The Final Roadside Circle of Picnic Paradise

Everything is now understandable. It’s odious, that I understand…. Better if I understood nothing, better if, upon regaining consciousness, I shrugged my shoulders and climbed out of the bath. Would it have been understandable to Strogoff and Einstein and Petrarch? Imagination is a priceless gift, but it must not be given an inward direction. Only outward, only outward… What a tasty worm some corrupter has dropped from his rod into this stagnant pool! And how accurately timed! Yes indeed, if I were commander of Wells’ Martians, I would not have bothered with fighter tripods, heat rays, and other such nonsense. Illusory existence … no, this is not a narcotic, a narcotic has a long way to go to approach it. In a. way this is exactly appropriate. Here. Now. To each time its own. Poppy seeds and hemp, the kingdom of sweet blurred shadows and peace — for the beggar, the worn-out, the downtrodden… But here no one wants peace, here no one is dying of hunger, here is simply a bore. A well-fed, well-heated, drunken bore. It’s not that the world is bad, it’s just plain dreary. World without prospects, world without promise. But in the end man is not a carp, he still remains a man. Yes, it is no kingdom of shades, it is indeed the real existence, without detraction, without dreary confusion. Slug is moving on the world and the world will not mind subjecting itself to it.






Some strange and very new sensation was slowly filling him. He realized that this sensation wasn’t actually new, that it had long been hiding somewhere inside him, but he only now became aware of it, and everything fell into place. And an idea, which had previously seemed like nonsense, like the insane ravings of a senile old man, turned out to be his sole hope and his sole meaning of life. It was only now that he’d understood—the one thing that he still had left, the one thing that had kept him afloat in recent months, was the hope for a miracle. He, the idiot, the dummy, had been spurning this hope, trampling on it, mocking it, drinking it away—because that’s what he was used to and because his whole life, ever since his childhood, he had never relied on anyone but himself. And ever since his childhood, this self-reliance had always been measured by the amount of money he managed to wrench, wrestle, and wring out of the surrounding indifferent chaos. That’s how it had always been, and that’s how it would have continued, if he hadn’t found himself in a hole from which no amount of money could rescue him, in which self-reliance was utterly pointless. And now this hope—no longer the hope but the certainty of a miracle—was filling him to the brim, and he was already amazed that he’d managed to live in such a bleak, cheerless gloom …

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Norstrilia, the story is simple …




But he didn’t want girls. He wanted postage stamps …

“You may not know it, my darling,” spieked the great bird-man, “but long before these people build cities, there were others in the Earth – the ones who came after the Ancient World fell. They went far beyond the limitations of the human form. They conquered death. They did not have sickness. They did not need love. They sought to be abstractions lying outside of time. And they died, E’lamelanie – they died terribly. Some became monsters, preying on the remnants of true men for reasons which ordinary men could not even begin to understand. Others were like oysters, wrapped up in their own sainthood. They had all forgotten that humanness is itself imperfection and corruption, that what is perfect is no longer understandable. We have the fragments of the Word, and we are truer to the deep traditions of people than people themselves are, but we must never be foolish enough to look for perfection in this life or to count on our own powers to make us really different from what we are. You and I are animals, darling, not even real people, but people do not understand the teaching of Joan, that whatever seems human is human. It is the word which quickens, not the shape or the blood or the texture of flesh or hair or feathers. And there is that power which you and I do not name, but which we love and cherish because we need it more than do the people on the surface. Great beliefs always come out of the sewers of cities, not out of the towers of the ziggurats. Furthermore, we are discarded animals, not used ones. All of us down here are the rubbish which mankind has thrown away and has forgotten. We have a great advantage in this because we know from the very beginning of our lives that we are worthless. And why are we worthless? Because a higher standard and a higher truth says that we are – the conventional law and the unwritten customs of mankind. But I feel love for you, my daughter, and you have love for me. We know that everything which loves has a value in itself, and that therefore this worthlessness of underpeople is wrong. We are forced to look beyond the minute and the hour to the place where no clocks work and no day dawns. There is a world outside of time, and it is to that which we appeal. I know that you have a love for the devotional life, my child, and I commend you for it, but it would be a sorry faith which waited for passing travelers or which believed that a miracle or two could set the nature of things right and whole. The people on the surface think they have gone beyond the old problems, because they do not have buildings which they call churches or temples, and they do not have professional religious men within their communities. But the higher power and the large problems still wait for all men, whether men like it or not. Today, Believing among mankind is a ridiculous hobby, tolerated by the Instrumentality because the Believers are unimportant and weak, but mankind has moments of enormous passion which will come again and in which we will share. So don’t you wait for your hero beyond the stars. If you have a good devotional life within you, it is already here, waiting to be watered by your tears and ploughed up by your hard, clear thoughts. And if you don’t have a devotional life, there are good lives outside.

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Fire, … it’s good to have room for new things

Even in a large city, the streets after a certain advanced hour of night are relatively still. What one hears and sees are apparitions and sounds to which both our eyes and our ears have long since grown accustomed. There are none of the usual sounds. People are at home, sitting around the cozy family table, or else in bars hunkered over their beers and political discussions, or in the concert hall, reverently listening to the pieces of music being performed, or at the theater, following the suspenseful goings-on upon the brightly lit stage, or else they are standing in pairs, or in groups of three or seven on some melancholy street corner, delving into profundities, or else perhaps aimlessly walking in some direction or other. “Hey there, car!” another cries out, and somewhere there might be a poet buried in his isolated room, drunkards wandering in wretched bliss from one still to another, bawling and harassing the passersby; perhaps a horse pulling a hackney cab is collapsing somewhere, a woman fainting, a scoundrel being apprehended by the always vigilant and safety-restoring police force—and suddenly someone shouts: “Fire!” Quite close by, it seems, a fire has broken out. People were just standing around, indecisive and bored, about to accuse the hour of lacking all interest and in any case starting to feel chilled, and suddenly here’s this great novelty being presented, something unexpected to kindle our enthusiasm. Everyone lurches forward and without realizing it has already begun a conversation with whoever happens to be standing alongside, cheeks are glowing, and now people are even starting to leap and run. They’re suddenly doing something they haven’t tried in a good two years. All at once the world appears changed, expanded, thicker, and more tangible.

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Le Système des objets, into the domestic universe


The Modern Object Liberated in Function

The style of furniture changes as the individual’s relationships to family and society change. Corner divans and beds, coffee tables, shelving – a plethora of new elements are now supplanting the traditional range of furniture. The organization of space changes, too, as beds become day-beds and sideboards and wardrobes give way to built-in storage. Things fold and unfold, are concealed, appear only when needed. Naturally such innovations are not due to free experiment: for the most part the greater mobility, flexibility and convenience they afford are the result of an involuntary adaptation to a shortage of space – a case of necessity being the mother of invention. Whereas the old-fashioned dining-room was heavily freighted with moral convention, ‘modern’ interiors, in their ingeniousness, often give the impression of being mere functional expedients. Their ‘absence of style’ is in the first place an absence of room, and maximum functionality is a solution of last resort whose outcome is that the dwelling-place, though remaining closed to the outside, loses its internal organization. Such a restructuring of space and the objects in it, unaccompanied by any reconversion, must in the first instance be considered an impoverishment.

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