“in all directions without any limit”

January 7, 2007

From chapter 7 of Saul Bellow’s The Victim, in which Asa Leventhal reflects on how easy it is to hate a person without knowing him:

But certain people did call out this feeling. He saw Cohen, let us say, once or twice, and then, when his name was mentioned in company, let fall an uncomplimentary remark about him. Not that this Cohen had ever offended him. But what were all the codes and rules, Leventhal reflected, except an answer to our own nature. Would we have to be told ‘Love!’ if we loved as we breathed? No, obviously. Which was not to say that we didn’t love but had to be assisted whenever the motor started missing. The peculiar thing struck him that everything else in nature was bounded; trees, dogs, and ants didn’t grow beyond a certain size. ‘But we,’ he thought, ‘we go in all directions without limits.’

The Victim, pp. 71-72


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