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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Nullity of the Rich and the Squalor of the Poor

W.B. dreams up D.B. in a vision.

"What's up Will?" I ask.

"Just remembering."

"Your time in Paris?"

"How did you know, D.B.?"

"Sheer luck, W.B."

"I was thinking of J M Synge."

"Coincidence or what, W.B., I was thinking of the great John Milington just this morning also!"

"I had met John Synge in Paris in 1896. Somebody had said, "There is an Irishman living on the top floor of your hotel; I will introduce you." I was very poor, but he was much poorer. He belonged to a very old Irish family and though a simple, courteous man, remembered it and was haughty and lonely. With just enough to keep him from starvation, and not always from half starvation, he had wandered about Europe travelling third class or upon foot, playing his fiddle to poor men on the road or in their cottages. He was the only man I have ever known incapable of a political thought or of a humanitarian purpose. He could walk the roadside all day with some poor man without any desire to do him good, or for any reason except that he liked him."

"D.B.'s king of guy."

"I advised John Synge to go to a wild island off the Galway coast and study its life because that life had never been expressed in literature. He had learned Gaelic at College, and I told him that, as I would have told it to any young man who had learned Gaelic and wanted to write. When he found that wild island he became happy for the first time, escaping as he said "from the nullity of the rich and the squalor of the poor". He had bad health, he could not stand the island hardship long, but he would go to and fro between there and Dublin."

"Maybe I shouldn't ask, but what's wrong with Paris?"

"You are uncouth D.B. This is not a dream. This is a nightmare."

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