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Commonplace Book

Choices, or sacrificing one’s luggage

Wise words on choices from Aldous Huxley’s Point Counter Point:

Lucy shook her head. ‘Perhaps it’s a pity,’ she admitted.  ‘But you can’t get something for nothing.  If you like speed, if you want to cover the ground, you can’t have luggage.  The thing is to know what you want and to be ready to pay for it.  I know exactly what I want; so I sacrifice the luggage.  If you choose to travel in a furniture van, you may.  But don’t expect me to come along with you, my sweet Walter.  And don’t expect me to take your grand piano in my two-seater monoplane.’

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Commonplace Book

The idea of ‘progress’ lambasted in Aldous Huxley’s “Point Counter Point”

‘Progress!’ [Lord Edward] echoed, and the tone of misery and embarrassment was exchanged for one of confidence.  ‘Progress!  You politicians are always talking about it.  As though it were going to last.  Indefinitely.  More motors, more babies, more food, more advertising, more money, more everything, for ever.  You ought to take a few lessons in my subject.  Physical biology.  Progress, indeed!…  That’s the trouble with you politicians.  You don’t even think of the important things.  Talking about progress and votes and Bolshevism and every year allowing a million tons of phosphorus pentoxide to run away into the sea.  It’s idiotic, it’s criminal, it’s… it’s fiddling while Rome burns…  You think we’re being progressive because we’re living on our capital.  Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitre – squander them all.  That’s your policy.  And meanwhile you go round trying to make our flesh creep with talk about revolutions.’

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Commonplace Book

Aldous Huxley in “Point Counterpoint” on the British Empire

There was no breeze except the wind of the ship’s own speed; and that was like a blast from the engine-room.  Stretched in their chairs Philip and Elinor watched the gradual diminution against the sky of a jagged island of bare red rock.  From the deck above came the sound of people playing shuffle-board.  Walking on principle or for an appetite, their fellow passengers passed and repassed with the predictability of comets.

‘The way people take exercise,’ said Elinor in a tone positively of resentment; it made her hot to look at them.  ‘Even in the Red Sea.’

‘It explains the British Empire,’ [Philip] said.