08 March 2008

Reflection of the month


It is alleged that a wicked judge, sentencing a man who had stolen a loaf, replied to his explanation that he had to live, ‘Je n'en vois pas la nécessité.’ More recently, it is alleged that an ex-servant has said that there would be no servant problem if people stopped wanting servants.

Both remarks, if true, demonstrate the psychological verity (which there are, quite independently of these particular remarks, no grounds whatever for doubting) that human beings have no noticeable awareness of one another’s needs. Not, that is to say, any awareness that expresses itself in a tendency to supply those needs. In a certain sense, however, they may be said to have an awareness. If you should ever find yourself hanging from a precipice by your fingertips and a fellow human being happens by, be careful what you say. If he realised your position he might tread on your fingers.

(from the forthcoming book The Corpse and the Kingdom)