Cat says my world view lacks depth and is merely bitterness. I dispute this. I
feel no bitterness. I see things as they are. Nature is selfish. All creatures
kill to survive. Love is a mechanism to propagate the species. Beauty is a trick
that fades. Friendship is an arrangement for mutual advantage. Goodness is not
rewarded, and evil is not punished. Religion is superstition. Death is
annihilation. And as for God, if he exists at all he stopped caring for
humankind centuries ago. Wouldn't you?
So why leave my room?
My education, such as it was, has ended. I have graduated. I'm supposed to be
excited about his. My late father has put aside some money for me, quite a lot,
a thousand pounds, so that I can have one last great adventure before real life
begins. What kind of sales pitch is that? I mean, real life, bonjour
Appreciate the gesture, but truthfully there's nowhere I want to go and nothing
I want to do.
For as long as I can remember I've been at some kind of school. I don't believe
I learned anything at all. It was like half-listening to the safety
announcement, the kind they give you on planes before take-off. The voice says
this is really important, and to please listen carefully, but you still don't
listen because it's not going to happen, and if it does you're dead anyway.
However I admit now when I look back that the class system gave life a shape.
One year followed the next, and without any decisions having to be made on my
part I moved up from one class to the next, as if I was climbing a giant
staircase. Now here I am at the top, and before me lies what is laughingly
called the real world.
I am in the process of not applying for jobs. I'm thinking of becoming a
journalist, or possibly a film director. It's hard to decide. Journalists meet a
lot of interesting people and get to travel and do their work in short bursts,
which means they don't get bored. Film directors spend years on one project and
have a seriously bad time if it fails but they get to meet attractive young
women and eat location catering. So it's hard to decide.
I'm joking of course. I have a not impressive degree from a not famous college
in a not useful subject which I have already entirely forgotten.
"There are any number of jobs out there you could do," says my father,
looking at me with faux-sprightly eyes. Despite or perhaps because of the fact
that he left us, he knows it's vital that he does nothing to undermine my
self-confidence. If you believe in yourself you can do anything. That's what my
father believes. It's the post-Christian faith that has replaced faith in the
resurrection. Now each of us is supplied with our own personal resurrection. We
get to pump ourselves up out of the tomb.
I don't disagree with this. I just ask: why bother?
Anyway my father points out to me all the great opportunities there are out
there for me, but neglects to name them. I fill in the gaps. I could join a
corporation and sell things I don't want to have myself to people who don't need
them. I could be a teacher and tell things I don't want to know to people who
don't want to hear. I could be a soldier and kill people. That would be alright
if it weren't dangerous.
My friend Mac is going to be an aid worker in Nepal. This is hilarious because
all the aid they need in Nepal is getting out from under all the people like Mac
who've gone there to find meaning in their lives. They've sucked all the
available meaning up and now there's none left for the Nepalese, who have
nothing to do except carry explorers' bags up mountains and sell them drugs. Mac
says he doesn't care, at least he'll see the mountains. I tell him the thing
about a mountain is when you're on it you don't see it. You need to be far away
to see a mountain. Like at home, looking at a postcard. Mac says you stand on
one mountain and look at the next mountain. I say, Then what? Mac says, You're a
real wanker, you know that? Yes, Mac, I'm a real wanker. The genuine article. A
simple pleasure that does no harm to man or beast. Be grateful.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...