“All of the faces, young, old, male, female, white and brown and black, were part of the many faces of the great sad thing that moves itself from here to there and back again in all forms of transit. Faces staring into space, faces reading faces looking inward at the stories inside them.”
- From Russell Hoban’s Linger Awhile
“Fools! Fools! I thought. Love it! Love the loss as well as the gain. Go home and dig it. Nobody was killed. We saw victory and defeat, and they were both wonderful.”
- Barry Hannah, “Midnight and I’m Not Famous Yet”
So I get these awful headaches. I don’t know what causes them. They basically creep up on me and floor me for a day or two. This weekend has been one of those instances. I slept twenty hours on Saturday and hardly moved from the bed today. My doctor (God bless him and his luchador mask) told me not to take any caffeine or alcohol when I get them, so I’ve tried to stick to that.
But, jeez, what a drag.
Anyway, enough of my whining, here’s Lewis Carroll from his pamphlet Feeding the Mind:
“To ascertain the healthiness of the mental appetite of a human animal, place in its hands a short, well-written, but not exciting treatise on some popular subject—a mental bun, in fact. If it is read with eager interest and perfect attention, and if the reader can answer questions on the subject afterwards, the mind is in first-rate working order. If it be politely laid down again, or perhaps lounged over for a few minutes, and then, ‘I can’t read this stupid book! Would you hand me the second volume of “The Mysterious Murder”?’ you may be equally sure that there is something wrong in the mental digestion.”
It’s worth a read.
“He had read endless books, he had digested them, pondered over them. Day by day, year after year, he had turned over all the problems of human beings. Yet there were all sorts of simple things he didn’t know how to do: he couldn’t even walk into an inn and sit down at a table.”
- Georges Simenon, The Strangers in the House
Finished this book this afternoon. I think Simenon’s terrific but he’s one of those authors I can’t read a lot of in one go. Great stuff and he’s writing on all cylinders here, but if I spend too long with his style it becomes so transparent it’s like seeing how the magician does his tricks.
Character-arc spoilers: The novel’s about a drunken recluse. At the end he’s still a drunk, but no longer a recluse. This is something of a happy ending.
“Monks, prisoners, conscripts, have the support of rule: they live as they are ordered to. The exile has nothing but himself to depend on. If he chooses to lie on the ground and yell, he may be a nuisance but he is not an offender. If he he tries to be a model exile, he makes a rope of sand. His conformity is of no account, and is based on guesswork, anyway. Accident may tell him he has guessed wrong, experiment on experiment may lead him to guess right. But that, too, is by accident. He plays a kind of Hunt the Thimble without knowing what a thimble looks like.”
- “The Climate of Exile” by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing back
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road–
Only wakes upon the sea.
- Antonio Machado
“A reason knowledge/learning in general is so unpopular with so many people is because very early we all learn there is a phenomenologically unpleasant side to it: to learn anything entails the fact that there is no way to escape learning that you were formerly ignorant, to learn that you were a fool, that you have already lost irretrievable opportunities, that you have made wrong choices, that you were silly and limited. These lessons are not pleasant. The acquisition of knowledge–especially when we are young–again and again includes this experience.
“Thus most people soon actively desire to stay clear of the whole process, because by the time we are seven or eight we know exactly what the repercussions and reactions will be. One moves toward knowledge through a gauntlet of inescapable insults–the most painful of them often self-tendered.”
- Samuel R. Delany, About Writing
“For me the daylight world is but an illusion; the dreams of a night are real. That is where my true life lies.” – Edogawa Rampo
“Also in Raissa, city of sadness, there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that at every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence.”