I went on writing reviews for the newspaper, and critical articles crying out for a different approach to culture, as even the most inattentive reader could hardly fail to notice if he scratched the surface a little, critical articles crying out, indeed begging, for a return to the Greek and Latin greats, to the Troubadours, to the dolce stil nuovo and the classics of Spain, France and England, more culture! more culture! read Whitman and Pound and Eliot, read Neruda and Borges and Vallejo, read Victor Hugo, for God’s sake, and Tolstoy, and proudly I cried myself hoarse in the desert, but my vociferations and on occasions my howling could only be heard by those who were able to scratch the surface of my writings with the nails of their index fingers, and they were not many, but enough for me, and life went on and on and on, like a necklace of rice grains, on each grain of which a landscape had been painted, tiny grains and microscopic landscapes, and I knew that everyone was putting that necklace on and wearing it, but no one had the patience or the strength or the courage to take it off and look at it closely and decipher each landscape grain by grain, partly because to do so required the vision of a lynx or an eagle, and partly because the landscapes usually turned out to contain unpleasant surprises like coffins, makeshift cemeteries, ghost towns, the void and the horror, the smallness of being and its ridiculous will, people watching television, people going to football matches, boredom navigating the Chilean imagination like an enormous aircraft carrier. And that’s the truth. We were bored. We intellectuals. Because you can't read all day and all night. You can't write all day and all night. Splendid isolation has never been our style...
I took ten days off and by 11 o’clock on the first morning I had drunk fourteen cups of coffee, read all the newspapers and the Guardian and then… and then what? By lunchtime I was so bored that I decided to hang a few pictures. So I found a hammer, and later a man came to replaster the bits of wall I had demolished. Then I tried to fix the electric gates, which work only when there’s an omega in the month. So I went down the drive with a spanner, and later another man came to put them back together again. I was just about to start on the Aga, which had broken down on Christmas Eve, as they do, when my wife took me on one side by my earlobe and explained that builders do not, on the whole, spend their spare time writing, so writers should not build on their days off. It’s expensive and it can be dangerous, she said.
Every day the words that Keep-on-Dancin’ and the Gypsy imparted to me - theories, observations, advice and warnings - are substantiated and acquire deeper meaning.‘It’s not for nothing there are so many bistrots in Paris,’ Keep-on-Dancin’ asserted. ‘The reason so many people are always crowded into them isn’t so much they go there to drink but to meet up, congregate, come together, comfort each other. Yes, comfort each other: people are bored the whole time, and they’re scared, scared of loneliness and boredom. And they all carry around in their heart of hearts their own pet little arch-fear: fear of death, no matter how devil-may-care they might appear to be. They’d do anything to avoid thinking about it. Don’t forget, it’s with that fear all temples and churches were built. So in cities like this, where forty different races mingle together, everyone can always find something to say to each other.
Those diversions sparked her life with momentary excitement. Without them, Charis felt she would be driven mad by the unrelenting sameness of life in the palace. Now and again she imagined that she would like to run away, to disguise herself and travel the tumbled hills, to see life among the simple herdsmen and their families; or perhaps she would take a boat and sail the coasts, visiting tiny, sun-baked fishing villages and learning the rhythm of the sea.Unfortunately, making good either of those plans would mean taking action, and the only thing more palpable than the boredom she endured was the inertia that enclosed her like a massive fist. The weighty impossibility of changing her life in any but the most insignificant detail insured that she would not try.She sighed again and returned to the corridor, pausing to pick a sunshade from a nearby bush, idly plucking the delicate yellow petals and dropping them one by one, like days, fluttering from her hand. (pg.16., chapter 1, Taliesin)