My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare;
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there.
She and I could live most pleasantly in some moldy shack in the slums in a state of ambitionless peace, realizing, contentedly that we were unwanted, that striving was meaningless.
A project for the future could be a social history of the United States from my vantage point; if The Journal of a Working Boy meets with any success at the book stalls, I shall perhaps etch a likeness of our nation with my pen. Our nation demands the scrutiny of a completely disengaged observer like your working Working Boy, and I already have in my files a rather formidable collection of notes and jottings that evaluate and lend a perspective to the contemporary scene.
Colin Pillock: Tell me, Mr. Perrin, are you running this community for the benefit of humanity, or simply to make money, or is it a giant confidence trick?
Reggie Perrin: Yes.
CP: I hope you’re not going to tie yourself to this monosyllabic repetition of ‘yes’.
CP: Oh good, because our viewers might think it a waste of time for you to come here and say nothing BUT ‘yes’.
CP: So, which of them is it, Mr. Perrin? A social venture for the benefit of mankind? Purely a commercial venture? Or a con trick?
RP: Yes. It’s all three of them. That’s the beauty of it.
CP: What kind of people come to this community?
RP: Well, at the moment we’ve got a stockbroker, an overworked doctor, an underworked antiques shop owner, a disillusioned imports manager, and an even more disillusioned exports manager. Three sacked football managers, a fortune teller who’s going to have a nervous breakdown next April, a schoolteacher who’s desperate because he can’t get a job, a schoolteacher who’s even more desperate because he has got a job, an extremely shy vet, an overstressed car salesman and a pre-stressed concrete salesman. People with sexual problems, people with social problems, people with work problems, people with identity problems. People with sexual, social, work and identity problems. People who live above their garages, and above their incomes, in little boxes on prestige estates where families are two-tone, two-car and two-faced. Money has replaced sex as a driving force, death has replaced sex as a taboo, and sex has replaced bridge as a social event for mixed foursomes, and large deep freezes are empty except for twelve sausages. They come to Perrins in the hope that they won’t be ridiculed as petty snobs, but as human beings who are bewildered at the complexity of social development, castrated by the conformity of a century of mass production, and dwarfed by the immensity of technological progress which has advanced more in fifty years than in the rest of human existence put together, so that when they take their first tentative steps into an adult society shaped by humans but not for humans, their personalities shrivel up like private parts in an April sea.
He was quite learned, and despite my fatigue I sat and heard him out with admiration. Long afterwards I discovered that he had borrowed the brilliant theories of the young suicide Weininger.* At that moment I suffered the burden of the Bach all over again. I even suspected he had some therapeutic aim. If not, then why would he want to convince me that a woman cannot possess genius or goodness? It seemed to me this treatment failed because it was administered by Guido. But I retained those theories and I amplified them by reading Weininger. They never heal you, but they come in handy when you are chasing women.
* Otto Weininger (1880–1903), Austrian writer and philosopher, author of a book entitled Sex and Character.