He cannot give answers to questions like these. He cannot give answers because he is not in the mood for answers. That is what it means to be gloomy: at a level far below the play and flicker of the intellect (Why not this? Why not that?) he, he, the he he calls sometimes you, sometimes I, is all too ready to embrace darkness, stillness, extinction. He: not the one whose mind used to dart this way and that but the one who aches all night.
— From Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee, quoted in Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours by Noga Arikha.
from What We See When We Read
Started a new notebook.
Ettore Tito, With a Rose in Her Lips, 1895.
Life’s not complete without some kind of haunting. There on the very fringes of tranquillity… should be at least one or two pacing wolves.
— From Asunder by Chloe Aridjis.
Folly by Meghan Howland, 2014.
Ectatica II by Meghan Howland, 2013.
I was staring at you and you were staring at me and right then it was sort of like love, wasn’t it?
— From This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz.
Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted—? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster? […] If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or […] is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?
— From The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
You are, you know, you were the nearest thing to a real story to happen in my life.
— From Renata Adler’s Pitch Dark, a refrain.
What is one thing that you desire to say as a poet, but haven’t said yet? What does the future hold for you, if you could hold it?Ocean Vuong
: I don’t really know. I often find myself writing to the terrified versions of myself. And maybe all I really want to say—if anything at all—is that you (whoever you are) are not alone. Maybe because this is what some of the most important writers in my life have been telling me over and over again in their myriad and unique ways. I go back to the boy I once was, the boy who hid in the library during recces to read a book covered in his lap so no one will know he has betrayed “fun” for secrets. So no one will know he loves words. Because lovers of words were thought to be weak and effeminate. And effeminate boys were strange and strange things don’t last very long in this world. So I read to find my own hand in the pages of books. In the future, I want to keep holding books. To touch myself on each page, saying “I am here. I am here. I am here.”