Submission to the Public World

“I once entered a bank in Stratford-on-Avon and ordered a drink. I have waved back at people waving at somebody else. There was an electric skysign in All Saints, Manchester, which said UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE and I read as UPROARIOUSLY FUNNY. In the army I failed to salute officers and, fiercely rebuked, then saluted privates. I have spoken to women in the streets I thought I knew and thus go to know them. Clear sight can be switched on if necessary: the means is in one’s top pocket. But switching on is submission to the public world. One has, anyway, a choice. The myopic eye is not lazy: it is too busy creating meanings out of vague données. Compensation for lifelong myopia comes in old age: presbyobia supervenes on the condition and cancels it. I am forced into perfect sight and I am not sure I like it.”

— Anthony Burgess, Little Wilson and Big God

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