"Untitled", 2008. Gouache and collage on book page, 24,5 x 18,5 cm
Truth, knowledge, beauty, all the ideals of mankind, are external objects, passed on from generation to generation like a flaming torch. The headmaster said each generation must hold them up high and protect them with their very lives lest that torch go out.
That torch. That was the symbol of the whole school. It was part of the school emblem. It should be passed on from one generation to another to light the way for mankind by those who understood its meaning and were strong enough and pure enough to hold to its ideals. What would happen if that torch went out was never stated, but Phaedrus had guessed it would be like the end of the world. All of man's progress out of the darkness would be ended. No one doubted that the headmaster's only purpose in being there was to pass that torch to us. Were we worthy enough to receive it? It was a question everyone was expected to take seriously. And Phaedrus did.
In some diluted and converted sense, he thought, that's what he was still doing. That's what this Metaphysics of Quality was, a ridiculous torch no Victorian would accept that he wanted to use to light a way through the darkness for mankind.
What a cornball image. Just awful. Yet there it was, burnt into him from childhood.
Twenty and thirty years later he still dreamt of following the path that led between brown-leaved oaks up the hill to the Blake School buildings. But the buildings were all locked and deserted and he couldn't get in. He tried every door but none was open. He looked in through the library window, cupping his hand so that the reflection would not prevent him from seeing inside. There he could see a grandfather clock with a pendulum swinging back and forth, but there was nobody in the room. The only movement was the pendulum. Then the dream ended.
in Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (p.285)