Wednesday 30 March 2011

Something Almost Being Said

Over on the excellent First Known When Lost, Steve Pentz quotes Solar as a demonstration that Philip Larkin was not 'the dour personage of caricature'. Indeed not, though he could adopt the dour persona with wonderful conviction. Solar sent me back to High Windows - which I opened at this well known short poem, which I pass on simply because it is so beautifully made and, as it happens, so perfectly fits the season. It seems also, I suppose, almost hopeful...

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Keats and Dashes

It's good news that this touching letter is to go on display where it belongs. Unless there's a dramatic discovery, that will be it - the last Keats letter to appear on the market. They are of course beyond price, in whatever form, but to see the actual sheets of paper on which Keats wrote adds an extra dimension and enlivens them with yet more vitality.
The letters have been my bedtime reading in recent weeks, and with all of them (except the most formal) you feel the physical act of writing (as well as the quicksilver mental activity) coming through with quite extraordinary force. Partly it is the punctuation - especially that liberal scattering of dashes, then and now the best punctuation for spontaneous writing. I wonder if this is itself a product of writing with a dip pen - the dashes marking the points at which the pen must be dipped. Certainly the use of dashes - which was also standard in printed fiction - seems to have died down with the coming of the fountain pen. Is this a theory? Does it hold water? Or even ink?

Is Is Is

I've remarked before on the mysterious phenomenon of the Double Is. Since I wrote that a year ago, this strange usage has spread - and on this morning's Today programme, Justin Webb took it to the next level. He achieved a Triple Is in a 'question' that began thus: 'The question is is - is it possible that...?'My ears are now cocked for the inevitable Quadruple Is...

Tuesday 29 March 2011


This is quite the most desperate piece of journalism - nay, photojournalism - I have seen in a long time. Enjoy! And remember, keep scrolling - it gets (even) better...

Monday 28 March 2011


The pianist Rudolf Serkin was born on this day in 1903. He's always had a special place in my affections because it was through his recording - on a 12-inch vinyl, picked up cheap in a record shop (remember them?) - that I first came to know and love Schubert's great B-flat Sonata. Here he is in a rare bit of concert footage, bringing it to a triumphant - not to say breath-taking - close.

Friday 25 March 2011

First London butterflies

Today's excitement - my first London butterflies of the year! A Peacock basking on a warm stone finial in Holland Park, from which prized spot it saw off a presumptuous Small White. This seems early for a Small White (one of the three species carelessly conflated by some into the mythical Cabbage White), but apparently the first was spotted a couple of weeks ago in Berkshire.

Portis Again

Having enjoyed and admired Masters of Atlantis so much, I've been reading another of Charles Portis's novels - The Dog Of The South. This is the story of one Ray Midge, who takes off on a long and eventful car journey in quest of his blue Ford Torino, his credit cards and his wife, who has absconded, taking all of these, with his friend and her ex-husband, Guy Dupree. In the end, this journey takes Ray, in a seriously unroadworthy car, all the way from Little Rock to Belize, via Mexico. Most of the comedy is in the strange ventures that Midge's delusions and compulsions lead him into, and in the amazing collection of oddballs he meets along the way. Among these is a true giant among comic characters, Dr Reo Symes, failed quack and inspired conman and fabulist. Overall I didn't laugh as continually or as helplessly over The Dog of the South as I did over Masters of Atlantis, but whenever Dr Reo Symes was centre stage I was laughing. Among Symes's strange convictions is that one John Selmer Dix was the greatest man who ever lived, and that his self-help manual for salesmen, With Wings As Eagles, 'puts William Shakespeare in the shithouse'. Here is Symes in full flow, recalling a compadre:
'I helped Rod every way I knew how. We were just like David and Jonathan. When he was trying to get his patent, I took him up to Long Beach and introduced him to a good lawyer name of Welch. Rod had an interest in a denture factory in Tijuana and he was trying to get a US patent on their El Tigre model. They were wonderful teeth. They had two extra canines and two extra incisors of tungsten steel. Slap a set of those Tiger plates in your mouth and you can throw your oatmeal out the window. You could shred an elk steak with those boogers. Did I say Everett Welch? I meant Billy. Billy is the lawyer. He's the young one. I had known his father, Everett, you see... He was a great big fine-looking man. He later went to Nevada and became minister of music at the Las Vegas Church of God, introduced tight harmony to those saps out there. He sold water to Jews. Jews are smart but you can put water in a bottle and they'll buy it... He's the only man I ever knew who saw Dix in the flesh. He met him once in the public libarary in Odessa, Texas. Listen to this. Dix was sitting at a table reading a newspaper on a stick and Welch recognised him from a magazine picture. It was right after that big article on Dix, right around the time of that famous June 1952 issue of Motel Life with the big spread on Dix, pictures of his trunk and his slippers and his mechanical pencil and some of his favourite motel rooms. The whole issue was devoted to Dix. There was a wide red band across the cover that said, 'John Selmer Dix: Genius or Madman?' I didn't have enough sense to stash away a copy of that magazine. I could name my own price for it today...'
And so on, and gloriously on. I don't think I've ever come across such tumultuously inventive comic monologue outside the pages of Dickens. Dr Reo Symes alone makes The Dog of the South a very fine and funny comic novel.

Thursday 24 March 2011

First Fritillary

A moment of beauty in an excessively busy, and gloriously sunny, day - in Kensington Gardens the first fritillaries are in flower, white ones. I'm sure I've written before about my love for fritillaries - and the butterflies of the same name fly through this blog in numbers every summer - but it is still one of the great joys of this time of year to see the first in flower. And the snakeshead fritillaries are very nearly open too... Now, back to work.

Tuesday 22 March 2011


Overlooking the station where, most mornings, I board the train to work is a large builders' merchants and tool hire business. It now displays a notice that proudly proclaims 'Serious about Tool Hire'. This is good to know. Don't you just hate it when you go to hire some tools and you can just tell these guys aren't serious about it? To them it's just a joke, the tool hire lark, a frivolous sideline at best, a divertissement. They care not a jot whether those tools get hired. Why, it's all they can do to keep their faces straight when the subject of tool hire is raised. In future, when I have tool hire needs, I shall shun such lightweights and scapegraces and head straight for the company that is Serious about Tool Hire. That's my kind of tool hire. Serious.

Monday 21 March 2011


The great photographer Felix Nadar died on this day in 1910, just short of his 90th birthday. The image above is his famous portrait of the troubled (to put it mildly) poet Gerard de Nerval, taken shortly before his death. Surely it is one of the most revealing, vivid and haunting portrait photographs of a writer. Richard Holmes, as he recalls in Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer, was obsessed with it, as he was with Nerval himself, a subject who nearly drove Holmes himself mad as, struggling to write his biography, he fell into dangerous levels of self-identification with his subject. Eventually Holmes abandoned the projected book, but he did write a brilliant radio documentary/drama, all in de Nerval's words, called Inside the Tower.
Recalling his excursion into radio, Holmes writes:
'The discovery of radio, as a vehicle for biographical story-telling, moving effortlessly inside and outside its characters’ minds, shifting with magical ease between different times and locations, was a revelation and an inspiration to me.'
Hear hear. Holmes has since returned to radio at intervals, most recently with A Cloud in a Paper Bag, a piece exploring the ballooning mania of the 18th century - subject of a dazzling chapter in his The Age of Wonder, which I am still reading, one illuminating chapter at a time. I have just reached Humphry Davy...

Sunday 20 March 2011

A Twister in the Tale

Yesterday I had a (too short) walk on the downs, in that glorious sharp early spring sunlight the PreRaphaelites loved - well, who wouldn't? Another half a dozen brimstones, since you ask, but no other early fliers. However, I saw my first primrose of the year, and drifts of lesser celandine (Wordsworth's favourite, the little yellow flower about which he wrote three rather bad poems) and speedwell. Dozens of small dark solitary bees were at work on the speedwell, darting busily from flower to flower... I was walking back towards the station when, at a distance of about two rods - as Thoreau would put it - I saw two or three small brown shapes flutter up from the grass into the air, exactly like butterflies (think speckled wood). I knew, after one excited instant, that they were no such thing - they were dry leaves from last autumn. And very soon there were more and more of them swirling and spiralling upwards, though it was a still day with little wind. Clearly some kind of vortex - formed perhaps by the unusually warm air - had formed, and a kind of mini-twister was carrying dozens, if not hundreds of dry leaves (and the odd bit of litter which, being heavier, soon fell back to earth) up and away, higher and higher till they were out of sight. It was all over in a minute, but it had been a rather wonderful surprise, a kind of autumn in reverse.

Wednesday 16 March 2011

A Tale of Formal Neckwear

I just stumbled upon this and laughed immoderately, so I pass it on simply as a contribution to the gaiety of the nation:

'Around the time that Chapman was becoming disillusioned with his friend Keats’s flock of dotterels, acquired for seven and six from a man in the Dandelion Market and put out to roost in their back garden, the birds redeemed themselves by showing an unexpected talent as gentlemen’s outfitters. Picking up the large quantities of thread and fabric that Keats liked to keep lying around the place in the garden, God only knows why, the birds would get to work and several hours later would have produced a dazzling array of formal neckwear. The products of their labours, it must be said, were not in the best of taste. The colour schemes were gaudy and the patterns in the ‘novelty’ genre beloved of salesmen on their way to office Christmas parties and other such occasions. Yet the public went wild for their designs, especially a garish green number known as the ‘Happy Leprechaun’. Why, even Eamon de Valera was spotted wearing one. Sitting in their kitchen one day, our heroes discussed these changes in gentlemen’s fashions. ‘All is changed, changed dotterelly’, observed Keats. ‘A terrible bow-tie is born’, agreed Chapman.'

(It is of course one of the Keats and Chapman tales of the great Flann O'Brien. They are all along these lines. Oddly this form - or something like it, but a whole lot less funny - was pioneered by the French proto-surrealist and nutter Raymond Roussel, and enjoyed another lease of life as a regular round in the long-running radio word game My Word.)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

The Strange Afterlife of a Minor Poet

Born on this day in 1867 was Lionel Pigot Johnson, archetypal minor poet of the English Decadence (along with Ernest Dowson, who at least contributed two film titles, 'days of wine and roses' and 'gone with the wind', to posterity). Tormented homosexual, convert to the Church of Rome, physically frail, a short-lived alcoholic (who according to one account died after a fall from a bar stool) - poor Johnson had it all. His entry in the Catholic Encyclopaedia is a wonderful exercise in making the best of the material. (Note the beautifully placed 'He never married'.) Johnson's 'singularly ripe' study of Hardy sounds intriguing, as does his insistence on praying for his friends, 'absent or present'. His lyrics 'perhaps have in them something taxing' - well, indeed. Here is the most famous of them, and there are no prizes for spotting the subtext...

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust
To rid the world of penitence:
Malicious Angel, who still dost
My soul such subtile violence!

Because of thee, no thought, no thing,
Abides for me undesecrate:
Dark Angel, ever on the wing,
Who never reachest me too late!

When music sounds, then changest thou
Its silvery to a sultry fire:
Nor will thine envious heart allow
Delight untortured by desire.

Through thee, the gracious Muses turn,
To Furies, O mine Enemy!
And all the things of beauty burn
With flames of evil ecstasy.

Because of thee, the land of dreams
Becomes a gathering place of fears:
Until tormented slumber seems
One vehemence of useless tears.

When sunlight glows upon the flowers,
Or ripples down the dancing sea:
Thou, with thy troop of passionate powers,
Beleaguerest, bewilderest, me.

Within the breath of autumn woods,
Within the winter silences:
Thy venomous spirit stirs and broods,
O Master of impieties!

The ardour of red flame is thine,
And thine the steely soul of ice:
Thou poisonest the fair design
Of nature, with unfair device.

Apples of ashes, golden bright;
Waters of bitterness, how sweet!
O banquet of a foul delight,
Prepared by thee, dark Paraclete!

Thou art the whisper in the gloom,
The hinting tone, the haunting laugh:
Thou art the adorner of my tomb,
The minstrel of mine epitaph.

I fight thee, in the Holy Name!
Yet, what thou dost, is what God saith:
Tempter! should I escape thy flame,
Thou wilt have helped my soul from Death:

The second Death, that never dies,
That cannot die, when time is dead:
Live Death, wherein the lost soul cries,
Eternally uncomforted.

Dark Angel, with thine aching lust!
Of two defeats, of two despairs:
Less dread, a change to drifting dust,
Than thine eternity of cares.

Do what thou wilt, thou shalt not so,
Dark Angel! triumph over me:
Lonely, unto the Lone I go;
Divine, to the Divinity.

Poor Johnson. The ultimate indignity is that he lives on in the curious world of computer gaming. The poem quoted, The Dark Angel, was one of the inspirations for the Dark Angels chapter of the Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe. I learn from Wikipedia that 'The Dark Angels' combat doctrine is centred around a tactically versatile force favouring the use of heavy plasma-based weapons'. Their Primarch is called Lion El'Johnson. Oh dear.

Monday 14 March 2011

White Squirrel, Black Heart

Yesterday, while walking in a local park, I saw a white squirrel. When I say white squirrel, I mean an albino Grey Squirrel, and when I say Grey Squirrel, I mean grey bushy-tailed tree rat. Very cute and pretty it was to outward appearance, but of course it cut no ice with me. What it did was transport me back to my schooldays, a couple of years of which were passed in a converted manor house in that very park. In those days there was quite a substantial colony of white squirrels in the park. There was some debate over whether they were true albinos or some other kind of sport - certainly some of them had dark, not pink eyes. I remember sitting in a classroom that overlooked a corner of the park, relieving the tedium of the school day by staring out of the window at the squirrels - as often as not white ones. (Much to the annoyance of the teachers, while I was to all appearances far gone in reverie, I was actually taking in every word that was being said and could repeat it back at them verbatim.) The white squirrel population declined in later years, and it's been a long while since I saw one at all, but they are still at large in the county. It is, it seems, a Surrey thing.

Sunday 13 March 2011


Somehow, I had always visualised Dr Johnson's favourite cat, Hodge, as a big lump of contented tabby. So I was surprised to learn that this famous cat was black, like my indestructible Scruffy.
The cat-averse Boswell doesn't bother to describe Hodge, and clearly finds his hero's fondness for a cat rather infra dig...
'I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson's breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, 'Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;' and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, 'but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.'
No mention of colour there, but Hodge, having become famous in his lifetime, was mentioned in various memoirs of Johnson and even celebrated in verse. When Hodge died, Johnson's neighbour Percival Stockdale wrote An Elegy On The Death Of Dr Johnson's Favourite Cat -
'Who, by his master when caressed,
Warmly his gratitude expressed,
And never failed his thanks to purr,
Whene'er he stroked his sable fur...'
'Sable fur' - so there you have it: Hodge was a black cat.
Hodge has had the rare good fortune of being twice immortalised in literature (not including Stockdale's effort) - once in Boswell's great Life, and once in the epigraph to Nabokov's Pale Fire:
'This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. 'Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.' And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, 'But Hodge shan't be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.'
And Scruff shall not be shot.

Saturday 12 March 2011

At Last!

There should be a picture with this post - and very beautiful it would be - but I'm having trouble downloading images onto the blog (or is it uploading? I wish I understood all this stuff). Anyway, this was the day when - at last! - I saw my first butterfly, in fact my first butterflies, of the year. The sun was out this morning, with a springlike warmth in the air, and I was out of the house as soon as I could manage - and my first butterfly was waiting to swoop down and greet me just along the road. Indeed it drifted down almost vertically, like a falling yellow leaf - a Brimstone, of course! - took a brisk circuit of a little dandelion patch of a front garden (more, shriller yellow), flew off strongly over the passing traffic and was gone, leaving me with a gladdened heart and no doubt a daft grin on my face. I was actually on my way to the station to take the train to Ashtead, where in the course of an hour or so walking on the common I saw half a dozen more Brimstones - and, basking in the early spring sun, a fresh and beautiful Peacock. The butterfly year has begun!

Friday 11 March 2011

A Warbler

The end of a more than usually hellacious working week at NigeCorp - but this morning's walk to the station was enlivened by what I'm pretty darned sure was a Willow Warbler. Sitting on a branch it was, not far above my head, warbling lustily - the song has a distinctive dying fall, as if it's run out of inspiration - with its beak wide open and its tail jerking up and down, automaton-wise, with the effort. A heart-lifting surprise, and a cheering sign that summer is on its way. And there is more blossom every day, and the first magnolias just coming into flower...

Thursday 10 March 2011

A Cat:: Update

It's never wise to write a cat's obituary. Sure enough, Scruffy has turned up! Someone found her and took her in to the vet, where she is 'under observation' while they adjust her meds - clearly she's been having a lot of fits. A joyous reunion will with luck be happening soon, assuming she's OK...
Scruffy, if you're reading this - I'd just like to make it clear that that's your lot. No more obits!

Tuesday 8 March 2011

The Birds of the Air

Having kickstarted the Alice Thomas Ellis revival on The Dabbler - to dramatic effect, hem hem - I've been rereading one of her more enduring titles (i.e. it's still in print, in a nice little Bloomsbury Classics edition), The Birds of the Air. I last read it around the time it came out, in 1980, so my memories were very vague. It's a dark comedy, built around a family Christmas, and it was written in the shadow of the accidental death of the author's teenage son, Joshua. The book is dedicated to him with this beautiful epigraph:
'All his beauty, wit and grace
Lie for ever in one place.
He who sang and sprang and moved
Now, in death, is only loved.'
For all the grief, though, the book is often brilliantly funny. A high point is a wonderfully excruciating, deftly engineered account of an academics' party near the beginning, in the course of which Barbara, sister of the bereaved Mary, discovers that her ghastly husband Sebastian is having an affair (Seb is a philosopher, whose 'insistence on ordinary language and absolute clarity of expression rendered his discourse entirely unintelligible to the ordinary person'). Barbara's clumsy attempts at getting her revenge on him form one of the multiple strands of the climactic family Christmas, at which the family and various others, all more or less unwelcome, assemble in Mary and Barbara's anxious mother's too small house.
There were times when I could have done with rather less of Mary's bitter observations on the passing scene - but they are probably only too accurate a representation of the author's grief-stricken state of mind. And there is no doubting the depth of Mary's grief, the dark burden of the tale. Here is Mrs Marsh, the mother, fussing helplessly over her grieving daughter:
'If, regularly, nice little meals were brought for her straying daughter, Mary wouldn't be able to leave. When would she find the time if tea was ready, or her milk drink with the skin skimmed off? Mary wasn't really ill-mannered. Mrs Marsh planned ever-widening palisades of breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, to contain her child.
Mary was quite sorry for her. It seemed hard that mothers should be the means of letting into the trap that was life those creatures they loved best in the world. For despite their designation the entrance was not entrancing, nor the exit exciting. And the space between held more of bitterness than was promised with the salt, the balm, the joyous clear water and the white cloth of baptism.'
Having begun beautifully, The Birds of the Air ends beautifully too, with the snow falling, just as it does at the end of James Joyce's The Dead, and to almost as moving an effect.


Monday 7 March 2011

A Cat

Our cat has gone missing - by now, sadly, missing presumed dead. I put her out last Wednesday night and later she wasn't on her usual perch, on the sill of the little octagonal kitchen window clamouring to be let back in. Nothing to be anxious about in that, nor even in her absence the following morning when I got up. But as the day went on, and then the next and the next, it became increasingly worrying, and then more or less hopeless - she is epileptic and needs her medication twice a day...

Scruffy - a name initially apt but quite inappropriate for the sleek svelte creature she became - was a small black cat with a ludicrously long tail. She made her first appearance in our lives 10 or 11 years ago, yowling piteously from the side return of our then house. How she got there we never knew, but she was clearly hungry, distressed and very frightened of all human contact. After a while desperation drove her to take food from us, but she was still extremely wary, and remained very highly strung long after we took her in, taking fright at the slightest thing and dashing away to her hiding places. The vet reckoned she was already three or four years old, and had clearly been someone's pet, before presumably being abandoned.

When, a few years later, we moved house to our present home, this proved altogether too traumatic an upheaval for Scruffy, who took off for several days, before being spotted, bedraggled and forlorn, hanging around the old house. My son and I managed to cajole her into a carrying box and took her, yowling and protesting, to her new home, where she spent the next few days mostly cowering in the cupboard under the stairs. However, as she got to know the new house, she became at last a much more relaxed cat. With a smaller garden to patrol, no enemies among the local cats, and a house full of cosy nooks and corners, she began to give every appearance of contentment - and to be much more relaxing company. She was also good comedy value, with her strange outbursts of kittenish skittering and her way of mistiming a jump onto a chair arm or a lap and being left dangling by one paw - she never quite mastered the art of retracting her claws. She and I would have many fine conversations, though admittedly I supplied all the words...

And now she has gone, and how we miss her... Every time I walk into the kitchen, I instinctively glance towards that octagonal window, still half expecting to see her familiar shape. I think I hear her plaintive miaow or the faint tinkle of her bell or the soft thud as she jumps down from basking on a warm radiator shelf. Or I fancy I glimpse her just on the edge of sight. In the morning she is no longer there waiting at the top of the stairs when I get up, stretching herself for a good long head-to-tail stroke from me, before skittering down the stairs ahead, with breakfast on her mind. The other evening, coming up the road, I thought I saw her profile at a lit window where she used to sit - but no, it was the outline of a bush outside; she was not there, she is not here. Having come from who knows where into our lives, she has disappeared who knows where. Nobody in the neighbourhood has seen a trace of her, and there are no clues - but she cannot have survived this long without her medication. We can only hope it was a quick and peaceful end.

Friday 4 March 2011

Over at The Dabbler...

... I contemplate the Mond Crucifixion - a lovely, almost pre-Raphaelite Raphael. And while you're over there, don't miss the Bath Ales offer - I can vouch for them being very fine ales indeed.

Wednesday 2 March 2011

The Death of Eric Blore...

... which took place on this day in 1959, was no ordinary death.
Blore - in case the name doesn't ring a bell - was a fine English comic actor who enlivened many a Fred and Ginger movie with his knowing, faintly camp, slightly caddish butler act (his last words in the role were 'If I were not such a gentleman's gentleman, I could be such a cad's cad'). Here he is in action.
In 1959, the critic Kenneth Tynan, writing in The New Yorker, made a mistaken reference to 'the late Eric Blore', which somehow got past the army of fact checkers and made it into print. Infuriated, Blore demanded through his lawyers that the magazine print a retraction - the first in the history of the New Yorker - and a disgraced Tynan duly wrote a grovelling and abject retraction, to appear prominently in the next issue. Then, with the edition printed and ready for delivery, Blore - ever the master of comic timing - fell down dead in Hollywood with a heart attack. The retraction was pulled, to be replaced with a discreet down-page apology, and, wonderfully, the egg never reached the face of the august New Yorker.

Tuesday 1 March 2011


Fine guesses all, but as Worm came so close to the bullseye with his first shot, I'd best give the answer without further ado... The philosopher in question was Chuck Lorre, co-creator of the highly addictive sitcom Two And A Half Men, starring Charlie Sheen as a considerably toned-down Charlie Sheen. Lorre was writing in response to Sheen's latest career-crashing meltdown, which included much abuse of Lorre, among others, and led to the show's cancellation. Students of these matters will note that Lorre's musings are a conscious pastiche of Sheen's stream-of-consciousness style. The passage quoted was displayed on-screen at the end of the most recent episode of Lorre's latest creation Mike And Molly. Lorre lowered the tone somewhat by signing off with 'Screw Grace, I am so outta here! Questions?'

Brain Teaser

Who am I quoting here?

'I believe that consciousness creates the illusion of individuation, the false feeling of being separate. In other words, I am aware, ergo I am alone. I further believe that this existential misunderstanding is the prime motivating force for the neurotic compulsion to blot out consciousness. This explains the paradox of our culture, which celebrates the ego while simultaneously promoting its evisceration with drugs and alcohol. It also clarifies our deep-seated fear of monolithic, one-minded systems like communism, religious fundamentalism, zombies and invaders from Mars. Each one is a dark echo of an oceanic state of unifying transcendence from which consciousness must, by nature, flee. The Fall from Grace is, in fact, a Sprint from Grace...'

Any guesses? I shall return shortly to reveal the somewhat surprising answer.