This is brilliant on so many levels
— John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley in Search of America
"I can never get used to the thousands of antique shops along the roads, all bulging with authentic and attested trash from an earlier time. I believe the population of the thirteen colonies was less than four million souls, and every one of them must have been frantically turning out tables, chairs, china, glass, candle molds, and oddly shaped bits of iron, copper, and brass for future sale to twentieth-century tourists. There are enough antiques for sale along the roads of New England alone to furnish the houses of a population of fifty million. If I were a good businessman, and cared a tittle for my unborn great grandchildren, which I do not, I would gather all the junk and the wrecked automobiles, comb the city dumps, and pile these gleanings in mountains and spray the whole thing with that stuff the Navy uses to mothball ships. At the end of a hundred years my descendants would be permitted to open this treasure trove and would be the antique kings of the world. If the battered, cracked, and broken stuff our ancestors tried to get rid of now brings so much money, think what a 1954 Oldsmobile, or a 1960 toastmaster will bring - and a vintage Waring Mixor - Lord, the possibilities are endless! Things we have to pay to have hauled away could bring fortunes."
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley in Search of America
— Søren Kierkegaard
"He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself:
- A day of dappled seaborne clouds.
The phrase and the day and the scene harmonized in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey-fringed fleece of clouds. No, it was not their colours: it was the poise and balance of the period itself. Did he then love the rhythmic rise and fall of words better than their associations of legend and colour? Or was it that, being as weak of sight as he was shy of mind, he drew less pleasure from the reflection of the glowing sensible world through the prism of a language many-coloured and richly storied than from the contemplation of an inner world of individual emotions mirrored perfectly in a lucid supple periodic prose?”
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Nadine taught Elementary German in English - she didn’t believe in “immersing” us in a language we could not yet understand. When new words came up, instead of going about it in toddler German, she simply gave us the English translation.
Of the hundreds of handouts we got that semester, I kept the one that listed the first German verbs we learnt, for till this day I still remember her firm voice slowly pronouncing each word, then putting them into English, and how it all inadvertently came out sounding like a treatise on metaphysics,
“fragen - to ask
gehen - to go
haben - to have
kommen - to come
lernen - to learn
lieben - to love
machen - to do
sagen - to say
sehen - to see
sein - to be.”
"At that moment he read on the tomb the date of his father’s birth, which he now discovered he had not known. Then he read the two dates, "1885-1914," and automatically did the arithmetic: twenty-nine years. Suddenly he was struck by an idea that shook his very being. He was forty years old. The man buried under that slab, who had been his father, was younger than he.
And the wave of tenderness and pity that at once filled his heart was not the stirring of the soul that leads the son to the memory of the vanished father, but the overwhelming compassion that a grown man feels for an unjustly murdered child - something here was not in the natural order and, in truth, there was no order but only madness and chaos when the son was older than the father. The course of time itself was shattering around him while he remained motionless among those tombs he now no longer saw, and the years no longer kept to their places in the great river that flows to its end. They were no more than waves and surf and eddies where Jacques Cormery was now struggling in the grip of anguish and pity. he looked at the other inscriptions in that section and realized from the dates that this soil was strewn with children who had been the fathers of graying men who thought they were living in this present…”
from Albert Camus’s unfinished autobiographical novel, The First Man
Stop. / Why? / Why are you always looking down, when you play? / I’m looking at the bow. / Why? / I’m afraid it’ll slide if I don’t watch it. / But it won’t - you’ll feel it on the string. / … / Why don’t you try looking up? / At what? / Anything, up, ahead, sideways, or just close your eyes and listen. But don’t stare at your bow like that. Ya, like that, look up.
It sounds like music now, doesn’t it? / Yes, it sounds like music now.
"He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact. Her faced, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was not the hysterical light of electricity but - what? But the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle. One time, when he was a child, in a power-failure, his mother had found and lit a last candle and there had been a brief hour of rediscovery, of such illumination that space lost its vast dimensions and drew comfortably around them, and they, mother and son, alone, transformed, hoping that the power might not come on again too soon…"
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
—10/31/13 3:21 PM
Last week at Sarah & Ralph’s place on the lakefront in Kingston. During a storm, there came clanking sounds from the boats at the marina that sounded like wind chimes.
Like me, K had vivid nightmares every single night when she was a kid. As a child, she hated books and she didn’t believe in God. There was a dark alley behind her house that gave her nameless fears when the night came, so she would never sleep facing the alley.
Then one day before going to sleep she started to pray. She said, if there is a God above, she asked that he take away her nightmares, and in return, she’ll be brave and sleep facing the alley. Then she lay down facing the direction of the darkness. And for the next two years, she never had another dream.