Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I turned seventy on New Year's Day...

I turned seventy on New Year's Day 1992, at the age of thirty-five. Always an ominous landmark, the passing of the Biblical span, all the more so in a country where life-expectancy is markedly lower than the Old Testament allows; and in the case of yrs. truly, to whom six months consistently did a full year's damage, the moment had a special, extra piquancy. How easily the human mind 'normalises' the abnormal, with what rapidity the unthinkable becomes not only thinkable but humdrum, not worth thinking about! —Thus my 'condition', once it had been diagnosed as 'incurable', 'inevitable', and many other 'in's' that I can no longer call to mind, speedily became so dull a thing that not even I could bring myself to give it very much thought. The nightmare of my halved life was simply a Fact, and there is nothing to be said of a Fact except that it is so. —For may one negotiate with a Fact, sir? —In no wise! —May one stretch it, shrink it, condemn it, beg its pardon? No; or, it would be folly indeed to seek to do so. —How then are we to approach so intransigent, so absolute an Entity? —Sir, it cares not if you approach it or leave it alone; best, then, to accept it and go your ways. —And do Facts never change? Are old Facts never to be replaced by new ones, like lamps; like shoes and ships and every other blessed thing? —So: if they are, then it shows us only this—that they were never Facts to begin with, but mere Poses, Attitudes, and Shams. The true Fact is not your burning Candle, to subside limply in a stiff pool of wax; nor yet your Electric Bulb, so tender of filament, and short-lived as the Moth that seeks it out. Neither is it made of your common shoe-leather, nor should it spring any leaks. It shines! It walks! It floats! —Yes! —For every and a day.

-- The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), Salman Rushdie



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