Friday, July 31, 2009

heep see (special summer reading edition)

José Donoso: The Obscene Bird of Night
"Boy was to grow up believing that things came into being as his eyes discovered them and died when he stopped looking at them, that they were nothing but the outer shell perceived by his eyes, that other forms of birth and death didn't exist, and, so much was this the case, that the most important among the words Boy would ever know were all those signifying origin and end. No whys, whens, outsides, insides, befores, afters; no arriving or leaving, no systems or generalizations. A bird crossing the sky at a certain hour was not a bird crossing the sky at a certain hour, it wasn't headed for other places because other places didn't exist; Boy must live in an enchanted present, in the limbo of accident, of the particular circumstance, in the isolation of the object and the moment without a key or a meaning that could subject him to a rule and, in subjecting him to it, cast him into the infinite void it was necessary for him to avoid."

Janet Malcolm: In the Freud Archives
"When I was little, I remember how astonished and interested I was in how easy it is to take life-- when you're driving a car, all you have to do is move the wheel a few inches to the left and you kill somebody and also die yourself-- and how difficult it is to keep alive someone who is sick. Building is interesting, because it's ultimately impossible, I suppose, but killing is boring. It's easy to see through something --to show how stupid it is, or how wrong-- but that doesn't take very long, and then you're finished."

Jean Renoir: Renoir, My Father
"What most struck outsiders at first meeting were his eyes and his hands. His eyes were light brown, bordering on amber; and they were sharp and penetrating. He would often point out a bird of prey on the horizon flying over the valley, or a ladybird climbing up a single blade in a tuft of grass. We, with our young eyes, had to look carefully, concentrate and examine everything closely, whereas he took in immediately everything that interested him, whether near or far...As for their expression, they had a look of tenderness mixed with irony, of merriment and sensuousness. They always seemed to be laughing, perceiving the odd side of things. But it was a gentle and loving laughter. Perhaps it also served as a mask. For Renoir was extremely shy about his feelings and never liked to give any sign of the emotion that overpowered him when he looked at flowers, women or clouds -- other men touch a thing or caress it."

John Williams: Stoner
"But he was not beyond love, he knew, and would never be. Beneath the numbness, the indifference, the removal, it was there, intense and steady; it had always been there. In his youth he had given it freely, without thought...He had, in odd ways, given it to every moment of his life, and had perhaps given it most fully when he was unaware of his giving. It was a passion neither of the mind nor of the flesh; rather, it was a force that comprehended them both, as if they were but the matter of love, its specific substance. To a woman or to a poem, it said simply: Look! I am alive."