I would rather have strong enemies than a world of passive individualists. In a world of passive individualists nothing seems worth anything simply because nobody stands for anything. That world has no convictions, no victories, no unions, no heroism, no absolutes, no heartbeat. That world has rigor mortis.
What infinite heart's-easeMust kings neglect, that private men enjoy!And what have kings, that privates have not too, Save ceremony, save general ceremony?And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st moreOf mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?What are thy rents? What are thy comings in?O ceremony, show me but thy worth!What is thy soul of adoration?Art thou aught else but place, degree and form, Creating awe and fear in other men?Wherein thou art less happy being fear'dThan they in fearing. What drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet, But poison'd flattery? O, be sick, great greatness, And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!Think'st thou the fiery fever will go outWith titles blown from adulation?Will it give place to flexure and low bending?Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee, Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream, That play'st so subtly with a king's repose; I am a king that find thee, and I know'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball, The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, The intertissued robe of gold and pearl, The farced title running 'fore the king, The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pompThat beats upon the high shore of this world, No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony, Not all these, laid in bed majestical, Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave, Who with a body fill'd and vacant mindGets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread; Never sees horrid night, the child of hell, But, like a lackey, from the rise to setSweats in the eye of Phoebus and all nightSleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn, Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse, And follows so the ever-running year, With profitable labour, to his grave: And, but for ceremony, such a wretch, Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep, Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king. The slave, a member of the country's peace, Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wotsWhat watch the king keeps to maintain the peace, Whose hours the peasant best advantages.
So he was always in the town at one place or another, drinking, knocking about with the men he knew. It really wearied him. He talked to barmaids, to almost any woman, but there was that dark, strained look in his eyes, as if he were hunting something. Everything seemed so different, so unreal. There seemed no reason why people should go along the street, and houses pile up in the daylight. There seemed no reason why these things should occupy the space, instead of leaving it empty. His friends talked to him: he heard the sounds, and he answered. But why there should be the noise of speech he could not understand.
The Second Koran tells us that the darkness in ourselves is a sinister thing. It waits until we relax, it waits until we reach the most vulnerable moments, and then it snares us. I want to be dutiful. I want to do what I should. But when I go back to the tube, I think of where I am going; to that small house and my empty room. What will I do tonight? Make more paper flowers, more wreaths? I am sick of them. Sick of the Nekropolis.I can take the tube to my mistress' house, or I can go by the street where Mardin's house is. I'm tired. I'm ready to go to my little room and relax. Oh, Holy One, I dread the empty evening. Maybe I should go by the street just to fill up time. I have all this empty time in front of me. Tonight and tomorrow and the week after and the next month and all down through the years as I never marry and become a dried-up woman. Evenings spent folding paper. Days cleaning someone else's house. Free afternoons spent shopping a bit, stopping in tea shops because my feet hurt. That is what lives, aren't they? Attempts to fill our time with activity designed to prevent us from realizing that there no meaning?