Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

By Muriel Spark

In past due Fifties London, whatever uncanny besets a gaggle of aged buddies: an insinuating voice at the cellphone reminds every one: Remember you want to die. Their geriatric feathers are quickly completely ruffled, and plenty of an previous unsavory secret's dusted off.

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And we, in the Seventies, were frequently ridiculous, too, with our Fallacies and our Seven Types (and Leavis's besieged intensity was ridiculous. H. Lawrence). Emotional egalitarianism, for example, looks hard to attack. I honour it, in a way, but it has to me the pale glow of illusion. It is Utopian, which is to say that reality cannot be expected to support it. Then, too, these 'feelings' are seldom unadulterated; they are admixtures of herd opinions and social anxieties, vanities, touchinesses, and everything else that makes up a self.

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Even on cloudy days something of their radiant energy comes through. Yes, but the moon has no energy, and doesn't radiate; the Queen merely reflects the heavenly power of the King. Not that Bly is at all forgetful of women's interests. He wants to establish, or re-establish, a world where men are so great that women like being lorded over: We know that for hundreds of thousands of years men have admired each other, and been admired by women, in particular for their activity. Men and women alike once called on men to pierce the dangerous places, carry handfuls of courage to the waterfalls, dust the tails of the wild boars.

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