He was in that familiar state –not that the occasion mattered too seriously to him- of incoherent ideas spreading outward without a center, so characteristic of the present, and whose strange arithmetic adds up to a random proliferations of numbers without forming a unit… For a man’s possibilities, plans, and feelings must first be hedged in by prejudices, traditions, obstacles, and barriers of all sorts, like a lunatic in his straightjacket, and only then can whatever he is capable of doing have perhaps some value, substance, and staying power.
The Perfecting of a Love
“…she glanced across to where he sat, in the corner of the room, in the bright chintz-covered armchair, smoking a cigarette. It was evening. Outside, looking out upon the street, the dark green shutters were part of a long row of dark green shutters and in no way distinct from the rest. Like a pair of eyelids, lowered in indifference, they concealed the glitter of this room, where from a satin-silver teapot the tea now flowed, striking the bottom of each cup with a faint tinkle and then remaining poised in mid-air, straw-colored, a translucent, twisted column of weightless topaz… In the slightly concave plans of the teapot there lay reflections, green and grey, with here and there a gleam of blue or yellow, a pool of colors that had run together and now lay quite still. But the woman’s arm stood out from the teapot, and the gaze with which she looked across at her husband formed an angle with the line of her arm, a rigid pattern in the air.”
-Robert Musil, “The Perfecting of a Love,” Five Women.