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Christopher could never have done alone what Wystan was doing. He was too timid to have taken such a step independently. Would he have gone to Spain with Wystan, if it hadn’t been for Heinz? I think he would, despite his timidity, because he could have found no other good enough excuse for staying behind. As things were, he didn’t feel guilty about this, only regretful for what he was missing.

Christopher wasn’t seriously afraid that Wystan would be killed in battle. The government would probably insist on his making propaganda for them, rather than fighting. Still, Byron and Brooke had died by disease, not weapons, and a war-zone is full of potential accidents.

This was a solemn parting, despite all their jokes. It made them aware how absolutely each relied on the other’s continuing to exist.

Their friendship was rooted in schoolboy memories and the mood of its sexuality was adolescent. They had been going to bed together, unromantically but with much pleasure, for the past ten years, whenever an opportunity offered itself, as it did now. They couldn’t think of themselves as lovers, yet sex had given their friendship an extra dimension. They were conscious of this and it embarrassed them slightly — that is to say, the sophisticated adult friends were embarrassed by the schoolboy sex partners. This may be why they made fun, in private and in print, of each other’s physical appearance; Wystan’s ‘stumpy immature fingers’ and ‘small pale eyes screwed painfully together’; Christoper’s ‘squat’ body and ‘enormous’ nose and head. The adults were trying to dismiss the schoolboys’ sex-making as unimportant. It was of profound importance. It made the relationship unique for both of them.

On January 13, Christopher saw Wystan off on the train. Wystan had a bad cold but was otherwise cheerful. His only anxiety was about his luggage, which had been sent ahead, by mistake, to the Franco-Spanish frontier. He was afraid that it was lost forever. Luckily, he was wrong.

– Christopher IsherwoodChristopher and his Kind

It was a picture of Faye Greener, a still from a two-reel farce in which she had worked as an extra. She had given him the autograph willingly enough, had even autographed it in a large, wild hand, “Affectionately yours, Faye Greener,” but she refused his friendship, or, rather insisted on keeping it impersonal. She had told him why. He had nothing to offer her, neither money nor looks, and she could only love a handsome man and would only let a wealthy man love her. Tod was a “good-hearted man,” and she liked “good-hearted men,” but only as friends. She wasn’t hard-boiled. It was just that she put love on a special plane, where a man without money or looks couldn’t move.

The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

If she went to Alan now it would be like detaching one of these cut-outs of a woman, and  forcing it to walk separately from the rest, but once detached from the unison, it would reveal that it was a mere outline of a woman, the figure design as the eye could see it, but empty of substance, this substance having evaporated through the spaces between each layer of the personality. A divided woman indeed, a woman divided into numberless silhouettes, and she could see this form of Sabina leaving a desperate and lonely one walking the streets in the quest of hot coffee, being greeted by Alan as a transparently young girl he had married ten years before and sworn to cherish, as he had, only he had continued to cherish the same young girl he had married, the first exposure of Sabina, the first image delivered into his hands, the first dimension, of this elaborated, complex and extended series of Sabinas which  had been born later and which she had not been able to give him. Each year, just as a tree puts forth a new ring of growth, she should have been able to say: ‘Alan, here is a new version of Sabina, at it to the rest, fuse them well, hold on to them when you embrace her, hold them all at once in your arm, or else, divided, separated, each image will lead a life of its own, and it will not be one but six, or seven, or eight Sabinas who will walk sometimes in unison, by a great effort of synthesis, sometimes separately, one of them following a deep drumming into the the forests of black hair and luxurious mouths, another visiting Vienna-as-it-was-before-the-war, and still another lying beside an insane young man, and still another opening opening maternal arms to a trembling frightened Donald. Was this the crime  to have sought to marry each Sabina to another mate, to match each one in turn by a different life?

A Spy in the House of Love, Anaïs Nin

In this mirror of a diary, Christopher reveals a few frank glimpses of himself. The rest is posing.

Christopher Isherwood, Christopher Isherwood

Finally he realized that he wanted to describe his life as he had lived it. What inspired him was the commentary he could make on it, not the melodrama he could make out of it. Certainly, he would fictionalize many episodes in order to simplify them and thus reveal their essence; a changeover from fact to fiction often begins with the weeding-out of superfluous details. But he could tell his own lies; he didn’t need a Paul to tell them for him. That would merely put his fiction at a double remove from fact.

Christopher Isherwood, Christopher and his Kind

Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognized I, and there from deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring: because here, this morning, is where it has expected to find itself: what’s called at home.

But now isn’t simply now. Now is also a cold reminder: one whole day later than yesterday, one year later than last year. Every now is labelled with its date, rendering all past nows obsolete, until – later or sooner – perhaps – no, not perhaps – quite certainly: it will come.

Fear tweaks the vagus nerve. A sickish shrinking from what waits, somewhere out there, dead ahead.

But meanwhile the cortex, that grim disciplinarian, has taken its place at the central controls and has been testing them, one after another: the legs stretch, the lower back is arched, the fingers clench and relax. And now, over the entire intercommunication system, is issued the first general order of the day: UP.

A Single Man, Christopher Isherwoood

So I have no peroration or clarion note on which to close. Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens

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