What were he and his friends doing, really, other than hanging from a branch, sticking their tongues out to catch the sweetness? He thought about the people he knew, with their excellent young bodies, their summerhouses, their cool clothes, their potent drugs, their liberalism, their orgasms, their haircuts. Everything they did was either pleasurable in itself or engineered to bring pleasure down the line. Even the people he knew who were "political" and who protested the war in El Salvador did so largely in order to bathe themselves in an attractively crusading light. And the artists were the worst, the painters and the writers, because they believed they were living for art when they were really feeding their narcissism. Mitchell had always prided himself on his discipline. He studied harder than anyone he knew. But that was just his way of tightening his grip on the branch.
O, let us pay the time but needful woe, Since it hath been beforehand with our griefs. This England never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror. But when it first did help to wound itself. Now these her princes are come home again, Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them. Nought shall make us rue. If England to itself do rest but true.