Thank you so much for your letter.
As you might expect, I’m no longer the peacock, and have become a changed man. While I was renowned for my intellect and wit, I have been humbled. Even talking to the worms has been an education. It turns out that once we’re underground, all of us are simply “food”no matter who we thought we were.
Naturally, I receive a lot of visitors but no one else has ever brought me Tim Tams before. I’m still licking the chocolate off my fingers and wondering how to salvage a chunk of precious biscuit which accidentally fell in. I’m not quite sure how to retrieve it. Even back in the day, “the world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”
Perhaps, I shouldn’t ask but do they still remember me at Cafe de la Paix? Bosie crucified me there on my last visit and the pain was so intense but Robbie stood by me.
Speaking of pain, I’ve been trying to think up some advice. In my younger days, I wrote a series of aphorisms: “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young”. It seemed very clever at the time but wasn’t sound advice. Instead I’d like to ask you to read De Profundis. It was a letter I wrote to Bosie while I was in gaol and addresses the nature of suffering and our need to somehow rise above it all and still find joy. I’m not going to bore you with my endless whingeing about losing the lot.
However, I jotted down a few excerpts for you now:
“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain.”
“Nature….she will hang the night stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send word the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
“Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
“A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought—-the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul—-and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
― Oscar Wilde
You know, Rowena, you’re the very first person who has ever brought me coffee. I was deeply touched. You were thinking of me and wanting to know my story, even if you couldn’t stay here very long. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve had to endure. They’ve come here in their thousands, puckering up and bragging how they’ve kissed Oscar Wilde. While they might have smeared me with lipstick, they haven’t touched me at all.
Thank you for your honesty, acknowledging you don’t know me and not pretending that you do.
You wouldn’t believe how many people I have running round inside my head thinking it’s their “right” to explore each and every nook and cranny of my brain. Could you just imagine what it’s like with all those people running around yelling and shouting, flashing their torches up the back of my nose and even taking samples all in the name of “science”. What makes them think they know me better than I knew myself? Why can’t they all get lost and leave me in peace? After all, I never stuck my head in their privates, did I?!!!
As soon as you mentioned seeing my golden angel, I knew you’d come here for a reason.
You see, I don’t believe in coincidence either. You held the match which finally lit the spark. I’m going to charge them all an entry fee. If they want to explore my head and make all sorts of accusations, they’ll have to pay!
So here’s to new beginnings! Now, I’ll finally be getting that new wallpaper!