Uh, maybe you’re afraid of success?
That phrase always baffles me a little. I know our culture has particular odious ideals of success that always threaten to spoil Rock Hunter; but taken as a general, more benign concept, why is it frightening? Or maybe the problem is that I always pictured success as being left alone.
Yesterday, at the Attiko. A full house, an atmosphere of political demonstration. Party leaders are applauded as they enter. ?luard: “La po?sie pour tout le monde.” As he speaks, many read newspapers; they don’t want to waste their time until the moment of the translation. Kazantzakis and Sikelianos each read at the start a greeting to the poet, first in French and then in Greek. But what meaning does this polyglotism have? I find it humiliating. Kazantzakis says: “Now love is armed” (Amour arm?). Why “now?” Sikelianos bursts into an exuberant speech. It all makes me sick.
Today Leroa’s lecture about Sikelianos at the French Institute with ?luard presiding. While we are waiting to go to Symmachidis’ house, I walk with Charidemos into the garden. Suddenly ?luard, all by himself, almost staggering from exhaustion, comes straight toward us asking if there’s a seat or bench anywhere. I bring him a chair. Mrs. S. seeing me carrying it says to me, “Oh! Don’t take ?luard away from us!” As if I were about to take him to my house. They’ll squeeze the poor thing like a lemon. He’s a wreck. Tired. Tired. He gazes at the stars with dull eyes: “Five receptions this afternoon,” he whispers, “I can’t take any more!” “I wonder how you can stand the life you lead,” I said to him.
George Seferis, journals, 27 May 1946