Sedartis holds no store with opinion:
‘If you want to know the giants, the masters, the geniuses of your age, look whom the critics disparage. You’ll find no surer guide to greatness than them: they dance on the ashes of the works their supposed wit has burnt to the ground, congratulating themselves on their deconstruction, but from these ashes rise the phoenixes that will soar for future generations to emulate, study and admire. Trust me, on this, for I know.’
What we project onto our heroes. How we prize them; how we invest in them. How we see our own inadequacies fade into nothing and our misdemeanours absolved: those sporting legends, in their own lifetime, their career years elevated to seasons of gods. Who are we then, without them. Why would we not heap fortunes on them for the privilege to watch them chase a ball? Why would we not conspire to see in one artist’s work all our selves reflected, while in another’s we see nothing and resent being confronted with our selves to the point of hatred? We are so simple, when it comes to our primeval responses and, yes, so complex; so light, so effervescent, so intricate, so delicate and delicious, and then again at a stroke so basic. So Instinctive, so brute.
I let Sedartis know that I don’t understand what he’s talking about.
‘No matter,’ he says, in his calm, forever reassuring and slightly annoying because also sure-of-himself manner, ‘it will all make sense.’
‘It will. Liberate yourself from the urge to understand, within your head, immediately. That may seem, to you, sophisticated: it is not. Not at the level you will want to attain. Allow yourself to be subsumed into the thing around, within and through you. You will begin to sense your truths and untruths and their inbetweens in a whole different way.’
Sedartis to me seems like the philosopher from a different world who in his spare time drives a minicab in the towns I happen to visit. There is no other explanation. I would book him through an app if I had to, but he sits next to me, whenever I’m on a train. Sometimes—rarely—when I’m on a bench or at a cafe, waiting for a friend. Never when I’m having a drink. Is Sedartis only of the unadulterated mind?
What we want to see in ourselves we see in others, and vice versa. We need these icons, these exponents, these majestic figures, even though we don’t know who they are. And so we make them. Of whoever offers themselves up. We sacrifice them to our hunger for existence: build them up, tear them down, abuse them on the way, pretend to love them, really love them. Want to be them. Not be them, but feel as if we were, because we know, deep down, their existence is monstrous. How strange, and, yes, how obvious.
I separate myself from my intention and begin to float. That feels lovely. Nary a care in the world. Compos mentis and completely lost. In that agreeable way. Sedartis smiles at me and takes his leave, for the time being only. I know he’ll be back and tell me more. I just know.