I had a publishing deal. That was the dream. Or almost. It was a dream, but it wasn’t quite a deal. It was a letter from an agent who had expressed interest in the past and had replied again. That was something. And then I blew it. I complained to her about my years in publishing hinterland – or Neverland – never having published a thing. I searched through my old titles. I couldn’t even remember what they might be about. But they did intrigue. I only needed them in print, with well designed covers and just the right font. And so I had a short series run, gave copies to my family and friends, and told one about complaining to this agent who had interest, but he was on the phone, or there was an event, and he forgot to even take the book when he left. That was the dream. Not publishing anything, just writing, like now, this.
What one must aim for in the struggle to control the desires was the condition of “ethical virility” according to the model of “social virility”. In the use of male pleasures, one had to be virile with regard to oneself, just as one was masculine in one’s social role. In the full meaning of the world, moderation was a man’s virtue.To be immoderate was to be in a state of nonresistance with regard to the force of pleasures, and in a position of weakness and submission. In this sense, the man of pleasures and desires, the man of non-mastery (akrasia) or self-indulgence (akolasia) was a man who could be called feminine.*
He had been born and brought up entirely within what had once been known as the Arctic Circle – now a sub-tropical zone with an annual mean temperature of 85 degrees – and had come southward only on joining on of the ecological surveys in his early 30’s.The vast swamps and jungles had been a fabulous laboratory, the submerged cities little more than elaborate pedestals. Apart from a few older men such as Bodkin, there was no one who remembered living in them -and even during Bodkin’s childhood, the cities had been beleaguered citadels hemmed in by enormous dykes and disintegrated by panic and despair, reluctant Venices to their marriage with the sea.
Their charm and beauty lay precisely in their emptiness, in the orange junction of two extremes of nature, like a discarded crown overgrown by wild orchids.
The front door of the hollow tree faced eastwards, so Toad was called at an early hour; partly by the bright sunlight streaming in on him, partly by the exceeding coldness of his toes, which made him dream that he was at home in bed in his own handsome room with the Tudor window, on a cold winter’s night, and his bedclothes had got up, grumbling and protesting they couldn’t stand the cold any longer, and had run downstairs to the kitchen fire to warm themselves; and he had followed, on bare feet, along miles and miles of icy stone-paved passages, arguing and beseeching them to be reasonable. He would probably have been aroused much earlier, had he not slept for
some weeks on straw over stone flags, and almost forgotten the friendly feeling of thick blankets pulled well up round the chin