Of course,”  Eustace was saying, “you could always argue that you live more intensely in your mental world-substitute than we who only wallow in the real thing. And I’d be inclined to admit it. But the trouble is that you can’t be content to stick to your beautiful ersatz. You have to descend into evening clothes and Ciro’s and chorus girls–and perhaps even politics and committee meetings, God help us! With lamentable results. Because you’re not at home with these lumpy bits of matter. They depress you, they bewilder you, they shock you and sicken you and make a fool of you. And yet they still tempt you; and they’ll go on tempting you, all our life. Tempting you to embark on actions which you know in advance can only make you miserable and distract you from the one thing you can do properly, the one thing that people value you for.


But needless to say, in the very nature of things, the future can’t be golden. For the simple reason that nobody ever gets anything for nothing. Massacre always has to be paid for, and its price is a state of things that absolutely guarantees you against achieving the good which the massacre was intended to achieve. And the same is true even of bloodless revolutions. Every notable advance in technique or organization has to be paid for, and in most cases the debit is more or less equivalent to the credit. Except of course when it’s more than equivalent, as it has been with universal education, for example, or wireless, or these damned aeroplanes. In which case, of course, your progress is a step backwards and downwards. Backwards and downwards,” he repeated; and, taking the cigar out of his mouth, he threw back his head and gave vent to a long peal of wheezy laughter.