Here are my favourite bits and bobs from Stephen Fry‘s brilliant autobiography of his young years – Moab is my Washpot. A few years old now but timeless in its relevance. It’s funny, acute, sad and charming. He’s brutal when he sits in his own judgment and paints the world of teenage angst with such honesty that it breaks your heart. Of course, he writes this knowing now that some of his more extreme behaviour was the first manifestation of his bipolar disorder. And yet he spares no rebuke. A genius who hates himself for it. A human who challenges humanity to be more tolerant, inquisitive and just better.
I thank the Universe for Stephen Fry!
We keep our insignificant blemishes so that we can blame them for our larger defects.
Glory never arrives through the front door. She sneaks in uninvited round the back or through an upstairs window while you are sleeping.
Good advice, like a secret, is easier to give away than to keep.
Novels meant less to me (unless they were stories about my kind of love) and rightly too, for while the novel is an adult invention, the poem is universal but often most especially charged in the mind of the adolescent. The most common betrayal the literary-minded make as they grow up is to abandon their love of poetry and to chase the novel instead. To find oneself believing, as I did when in my twenties, that John Keats for example was strictly for moonstruck adolescents is as stupid and ignorant as to think that grown-ups shouldn’t ride bicycles.
…I don’t know that love has a point, which is what makes it so glorious. Sex has a point, in terms of relief and, sometimes procreation, but love, like all art, as Oscar [Wilde] said, is quite useless. It is the useless things that make life worth living and that make life dangerous too: wine, love, art, beauty. Without them life is safe, but not worth bothering about.
Didn’t Woody Allen say that all literature was a footnote to Faust? Perhaps all adolescence is a dialogue between Faust and Christ.
We tremble on the brink of selling that part of ourselves that is real, unique, angry, defiant and whole for the rewards of attainment, achievements, success and the golden prizes of integration and acceptance; but we also in our great creating imagination, rehearse the sacrifice we will make: the pain and terror we will take from others’ shoulders; our penetration into the lives and souls of our fellows; our submissions and willingness to be rejected and despised for the sake of truth and love and, in the wilderness, our angry rebuttals of the hypocrisy, deception and compromise of a world which we see to be false. There is nothing so self-righteous nor as right as an adolescent imagination.