Thursday, March 15, 2007

"The susceptibility of mankind to poetic precedents"

There are few motives so dangerous as theatricality and no wildness is so futile as deliberate wildness. Bob conceived it his duty to get wildly drunk and do mad things. He had no authentic craving to do so: he merely objectivized himself as an abused and terrible character, and surrendered to the explicit demands of drama. The motivation of popular fiction in behaviour — the susceptibility of mankind to poetic precedents — are subjects which will one day be treated with the gravity they deserve. In deciding to get wildly drunk and do mad things, Bob believed he was achieving something of vague magnificence and import, redeeming and magnifying himself — cutting a figure before himself and the world. The fact that, in deliberately attempting to get wildly drunk and do mad things, he might actually get wildly drunk, and actually do mad things, completely eluded him.


— from The Midnight Bell, in Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, by Patrick Hamilton.
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