“It is the notion that being exposed to the Great Books and the Great Thoughts must lead to Great Morals; unfortunately, we should probably be satisfied if it leads to a decent vocabulary now and then.”
– from Robert Sapolsky’s, The Trouble With Testosterone
“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.”
“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