Friday, August 27, 2010


She looked at him challengingly, ironically, and then stared at the ground. He could see a blurry tracery, blue beneath the pallor of her neck, her cheek.
'Your blood is never blue, you know,' he said, glad then to see the puzzlement in her face. To cause puzzlement. 'I mean, I was looking at your skin, and the veins beneath. They look blue, but somehow they're not. Pale blue-veined child, Joyce wrote. It's all to do with the vessels, and the pallor of the skin. Melanin and all that.'
'My skin's pale, you're saying?' For some reason they had both stopped.
'I was considering the anatomy of beauty perhaps. Of your beauty. There are so many different types of beauty. And that's just human beauty.'
'You are proving to be quite an interesting fellow. Come', she murmured, starting forward.
'So what was this story about your boyfriend who's not a boyfriend, who lives with you but doesn't?'
She laughed. 'Very good, very good. My boyfriend's a musician, he's working with his band in Sydney at present, and I have a feeling he's not going to come back.'
'And how do you feel about that?'
'I miss him, but we're not really compatible. I like him. I'd be delighted if he came back, but I don't think it'll last. I'm not sure if I should end it now. I'm a bit wishy-washy about these things.'
They trudged on in silence for a few moments.
'Well, this is the place. Back there.' They were at the head of a dirt path, leading from the footpath behind a row of poplars to a double cabin at the back of a huge block of land dominated by a weird, ramshackle pile, carbuncled and turreted.
'Well, they should make a movie out of a place like that, but it's all been done before. Who lives there?'
'A family of lawyers, one of whom is my landlady. An old judge lives in the attic. Retired, I believe. The patriarch.'
'It's a cute little abode,' she said, when they had stopped outside his front door.
'A humble abode, and rather spartan, as you'll see.'
'Mmmm. A lot of books. That's not surprising.'
'In fact I've downsized a lot. Not only with books, with everything. Please, take a seat.'
'Opposite corners, eh? It's like a boxing match. I think we should sit closer. It would be more intimate.'
'You're looking for intimacy?' He brought his chair close to hers.
'Always. Amongst other things. It's very pleasant here. The birds, the trees, the intriguing old house.'
'Well I must say, I'm delighted and surprised to have you as a visitor. What surprises me most I think is, the naturalness of it. The fact that I'm not particularly surprised.'
'Let's just both take it in our stride. Philosophy...' she had picked up a book from the table by her chair.
'Yes, speaking of naturalism.'
'Tell me about naturalism.'
'In philosophy it means, or it seems to mean - I'm no philosopher - it means, well, it's a philosophical movement or spirit that takes its cue from science. It's rather in thrall to science, because of the phenomenal success of science.'
'Mmmm. So not much room for religion then?'
'Ha. Not much. Of course the philosophical naturalist will, or might, take an interest in religion from a scientific perspective. Its psychology, its evolutionary role, how it affects the brain, how it works in social groups.'
'Yet philosophy isn't science, is it? Isn't it conceding its role to science? If science provides the best way to understanding the world, what's the point of philosophy? Isn't naturalism doing philosophers out of a job?'
Danny stroked his chin for a moment.
'Of course - I'm no philosopher,' she smiled.

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