Monday, January 26, 2009

From "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"

Paloma writes:
My classmates get high on Ecstasy the way we pig out on chocolate truffles and the worst of it is that where there are drugs, there's sex. Don't act surprised: nowadays kids sleep together really young. There are kids in year seven (not a lot, but a few all the same) who've already had sexual relations. It's depressing. First of all, I think that sex, like love, is a sacred thing.... if I were going to live beyond puberty, it would be really important to me to keep sex as a sort of marvellous sacrament. And secondly, a teenager who pretends to be an adult is still a teenager. If you imagine that getting high at a party and sleeping around is going to propel you into a state of full adulthood, that's like thinking that dressing up as an Indian is going to make you an Indian. And thirdly, it's a really weird way of looking at life to want to become an adult by imitating everything that is most catastrophic about adulthood ... Where I'm concerned, just seeing my mother shooting up with her anti-depressants and sleeping tablets has been enough to inoculate me for life against that sort of substance abuse. Lastly, teenagers think they're adults when in fact they're imitating adults who never really made it into adulthood and who are running away from life. It's pathetic. Mind you, if I were ... the class pin-up, I would wonder what else I could do with my days besides take drugs...

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog", Muriel Barbery, p187-8
As I said in the review of the book, Paloma starts out as one of the most irritating characters in any novel I have read, although she pretty perceptive. In particular, the thing about "never really made it into adulthood" - which ties in with the idea from "Seven Basic Plots" that becoming a mature adult requires displacement of the desires of the ego (getting high on drugs, sex as an experience in itself) for the sake of the Self (being part of an integrated human community, developed in physical, mental, spiritual and emotional terms).

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