Friday, March 03, 2006

Discoveries of the week: 1. An egg

I have just finished reading John Banville's 'The Sea.' Although this won the Man Booker Prize in 2005, it did not receive universal critical acclaim. John Banville is considered to be a 'difficult' writer by those who find his complex plots and use of symbolism and allusion hard to follow. On the other hand, lovers of language are entranced by his lyrical prose.

As one of the latter, I found the prose breathtakingly beautiful. I loved the many digressions, which led to many more of my own. What bliss to spend thirty minutes on a single paragraph. What do plot and character matter when one can have language at its most glorious?

One of the gems of the book:

A thing that always struck me was the contrast between nest and egg. I mean the contingency of the former, no matter how well or even beautifully it was fashioned, and the latter's completedness, its pristine fulness. Before it is a beginning an egg is an absolute end. It is the very definition of self-containment.

2. A syndrome

Growing up, I was told not to show off or to take too much pride in personal achievement. Boasting was one of the worst offences at home and in school. The result for many of my generation is said to be a lack of self-confidence, or even of self-worth. We may do a good job or give a very well-received public presentation but find accepting praise or any kind of accolade excruciatingly embarrassing.

Well, now we can relax! Its a SYNDROME! Feeling a bit of a fraud? Maybe not up to the job? Waiting to be asked that unanswerable question or 'found out' in some way? We are suffering from 'imposter syndrome.' It's official. What a relief!

3. Recycling

I went into the local organic shop the other day. The shop assistant, a young woman in her late twenties, offered me a plastic carrier bag. I declined and started to put the purchases into my ancient, much used shopping basket. "Oh, you have your own bag!" said the amazed assistant. "What a good idea. You could even use it again."


  1. I was worried that I must be abnormal because I didn't have any syndromes.

    Fortunately it turned out that I have the very rare Syndrome-Absentia Syndrome (a lack of syndromes syndrome), so I'm ok now.

  2. Welcome to the 21st century, Brit. We all gotta have a syndrome!


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