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"This is not a quality that will change when I 'see human suffering' or
'lose my parents' or 'help others.'
"This selfishness is not only part of me. It is the most living part.
"It is by somehow transcending rather than by avoiding that selfishness
that I can bring poise and balance into my life.
"There is no virtue of unselfishness that I cannot use. I can make
sacrifices, be charitable, give to a friend, endure for a friend, lay
down my life for a friend--all because these things may be the best
possible expression of myself; yet I have not one drop of the milk of
The problem of evil had solidified for Amory into the problem of sex. He
was beginning to identify evil with the strong phallic worship in Brooke
and the early Wells. Inseparably linked with evil was beauty--beauty,
still a constant rising tumult; soft in Eleanor's voice, in an old song
at night, rioting deliriously through life like superimposed waterfalls,
half rhythm, half darkness. Amory knew that every time he had reached
toward it longingly it had leered out at him with the grotesque face of
evil. Beauty of great art, beauty of all joy, most of all the beauty of
After all, it had too many associations with license and indulgence.
Weak things were often beautiful, weak things were never good. And in
this new loneness of his that had been selected for what greatness he
might achieve, beauty must be relative or, itself a harmony, it would
make only a discord.
In a sense this gradual renunciation of beauty was the second step after
his disillusion had been made complete. He felt that he was leaving
behind him his chance of being a certain type of artist. It seemed so
much more important to be a certain sort of man.
His mind turned a corner suddenly and he found himself thinking of the
Catholic Church. The idea was strong in him that there was a certain
intrinsic lack in those to whom orthodox religion was necessary, and
religion to Amory meant the Church of Rome. Quite conceivably it was an
empty ritual but it was seemingly the only assimilative, traditionary
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