Alice found herself wondering if it were better to take life seriously or lightly. Or was that a false antithesis, merely a way of feeling superior? Jane, it seemed to her, was a person who took life lightly, until it went wrong, when she reached for serious solutions like God. Better to take life seriously, and reach for light solutions. Satire, for instance; or suicide. Why did people hold so fast to life, that thing they were given without being consulted? All lives were failures, in Alice’s reading of the world, and Jane’s platitude about turning failure into art was fluffy fantasy. Anyone who understood art knew that it never achieved what its maker dreamed for it. Art always fell short, and the artist, far from rescuing something from the disaster of life, was thereby condemned to be a double failure.
— Julian Barnes in “sleeping with John Updike”
But time…how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time..give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.
— Julian Barnes in The sense of an ending