Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Golden Walls

A few years ago, I read the novel, "The Discovery of Heaven" by author Harry Mulisch.

It is rather a long book, and whatever value it might have as a novel, I was deeply influenced by one small part of the story, in which Onno, a politician at the time, describes a treatise he is thinking of writing.

"In front of the Golden Wall it's an improvised mess; people teem around in the noisy chaos of everyday life, and the reason things don't go haywire is due to the world behind the Golden Wall. The world of power lies there like the eye of the cyclone, in mysterious silence, controlled, reliable, as ordered as a chessboard... At least that's the image that the powerless in front of the Golden Wall have of it... But anyone who's actually been behind the Golden Wall, like you and me, knows that it's all a sham and that in there, where decisions are made, it's as improvised a chaos as in front, in people's homes, at universities, in hospitals, or in companies." pp. 553-554
This concept fascinates me. This passage and the ones that follow resonate with my personal experiences both outside of and inside of various golden walls.

People are people, whether they are are in positions of power or not.

As my dad used to say, "they all put their pants on one leg at a time."

1 comment:

Myrna said...

I have been reading books by Alexander McCall Smith recently and I really like them. As I have been reading "The Villa of Reduced Circumstances" I keep thinking of you and your comment that universities are the places where the veneer of civilization has worn the thinnest--I think you would like this book, too.