Terrible enfant

Andrew Hodges Alan Turing: The Engima of Intelligence

The confusion and conflicts that underlay his apparently single-minded homosexual identity reflected the fact that the world did not allow a gay man to be ‘ordinary’ or indeed ‘authentic’; to live simply, without making a fuss; to be truly personal, without taking a public stand.


The yellow brick road divided, and there were no signposts provided to say which was the true and which the imitation path. But the uncertainty in Alan Turing’s life, the wavering between parts that struck observers most forcibly was seen not so much in terms of class, professional status, or gender, but in his oscillation between ‘adult’ and ‘child’ role in life.


It was an ambivalence with meanings at several different levels — an intellectual level in his refusal to be defined by his existing reputation, breaking instead into an entirely new sphere of work when approaching forty. And of course it held an erotic meaning, part of his response to the situation of homosexual men in general, in which the roles of seeker and sought were more fluid and diffuse than in heterosexual relationships. […] But beyond these meanings the boy-man quality of Alan Turing also reflected that most central question of his existence, one more special to himself. He had not wanted to ‘come of age’ at twenty-one, and as it transpired, he just avoided seeing the age of forty-two.

I like how this passage circles from the general to the particular: the exemplar becomes unique. And the road remains open on rereading to travel the other way, from example to principle.

And so for day 469

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