“Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent.”*

*from “The Stones of Venice” (1851-53), by John Ruskin.

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From: Eustace and Hilda (1947), by L.P. Hartley:

“Everything Eustace saw clamoured for attention. The scene was like an orchestra without a conductor; and to add to the confusion the sights, unlike the sounds, did not come from any one place: they attacked him from all sides, and even the back of his head felt bombarded by impressions. There was no refuge from the criss-cross flights of the Venetian visual missiles, no calculating the pace at which they came. That huge square palace opposite, with its deep windows like eye-sockets in a skull, was on you in a moment with its frontal attack. The building next to it, red, shabby and almost unadorned, was withholding its fire, but the onslaught would come–Eustace could see it collecting its charm, marshalling its simplicity, winging its pensive arrow. Nor, looking at the water, did the eye get any rest. Always broken, it was for ever busy with the light, taking it on one side of a ripple, sending it back from the other; and the boats, instead of going straight up and down, crossed each other’s path at innumerable angles that were like a geometrician’s nightmare, and at varying degrees of slowness that were like a challenge to a quadratic equation. The rhythm within him which, in Eustace’s case, was to some extent determined by the rhythm outside him, kept starting and stopping like a defective motor-engine, while the variations in the quality of the light made him feel that he was taking messages from a hundred heliographs. Even the angle of the walls between the two windows was not, he suddenly noticed, a true right angle- it was slightly acute; he felt it compressing him like a pair of scissors. Upon examination, every angle in the room seemed out of true; he was living in a trapezium, and would never be able to feel a mathematical relationship with his surroundings. Good-bye to the sense of squareness! But could a thing, or a person, be fair without being square?”

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