Above him lift girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But it's night. He's afraid of the way the glass will fall--soon--it will be a spectacle: the fall of a crystal palace. But coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light only great invisible crashing....Inside the carriage, which is built on several levels, he sits in velveteen darkness, with nothing to smoke, feeling metal nearer and farther rub and connect, steam escaping in puffs, a vibration in the carriage's frame, a poising, an uneasiness, all the others pressed in around, feeble ones, second sheep, all out of luck and time: drunks, old veterans still in shock from ordnance 20 years obsolete, hustlers in city clothes, derelicts, exhausted women with more children than it seems could belong to anyone, stacked about among the rest of the things to be carried out to salvation. Only the nearer faces are visible at all, and at that only as half-silvered images in a view finder, green-stained VIP faces remembered behind bulletproof windows speeding through the city. . . .
(It's easy to forget that while Pynchon has a superhuman talent for prose, an all-encompassing intelligence, and a wicked sense of humour, he writes historical fiction as well as anyone we've got.)
Some nice writing as well from the Rude Pundit, on Tony Blair.
Blair evoked the 'blitz spirit' that bore Londoners through the (literal and figurative) darkness of the Second World War. I remember going to the war museum in London and entering some kind of Blitz 'simulator' or 'experience'; it occurs to me that it was one of the first transfiguring aesthetic experiences I've had, one of the first 'adult' moments of empathy I can recall. I came out crying, as did my mom (sorry Folubay - don't remember your reaction). My father is from Manchester (go you devils) and was born in 1934, and WWII shadows all his childhood memories. Being inside of that little room, in the dark, with only the sounds of human suffering all around and nothing to suggest it would ever stop until the end of the world...I was in a museum display and I was sure I would die.
I don't know how my father survived. I suspect a part of him didn't, though traces of a joyful child resurface at times (talking of the people and rituals dearest to him, for instance).
I'm listening to a sappy love song right now: the swell of gospel voices behind intertwining guitars. The song is 'Tender', by Brit-pop band Blur. Right now, flickering images of last week's London bombings darkening my vision, I think it is the saddest song I have ever heard.
Tender is the night
Lying by your side
Tender is the touch
Of someone that you love too much
Tender is the day
The demons go away
Lord I need to find
Someone who can heal my mind
Come on come on come on, get through it
Love's the greatest thing that we have
(I'm waiting for that feeling to come)
Oh my baby
The British seem to have a way with a certain emotion that the American shared psyche never quite comes to grips with. (See The Office for a healthy dose of what I can't seem to name.) They've been at it a while, of course. The following lyric is not, in case there was a question, by Blur, and perhaps this is only my idiosyncrasy talking, but to me the feeling, if only for a moment, the same:
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms.
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Some places are sacred and shouldn't be profaned with mundane affairs of work and politicking. And of some places - like this office - precisely the opposite is true.