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Tag Archives: At Last

“He was after all not an infant, but a man experiencing the chaos of infancy welling up in his conscious mind. As the compassion expanded he saw himself on equal terms with his supposed persecutors, saw his parents, who appeared to be the cause of his suffering, as unhappy children with parents who appeared to be the cause of their suffering: there was no one to blame and everyone to help, and those who appeared to deserve the most blame needed the most help.

He noticed how his tears cooled as they ran down his cheeks. Washed eyes and a tired and empty feeling. Was that what people meant by peaceful? There must be more to it than that, but he didn’t claim to be an expert. He suddenly wanted to see his children, real children, not the ghosts of their ancestors’ childhoods, real children with a reasonable chance of enjoying their lives. He picked up the phone and dialled Mary’s number. He was going to change his mind. After all, that’s what Thomas said it was for.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

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“Without speech, thoughts plough on like a train without tracks, buckling, crashing ripping everything apart. Without a regiment of words, the barbarians, the burning roofs, the horses’ hooves beating down on fragile skulls. He was not himself any more; he was under the hooves. He could not be helpless; he could not be humiliated; it was too late to become somebody he didn’t know – the intimate horror of it.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

“The people who tell us to ‘get over it’ and ‘get on with it’ are the least able to have teh direct experience that they berate navel-gazers for avoiding. The ‘it’ they’re ‘getting on with’ is a ghostly re-enactment of unreflecting habits. Not thinking about something is the surest way to remain under its influence.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

” ‘I can’t help thinking how much your father would have enjoyed this occasion. Whatever his drawbacks as a parent, you must admit that he never lost his sense of humour.’

‘Easy not to lose what you never had.’

‘Oh I disagree. He saw the funny side of everything.’

‘He only saw the funny side of things that didn’t have one. That’s not a sense of humour, just a form of cruelty.’ ”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

“Patrick lazily retracted his murderous desire to get rid of Nicholas. Death was the kind of boisterous egomaniac that needed no encouragement.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

“The subject of consciousness, in order to enter the realm of science, must become the object of consciousness, and that is precisely what it cannot do, for the eye cannot perceive itself, cannot vault from its socket fast enough to glimpse the lens. The langauge of experience and the language of experiment hang like oil and water in the same test tube, never mingling except from the violence of philosophy.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

” ‘All the lovely things, all the lovely houses,’ said Nancy, ‘where have they all gone?’

‘Presumably the houses are where they’ve always been,’ said Nicholas, ‘but they’re being lived in by people who can afford them.’

‘But that’s just it, I should be able to afford them!’

‘Never use a conditional tense when it comes to money.’ ”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last

“She had been left with the steepest practice of all: no speech, no movement, no sex, no drugs, no travel, no spending, hardly any food; just alone in silent contemplation of her thoughts. If contemplation was the word. Perhaps she felt that her toughts were contemplating her, like hungry predators.”

– Edward St Aubyn, At Last