How insulated these men were. They were imperial in their selfhood, these corporate culturists running a government. They lived, heedless, infallible. They understood contention and expected nothing else. I told them it depressed me to be in the same room with them. The president looked at me—did I mean him as well? You all live unquestioningly inside the social reality—war, God, money—that other people invented long ago, I said, and you take these things for raw existence. It was quite a speech I gave them.
They were careless of life, I said, they were prime examples of human insufficiency, I said, and I told them I spoke as an authority on the subject. Then I took a deep breath and did a handstand.
It just came over me, I was up on my hands almost before I realized it. Perhaps it was the image of Briony on the high bar—my first glimpse of her—that animated me, my brain having decided that this was the thing to do, a mimetic act to bring her into resolution there in the White House. At least that is my interpretation now. At the time it was possibly no more than an act of inspired madness. Or maybe it was just my brain saying if it’s a fool they want it’s a fool they will get. Or maybe I just wanted to be out of there.
E.L. Doctorow 2014