09 November 2008

A passage from Updike

I'm leafing today for no good reason through the Updike novel SEEK MY FACE (2002). The action of the novel consists entirely of a day-long interview. The only two characters, then, in the novel's present tense are an elderly artist, Hope, and a young reporter.

In this passage, about one-quarter of the way into the book, Hope is showing Kathryn her studio.

"Photographs of herself with others in other times goingback to Ardmore in the 'twenties, framed certificates of graduation and commendation ... the hideous trophies of crystal and painted metal one gets as tokens of recognition and public gratitude (the most ungainly of them handed to her sheepishly by the first President Bush, a tall and boyish Connecticut gent apparently as pleasantly surprised to find himself in the White House as she was; at lunch afterward, seated beside her, he pointed out for Hope to admire the daily flowers, the elegantly clad Marine guards, the splendidly imposing punctilio which momentarily surrounded them, two proper children of the fading Protestant hegemony): these souvenirs, still in the hasty order of an afternoon's arranging when the studio was newly built, attract Kathryn's attention less than Hope exected. Only the old photographs tempt the interloper to move closer, her neck craned forward in that unbecoming way: 'How pretty you were.'"

I love that. But in my lazy-Sunday fashion, I won't bother enumerating why.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.