Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Lee Harvey is drawn to the library, outgrows the local branch, is excited to discover it full of communist books. 'He learned that Trotsky had once lived, in exile, in a working-class area of the Bronx not far from the places Lee had lived with his mother. Trotsky in the Bronx. But Trotsky was not his real name. Lenin's name was not really Lenin. Stalin's name was Dzhugashvili. Historic names, pen names, names of war, party names, revolutionary names.' Two scenes later, 'he tried to talk politics with Robert Sproul's sister, mainly to say something'. After arguing for some time about Eisenhower, the Rosenbergs, Lee ventures:
'If you look at the name Trotsky in Russian, it looks totally different… Plus here's something nobody knows. Stalin's name was Dzhugashvili. Stalin means man of steel.'
The boy who makes a fetish out of his inner life, who defines himself by his secret, or secretiveness—'like him, to be a misplaced martyr and let you think he was just a fool, or exactly the reverse, as long as he knew the truth and you didn't'—is as much led into making a fetish out of what he thinks, naively, that other people must not know about others, and precisely what impresses him in this regard is the idea that a person's name might not be their name, that the—the?—means by which they're known to people might in truth fail to impart any knowledge of them at all. At least, to impart it to anyone who is anyone, since 'nobody' knows. When 'nobody knows', if you know, then you're not just not nobody, not just somebody: you're practically the only somebody.
'He kept the Marxist books in his room, took them to the library for renewal, carried them back home. He let classmates read the titles if they were curious, just to see their silly faces crinkle up, but he didn't show the books to his mother. The books were private, like something you find and hide, some lucky piece that contains the secret of who you are. The books themselves were secret. Forbidden and hard to read. They altered the room, charged it with meaning. The drabness of his surroundings, his own shabby clothes were explained and transformed by these books. He saw himself as a part of something vast and sweeping. he was the product of a sweeping history, he and his mother, locked into a process, a system of money and property that diminished their human worth every day, as if by scientific law. The books made him part of something. Something led up to his presence in this room, in this particular skin, and something would follow. Men in small rooms. Men reading and waiting, struggling with secret and feverish ideas. Trotsky's name was Bronstein. He would need a secret name. He would join a cell located in the old buildings near the docks. They would talk theory into the night. But they would act as well. Organize and agitate. He would move through the city in the rain, wearing dark clothes. It was just a question of finding a cell. There was no question they were here. Senator Eastlund made it clear on TV. Underground reds in N'yorlenz.'
It's right that two pages into Libra, they're watching TV.
'If we are on the outside, we assume a conspiracy is the perfect working of a scheme. Silent nameless men with unadorned hearts. A conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It's the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have a logic and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in some criminal act.
But maybe not. Nicholas Branch thinks he knows better. He has learned enough about the days and months preceding November 22, and enough about the twenty-second itself, to reach a determination that the conspiracy against the President was a rambling affair that succeeded in the short term due mainly to chance. Deft men and fools, ambivalence and fixed will and what the weather was like.…'
'That confirms the idea that there is that in us that is capable of escaping human nature, here still expressed mythically. The myth speaks – beyond that of my standing in specific relations to myself – of the possibility of my gaining perspective on myself. I can, for example, sometimes gain a perspective on my present pain. … Is there something that could give me a perspective on my human nature as such? And would this be a perspective from which I see myself in the same way, or from the same distance, as I see the other? Could I, for example, see myself as a stranger? This need not be a case of seeing the strangeness of myself, though that might help my perspective. It would be a case of seeing that I have not met myself; it happens upon me, the knowledge comes over me, that I have not. I would then have an occasion for taking an interest in myself; it would be an occasion for interesting myself in something more than I have already heard about myself.'
A gloriously cool day; cool air.
One way to know yourself is to remember: to acknowledge that your memory of what you have done, seen, felt, experienced, does belong to you; that the remembered part of life which you carry around inside you is inside you, and, as part of life, once was not.
Not to acknowledge this is not to admit that life. Would that be not to live?
What kind of a savage writes in a book in pen??
'a human solo, a being cold, and lone'
'Each one in turn paying his debt to nature due and leaving the excess to the next link in the name's chain. They began as fur traders, cordwainers, salters and smokers of bacon, went on into glassmaking, became selectmen, builders of tanneries, quarriers of marble. Country for miles around gone to necropolis, gray with marble dust, dust that was the breaths, the ghosts, of all those fake-Athenian monuments going up elsewhere across the Republic. Always elsewhere. The money seeping its way out through stock portfolios more intricate than any genealogy: what stayed at home in Berkshire went into timberland whose diminishing green reaches were converted acres at a clip into paper—toilet paper, banknote stock, newsprint—a medium or ground for shit, money, and the Word. They were not aristocrats, no Slothrop ever made it into the Social Register or the Somerset Club—they carried on their enterprise in silence, assimilated in life to the dynamic that surrounded them thoroughly as in death they would be to churchyard earth. Shit, money, and the Word, the three American truths, powering the American mobility, claimed the Slothrops, clasped them for good to the country's fate.
But they did not prosper . . . about all they did was persist…'