whetstone

December 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

“I sat there with my eyes on a flower in the carpet, or I looked up at her and then again at the flower, and her own glance strayed about the room in that abstracted way a good housewife has of looking around to surprise a speck of dust in the act. We were saying things to each other all the while, but they were strained and difficult things, completely empty.

You meet somebody at the seashore on a vacation and have a wonderful time together. Or in a corner at a party, while the glasses clink and somebody beats on a piano, you talk with a stranger whose mind seems to whet and sharpen your own and with whom a wonderful new vista of ideas is spied.. Or you share some intense or painful experience with somebody, and discover a deep communion. Then afterward you are sure that when you meet again, the gay companion will give you the old gaiety, the brilliant stranger will stir your mind from its torpor, the sympathetic friend will solace you with the old communion of spirit. But something happens, or almost always happens, to the gaiety, the brilliance, the communion. You remember the individual words from the old language you spoke together, but you have forgotten the grammar. You remember the steps of the dance, but the music isn’t playing any more. So there you are.

So there we sat for a while, and the minutes sifted and wavered down around us, one by one, like leaves dropping in still autumn air. Then, after a space of silence, she excused herself and I was left alone to watch the leaves drift down.”

— Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

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