Evidently there is a taste in boots.
A few days ago, I began reading (again) The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. On page 7 he writes: “…it often happens that those who commit suicide were assured of the meaning of life.” (Perhaps it is ridiculous to insert this here, but when I encounter the phrase the meaning of life in the context of suicide, I think of an episode of Doctor Who, one of the episodes of “The Monk Trilogy” where a document is discovered in the Vatican Library called “The Veritas” and it confirms what Philip K. Dick expected all his life : that the world we live in is nothing but a simulation and it is therefore not real. Okay, fine. But in this episode of Doctor Who everyone who reads “The Veritas” decides to kill themself. But why should you spontaneously decide to kill yourself if you were shown proof that the world in which you live was some kind of simulation? So what? Does the artificiality of the world (life) drain it of all meaning? I mean, even if the beach and the Sun and the pina colada you’re sipping are all simulated, isn’t it still nice? The pina colada tastes good and the book you’re reading to pass the time, wouldn’t you rather go on reading it rather than killing yourself over some trivial matter such as the world not being as it seems? I could go on …) And there is an amusing footnote about Peregrinos. (Maybe it’s in bad taste to laugh, but Camus’ subject is “the absurd”.) The footnote reads: “I have heard of an emulator of Peregrinos, a post-war writer, after having finished his first book, committed suicide to attract attention to his work. Attention was in fact attracted, but the book was judged no good.” Ouch. I guess the lesson is that you should find out if you have, in fact, written a timeless masterpiece before you pull off a terminally irreversible publicity stunt. I couldn’t recall who “Peregrinos” was. Fortunately, we live in the time of instantaneous web search and, so in seconds, turned up his biography on Wikipedia. The Peregrinos, of which Camus writes, is Peregrinus Proteus whose biography was cruelly satirized by Lucian in The Death of Peregrinus. I won’t summarize it here since you can read the encyclopedia entry yourself, but the fact that Peregrinus immolated himself east of the Greek town of Olympia gives me a sense of personal connection since more than thirty years ago I spent a few days in Olympia and so may have even passed the place where Peregrinus carried out his final act. Though I don’t recall seeing a plaque.
During this break in VW’s 1923 diary, I’m continuing with the 1917 diary which, on the 8th of October, VW resumed in a new physical volume. She writes, “This attempt at a diary begun on the impulse given by the discovery of a wooden box in my cupboard of an old volume, kept in 1915, & still able to laugh at Walter Lamb. This [diary] therefore will follow that plan—written after tea, written indiscreetly …” She goes on to record how that day (the 8th) she went with LW to Regent Square to buy paper & pens.