Mathilda always opposed the people she happened to be among. She would defend whatever was conservative to progressives and argue for liberty on curiously old-fashioned grounds to conservatives: her manner was to challenge, to question. When other people generated enthusiasm while discussing a subject they thought was bound to suit her, she grew restless, squirmed in her chair, looked about with baleful eyes. She picked at something imaginary in her teeth as though she needed this preliminary breach of good manners in order to warm herself up for the real attack she was about to launch. The speaker became nervous, recognizing she wasn’t responding to his words with the customary nods and smiles, that in fact she was grooming herself like a lioness; he broke into a verbal run, hurtling over points, scattering notions, hoping something might appeal to her. At last the lioness focused on him with implacable eyes. ”What rubbish,” she said. ”I can’t tolerate another word.”
Jag känner i viss mån igen mig i Mathilda. Särskilt i detta med att få lust att säga emot: i nyliberalers sällskap blir jag t.ex. lätt kritisk mot deras hållningar, trots att jag i andra sammanhang i regel försvarar dem. Detta handlar alltså om något annat att säga emot därför att man ogillar hållningarna i sak – det handlar om en psykologisk attityd som i grunden kanske handlar om att inte vilja vara del av något kollektiv och att visa sitt intellektuella oberoende.