The past conditional, by the way, is a tense of which my brother is highly suspicious. Waiting for the funeral to start, we had, not an argument – this would have been against all family tradition – but an exchange which demonstrated that if I am a rationalist by my own standards, I am a fairly feeble one by his. When our mother was first incapacitated by a stroke, she happily agreed that her granddaughter C. should have the use of her car: the last of a long sequence of Renaults, the marque to which she had maintained a Francophiliac loyalty over four decades. Standing with my brother in the crematorium car park, I was looking out for the familiar French silhouette when my niece arrived at the wheel of her boyfriend R.’s car. I observed – mildly, I am sure – “I think Ma would have wanted C. to come in her car.” My brother, just as mildly, took logical exception to this. He pointed out that there are the wants of the dead, ie things which people now dead once wanted; and there are hypothetical wants, ie things which people would or might have wanted. “What Mother would have wanted” was a combination of the two: a hypothetical want of the dead, and therefore doubly questionable. “We can only do what we want,” he explained; to indulge the maternal hypothetical was as irrational as if he were now to pay attention to his own past desires. I proposed in reply that we should try to do what she would have wanted, a) because we have to do something, and that something (unless we simply left her body to rot in the back garden) involves choices; and b) because we hope that when we die, others will do what we in our turn would have wanted.
Il nuovo libro si intitolerà Nothing to be Frightened Of. La pubblicazione è prevista per i primi di marzo. E io l’ho già prenotato.
Postato da: IM