A Murder of Quality. John Le Carr
These successes, as you call them, are the failures, the rare boys who have not learnt the lessons of Carne. They have ignored the cult of mediocrity.
Because we, dear Charles, are the writing on the wall! The one lesson of Carne they never forget. They come back to read us, don’t you see? It was from us they learnt the secret of life: that we grow old without growing wise. They realised that nothing happened when we grew up.
he had discovered after long observation that he tended to be less a creature of intellect than his tastes and habits might suggest; once in the war he had been described by his superiors as possessing the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin, which seemed to him not wholly unjust.
Obscurity was his nature, as well as his profession. The byways of espionage are not populated by the brash and colourful adventurers of fiction.
But this fear, this servility, this dependence, had developed in Smiley a perception for the colour of human beings: a swift, feminine sensitivity to their characters and motives.
a spy must hunt while he is hunted, and the crowd is his estate. He could collect their gestures and their words, record the interplay of glance and movement, as a huntsman can record the twisted bracken and the broken twig, or as a fox detects the signs of danger.
You had to hear it and see it, to be part of it, to know their rules and recognise their transgressions. This world was compressed into a mould of anomalous conventions: blind, Pharisaical but real.
he reflected for the hundredth time on the obscurity of motive in human action: there is no true thing on earth. There is no constant, no dependable point, not even in the purest logic or the most obscure mysticism; least of all in the motives of men when they are moved to act violently.
‘no. Carne killed them; it was Carne. It could only happen here. It’s the game we play: the exclusion game. Divide and rule!’
there isn’t any truth about human beings, no formula that meets each one of us. And there are some of us – aren’t there? – who are nothing, who are so labile that we astound ourselves;
They can’t feel anything inside them, no pleasure or pain, no love or hate; they’re ashamed and frightened that they can’t feel. And their shame, this shame, Fielding, drives them to extravagance and colour; they must make themselves feel that cold water, and without that they’re nothing. The world sees them as showmen, fantasists, liars, as sensualists perhaps, not for what they are: the living dead.
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