In these times

You are a man of leisure, a sleepwalker, a mollusc.  The definitions vary according to the hour of the day, or the day or the week, but the meaning remains clear enough: you do not really feel cut out for living, for doing, for making; you want only to go on, to go on waiting; and to forget.
Such an outlook on life is generally not much appreciated in modern times:  all around you, all your life, you have seen the esteem in which action is held, and grand designs, and enthusiam:  man straining forward, man with his gaze fixed on the horizon, man looking straight ahead.  A clear gaze, a powerful chin, a confident swagger, stomach held in.  Staying power, initiative, strokes of brilliance, success:  all of these things map out the too transparent part of a too examplary existence, constitute the sacrosanct images of the struggle for life.  The white lies, the comforting illusions of all those who are running on the spot, sinking deeper into the mire, the lost illusions of the thousands left on society’s scrap heap, those who arrived too late, those who put their suitcase down on the pavement and sat on it to wipe their brow.  But you no longer need excuses, regrets, nostalgia.  You reject nothing, you refuse nothing. You have ceased going forward, but that is because you weren’t going forward anyway, you’re not setting off again, you have arrived, you can see no reason to go any further” (pages 142-143)

Georges Perec [1967]:  A Man Asleep.  (Translation by Andrew Leak published 1990 in London, UK by The Harvill Press.)

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