, something for the lucky ones among us to explore, and then only at the edges. it never occurs to us that we might make some contribution to it ourselves. and that is why we miss everything.
when we land at a place like london airport, we are concerned only not to appear foolish. it is more beautiful and more complex than anything we could have dreamed of, but we are concerned only to let people see that we can manage and are not overawed. we might even pretend that we had expected better. that is the nature of our stupidity and incompetence. and that was how i spent my time at the university in england, not being overawed, always being slightly disappointed, understanding nothing, accepting everything, getting nothing. i saw and understood so little that at the end of my time at the university i could distinguish buildings only by their size, and i was hardly aware of the passing of the seasons.and yet i was an intelligent man, and could cram for examinations.”
*”you’ve talked a lot […] about those girls from East Africa in the tobacco kiosks, selling cigarettes at all hours of the night. they’ve depressed you. you say they don’t have a future and that they don’t even know where they are. i wonder whether that isn’t their luck. they expect to be bored, to do what they do. the people i’ve been talking about have expectations and they know they’re lost in london. i suppose it must be dreadful for them when they have to go back. this area is full of them, coming to the centre because it is all they know about and because they think it’s smart, and trying to make something out of nothing. you can’t blame them. they’re doing what they see the big people doing.”
yay pity party. two in one, crushed as a person and as a writer. thankyouverymuch, sir.