“I long to grapple with danger, to be excited by fear, to have some task, however slight or voluntary, for each day’s fulfilment. I shall witness all the variety of appearance, that the elements can assume - I shall read fair augury in the rainbow—menace in the cloud—some lesson or record dear to my heart in everything. Thus around the shores of deserted earth, while the sun is high, and the moon waxes or wanes, angels, the spirits of the dead, and the ever-open eye of the Supreme, will behold the tiny bark, freighted with Verney - the LAST MAN.”—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, final sentences from The Last Man
It is on our hands, it is in our mouths at every breath, how not remember? Called back to nights when we were wildlife, before kindling or kine, we sit behind moonlit glass in our McMansions, cool millions at rehearsal here for our rendezvous each with his own earth hour.
We are feral at heart, unhouseled creatures. Mind is the maker, mad for light, for enlightenment, this late admission of darkness the cost, and the silence on our tongue as we count the hour down - the coin we bring, long hoarded just for this - the extended cry of our first coming to this ambulant, airy Schatzkammer and midden, our green accommodating tomb.
there were so many books. she had to separate them to avoid being overwhelmed by the excessive implications of their words. she kept hundreds in a series of boxes inside a wire cage in a warehouse. and hundreds more on the shelves of her various rooms. when she changed houses she would pack some of the books into the boxes and exchange them for others that had been hibernating. these resurrected books were precious to her for a while. they had assumed the patinas of dusty chthonic wisdoms. and thus she would let them sit on the shelves admiring them from a distance. gathering time and air. she did not want to be intimate with their insides. the atmospherics suggested by the titles were enough. sometimes she would increase the psychic proximities between herself and the books and place a pile of them on the floor next to her bed. and quite possibly she absorbed their intentions while she slept.
if she intended travelling beyond a few hours she would occasionally remove a book from the shelves and place it in her bag. she carried ‘the poetics of space’ round india for three months and it returned to her shelves undamaged at the completion of the journey. every day of those three months she touched it and read some of the titles of its chapters to make sure it was there. and real. chapters called house and universe, nests, shells, intimate immensity, miniatures and, the significance of the hut. she had kept it in a pocket of her bag together with a coloured whistle and an acorn. she now kept this book in the darkness of her reference shelf. and she knew that one day she would have to admit to herself that this was the only book she had need of, that this was the book she would enter the pages of, that this was the book she was going to read
- by Joanne Burns, from blowing bubbles in the 7th lane: small stories, 1988 via poetry foundation
“The painter Willem de Kooning famously called himself a slipping glimpser, slipping into the glimpse—slipping toward the image—that he would then arrest in paint. I spend much of my time trying to write poems about what I can single out from my own slipping, which is difficult because when you’re slipping you tend to keep your eyes trained on your feet to keep from crashing; it’s hard to lift your eyes so that the world can be attended to. Easy to forget, the world is still occurring outside the drama of the self, and the poem of the self is going to be limited unless the world can enter in.”—Lucia Perillo, from “The Glimpse,” in I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature (Trinity University Press, 2007)
“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think, the way they see themselves, the way they see the world—you can change the way people live their lives. That’s the only lasting thing you can create.”—Chuck Palahniuk, from Choke
“Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.”—Gabriel García Márquez, from One Hundred Years of Solitude (via the-final-sentence)
“… And that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”—Gabriel García Márquez, from One Hundred Years of Solitude
“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson, during his Reddit AMA (March 01, 2012)
Old age (the name that others give it) can be the time of our greatest bliss. The animal has died or almost died. The man and his spirit remain. I live among vague, luminous shapes that are not darkness yet. Buenos Aires, whose edges disintegrated into the endless plain, has gone back to being the Recoleta, the Retiro, the nondescript streets of the Once, and the rickety old houses we still call the South. In my life there were always too many things. Democritus of Abdera plucked out his eyes in order to think: Time has been my Democritus. This penumbra is slow and does not pain me; it flows down a gentle slope, resembling eternity. My friends have no faces, women are what they were so many years ago, these corners could be other corners, there are no letters on the pages of books. All this should frighten me, but it is a sweetness, a return. Of the generations of texts on earth I will have read only a few– the ones that I keep reading in my memory, reading and transforming. From South, East, West, and North the paths converge that have led me to my secret center. Those paths were echoes and footsteps, women, men, death-throes, resurrections, days and nights, dreams and half-wakeful dreams, every inmost moment of yesterday and all the yesterdays of the world, the Dane’s staunch sword and the Persian’s moon, the acts of the dead, shared love, and words, Emerson and snow, so many things. Now I can forget them. I reach my center, my algebra and my key, my mirror. Soon I will know who I am.
“Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due.”—
“Every photograph, every novel, every poem and painting carries an aura of mystery, a graceful reminder of our own mortality. And we do what we can to resolve that mystery. It is this dialogue—between things known and unknowable, between memory and death (for what is death but forgetting, writ large?)—that we chiefly love, that makes us human.”—
“I am not good. I am not virtuous. I am not sympathetic. I am not generous. I am merely and above all a creature of intense passionate feeling. I feel — everything. It is my genius. It burns me like fire.”—Mary MacLane, from "I Await the Devil’s Coming" (via weissewiese)
I often wonder what it must be like to be a bona fide grown-up. Responsible, organised, and confident that the mantle of adulthood is a proper fit. My life is still all fits and starts; a giddy, capricious loop of play and counterplay between sense and nonsense.
“Spring is a happiness so beautiful, so unique, so unexpected, that I don’t know what to do with my heart. I dare not take it, I dare not leave it – what do you advise?”—Emily Dickinson, from a letter to Louise and Frances Norcross, late April 1873 (via litverve)