Mastering a fear of his own child, my father was standing over me, offering a cold, knobbly hand which I took in desperation and love. He was trembling. I could smell his fear. It was that of a man, intensified, and overlaid by those other smells of cigar smoke and port-wine. I guessed that my father must be the only person in the house, otherwise he would not have come in, he would have left me to Nanny, or mummy, even to Emma or Dora. But here he stood in person by the bed, his waistcoat with one of the points crumpled, the watch-chain with its gold symbols, and the miniature greenstone tiki which somebody had brought him back from a holiday at Rotorua, and which I would have loved to fondle had I dared. Patrick White The Twyborn Affair
Monthly Archives: August 2014
My childhood was elegant homes, tree-lined streets, the milkman, building backyard forts, droning airplanes, blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be. But on the cherry tree there’s this pitch oozing out – some black, some yellow, and millions of red ants crawling all over it. I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath. Because I grew up in a perfect world, other things were a contrast.
David Lynch, film maker
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
We are about to buy a new piano.Our old upright has a crack
all the way through the sounding board, and other problems.
We would like the piano shop to take it and resell it, but they
tell us it is too badly damaged and cannot be resold to anyone
else. They say it will have to be pushed over a cliff. This is how
they will do it: Two truck drivers take it to a remote spot. One
driver walks away down the lane with his back turned while
the other shoves it over the cliff.
In Sappho’s poem, her addresses to gods are orderly, perfect poetic products, but the way—and this is the magic of fragments—the way that poem breaks off leads into a thought that can’t ever be apprehended. There is the space where a thought would be, but which you can’t get hold of. I love that space. It’s the reason I like to deal with fragments. Because no matter what the thought would be if it were fully worked out, it wouldn’t be as good as the suggestion of a thought that the space gives you. Nothing fully worked out could be so arresting, spooky. Anne Carson Paris Review interview
No sooner did I become acquainted with someone than I feared I had come too close, no sooner did someone turn towards me than I began to retreat. In the end I was linked to other people only by certain forms of courtesy which I took to extremes and which I know today, said Austerlitz, I observed not so much for the sake of their recipients as because they allowed me to ignore the fact that my life has always, for as far back as I remember, been clouded by unrelieved despair. W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz
She [ Christine, my girl friend] was going to turn away from me because I seemed hardly interested in her own concerns, ambitions, daydreams. I knew that I should have been thus interested. I had read sometimes, in magazines intended for women, passages recommending that young persons should express an interest in one another’s concerns. Even so, I seldom remembered, while I was with Christine, to ask about her concerns. Instead, I spent much of my time with her in explaining how one or another poem or work of fiction that I had read recently had affected me or had influenced me to want to write in future a sort of poetry or sort of fiction different from the sort that I had previously wanted to write. If the thought had once occurred to me that I was talking too much about my concerns, then I might have reassured myself with the thought that Christine would surely consider herself amply compensated when she read in the future some or another published piece of poetry or fiction alluding to a personage of her appearance or with her concerns . . . Gerald Murnane , Barley Patch
Teju Cole: What is the fate of photography in the age of social media? Everyone takes photos now. How does that change the way you think about the present and future of this art?
Alex Webb : Certainly, an astonishing number of photographs are now being produced daily. And it’s easier to take more pretty good photographs—photographs that depict clearly and with formal coherence the world around us—in the digital age than with film. But the kind of photographs that truly intrigue me—the photographs that in their complex ambiguity hint at other kinds of meanings, that take viewers somewhere they haven’t been before—these photographs remain as elusive and as difficult to take as ever. Perhaps it’s because the line between facile photographic cleverness and significant insight is so delicate and unpredictable. Perhaps it’s also simply because the world only gives a photographer so many chances in a lifetime Teju Cole: Slant Rhymes:Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on “Memory City”. The New Yorker 11 August 2014
In the Belgian city of Bruges a few hundred years ago, a nine-year-old chorister who had sung a wrong note in a mass that was being performed before the entire royal court in the Bruges cathedral is said to have been beheaded. It seems that the queen had fainted as a result of the wrong note sung by the chorister and had remained unconscious until her death. The king is supposed to have sworn an oath that, if the queen did not come round, he would have not only the guilty chorister but all the choristers in Bruges beheaded, which he did after the queen had not come to and had died. For centuries no sung masses were to be heard in Bruges. Thomas Bernhard