Journey to the centre: Great middle lines – 6

Half-way through Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, the patient arrives at the point in his tale where his tough personal barrier was penetrated.  ‘I am a man who kept the codes of my behaviour separate,’ he says on p. 144.  Then the turning point:  we learn why and how he ended up in hospital (well, a hospital of sorts), the turning point in his life where it dawned on him that Clifton’s wife, Katharine, was breaking down his defences, and this led to a relationship, and this led to an accident.  On p. 150 of 300 pages, I read this:

“He said later it was propinquity.  Propinquity in the desert.  It does that here, he said.  He loved the word – the propinquity of water, the propinquity of two or three bodies in a car driving the Sand Sea for six hours.  Her sweating knee beside the gearbox of the truck, the knee swerving, rising with the bumps.  In the desert you have time to look everywhere, to theorize on the choreography of all things around you.”

*****

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