Stephen Fry’s letter to his younger self

May 6, 2009

This makes me glad to be alive. I have a certain picture I address when I read this out loud. Sappiness++

Of course, I’m quoting out of context. This letter’s true purpose is to confront Stephen Fry’s (from Fry and Laurie, Blackadder and QI) younger self’s struggles with his homosexuality but it’s more than that. Fry says as much, which makes me feel okay about co-opting his wonderful words. It’s a universal adolescent struggle, I think, that mad combination of despair and yearning. It made my heart soar a little bit reading. I wonder what my younger self would think of me now.

Oh, lord love you, Stephen. How I admire your arrogance and rage and misery. How pure and righteous they are and how passionately storm-drenched was your adolescence. How filled with true feeling, fury, despair, joy, anxiety, shame, pride and above all, supremely above all, how overpowered it was by love. My eyes fill with tears just to think of you. Of me. Tears splash on to my keyboard now. I am perhaps happier now than I have ever been and yet I cannot but recognise that I would trade all that I am to be you, the eternally unhappy, nervous, wild, wondering and despairing 16-year-old Stephen: angry, angst-ridden and awkward but alive. Because you know how to feel, and knowing how to feel is more important than how you feel. Deadness of soul is the only unpardonable crime, and if there is one thing happiness can do it is mask deadness of soul.

Oh, to be preserved so. Stephen Fry is a sentimental wanker. 🙂

This is how the letter ends. Bruno Schulz referred to the state Fry is referring as the Republic of Dreams. It’s an extraordinary place. I wonder if I still have the keys.

You poor dear, dear thing. Look at you weltering in your misery. The extraordinary truth is that you want to stay there. Unlike so many of the young, you do not yearn for adulthood, pubs and car keys. You want to stay where you are, in the Republic of Pubescence, where feeling has primacy and pain is beautiful. And you know what … ?

I think you are right.

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