Tuesday, 3 August 2010

on recognising one's own egocentricity

From the preface to the 1975 Penguin edition of Dark as the Grave in which my Friend is Laid, by Malcolm Lowry, written by Douglas Day, University of Virginia, August 1967, on Malcolm Lowry:
"..He was never able to define himself to himself....he was acutely egocentric: his gaze was almost always inward, so much so that he was very nearly blind to the world outside- except in so far as it reflected his own thoughts and feelings. From time to time he would try mightily to focus on something outside himself-the world situation, friends, wives, the sound of a voice, the colour of a sky...."
I read these words with something of a start of recognition, for I read of myself within them. I am by no means comparing myself with the greatness of Malcolm Lowry, but recognise that I am myself, "acutely egocentric", and that my gaze is most often inward, rather than directed outward to the world beyond the narrow confines of the self. It was therefore somewhat reassuring to read later in the preface, that the writer did not consider egocentricity to be "synonnymous with conceit". I can assert that it is not, although the two conditions appear to lie so closely alongside one another that one may be mistaken for the other.

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