Tuesday, September 30, 2003

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
--the Bible

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Child, child, have patience and belief, for life is many days, and each present hour will pass away. Son, son, you have been mad and drunken, furious and wild, filled with hatred and despair, and all the dark confusions of the soul -- but so have we. You found the earth too great for your one life, you found your brain and sinew smaller than the hunger and desire that fed on them -- but it has been this way with all men. You have stumbled on in darkness, you have been pulled in opposite directions, you have faltered, you have missed the way -- but, child, this is the chronicle of the earth. And now, because you have known madness and despair, and because you will grow desperate again before you come to evening, we who have stormed the ramparts of the furious earth and been hurled back, we who have been maddened by the unknowable and bitter mystery of love, we who have hungered after fame and savored all of life, the tumult, pain, and frenzy, and now sit quietly by our windows watching all that henceforth never more shall touch us -- we call upon you to take heart, for we can swear to you that these things pass.

Thomas Wolfe
"Look Homeward, Angel"

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"The girls are made up of two halves -- one half is with the conservatory and only participates for money and feels like God's gift to the world, and the others are with the drama school. They don't get paid, but pay for it -- and feel like a million dollars. The same thing is true for the male extras. And they carry on in a way that I've never seen before in my life and treat me with condescension, which they are going to regret. And the real actors look down on those from the drama school and are sure to let them know. They also look down on each other, but that they don't show too much. In any case, there's a hell a lot of looking down on each other, and everyone thinks they're the only one who's wonderful. And the janitors are the only ones who act like normal people and greet you when you say hello to them."
--from The Artificial Silk Girl By Irmgard Keun

Thursday, May 08, 2003

"My mother told me that Abuela Celia was an atheist before I even understood what the word meant. I liked the sound of it, the derision with which my mother pronounced it, and knew immediately it was what I wanted to become. I don't know exactly when I stopped believing in God. It wasn't as deliberate as deciding, at age six, to become an atheist, but more like an imperceptible sloughing of layers. One day I noticed there was no more skin to absently peel, just air where there'd been artifice."
--Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

Friday, May 02, 2003

People always tell you to be honest with them but they are lying. No one wants that. Honesty sucks. That's why it is always preceded by words like 'brutal' or 'painful'
Everyone seems to hide the truth somehow
Maybe everyone has a reason to hide the truth. Honesty creates more problems than it solves, sometimes it can even kill. That's why people are afraid of the truth
-from Fearless By Francine Pascal
“I am an invisible man... I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”
-from the invisible man by Ralph Ellison

There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why-- when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead, when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation. She could not work on such a day, nor weave fancies to stir her pulses and warm her blood.

-Kate Chopin from The Awakening
And for the first time, or so it seemed, I noticed the piece on the right hand side. It was called "Perfectly Contented." I tried to play this one as well. It had a lighter melody but the same flowing rhythm and turned out to be quite easy. "Pleading Child" was shorter but slower, "Perfectly Contented" was longer and faster. And after I played them both a few times, I realized they were two halves of the same song. -Amy Tan in The Joy Luck Club
I always thought it mattered, to know what is the worst possible thing that can happen to you, to know how you can avoid it, to not be drawn by the magic of the unspeakable. Because, even as a young child, I could sense the unspoken terrors that surrounded our house, the ones that chased my mother until she hid in a dark corner of her mind. And still they found her, I watched, over the years, as they devoured her, piece by piece, until she disappeared and became a ghost. -Amy Tan in The Joy Luck Club

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

"Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell."
-Sam, The Return of the King
"I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. I must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to given them up, lose them, so that others may keep them."
-Frodo, The Return of the King
"I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death."
"Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends."
-Frodo and Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

"I wish none of this had happened."
"So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
-Frodo and Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

Monday, April 14, 2003

"Oh, nowadays so many conceited peole go about Society pretending to be good, that I think it shows rather a sweet and modest disposition to pretend to be bad. Besides, there is this to be said. If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
-Lord Darlington from Lady Wyndermere's Fan By Oscar Wilde

Monday, March 31, 2003

There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious.
-Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
-J.R.R Tolkein The Lord of the RIngs trilogy
"God creates dinosaurs; God destroys dinosaurs; God creates man; Man destroys God; Man creates dinosaurs."
--Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton)

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that
brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over
me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to its
path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain
--Frank Herbert Dune

Sunday, March 16, 2003

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
-- Anne Frank, diary entry (1944)
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat. "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Alice's Adventures Through the Looking-Glass

Monday, March 10, 2003

The ideal woman which is in every man's mind is evoked by a word or phrase or the shape of her wrist, her hand. The most beautiful description of a woman is by understatement. Remember, all Tolstoy ever said to describe Anna Karenina was that she was beautiful and could see in the dark like a cat. Every man has a different idea of what's beautiful, and it's best to take the gesture, the shadow of the branch, and let the mind create the tree.
~ William Faulkner (1955 seminar and speeches in Japan), Tokyo: Kenkyusha (1956). Faulkner at Nagano

Sunday, February 09, 2003

"When *I* use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
- Lewis Carroll, "Alice In Wonderland"
Book lovers are thought by unbookish people to be gentle and unworldly, and perhaps a few of them are so. But there are others who will lie and scheme and steal to get books as wildly and unconscionably as the dope-taker in pursuit of his drug. They may not want the books to read immediately, or at all; they want them to possess, to range on their shelves, to have at command. They want books as a Turk is thought to want concubines - not to be hastily deflowered, but to be kept at their master's call, and enjoyed more often in thought than in reality.
- Robertson Davies, Tempest-Tost (1951)
I have stolen more quotes and thoughts and purely elegant little starbursts of writing from the Book of Revelation than anything else in the English language---and it is not because I am a biblical scholar, or because of any religious faith, but because I love the wild power of the language and the purity of the madness that governs it and makes it music.

- Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all doing direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

- Charles Dickens, opening line of "A Tale of Two Cities"
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau, "Walden," 1854
We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.
- Dostoevsky, "Crime and Punishment"
Once I read an article by a man born and brought up in one of the countless brick terraces of south Manchester. He wrote that the supreme moment of his life had come when, as a little boy, he had gone out into the street during an air raid and looked at the sky. Suddenly he realised that somebody, at least, knew that he existed; somebody cared enough to be trying to kill him.

- From "Games With Shadows", Neal Ascherson, p.8
"Whats your best thing, then?" Jim took another long sip. "Must be good at something, Bill, everyone is."
Now this was an unfortunate question to ask of Roach just then for it occupied most of his waking hours. Indeed he had recently come to doubt whether he had any purpose on earth at all.
- Jim Prideaux & Bill Roach, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" : John Le Carre
Ask me no questions and Ill tell you no fibs.
- Oliver Goldsmith, "She Stoops to Conquer"
"I quite agree with you," said the Duchess; "and the moral of that is -- `Be what you would seem to be' -- or, if you'd like it put more simply -- `Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'"
- Lewis Carrol, "Alice in Wonderland"
"The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: Of shoes - and ships - and sealing max - Of cabbages and Kings - and why the sea is boiling hot - and whether pigs have wings."
- Lewis Carroll
There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
- C. S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
I used to think she was quite intelligent, in my stupidity. The reason I did was because she knew quite a lot about the theater and plays and literature and all that stuff. If somebody knows quite a lot about those things, it takes you quite a while to find out whether they're really stupid or not. It took me years to find out...
- J. D. Salinger, "The Catcher in the Rye"
"She's got an indiscreet voice", I remarked. "It's full of..." I hesitated.
"Her voice is full of money", he said suddenly.
That was it. I'd never understood before. It was full of money - that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Great Gatsby"
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
- George Orwell, "Animal Farm"
Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them.
- Joseph Heller, "Catch 22"
What if a demon were to creep after you one day or night, in your loneliest loneness, and say : "This life which you live and have lived, must be lived again by you, and innumerable times more. And there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh - everything unspeakably small and great in your life - must come again to you, and in the same sequence and series...". Would you not throw yourself down and curse the demon who spoke to you thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment, in which you would answer him : "Thou art a god, and never have I heard anything more divine!"
- Frederick Nietzsche, "The Gay Science", 1882
The thought of suicide is a great source of comfort: with it a calm passage is to be made across many a night.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, "Jenseits von Gut und Bose, IV, 157."
You can be obsessed by remorse all your life, not because you chose the wrong thing-- you can always repent, atone : but because you never had the chance to prove to yourself that you would have chosen the right thing.
- Umberto Eco, "Foucault's Pendulum"
Some things you can feel coming. You don't fall in love because you fall in love; you fall in love because of the need, desperate, to fall in love. When you feel that need, you have to watch your step: like having drunk a philter, the kind that makes you fall in love with the first thing you meet. It could be a duck-billed platypus.
- Umberto Eco, "Foucault's Pendulum"
What did I want?
I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, "The game's afoot!" I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and Lost Dauphin.
I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and to eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be the way they had promised me it was going to be, instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.
I had had one chance - for ten minutes yesterday afternoon. Helen of Troy, whatever your true name may be - and I had known it - and I had let it slip away. Maybe one chance is all you ever get.

- Robert A. Heinlein, "Glory Road"
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
~Emily Dickinson