July 29: steerpike

When you are sitting up to your neck in the cool water in a pool in the Gorges du Tarn in the Cevennes and your rest is disturbed by a teenager leaping from a height into the pool with a whoop, you curse the state of malehood. Why does the male always want to change the repose of things? I had spotted this mid-teenager a few minutes before. He had found or fashioned a long stick and was trying to skewer a fish with it. What if he had spiked a foot-long trout and came up with it all bloodied and wriggling? His father caught up with him, looked irritably and uttered that time-worn word Arrete. Men will always want to splash, noisify, alter. Women are happier with just being. Men will shift things along without worrying whether they are shifting to a better thing or not. They just want flux. But often you just kill the moment and the new state, unexamined beforehand, is not better, and there can be no going back. It’s everything that’s wrong with the world. We’re right to blame the men. I suppose there are some benefits from restlessness, but enough already. I called the boy Steerpike.


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