“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.
Another portrait by one of my students. Dig the Maynard G. Krebs beard.
Still coughing and limping. I went back to the doctor’s for a check-up. I have another six days in my cast, but he says my ankle’s healing quite well.
From the Ray Bradbury Paris Review interview: “I type my first draft quickly, impulsively even. A few days later I retype the whole thing and my subconscious, as I retype, gives me new words. Maybe it’ll take retyping it many times until it is done. Sometimes it takes very little revision.”
That makes me think a bit.
“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
“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.”
“Afterward I remembered these things very clearly, with that longing we feel sometimes to recover a state of life that we have lost for ever, though perhaps that we have lost it is all its value.”
Google keeps a gallery of all their homepage “doodles” from around the world. I hadn’t seen the Stanislaw Lem one (above). It’s even interactive, which is fun since deskwarming and all. Not that it’s appropriate for today, but we take what we can get in this world.
“The reason, if I can put it this way, is simply because it would be awkward for me to get into my bed of creation wearing heavy boots of realism. Solaris is about love and the mysterious ocean, and that is what is important about it. As to how the protagonist actually got to the planet, I pretend that I do not know.”
- Stanislaw Lem
1. A shop with its own weather, the Thousand Spiders was a place of gut-turning symmetries and the slap of palpable etheric manipulation. In fact it was impossible to tell whether you really wanted to buy what you bought there.
2. In the past everyone had feared Dumbar because his head was actually a chrysalis for another animal. In recent times his face had been almost transparent and they could see something bustle and shift behind it. Finally he’d stopped short in the middle of a conversation and opened his mouth, from which a bunch of fiddling spider legs fanned. Everything else followed and he was speechless and shaking, the only one without a scream to offer as the dog-sized bug quivered into a corner and stayed there to dry off.
3. ‘Oh I heard the voice of God once,’ Edgy told him. ‘Yeah, I was at a buffet, you know? And I was going for the chicken, and this voice from above said, “Take the ham.” So that’s what I did.’
‘Take the ham? And that’s the only time God ever chose to give you advice?’
‘Correct. I can only conclude that in every other area of my life I’ve been right on the money.’
- All from Only An Alligator by Steve Aylett