“I am reminded of Sebald’s account of an experiment that intrigued him.’They put a rat in a cylinder that is full of water and the rat swims around for about a minute until it sees that it can’t get out and then it dies of cardiac arrest,’ he told me. A second rat is placed in a similar cylinder, except that this cylinder has a ladder, which enables the rat to climb out. ‘Then, if you put this rat in another cylinder and don’t offer it a ladder, it will keep swimming until it dies of exhaustion,’ he explained. ‘You’re given something—a holiday in Tene-rife, or you meet a nice person—and so you carry on, even though it’s quite hopeless. That may tell you everything you need to know.'”

Arthur Lubow, “A Symposium on W.G. Sebald.”

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