Stuart: A Life Backwards Quotes.

1. "Ruth once told me when I went to visit her at HMP Highpoint that it is surprising how much of what you imagine to be your innate sense of self actually comes from things that aren't one's self at all: people's reactions to the blouse you wear, the respectfulness of your family, the attentiveness of your friends, their approval of the pictures in your living room, the neatness of your lawn, the way people whisper your name. It is these exhibitions of yourself, as reflected in the people whom you meet, which give you comfort and your identity. Take them away, be put in a tiny room, and called by a number, and you begin to vanish."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

2. "I don't know, Alexander, sometimes it gets so bad you can't think of nothing better to do than make it worse."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

3. "For a moment, I believe, there was a stillness. A shocking realization by all things - beetles, dormice, the spiders spinning their webs in the moonlight, even the hot metal of the tracks and the wind in the trees - that Death had just shrieked past like a stinking black eagle and made off with a remarkable man."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

4. "If Stuart is a freak... it is because he has had the superhuman strength not to be defeated by this isolation. It is because he has had the almost unbelievable social adroitness to be able to fit in smoothly with an educated, soft-skinned person like myself and not make me frightened half to death. If Stuart's a freak, I salute freaks."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

5. "But one of Stuart's most personable (and most annoying) qualities is his refusal to judge strangers until he knows them, especially if they're peculiar."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

6. "I wish I wasn’t me."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

7. "You'd think the homeless would despise the rest of us, but it seems the thing they want to do most is talk. If only they could sit us down and let it all spill out - every twist of their history, down to the last murmur - then they'd be cured."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

8. "Disobedience is one of the few tricks you have left to hang on to the idea that you continue to exist distinctively and are still reliably connected to the person who bore your name on the outside."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

9. "And so on, until you arrive at the other side, among the purely abstract self-harming: the grinding over your failures, the refusal to remember anything good, the determination to ensure - if anyone falls into the mistake of making it clear they actually like you - that the next time round they change their opinion pronto. Emotional self-cannibalism, in other words, like those tessellated pictures of a person grappling with a mirror image of himself."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

10. "When life is this dull, you have to invent purpose. Collecting torn-up newspaper gives you a hobby, provides an anchoring intimacy with your surroundings, keeps the streets clean. Or so you think. Then one day you wake up and realise that it was all a con: what you had thought was an escape from madness was in fact the arrival."
- Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards

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