‘It was bound to happen. Things couldn’t just go on as before.’
‘No, that’s not true. Things can always go on like before – it’s just that they don’t.’
‘You don’t understand a thing.’
She felt like saying: ‘You’re all verbs. Giving orders and decreeing this and this and this. You’re like a little general.’
She just laughed, rolled her smoke and sat on the edge of the bed looking at the new footage of the riots on her cell phone whilst Golam Q lay across the bed with a serious authority in his handsome face. He’d been putting out messages all day. His elation was like a sublime liturgy for all the people who liked his messages of inspired optimism, smiles, seizure, capture and divine confusion blossoming in this time of confirmed sorrow. Actually the emotions were now mixing up. His frown was like a heron under stormy clouds.
‘God if only I could calm down a moment. What a horrible moment. If my wrists were in cuffs at least I’d have something to bite onto. This is why I need quiet. Be quiet. Soon it’ll be a matter of getting everything in some sort of order. There is so much to do. I get it, you should soften me. That’s a dignified thing to do. But you shouldn’t weaken me. You should leave me with my optimism.’
‘It’s just a fairground. You shouldn’t trust its consolations. You’re not living in a nursery. What you’re doing is dangerous not because of whether it’s claims are true or not but because it demands obedience.’
‘ No. You’re wrong. You’re seeing it as merely as a matter of passive receptivity, of reproducing or paraphrasing. But this, this is the equivalent to the feeling of having fulfilled a command. Imagine something that has been grasped, something obscure and slippery and of weight. It’s like scooping a carp out of dark water with your bare hands. There’s no pattern. Any pattern we might see, that's just the paraphrase.’
The centre of his gravity had moved closer to his lips, to the outer part of his mouth. The tip of his tongue was a kind of seat of honour, a kind of infantilism that charmed her but irritated her too. She imagined the feathers of some bird tickling his lips inadvertently. His tender carelessness was a bad sign, like a mundane elegy.
‘As if freedom and domesticity could ever really greet each other as members of a single family outside of poetry,’ she muttered.
A lightness shimmered in her head, as if ‘image over action’ was the missing equation. Any world on fire was always going to end in useless ash. ‘Pyre’ was the noun she fused with heroic verbs. She thought of Shelley. She continued to resist the stern pleasures of revolutionary conventions, devices and flow.
‘Conrad’s mistake was to make the Congo the setting of an individual’s mental disintegration. He’s accused of an indecent dehumanisation of a whole portion of the human race. He utilised a banal stereotype rather than make a type that was utterly new and utterly true – which is what art has to do.’
‘Art?’ Golam pulled a face.
‘ Art can create a new mode out of common properties, whether we want it or not. But that’s not my point here…’
‘ Your ideas try and define the epoch. And look at how they are joined by others. Everyone agrees. Everyone is shouting about what needs to be done and how we must understand everything that has happened. But you are making Conrad’s mistake all over again. You are explaining something profound and delicate by dehumanising a portion of humanity. And it doesn’t matter how big a portion it is that you treat so. One person's enough. In fact, even if no one is actually dehumanised, but we’re just given a fantasy human to dehumanise who isn't anywhere except in our imagination, then that is too high a price. Everything is creating false standards of measurement and underestimates the true value of life. This carnival is what your narcissism looks like once you sold it. ‘
Read the complete novel 'The Ecstatic Silence' here.