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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Extract from 5 – Shooting in the Dark

Extract from Shooting in the Dark

He died on the sixth of January so it is not surprising that my epiphany happened on the same date. As with any sudden spiritual manifestation, this epiphany happened without my conscious participation. I did not go in search of it, but while I was busy doing other things it discovered me.

Science has been my passion and my life. I have been a troubadour for reason and rationality, and yet it is only now that I am beginning to understand the relationship between reason and intuition.

For the record, this is what happened.

I was in the library and I picked up a copy of Pascal’s Pensées. This is not my usual reading matter. I do not remember having looked at this book before and cannot even be sure that I was aware of its existence.

I opened it at random and read the following:

Memory and joy are intuitive; and even mathematical propositions become so. For reason creates natural intuitions, and natural intuitions are erased by reason.

Later the same day I came across the two women at the matinée performance of Titus Andronicus at the Theatre Royal. This wasn’t entirely coincidental. I had suspected they would be there. They make a habit of frequenting cultural events together and prefer the afternoons to the evening.

But the play was shocking. Surely it is the bloodiest series of sketches to have dripped from Shakespeare’s quill? The horror was too much for several members of the audience who had to leave before the final curtain. According to the programme notes Shakespeare wrote it under the influence of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, which was one of the first revenge tragedies of the English theatre.

Afterwards, in the theatre bar, I watched the two women. I wasn’t close enough to hear what they said, but I assumed they were discussing the play. They didn’t stay long. And it was then, when they were leaving, the youngest one suddenly glanced over her shoulder, directly at me. And with a perfectly innocent looking Campari and bitter lemon clutched in my hand I was visited by a je ne sais quoi. An insight of grace. A certainty.

It came together in a lightening flash, the reason behind Pascal’s intuition, the blood and gore of Titus Andronicus, the woman’s knowing eyes. It was all enclosed in the moment. And in that moment all of our fortunes were raised up into the heavens like a flock of geese winging away from a frozen lake.