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But something about where this voice was coming from makes him pause. It comes from somewhere beyond the bright, pleasing little constellation of Platonic ideals and poetic conjurings he’s been moving through of late; somewhere beyond those sweet Pauline turns of phrase, the awesome medieval aesthetics, his own orderly future plans. And this ‘somewhere’ starts exerting a disturbing sort of vacuum pull towards itself — towards, so it seems to Griffiths, nothing at all.

Thought can get no purchase on it. Surely this too is a reason to back away — to shake the whole thing off as some silly mood. But Griffiths’s whole critique of the world and his own spiritual trajectory suddenly feels unnervingly partial. Lovingly fashioned from the best that his culture could offer, its most significant element is now the space around and inside it: everything that it hasn’t addressed, or couldn’t. So he is forced to pay attention, rooted to the spot hour after hour. Strangely, what comes into question isn’t his faulty reasoning or the faultiness of reason in general, but his autonomy, his will — appearing now more like an obstacle than an asset. The mundane world is disgusting to him, he realises, largely because he is a person in whom disgust is strong; it is to be held at arm’s length because he is someone who needs to hold things at arm’s length; and it is pointlessly peripheral because Griffiths has been placing himself at the centre of everything.

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