Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Plus ça Change (continued)...

From Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls:

But why occupy ourselves so long with Korobochka? Mrs. Korobochka, Mrs. Manilov, the life of management, or of non-management - pass them by! Otherwise - marvelous is the world's makeup - the merry will turn melancholy in a trice, if you stand a long time before it, and then God knows what may enter your head. Perhaps you will even start thinking: come now, does Korobochka indeed stand so low on the endless ladder of human perfection? Is there indeed so great an abyss separating her from her sister, inaccessibly fenced off behind the walls of her aristocratic house with its fragrant cast-iron stairways, shining brass, mahogany and carpets, who yawns over an unfinished book while waiting for a witty society visit, which will give her a field on which to display her sparkling intelligence and pronounce thoughts learned by rote, thoughts which, following the law of fashion, occupy the town for a whole week, thoughts not of what is going on in her house or on her estates, confused and disorderly thanks to her ignorance of management, but of what political upheaval is brewing in France, of what direction fashionable Catholicism has taken. But pass by, pass by! why talk of that? But why, then, in the midst of unthinking, merry, carefree moments does another wondrous stream rush by of itself: the laughter has not yet had time to leave your face completely, yet you are already different among the same people and your face is already lit by a different light...


"thoughts learned by rote, thoughts which, following the law of fashion, occupy the town for a whole week..." Paging Joe Klein, David Brooks, Thomas Friedman, Bill Kristol, Maureen Dowd, etc. etc.

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