Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The world is full of ways and means to waste time.

Haruki Murakami, Dance, Dance, Dance

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Te spectem, suprema mihi cum venerit hora,
Et teneam moriens deficiente manu.

(May I be looking at you when my last hour has come,
And dying may I hold you with my weakening hand.)


Friday, October 05, 2012

She hated the urgency with which some people read newspapers, their belief that the mere knowledge of certain events - belated, incomplete, and often false knowledge - made them active participants in society.

Lara Vapnyar, "Fischer vs Spassky," in The New Yorker of October 8, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Despite knowing what it takes to be content, a man might still be unhappy.

Orhan PamukMy Name Is Red

Monday, September 03, 2012

To God belongs the East and the West.  May He protect us from the will of the pure and unadulterated.

Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sometimes it is not wise to persist in explaining oneself.

Amitay Ghosh, River of Smoke.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements--surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job 38:4-7

Saturday, August 04, 2012

I can see, he said, that you are about to make obvious remarks.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sin, be it in thought or deed, is a transgression of His law and God would not be God if He did not punish the transgressor.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joyce on Hell

—Now let us try for a moment to realize, as far as we can, the nature of that abode of the damned which the justice of an offended God has called into existence for the eternal punishment of sinners. Hell is a strait and dark and foul-smelling prison, an abode of demons and lost souls, filled with fire and smoke. The straitness of this prison house is expressly designed by God to punish those who refused to be bound by His laws. In earthly prisons the poor captive has at least some liberty of movement, were it only within the four walls of his cell or in the gloomy yard of his prison. Not so in hell. There, by reason of the great number of the damned, the prisoners are heaped together in their awful prison, the walls of which are said to be four thousand miles thick: and the damned are so utterly bound and helpless that, as a blessed saint, saint Anselm, writes in his book on similitudes, they are not even able to remove from the eye a worm that gnaws it.
—They lie in exterior darkness. For, remember, the fire of hell gives forth no light. As, at the command of God, the fire of the Babylonian furnace lost its heat but not its light, so, at the command of God, the fire of hell, while retaining the intensity of its heat, burns eternally in darkness. It is a never ending storm of darkness, dark flames and dark smoke of burning brimstone, amid which the bodies are heaped one upon another without even a glimpse of air. Of all the plagues with which the land of the Pharaohs were smitten one plague alone, that of darkness, was called horrible. What name, then, shall we give to the darkness of hell which is to last not for three days alone but for all eternity?
—The horror of this strait and dark prison is increased by its awful stench. All the filth of the world, all the offal and scum of the world, we are told, shall run there as to a vast reeking sewer when the terrible conflagration of the last day has purged the world. The brimstone, too, which burns there in such prodigious quantity fills all hell with its intolerable stench; and the bodies of the damned themselves exhale such a pestilential odour that, as saint Bonaventure says, one of them alone would suffice to infect the whole world. The very air of this world, that pure element, becomes foul and unbreathable when it has been long enclosed. Consider then what must be the foulness of the air of hell. Imagine some foul and putrid corpse that has lain rotting and decomposing in the grave, a jelly-like mass of liquid corruption. Imagine such a corpse a prey to flames, devoured by the fire of burning brimstone and giving off dense choking fumes of nauseous loathsome decomposition. And then imagine this sickening stench, multiplied a millionfold and a millionfold again from the millions upon millions of fetid carcasses massed together in the reeking darkness, a huge and rotting human fungus. Imagine all this, and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.
—But this stench is not, horrible though it is, the greatest physical torment to which the damned are subjected. The torment of fire is the greatest torment to which the tyrant has ever subjected his fellow creatures. Place your finger for a moment in the flame of a candle and you will feel the pain of fire. But our earthly fire was created by God for the benefit of man, to maintain in him the spark of life and to help him in the useful arts, whereas the fire of hell is of another quality and was created by God to torture and punish the unrepentant sinner. Our earthly fire also consumes more or less rapidly according as the object which it attacks is more or less combustible, so that human ingenuity has even succeeded in inventing chemical preparations to check or frustrate its action. But the sulphurous brimstone which burns in hell is a substance which is specially designed to burn for ever and for ever with unspeakable fury. Moreover, our earthly fire destroys at the same time as it burns, so that the more intense it is the shorter is its duration; but the fire of hell has this property, that it preserves that which it burns, and, though it rages with incredible intensity, it rages for ever.
—Our earthly fire again, no matter how fierce or widespread it may be, is always of a limited extent; but the lake of fire in hell is boundless, shoreless and bottomless. It is on record that the devil himself, when asked the question by a certain soldier, was obliged to confess that if a whole mountain were thrown into the burning ocean of hell it would be burned up In an instant like a piece of wax. And this terrible fire will not afflict the bodies of the damned only from without, but each lost soul will be a hell unto itself, the boundless fire raging in its very vitals. O, how terrible is the lot of those wretched beings! The blood seethes and boils in the veins, the brains are boiling in the skull, the heart in the breast glowing and bursting, the bowels a red-hot mass of burning pulp, the tender eyes flaming like molten balls.
—And yet what I have said as to the strength and quality and boundlessness of this fire is as nothing when compared to its intensity, an intensity which it has as being the instrument chosen by divine design for the punishment of soul and body alike. It is a fire which proceeds directly from the ire of God, working not of its own activity but as an instrument of Divine vengeance. As the waters of baptism cleanse the soul with the body, so do the fires of punishment torture the spirit with the flesh. Every sense of the flesh is tortured and every faculty of the soul therewith: the eyes with impenetrable utter darkness, the nose with noisome odours, the ears with yells and howls and execrations, the taste with foul matter, leprous corruption, nameless suffocating filth, the touch with redhot goads and spikes, with cruel tongues of flame. And through the several torments of the senses the immortal soul is tortured eternally in its very essence amid the leagues upon leagues of glowing fires kindled in the abyss by the offended majesty of the Omnipotent God and fanned into everlasting and ever-increasing fury by the breath of the anger of the God-head.
—Consider finally that the torment of this infernal prison is increased by the company of the damned themselves. Evil company on earth is so noxious that the plants, as if by instinct, withdraw from the company of whatsoever is deadly or hurtful to them. In hell all laws are overturned—there is no thought of family or country, of ties, of relationships. The damned howl and scream at one another, their torture and rage intensified by the presence of beings tortured and raging like themselves. All sense of humanity is forgotten. The yells of the suffering sinners fill the remotest corners of the vast abyss. The mouths of the damned are full of blasphemies against God and of hatred for their fellow sufferers and of curses against those souls which were their accomplices in sin. In olden times it was the custom to punish the parricide, the man who had raised his murderous hand against his father, by casting him into the depths of the sea in a sack in which were placed a cock, a monkey, and a serpent. The intention of those law-givers who framed such a law, which seems cruel in our times, was to punish the criminal by the company of hurtful and hateful beasts. But what is the fury of those dumb beasts compared with the fury of execration which bursts from the parched lips and aching throats of the damned in hell when they behold in their companions in misery those who aided and abetted them in sin, those whose words sowed the first seeds of evil thinking and evil living in their minds, those whose immodest suggestions led them on to sin, those whose eyes tempted and allured them from the path of virtue. They turn upon those accomplices and upbraid them and curse them. But they are helpless and hopeless: it is too late now for repentance.
—Last of all consider the frightful torment to those damned souls, tempters and tempted alike, of the company of the devils. These devils will afflict the damned in two ways, by their presence and by their reproaches. We can have no idea of how horrible these devils are. Saint Catherine of Siena once saw a devil and she has written that, rather than look again for one single instant on such a frightful monster, she would prefer to walk until the end of her life along a track of red coals. These devils, who were once beautiful angels, have become as hideous and ugly as they once were beautiful. They mock and jeer at the lost souls whom they dragged down to ruin. It is they, the foul demons, who are made in hell the voices of conscience. Why did you sin? Why did you lend an ear to the temptings of friends? Why did you turn aside from your pious practices and good works? Why did you not shun the occasions of sin? Why did you not leave that evil companion? Why did you not give up that lewd habit, that impure habit? Why did you not listen to the counsels of your confessor? Why did you not, even after you had fallen the first or the second or the third or the fourth or the hundredth time, repent of your evil ways and turn to God who only waited for your repentance to absolve you of your sins? Now the time for repentance has gone by. Time is, time was, but time shall be no more! Time was to sin in secrecy, to indulge in that sloth and pride, to covet the unlawful, to yield to the promptings of your lower nature, to live like the beasts of the field, nay worse than the beasts of the field, for they, at least, are but brutes and have no reason to guide them: time was, but time shall be no more. God spoke to you by so many voices, but you would not hear. You would not crush out that pride and anger in your heart, you would not restore those ill-gotten goods, you would not obey the precepts of your holy church nor attend to your religious duties, you would not abandon those wicked companions, you would not avoid those dangerous temptations. Such is the language of those fiendish tormentors, words of taunting and of reproach, of hatred and of disgust. Of disgust, yes! For even they, the very devils, when they sinned, sinned by such a sin as alone was compatible with such angelical natures, a rebellion of the intellect: and they, even they, the foul devils must turn away, revolted and disgusted, from the contemplation of those unspeakable sins by which degraded man outrages and defiles the temple of the Holy Ghost, defiles and pollutes himself.

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Friday, July 13, 2012

Everyone has a voice that can be lost.

Jessica Otto, 4AM

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The eloquent fact remained that the sea was there in all its glory and in the natural course of things somebody or other had to sail on it and fly in the face of providence.

 James Joyce, Ulysses

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He saw that he was in the land of Phenomenon where he must for a certain one day die as he was like the rest too a passing show.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Friday, June 08, 2012

We are means to those small creatures within us and nature has other ends than we.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Sunday, May 27, 2012

For an advertisement you must have repetition.  That's the whole secret.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flatter.  Rarely.  But flatter.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Sunday, May 13, 2012

His own image to a man with that queer thing genius is the standard of all experience, material and moral.  Such an appeal will touch him.  The images of other males of his blood will repel him.  He will see in them grotesque attempts of nature to foretell or to repeat himself.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This owner, that.  Landlord never dies they say.  Other steps into his shoes when he gets his notice to quit.  They buy the place up with gold and still they have all the gold.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The soul is in a manner all that is: the soul is the form of forms.

James Joyce, Ulysses

Friday, April 13, 2012

Time has branded them and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass?

James Joyce, Ulysses

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Quiero hacer contigo
Lo que la primavera
Hace con los cerezos

Pablo Neruda, Poem 14 of the Twenty Poems of Love

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He did not think he was fleeing from anything behind him, nor, most importantly, towards anything in front of him; in other words he fully accepted the paradox implied in the conclusion that his movements had direction but no aim.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Thursday, March 22, 2012

He had to ignore the itch, the desire to intervene, for the purpose and significance of action were being corroded away by its thoroughgoing lack of significance.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I want to be an idiot and tell the king good and proper that his country is rubbish.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For decades he had acted in the belief that his intellect and sensibility led him to reject a world whose products were unbearable to either intellect or sensibility, but were always available for criticism by the same.... such mad grandiosely dignified declarations could hardly be regarded as anything but eccentric.  However, this did not stop him making them.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Friday, March 09, 2012

I still cannot understand why it should be the cause of such universal celebration ... that we have climbed out of the trees.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Our every moment is passed in a procession across dawns and day's-ends of the orbiting earth, across successive waves of winter and summer, threading the planets and the stars.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Monday, March 05, 2012

He took it for granted that his great concern for the universe was unlikely to be reciprocated by the universe for him. ... His relationship to his fellow human beings was governed by the same unconscious assumption; being unable to detect mutability where there plainly wasn't any, he made like the raindrop relinquishing hold of the cloud which contained it.

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nobody with four Aces wants a New Deal.

From Davos 2012 by way of The New Yorker of March 5, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If I acted, then the faith would surely follow.  After that, I would believe because I had acted.

John le Carre, Absolute Friends

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

How could anybody, let alone a man like me, expect to blend in in a land where the people are so very, very small.

T. Coraghessan Boyle, "Los Gigante" in The New Yorker of February 6, 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Most people in the world don't really use their brains to think. And people who don't think are the ones who don't listen to others.

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Friday, January 20, 2012

They were people who had no doubt whatsoever that the more narrow-minded they became, the closer they got to heaven.

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nobody's easier to fool than the person who is convinced that he is right.

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Monday, January 16, 2012

He knew that bad premonitions have a far higher accuracy rate than good ones.

Haruki Murakami, 1Q84