Gordon was not ashamed of his surroundings as he would once have been. there was a faint, amused malice in the way he spoke.
“You think I’m a bloody fool, of course,” he remarked to the ceiling.
“No I don’t. Why should I?”
“Yes, you do. You think I’m a bloody fool to stay in this filthy place instead of getting a proper job. You think I ought to try for that job at New Albion.”
“No, dash it! I never thought that. I see your point absolutely. I told you that before. I think you’re perfectly right in principle.”
“And you think principles are all right so long as one doesn’t go and put them into practice.”
“No. But the question always is, when is one putting them into practice?”
“It’s quite simple. I’ve made war on money. This is where it’s lead me.”
Ravelston rubbed his nose, then shifted uneasily on his chair.
“The mistake you make , don’t you see, is in thinking one can live in a corrupt society without being corrupt oneself. After all, what do you achieve by refusing to make money? You’re trying to behave as though one could stand right outside our economic system. But one can’t. One’s got to change the system, or one changes nothing. One can’t put things right in a hole-and-corner way, if you take my meaning.”
Gordon waved a foot at the buggy ceiling. “Of course this is a hole-and-corner, I admit.”
“I didn’t mean that,” said Ravelston, pained.
“But let’s face facts. You think I ought to be looking about for a good job don’t you?”
“It depends on the job. I think you’re quite right not to sell yourself to that advertising agency. But it does seem rather a pity that you should stay in that wretched job you’re in at present. After all, you have got talents. You ought to be using them somehow.”
“There are my poems,” said Gordon, smiling at his private joke.
Ravelston looked abashed. This remark silenced him. Of course, there were Gordon’s poems. There was London Pleasures, for instance. Ravelston knew, and Gordon knew, and each other knew, that London Pleasures would never be finished. Never again, probably, would Gordon write a line of poetry; never, at least, while he remained in this vile (lower class) place, this blind-alley job (of not selling shit to others along with his soul to the devil) and this defeated mood (depression). He had finished with all of that. But this could not be said, as yet. The pretense was still kept up that Gordon was a struggling poet—the conventional poet-in-garret.
Keep the Aspidistra Flying
George Orwell 1936