the heart of the matter in under…

…1 minute.
Scobie Doo.
Well, that’s a dumb joke.
Only 3 people will get it.
And they won’t even laugh.
Trust me, Scobie will do.
Just Scobie. One “o.”
I’ve been growing my Greenery lately:
The Heart of the Matter.
A really fine novel.
You should read it, too.
It’s a climatological event, filled with heat, humidity and sweat.
Enter Scobie.
A Catholic cop in a British colony on the west coast of Africa.
He’s trapped in a love triangle.
(More heat and sweat please. Claustrophobia, too.)
Or rather he’s trapped in a triangle.
Because love characterizes only part of it.
Love is love here at this point in the beginning.
But love is not love there at that edge of the end.
Love surges in all manner of ways.
It gushes as passion.
Swells as romance.
Rolls as love.
Then calmly glides as responsibility.
It looks like a metal sheet seen from a great distance.
When that happens, responsibility starts to chafe and confine.
Then love and responsibility seep into pity.
And pity is rank and nasty.
Just ask Shakespeare.
Or Nietzsche.
An unlikely ally in Greene’s depiction of the horrors of love and pity.
Scobie is unable to square love of his mistress.
With love of God.
With pity for his wife.
And Scobie self-drowns in eternal damnation in the end.

5 Responses to the heart of the matter in under…

  1. Fred Runk says:

    In the heart of Alexandria, Scobie becomes a saint.

    • Hi Fred, eager to understand your reference. Tried looking it up but found nothing definitive. Let me know your thought! Hoping it deepens my appreciation of the novel. Cheers, K

      • Fred Runk says:


        Actually it was more an echo than something that refers to the novel–although there are some common elements.

        Scobie is a wild character found in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. He happened to be an Englishman police officer in the Egyptian police force circa WWII. He had a colorful history: was a leader of an English boy scout troop (or whatever they are called) who had to leave because of his unhealthy interest in the boys. In the Quartet, he was found to have spent his evenings off duty in drag on the Egyptian waterfront trolling for sailors who had just come ashore.

        After his death, his bathtub gin (or whatever) was reputed to have brought about a number of miracles and his grave became a holy spot, especially for women seeking sacred aid in becoming pregnant.

        He is one of the examples of the types of love that Durrell examines throughout the four novels

        So, every time I see the name Scobie, I can’t help but immediately think of Durrell’s Scobie.

      • Thank you for the additional info!

  2. Kat says:

    Kevin, what a clever poem!

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