Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heart Of Darkness

"It is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning -- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone."

... Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

The Iliad

"Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another."

... The Iliad, Homer

Odysseus: "Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone and wonder who we were: how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved?"

... Troy

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Sheltering Sky

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that is so deeply part of your being that you, that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless."

... The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

Ultimate Frisbee

Another favorite sport I will be playing today.

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport,
Not your average play with your dog,
It’s very dangerous as you know,
You could bleed to death or break your bone.

The first step that you must always know,
Never mess up your throw,
Get plenty of sleep and rest,
So you could perform your very best.

Ultimate Frisbee started not long ago,
It started in 1968 by a young man named Joel,
He proposed to a school for a Frisbee team,
The school accepted and he fulfilled his dream.

The objective of the game is to score,
But be careful not to start the 3rdWorld War,
Try not to hit your opponent, and make them sore,
Or not they will call you a “blind fat boar”.

Strategies and tactics are important too,
Don’t follow the disc everywhere like a lost kangaroo,
But don’t always stand still like a straight bamboo,
And make sure you're not as lazy as Winnie the pooh.
When you're in a Frisbee club you’re all a family,
Be sure not to make them your enemies,
Or not your coach will go all E.M.O and mad,
Then your coach will leave you just like that.

To qualify in a tournament you have to master,
Your backhand, forehand and your hammer,
Its not that easy to master all,
There are times when you stumble and fall.

Team spirit is important,
Not just scoring more than your opponent,
Most tournaments even give an award,
To the team with the most spirit but not to the one that scored.

Never ever clump up in one place,
Or it will be hard for the disc to be chased,
Remember to block your opponent with the disc,
If you don't, your opponent winning the game is your risk.
It doesn’t matter if you win or lose,
It's how you play the game, not how the game plays you,
When you get a scratch, a drip of blood or
even a bruise,
Don’t give up, just continue..

... Ultimate Frisbee, CherryTeddyYukiBerry

Volleyball

My team will win the match this afternoon!

My head is throbbing,
I can't see straight.
Our score is three,
Their score is eight.
We're down by five,
We're catching up.
My turn to serve,
Please don't mess up!

My serve is over,
To the right.
Out of bounds,
And out of sight.
"Oh no!" I yell,
The other team cheers.
Their turn to serve,
I'm close to tears.

Her back is straight,
Her arms are long.
Their score at eight,
But not for long.
The toss goes up,
The crowd looks down.
Her serve is short,
Her teammates frown.

Our turn again,
To serve once more.
It's in the air,
It hits the floor! 
One point for blue,
Still down by five.
But not for long,
We're coming alive!!!

It's still our serve,
She throws it up.
What a curve!
Another point for blue!
Their faces blank,
They don't know what to do.
We got it back and won the game.
We stole the ball,
Put them to shame.

As you may see,
Volleyball is an intense game.
But when you win,
No one's to blame.

... Volleyball, Randee Renee Friman

Nuggets

It was a poor game and you were outplayed by Kobe and Gasol. 
There is always next season.

If you lose by 1 or 52
They game is over and there is nothing you can do
Thats a loss on your record and a win that you didn't get
No matter how good you played, as a team you played like you didn't want it

There was that free throw you missed and the rebound you should have got
You threw stupid passes and took careless shots
You may have fouled out or played D like you didn't care
Doesn't matter the guilt and shame of losing is what you now have to bare

You got ripped, you got packed
You messed up every play from LA to stack
You didn't post up or play the game with heart
You didn't change at all, your end matched you start

You came out thinking you would win
Losing was one thing that you didn't even comprehend
You lost the jump just like you lost this game
Go ahead walk off, You're the one to blame

People say "Don't be too hard on youself you did good,
You did everything that you could"
You nod your head and act like you believe
But all you want is for them to leave

No matter what anyone will say
It doesn't take away the pain of losing the game
You will have to walk into that locker room believing you are the only one to blame
Because whether you lost by 1 or 52 you lost the game, So take your shame

... Take Your Shame, Rachel Elaine Kearnes

Thursday, May 28, 2009

That I Did Always Love

That I did always love, 
I bring thee proof: 
That till I loved 
I did not love enough. 

That I shall love alway, 
I offer thee 
That love is life, 
And life hath immortality. 

This, dost thou doubt, sweet? 
Then have I 
Nothing to show 
But Calvary.

... That I Did Always Love, Emily Dickinson

It's All I Have To Bring To-Day

It's all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget, --
Someone the sum could tell, --
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.

... It's All I Have To Bring To-Day, Emily Dickinson

Directions

Dedicated to my 2 good friends after a hike at Chautauqua Park today. 
This was the view where we sat and chat this afternoon :)
Have a blast in Utah for me!

You know the brick path in the back of the house,
the one you see from the kitchen window,
the one that bends around the far end of the garden
where all the yellow primroses are?
And you know how if you leave the path
and walk into the woods you come
to a heap of rocks, probably pushed
down during the horrors of the Ice Age,
and a grove of tall hemlocks, dark green now
against the light-brown fallen leaves?
And farther on, you know
the small footbridge with the broken railing
and if you go beyond there you arrive
at the bottom of sheep's head hill?
Well, if you start climbing, and you
might have to grab on to a sapling
when the going gets steep,
you will eventually come to a long stone
ridge with a border of pine trees
which is as high as you can go
and a good enough place to stop.

The best time for this is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a spring of a birdsong or leafy
falling of a cone or through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

Still, let me know before you set out.
Come knock on my door
and I will walk with you as far as the garden
with one hand on your shoulder.
I will even watch after you and not turn back
to the house until you disappear
into the crowd of maple and ash,
heading up toward the hill,
percing the ground with your stick.

... Directions, Billy Collins

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

... Today, Billy Collins

I Believe In All That Has Never Yet Been Spoken

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

... Rainer Maria Rilke

Notes From Underground

"But man is a frivolous and incongruous creature, and perhaps, like the chess player, loves only the process of the game, not the end of it. And who knows (one cannot swear to it), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, or in other words, in life itself, and not particularly in the goal which of course must always be two times two makes four, that is a formula, and after all, two times two makes four is no longer life, gentlemen, but is the beginning of death. Anyway, man has always been somehow afraid of this two times two makes four, and I am afraid of it even now. Granted that man does nothing but seek that two times two makes four, that he sails the oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, but to succeed, really to find it – he is somehow afraid, I assure you. He feels that as soon as he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for."

"Let us suppose, gentlemen, that man is not stupid. (As a matter of fact, it cannot possibly be said that man is stupid, if only from the one consideration that if he is, then who is wise?) But if he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful. Phenomenally ungrateful. I’m even inclined to believe that the best definition of man is – a creature who walks on two legs and is ungrateful."

"And why are you so firmly, so triumphantly, convinced that only the normal and the positive –in other words, only what is conducive to welfare – is for the advantage of man? Is not reason in error as regards advantage? Does not man, perhaps, love something besides well-being? Perhaps he is just as fond of suffering? Perhaps suffering is just as great a benefit to him as well-being? Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering, and that is a fact."

"Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind."

"Two plus two equals five is not without its attractions."

... Notes From Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Way Of All Flesh

"We must judge men not so much by what they do, as by what they make us feel that they have it in them to do."

"Fortune, we are told, is a blind and fickle foster-mother, who showers her gifts at random upon her nurslings. But we do her a grave injustice if we believe such an accusation. Trace a man's career from his cradle to his grave and mark how Fortune has treated him. You will find that when he is once dead she can for the most part be vindicated from the charge of any but very superficial fickleness. Her blindness is the merest fable; she can espy her favourites long before they are born. We are as days and have had our parents for our yesterdays, but through all the fair weather of a clear parental sky the eye of Fortune can discern the coming storm, and she laughs as she places her favourites: it may be in a London alley or those whom she is resolved to ruin in kings' palaces. Seldom does she relent towards those whom she has suckled unkindly and seldom does she completely fail a favoured nursling."

"Adversity, if a man is set down to it by degrees, is more supportable with equanimity by most people than any great prosperity arrived at in a single lifetime."

"Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself, and the more he tries to conceal himself the more clearly will his character appear in spite of him."

"The world has long ago settled that morality and virtue are what bring men peace at the last. "Be virtuous," says the copy-book, "and you will be happy." Surely if a reputed virtue fails often in this respect it is only an insidious form of vice, and if a reputed vice brings no very serious mischief on a man's later years it is not so bad a vice as it is said to be. Unfortunately, though we are all of a mind about the main opinion that virtue is what tends to happiness, and vice what ends in sorrow, we are not so unanimous about details."

"It is in the uncompromisingness with which dogma is held and not in the dogma or want of dogma that the danger lies."

"Christianity was true in so far as it had fostered beauty, and it had fostered much beauty. It was false in so far as it had fostered ugliness, and it had fostered much ugliness. It was therefore not a little true and not a little false; on the whole one might go farther and fare worse; the wisest course would be to live with it, and make the best and not the worst of it."

... The Way Of All Flesh, Samuel Butler

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Until

Star Trek

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Her ongoing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life-forms and new civilizations; to boldly go where no one has gone before."

"You will always be a child of two worlds, and fully capable of deciding your own destiny. The question you face is: which path will you choose?"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You Are The Only Student You Have

You are the only faithful student you have.
All the others leave eventually.

Have you been making yourself shallow
with making others eminent?

Just remember, when you're in union,
you don't have to fear
that you'll be drained.

The command comes to speak,
and you feel the ocean
moving through you.
Then comes, Be silent,
as when the rain stops,
and the trees in the orchard
begin to draw moisture
up into themselves.

... Mathnawi, V, 3195-3219, Mevlana Rumi

The Island

"The life you thought you had ... it never happened."

"The Island is the one thing that gave them hope, give some purpose. Everything we expose them to: the programs, the cartoons, the books, the games they play - are designed to manage their aggression and reinforce some social skills, to avoid obvious complications. They aren't imprinted with an awareness of sex. We simply find a way to eliminate the drive altogether. In a very real sense, they are like children - educated to the level of a fifteen year old.

Terminator Salvation

John Connor: "We've been fighting a long time. We are out numbered by machines. Working around the clock, without quit. Humans have a strength that cannot be measured. This is John Connor. If you are listening to this, you are the resistance."

The Sun Also Rises

"You are all a lost generation." 

"Listen, Robert, going to another country doesn't make any difference. I've tried all that. You can't get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There's nothing to that." 

"You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see. You hang around caf├ęs." 

"I thought I had paid for everything. Not like the woman pays and pays and pays. No idea of retribution or punishment. Just exchange of values. You gave something up and got something else. Or you worked for something. You paid some way for everything that was any good." 

"Enjoying living was learning to get your money's worth and knowing when you had it."

... The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

As I Lay Dying

"Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart."

"Because it is not us that can judge our sins or know what is sin in the Lord's eyes. She has had a hard life, but so does every woman. But you'd think from the way she talked that she knew more about sin and salvation than the Lord God Himself, than them who have strove and labored with the sin in this human world."

"Sometimes I aint so sho who's got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It's like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it's the way the majority of folks is looking at him when he does it."

"I have heard men cuss their luck, and right, for they were sinful men. But I do not say it's a curse on me, because I have done no wrong to be cussed by. I am not religious, I reckon. But peace is my heart: I know it is. I have done things but neither better nor worse than them that pretend otherlike, and I know that Old Marster will care for me as for ere a sparrow that falls. But is seems hard that a man in his need could be so flouted by a road."

"Life was created in the valleys. It blew up into the hills on the old terrors, the old lusts, the old despairs. That's why you must walk up the hills so you can ride down."

... As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sons And Lovers

"You're always begging things to love you as if you were a beggar for love. Even the flowers, you have to fawn on them - You don't want to love - your eternal and abnormal craving is to be loved. You aren't positive, you're negative. You absorb, absorb, as if you must fill yourself up with love, because you've got a shortage somewhere.'" 

... Sons And Lovers, D H Lawrence

The Inheritance Of Loss

"He retreated into a solitude that grew in weight day by day. The solitude became a habit, the habit became the man, and it crushed him into a shadow. But shadows, after all, create their own unease, and despite his attempts to hide, he merely emphasised something that unsettled others. For entire days nobody spoke to him at all, his throat jammed with words unuttered, his heart and mind turned into blunt aching things."

"Love must surely reside in the gap between desire and fulfillment, in the lack, not the contentment. Love is the ache, the anticipation, the retreat, everything around it but the emotion itself."

... The Inheritance Of Loss, Kiran Desai

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Place To Be


When I was young, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I'm older: see it face to face
And now I'm older: gotta get up clean the place

And was greener, greener than the hill
Where flowers grew and sun shone still
Now I'm darker: than the deepest sea
Just hand me down: give me a place to be

And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I'd see when day is done
Now I'm weaker: than the palest blue
Oh so weak: in this need for you

Naked As We Came


She says wake up, it's no use pretending
I'll keep stealing, breathing her
Birds are leaving over autumn's ending
One of us will die inside these arms

Eyes wide open
Naked as we came
One will spread our
Ashes round the yard

She says if I leave before you darling
Don't you waste me in the ground
I lay smiling like our sleeping children
One of us will die inside these arms

Eyes wide open
Naked as we came
One will spread our
Ashes round the yard

Monday, May 18, 2009

Save Us From What Our Own Hands Might Do

O Lord, truly, Your grace is not from our work,
but from Your mysterious giving.
Save us from what our own hands might do;
lift the veil, but do not tear it.
Save us from the ego; its knife has reached our bones.

Let us turn from ourselves to You
Who are nearer to us than ourselves.
Even this prayer is Your gift to us.
How else has a rose garden grown from these ashes?

... Mathnawi II: 2443-2449, Mevlana Rumi

Faith

Vittoria Vetra: Religion is like language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices with which we were raised. In the end, though we are all proclaiming the same thing. That life has meaning. That we are grateful for that created us.

Robert Langdon: So you’re saying that whether you are a Christian or a Muslim simply depends on where you were born?

Vittoria Vetra: Isn’t it obvious? Look at the diffusion of religion around the globe.

Robert Langdon: So faith is random?

Vittoria Vetra: Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some of us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than ourselves.

Angels And Demons

To the Illuminati, and to those of science, let me say this. You have won the war.

The wheels have been in motion for a long time. Your victory has been inevitable. Never before has it been as obvious as it is at this moment. Science is the new god.

Medicine, electronic communications, space travel, genetic manipulation… these are the miracles about which we now tell our children. These are the miracles we herald as proof that science will bring us the answers. The ancient stories of immaculate conceptions, burning bushes, and parting seas are no longer relevant. God has become obsolete. Science has won the battle. We concede.

But science’s victory has cost every one of us. And it has cost us deeply.

Science may have alleviated the miseries of disease and drudgery and provided an array of gadgetry for our entertainment and convenience, but is has left us in a world with out wonder. Our sunsets have been reduced to wavelengths and frequencies. The complexities of the universe have been shredded into mathematical equations. Even our self-worth as human beings has been destroyed. Science proclaims that Planet Earth and its inhabitants are a meaningless speck in the grand scheme. A cosmic accident. Even the technology that promises to unite us, divides us. Each of us is now electronically connected to the globe, and yet we feel utterly alone. We are bombarded with violence, division, fracture, and betrayal. Skepticism has become a virtue. Cynicism and demand for proof has become enlightened thought. Is it any wonder that humans now feel more depressed and defeated than they have at any point in human history? Does science hold anything sacred? Science looks for answers by probing our unborn fetuses. Science even presumes to rearrange our own DNA. It shatters God’s world into smaller and smaller pieces in quest of meaning… and all it finds is more questions.

The ancient war between science and religion is over. You have won. But you have not won fairly. You have not won by providing answers. You have won by so radically reorienting our society that the truths we once saw as signposts now seem inapplicable. Religion cannot keep up. Scientific growth is exponential. It feeds on itself like a virus. Every new breakthrough opens doors for new breakthroughs. Mankind took thousands of years to progress from the wheel to the car. Yet only decades from the car into space. Now we measure scientific progress in weeks. We are spinning out of control. The rift between us grows deeper and deeper, and as religion is left behind, people find themselves in a spiritual void. We cry out for meaning. And believe me, we do cry out. We see UFOs, engage in channeling, spirit contact, out-of-body experiences, mindquests — all these eccentric ideas have a scientific veneer, but they are unashamedly irrational. They are the desperate cry of the modern soul, lonely and tormented, crippled by its own enlightenment and its inability to accept meaning in anything removed from technology.

Science, you say, will save us. Science, I say, has destroyed us. Since the days of Galileo, the church has tried to slow the relentless march of science, sometimes with misguided means, but always with benevolent intention. Even so, the temptations are too great for man to resist. I warn you, look around yourselves. The promises of science have not been kept. Promises of efficiency and simplicity have bred nothing but pollution and chaos. We are a fractured and frantic species… moving down a path of destruction.

Who is this God science? Who is the God who offers his people power but no moral framework to tell you how to use that power? What kind of God gives a child fire but does not warn the child of its dangers? The language of science comes with no signposts about good and bad. Science textbooks tell us how to create a nuclear reaction, and yet they contain no chapter asking us if it is a good or a bad idea.

To science, I say this. The church is tired. We are exhausted from trying to be your sign posts. Our resources are drying up from our campaign to be the voice of balance as you plow blindly on in your quest for smaller chips and larger profits. We ask not why you will not govern yourselves, but how can you? Your world moves so fast that if you stop even for an instant to consider the implications of your actions, someone more efficient will whip past you in a blur. So you move on. You proliferate weapons of mass destruction, but it is the Pope who travels the world beseeching leaders to use restraint. You clone living creatures, but it is the church reminding us to consider the moral implications of our actions. You encourage people to interact on phones, video screens, and computers, but it is the church who opens its doors and reminds us to commune in person as we were meant to do. You even murder unborn babies in the name of research that will save lives. Again, it is the church who points the fallacy of that reasoning.

And all the while, you proclaim the church is ignorant. But who is more ignorant? The man who cannot define lightning, or the man who does not respect its awesome power? This church is reaching out to you. Reaching out to everyone. And yet the more we reach, the more you push us away. Show me proof there is a God, you say. I say use your telescopes to look to the heavens, and tell me how there could not be a God! You ask what does God look like. I say, where does that question come from? The answers are one and the same. Do you not see God in you science? How can you miss Him! You proclaim that even the slightest change in the force of gravity or the weight of an atom would have rendered our universe a lifeless mist rather than our magnificent sea of heavenly bodies, and yet you fail to see God’s hand in this? Is it really so much easier to believe that we simply chose the right card from a deck of billions? Have we become so spiritually bankrupt that we would rather believe in mathematical impossibility than in a power greater than us?

Whether or not you believe in God, you must believe this. When we as a species abandon our trust in the power greater than us, we abandon our sense of accountability. Faith… all faiths… are admonitions that there is something we cannot understand, something to which we are accountable… With faith we are accountable to each other, to ourselves, and to a higher truth. Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed. If the outside world could see this church as I do… looking beyond the ritual of these walls… they would see a modern miracle… a brotherhood of imperfect, simple souls wanting only to be a voice of compassion in a world spinning out of control.

Are we obsolete? Are these men dinosaurs? Am I? Does the world really need a voice for the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the unborn child? Do we really need souls like these who, though imperfect, spend their lives imploring each of us to read the signposts of morality and not lose our way?

Tonight we are perched on a precipice. None of us can afford to be apathetic. Whether you see this evil as Satan, corruption, or immorality, the dark force is alive and growing every day. Do not ignore it. The force, though mighty, is not invincible. Goodness can prevail. Listen to your hearts. Listen to God. Together we can step back from this abyss.

Pray with me.

... Angels And Demons, Dan Brown

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Wings Of The Dove

"Did she know?" 
"I think you know what she knew." 
"I knew something, but not what you knew of what she knew. 
I still don't know." 
"I know." 
"So she knew something." 
"Yes. We all knew something." 

I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest."

... The Wings of the Dove, Henry James

The Portrait Of A Lady

"...and the great advantage of being a literary woman, 
was that you could go everywhere and do everything." 

... The Portrait Of A Lady, Henry James

The Age Of Innocence

"The persons of their world lived in an atmosphere of faint implications and pale delicacies, and the fact that he and she understood each other without a word seemed to the young man to bring them nearer than any explanation would have done."

Ellen: "Newland. You couldn't be happy if it meant being cruel. If we act any other way I'll be making you act against what I love in you most. And I can't go back to that way of thinking. Don't you see? I can't love you unless I give you up."

... The Age Of Innocence, Edith Wharton

The End Of The Affair

"A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment from which to look back or from which to look ahead."

"The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belong to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity."

"I wrote at the start that this was a record of hate, and walking there beside Henry towards the evening glass of beer, I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You've done enough, You've robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone forever." 

Sarah: Love doesn't end, just because we don't see each other.
Maurice Bendrix: Doesn't it?
Sarah: People go on loving God, don't they? All their lives. Without seeing him.
Maurice Bendrix: That's not my kind of love.
Sarah: Maybe there is no other kind.

... The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

84 Charing Cross Road

Dear Cecily -
Please write and tell me about London, I live for the day when I step off the boat-train and feel its dirty sidewalks under my feet. I want to walk up Berkeley Square and down Wimpole Street and stand in St. Paul's where John Donne preached and sit on the step Elizabeth sat on when she refused to enter the Tower, and like that. A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for. I told him I'd go looking for the England of English literature, and he said: "Then it's there."

Dear Katherine -
I take time out from housecleaning my bookshelves and sitting on the rug surrounded by books in every direction to scrawl you a Bon Voyage. I hope you and Brian have a ball in London. He said to me on the phone: "Would you go with us if you had the fare?" and I nearly wept.

But I don't know, maybe it's just as well I never got there. I dreamed about it for so many years. I used to go to English movies just to look at the streets. I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for. I said I'd go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said: "It's there."

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. Looking around the rug one thing's for sure: it's here.

The blessed man who sold me all my books died a few months ago. And Mr Marks who owned the shop is dead. But Marks & Co is still there. If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me! I owe it so much.

Helene.

... 84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff

Wuthering Heights

"It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, Nelly, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire."

"If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it."

"Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend - if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I'll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!"

"It is not in him to be loved like me: how can she love in him what he has not?"

"You have left me so long to struggle against death, alone, that I feel and see only death! I feel like death!"

... Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Brave New World

"And that," put in the Director sententiously, "that is the secret of happiness and virtue - liking what you've got to do. 
All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny."

"The greater a man's talents, the greater his power to lead astray. It is better that one should suffer than that many should be corrupted.
Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offense is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behavior. Murder kills only the individual - and, after all, what is an individual?"

... Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves

Thus they twain conversed with friendly conversation, and presently the guest rose to depart and said: "O my lord, thy slave must now farewell thee, but on some future day- Inshallah- he will again wait upon thee." Ali Baba, however, would not let him leave, and asked: "Whither wendest thou, O my friend? I would invite thee to my table, and I pray thee sit at meat with us and after hie thee home in peace. Perchance the dishes are not as delicate as those whereof thou art wont to eat, still deign grant me this request, I pray thee, and refresh thyself with my victual." Quoth Khwajah Hasan: "O lord, I am beholden to thee for thy gracious invitation, and with pleasure would I sit at meat with thee, but for a special reason must I needs excuse myself. Suffer me therefore to depart, for I may not tarry longer, nor accept thy gracious offer." Hereto the host made reply: "I pray thee, O my lord, tell me what may be the reason so urgent and weighty." And Khwajah Hasan answered: "The cause is this. I must not, by order of the physician who cured me lately of my complaint, eat aught of food prepared with salt." Quoth Ali Baba: "An this be all, deprive me not, I pray thee, of the honor thy company will confer upon me. As the meats are not yet cooked, I will forbid the kitchener to make use of any salt. Tarry here awhile, and I will return anon to thee." So saying, Ali Baba went in to Morgiana and bade her not put salt into any one of the dishes, and she, while busied with her cooking, fell to marveling greatly at such order and asked her master, "Who is he that eateth meat wherein is no salt?" He answered: "What to thee mattereth it who he may be? Only do thou my bidding." She rejoined: "'Tis well. All shall be as thou wishest." But in mind she wondered at the man who made such strange request, and desired much to look upon him.

Wherefore, when all the meats were ready for serving up, she helped the slave boy Abdullah to spread the table and set on the meal, and no sooner did she see Khwajah Hasan than she knew who he was, albeit he had disguised himself in the dress of a stranger merchant. Furthermore, when she eyed him attentively, she espied a dagger hidden under his robe. "So ho!" quoth she to herself. "This is the cause why the villain eateth not of salt, for that he seeketh an opportunity to slay my master, whose mortal enemy he is. Howbeit I will be beforehand with him and dispatch him ere he find a chance to harm my lord." Now when Ali Baba and Khwajah Hasan had eaten their sufficiency, the slave boy Abdullah brought Morgiana word to serve the dessert, and she cleared the table and set on fruit fresh and dried in salvers, then she placed by the side of Ali Baba a small tripod for three cups with a flagon of wine, and lastly she went off with the slave boy Abdullah into another room, as though she would herself eat supper. Then Khwajah Hasan- that is, the captain of the robbers- perceiving that the coast was clear, exulted mightily, saying to himself: "The time hath come for me to take full vengeance. With one thrust of my dagger I will dispatch this fellow, then escape across the garden and wend my ways. His nephew will not adventure to stay my hand, for an he do but move a finger or toe with that intent, another stab with settle his earthly account. Still must I wait awhile until the slave boy and the cookmaid shall have eaten and lain down to rest them in the kitchen."

Morgiana, however, watched him wistfully and divining his purpose, said in her mind: "I must not allow this villain advantage over my lord, but by some means I must make void his project and at once put an end to the life of him." Accordingly the trusty slave girl changed her dress with all haste and donned such clothes as dancers wear. She veiled her face with a costly kerchief, around her head she bound a fine turban, and about her middle she tied a waistcloth worked with gold and silver, wherein she stuck a dagger whose hilt was rich in filigree and jewelry. Thus disguised, she said to the slave boy Abdullah: "Take now thy tambourine, that we may play and sing and dance in honor of our master's guest." So he did her bidding and the twain went into the room, the lad playing and the lass following. Then, making a low congee, they asked leave to perform and disport and play, and Ali Baba gave permission, saying, "Dance now and do your best that this our guest may he mirthful and merry." Quoth Khwajah Hasan, "O my lord, thou dost indeed provide much pleasant entertainment."

Then the slave boy Abdullah, standing by, began to strike the tambourine whilst Morgiana rose up and showed her perfect art and pleased them vastly with graceful steps and sportive motion. And suddenly, drawing the poniard from her belt, she brandished it and paced from side to side, a spectacle which pleased them most of all. At times also she stood before them, now clapping the sharp-edged dagger under armpit and then setting it against her breast. Lastly she took the tambourine from the slave boy Abdullah, and still holding the poniard in her right, she went round for largess as is the custom amongst merrymakers. First she stood before Ali Baba, who threw a gold coin into the tambourine, and his nephew likewise put in an ashrafi. Then Khwajah Hasan, seeing her about to approach him, fell to pulling out his purse, when she heartened her heart, and quick as the blinding levin she plunged the dagger into his vitals, and forthwith the miscreant fell back stone-dead.

Ali Baba was dismayed, and cried in his wrath: "O unhappy, what is this deed thou hast done to bring about my ruin?" But she replied: "Nay, O my lord, rather to save thee and not to cause thee harm have I slain this man. Loosen his garments and see what thou wilt discover thereunder." So Ali Baba searched the dead man's dress and found concealed therein a dagger.

Then said Morgiana: "This wretch was thy deadly enemy. Consider him well. He is none other than the oil merchant, the captain of the band of robbers. Whenas he came hither with intent to take thy life, he would not eat thy salt, and when thou toldest me that he wished not any in the meat, I suspected him, and at first sight I was assured that he would surely do thee die. Almighty Allah he praised, 'tis even as I thought." Then Ali Baba lavished upon her thanks and expressions of gratitude, saying, "Lo, these two times hast thou saved me from his hand," and falling upon her neck, he cried: "See, thou art free, and as reward for this thy fealty I have wedded thee to my nephew." Then, turning to the youth, he said: "Do as I bid thee and thou shalt prosper. I would that thou marry Morgiana, who is a model of duty and loyalty. Thou seest now yon Khwajah Hasan sought thy friendship only that he might find opportunity to take my life, but this maiden with her good sense and her wisdom hath slain him and saved us."

Ali Baba's nephew straightway consented to marry Morgiana. After which the three, raising the dead body, bore it forth with all heed and vigilance and privily buried it in the garden, and for many years no one know aught thereof. In due time Ali Baba married his brother's son to Morgiana with great pomp, and spread a bride feast in most sumptuous fashion for his friends and neighbors, and made merry with them and enjoyed singing and all manner of dancing and amusements. He prospered in every undertaking and Time smiled upon him and a new source of wealth was opened to him.

For fear of the thieves he had not once visited the jungle cave wherein lay the treasure since the day he had carried forth the corpse of his brother Kasim. But some time after, he mounted his hackney one morning and journeyed thither, with all care and caution, till finding no signs of man or horse, and reassured in his mind, he ventured to draw near the door. Then, alighting from his beast, he tied it up to a tree, and going to the entrance, pronounced the words which he had not forgotten, "Open, Sesame!" Hereat, as was its wont, the door flew open, and entering thereby he saw the goods and hoard of gold and silver untouched and lying as he had left them. So he felt assured that not one of all the thieves remained alive, and that save himself there was not a soul who knew the secret of the place. At once he bound in his saddlecloth a load of ashrafis such as his horse could bear and brought it home, and in after days he showed the hoard to his sons and sons' sons and taught them how the door could he caused to open and shut. Thus Ali Baba and his household lived all their lives in wealth and joyance in that city where erst he had been a pauper, and by the blessing of that secret treasure he rose to high degree and dignities.

... Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves, The Arabian Nights, Sir Richard Burton (trans)

Layla And Majnun

These two friends are one, eternal companions. He is Majnun, the king of the world in right action. And she is Layla, the moon among idols in compassion. In the world, like unpierced rubies they treasured their fidelity affectionately, but found no rest and could not attain their heart's desire. Here they suffer grief no more. So it will be until eternity. Whoever endures suffering and forebears in that world will be joyous and exalted in this world...

Whoever would find a place in that world must tread on the lusts of this world. This world is dust and is perishable. That world is pure and eternal... Commit yourself to love's sanctuary and at once find freedom from your ego. Fly in love as an arrow towards its target. Love loosens the knots of being, love is liberation from the vortex of egotism. In love, every cup of sorrow which bites into the soul gives it new life. Many a draft bitter as poison has become in love delicious... However agonizing the experience, if it is for love, it is well.

... Layla And Majnun

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Letters To A Young Poet

I don't want you to be without a greeting from me when Christmas comes and when you, in the midst of the holiday, are bearing your solitude more heavily than usual. But when you notice that it is vast, you should be happy; for what (you should ask yourself) would a solitude be that was not vast; there is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. But perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But that must not confuse you. What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing.

And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child's wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.

Think, dear Sir, of the world that you carry inside you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your own childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own - only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it, and not lose too much time or too much courage in clarifying your attitude toward people. Who says that you have any attitude at all? l know, your profession is hard and full of things that contradict you, and I foresaw your lament and knew that it would come. Now that it has come, there is nothing I can say to reassure you, I can only suggest that perhaps all professions are like that, filled with demands, filled with hostility toward the individual, saturated as it were with the hatred of those who find themselves mute and sullen in an insipid duty. The situation you must live in now is not more heavily burdened with conventions, prejudices, and false ideas than all the other situations, and if there are some that pretend to offer a greater freedom, there is nevertheless none that is, in itself, vast and spacious and connected to the important Things that the truest kind of life consists of. Only the individual who is solitary is placed under the deepest laws like a Thing, and when he walks out into the rising dawn or looks out into the event-filled evening and when he feels what is happening there, all situations drop from him as if from a dead man, though he stands in the midst of pure life. What you, dear Mr. Kappus, now have to experience as an officer, you would have felt in just the same way in any of the established professions; yes, even if, outside any position, you had simply tried to find some easy and independent contact with society, this feeling of being hemmed in would not have been spared you. It is like this everywhere; but that is no cause for anxiety or sadness; if there is nothing you can share with other people, try to be close to Things; they will not abandon you; and the nights are still there, and the winds that move through the trees and across many lands; everything in the world of Things and animals is still filled with happening, which you can take part in; and children are still the way you were as a child, sad and happy in just the same way and if you think of your childhood, you once again live among them, among the solitary children, and the grownups are nothing, and their dignity has no value.

And if it frightens and torments you to think of childhood and of the simplicity and silence that accompanies it, because you can no longer believe in God, who appears in it everywhere, then ask yourself, dear Mr. Kappus, whether you have really lost God. Isn't it much truer to say that you have never yet possessed him? For when could that have been? Do you think that a child can hold him, him whom grown men bear only with great effort and whose weight crushes the old? Do you suppose that someone who really has him could lose him like a little stone? Or don't you think that someone who once had him could only be lost by him? But if you realize that he did not exist in your childhood, and did not exist previously, if you suspect that Christ was deluded by his yearning and Muhammad deceived by his pride - and if you are terrified to feel that even now he does not exist, even at this moment when we are talking about him - what justifies you then, if he never existed, in missing him like someone who has passed away and in searching for him as though he were lost?

Why don't you think of him as the one who is coming, who has been approaching from all eternity, the one who will someday arrive, the ultimate fruit of a tree whose leaves we are? What keeps you from projecting his birth into the ages that are coming into existence, and living your life as a painful and lovely day in the history of a great pregnancy? Don't you see how everything that happens is again and again a beginning, and couldn't it be His beginning, since, in itself, starting is always so beautiful? If he is the most perfect one, must not what is less perfect precede him, so that he can choose himself out of fullness and superabundance? Must he not be the last one, so that he can include everything in himself, and what meaning would we have if he whom we are longing for has already existed?

As bees gather honey, so we collect what is sweetest out of all things and build Him. Even with the trivial, with the insignificant (as long as it is done out of love) we begin, with work and with the repose that comes afterward, with a silence or with a small solitary joy, with everything that we do alone, without anyone to join or help us, we start Him whom we will not live to see, just as our ancestors could not live to see us. And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.

Is there anything that can deprive you of the hope that in this way you will someday exist in Him, who is the farthest, the outermost limit?

Dear Mr. Kappus, celebrate Christmas in this devout feeling, that perhaps He needs this very anguish of yours in order to begin; these very days of your transition are perhaps the time when everything in you is working at Him, as you once worked at Him in your childhood, breathlessly. Be patient and without bitterness, and realize that the least we can do is to make coming into existence no more difficult for Him than the earth does for spring when it wants to come.

And be glad and confident.

Yours,
Rainer Maria Rilke.

Simple Man Of Faith

"A man might spend a life reading spiritual books and studying the writings of the great mystics. He might feel that he had penetrated the secrets of the heavens and the earth, but unless this knowledge was incorporated into his very nature and transformed him, it was sterile. I began to suspect that a simple man of faith, praying to God with little understanding but with a full heart, might be worth more than the most learned student of the spiritual sciences."

... Charles le Gai Eaton

Speak, Memory

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm then the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged - the same house, the same people - and then realized that he did not exist there at all and that nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.

Such fancies are not foreign to young lives. Or, to put it otherwise, first and last things often tend to have an adolescent note - unless, possibly, they are directed by some venerable and rigit religion. Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two black voids, for an aft, as stolidly as he accepts the extraordinary visions in between. Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature, should be limited. In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much.

I rebel against this state of affairs. I feel the urge to take my rebellion outside and picket nature. Over and over again, my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life. That this darkness is caused merely by the walls of time separating me and my bruised fists from the free world of timelessness is a belief I gladly share with the most gaudily painted savage. I have journeyed back in thought - with thought hopelessly tapering off as I went - to remote regions where I groped for some secret outlet only to discover that the prison of time is spherical and without exits...

... Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited, Vladimir Nabokov