June 29, 2015


It was not that one did not want to possess the right qualities or feel the correct emotions, but that one could not. The good and the possible never seemed to coincide. ~~ The schoolmasters with their canes, the millionaires with their Scottish castles, the athletes with their curly hair -- these were the armies of the unalterable law. It was not easy, at that date, to realize that in fact it was alterable. And according to that law I was damned. I had no money, I was weak, I was ugly, I was unpopular. I had a chronic cough, I was cowardly, I smelt. .... 

The conviction that it was not possible for me to be a success went deep enough to influence my actions till far into adult life. .... But this sense of guilt and inevitable failure was balanced by something else: that is, the instinct to survive. Even a creature that is weak, ugly, cowardly, smelly and in no way justifiable still wants to stay alive and happy after its own fashion. I could not invert the existing scale of values, or turn myself into a success, but I could accept my failure and make the best of it. .... To survive, or at least to preserve any kind of independence, was essentially criminal, since it meant breaking rules that you yourself recognized. -- George Orwell in "Such, Such Were the Joys. . . "

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