Our astrophysicist

But our astrophysicist had long practiced a kind of dialectical thinking where it served him; he could show even the simplest, irreducable values to be the flimsiest of constructions, things whose propriety derived entirely from jerry-rigged meaning at almost every joint. All of which is really just to say he was a master of confusing an issue. And so from spotting Whitney’s notebook, then feeling an impulse that he had to hesistate over, he began the work of rationalizing what followed, looking more broadly at the nature of the thing—of the private and trespassing. 

Look for some hidden tension—this was always a good place to begin—and wasn’t there something a little strange about privacy for two people who’d been sharing the same bed for two years. They saw each other naked, fatigued, and ill. They daily shared private thinking and feelings with one another. Each of them knew every square centimeter of the other’s body. All of their most private possessions were collected together in one place. That there could be any privacy in a life like that began to seem a bit of a stretch.

The Italian Novel


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