1 The constraints: 1) No more than
one hour. 2) No more than 20 lines.
The result ? Genius or Not.

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26 March 2011

By Anthony Banks | 2011 March 26

I want to take control of things. At the moment I feel like I'm too easily put off-kilter. Stress at work, being waken in the night by Arthur, late nights drinking, any kind of travel… there are too many factors that lead to disequilibrium. By this I mean thoughts and actions that differ from the way I believe, philosophically, I should not think or do.  

I would like to free my body of all toxins, to begin. I rely too much on caffeine and alcohol, craving the one as soon as a wake and the other as soon as I leave the office, or at the weekend as soon as I finish putting Arthur to bed. I indulge in these substances in spite of what I know to be true: I am far too sensitive too both. And yet, and yet… when I  need a burst of inspiration at work I turn to the expresso machine – and it never fails to deliver. This is what interests me: everyday hypocrisy – the man who has self-knowledge but denies or ignores it.  

Reading Isherwood's diaries. This from May 1939: "Gerald [Heard] regarded the search for reality as an ordered process with definite stages. In this, he was following the Christian mysteries […] The first stage is Purgation. The mind has to be polished, as it were, like a lens – through constant practice of meditation and renunciation. The ego, in Gerald's words, has to be 'reduced' from its 'strangulated' condition, and systematically from – Gerald used to tick them off on his long fingers – addictions, possessions and pretentions. Addictions (which included also aversions – anything from chain smoking to anti-Semitism) were according to him the least harmful of the three. Pretentions were the worst, because, when you are free of all sensual attachments and all your household belongings, when you have forgiven all your enemies and said goodbye to all your loves, when you have resigned from all your positions of honour and ceased to use your titles of nobility, then, and only then, you may fall victim to the spiritual pride which will destroy you. After Purgation comes Liberation – a condition of near-Sainthood, in which the mind is free to continue its search dispassionately without the obstacles of fear or desire. And Liberation ends with the accomplishment of this search, in Union with absolute reality."  

I desire Purgation; at least it is a fantasy I entertain. Yet if I were to renounce all the things I ought to I would seem even more anti-social than I do already. And as for Liberation, well, family life is the very antithesis of this (here's the evidence: saints don't have families).  

Incidentally, the flowers on the table are mimosas. It is the first time we have had them. It will be spring soon and there were be a great deal of mimosas blooming in the parks and squares of Paris. When their scent mingles with the city's odours there is nothing headier. But the sweet, musty smell of these cut ones (where from? A hothouse in Holland, I imagine) seems almost artificial. Oh, and in the top floor apartment of the building across the street I can see a man through the window. I watch his enigmatic movements for a while, realise he is just folding laundry, then lose interest.

Copying, Christopher Isherwood, Hypocrisy

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