“If men lie in this world, what makes you so sure they’ll be honest in the next?”― Rashomon (1950)
“Logic is of course unshakeable, but it cannot hold out against a man who wants to live.” ― Franz Kafka, The Trial
“Immanuel Kant marveled at ‘the starry heavens above’ and the ‘moral law within.’ It’s a lovely sentiment, but one that I cannot wholeheartedly share. We are marvelous in many ways, but the moral laws within us are a mixed blessing. More marvelous, to me, is our ability to question the laws written in our hearts and replace them with something better. The natural world is full of cooperation, from tiny cells to packs of wolves. But all of this teamwork, however impressive, evolved for the amoral purpose of successful competition…
“And yet somehow we, with our overgrown primate brains, can grasp the abstract principles behind nature’s machines and make them our own. On these pastures, something new is growing under the sun: a global tribe that looks out for its members, not to gain advantage over others, but simply because it’s good.”— Joshua D. Greene, Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
“Be a philosopher; but, amidst all your philosophy, be still a man.” ― David Hume
“Unlikely. I used to see you coming down the street. I’d dissolve out of sight so you wouldn’t—You were always alone.”
“I never did stay longer than a night.”
“Did you ever see me?”
“Did it—did you feel anything?”
“But you kept cantering on. A beautifully proud and stoic Gran Cavallo.”
“A nag out to pasture.”
“I used to wish I could become you. I still do.”
“Grow a beard and thick wrists?”
“Do you know what I think?”
“I think one day, perhaps, part of my skull shall be found beneath a vending machine.”
“That won’t happen. You’re never around anyone brutal enough.”
“You’re not brutal enough?”
“It’s a brightly coloured vending machine, surrounded by snow-laden trees. And everything’s glazed in a thick pelt of ice. And it just sits there, soundless and devoid of use—offering cold drinks in a place where there are no summers. And underneath will be a little piece of my parietal bone—and a pale little springtail, no bigger than a centimeter—will find it. He’ll squiggle in delight, and use it as a lean-to to ease his eyes against the drone of the lights overhead—and there he’ll remain—to while away the winter.”
“A winter that never ends.”
“Maybe it will…I can feel sympathy for strange things.”
“It’s been so long since we’ve done this…”
“Yes. Rather sudden but natural—like the Rorschach of a deer misting across the morning commute.”
“Did you think I’d come back?”
“I didn’t think I’d…be here to find out.”
“Thought I’d forget you?”
“Ha. Like remembering a robin’s egg, found crushed in the grass on a cold spring day. Just a flash of amnion in the mud.”
“You said grass before.”
“Another non-sequitur. So many, so many. Could list them to the equator and back. But why come back…”
“I did miss you.”
“And I you.”
“You could never become me, you know—I’m not, I’m not whole.”
“I know. I know.”
“Did you ever—find that face?”
“Do you see one now?”
“Flakelets are scattering. Can you hear them?”
“Like tiny white beetles ricocheting against a black tarp. I must bed down immediately. That clicking noise will put me right to sleep.”
“I’m going, I’m going.”
“Did you go already?”
“Will you come back?”
“I guess you’ve gone. I can ease back now, let these arms bond to the earth, and analyze the entropy of this zigzag roof—see how long it takes for those holes to turn into denticled tears…”
“A solitary, unused to speaking of what he sees and feels, has mental experiences which are at once more intense and less articulate than those of a gregarious man. They are sluggish, yet more wayward, and never without a melancholy tinge. Sights and impressions which others brush aside with a glance, a light comment, a smile, occupy him more than their due; they sink silently in, they take on meaning, they become experience, emotion, adventure. Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” – Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
“-I visit this room every night… -Visit? -The blind always live in the rooms they live under.” – Peeping Tom (1960)
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock
“…I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think. There are the rushing waves, mountains of molecules, each stupidly minding its own business, trillions apart, yet forming white surf in unison. Age on ages, before any eyes could see, Year after year, thunderously pounding the shore as now. For whom, for what? On a dead planet, with no life to entertain. Never at rest, tortured by energy. Wasted prodigiously by the sun, poured into space. A mite makes the sea roar. Deep in the sea, all molecules repeat the patterns of one another till complex new ones are formed. They make others like themselves and a new dance starts. Growing in size and complexity, living things, masses of atoms, DNA, protein. Dancing a pattern ever more intricate. Out of the cradle onto the dry land, Here it is standing, atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity stands at the sea, wonders at wondering…I, a universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.”
– Richard P. Feynman
“- I think it’s a pity that the beautiful old houses are being torn down.
– They don’t bring in enough rent.
– The empty spaces look like graves. Like house graves.”
— From the film Alice in the Cities
“Life is a series of suicides…”
— From the film Love Streams
“And break through dark;
It’s acrid in the streets;
A paper witch upon her sulphured broom
Flies from the gutter.” — Dylan Thomas, Time Enough to Rot
“If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages.”
— Isak Dinesen (penname of Karen Blixen)
“October Country . . . that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and mid-nights stay.”
– Ray Bradbury, The October Country
“I saw what looked like another fallen tree in front of me and put my foot on it to cross over. At that moment it reared up in front of me- the biggest python I had ever seen!”
– Louis Leakey, archaeologist and anthropologist (DOD 1 October 1972)
“A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others.”
– Jimmy Carter (DOB 1 October 1924)
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
– L. M. Montgomery, Ann of Green Gablesjnmh
“That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. . . .”
– Ray Bradbury, The October Country
“Will I always feel this way? So empty, so estranged?”
– From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne
Shadows spill in green tendrils across oiled waters. I probe the murky, moschate depths with a long, soggy stick. My hands are black and muddied. Reeds whistle beside me. A seagull mews somewhere far away. Minims of sweat glisten and drop from the end of my nose. I can taste the paracme, the tongue-slitting, nascent edge of the end.
A frog burbles to the vitreous surface. Two aurific eyes shimmer at me, bright as egg-yokes. With a gulp, they vanish. I can smell slime. My fingers balter through the mud. I am waiting. I am always waiting.
The sun spits in my eye and I turn away, longing for the tenebrous clouds of the foggy North to sidle down and cast me in a casket of embalming gloom.
I am addicted to desolation. I ache for darkness, cold and decay.
And then a cool wind finally came. Its chilled fingers ruffled my hair and it made the back gate moan plangorously against its flaking hinges. I reveled, I pranced, I forgot my little pain.
A mouse came in the night. He settled himself in a soft, grey ball beside my feet, nose nuzzling the coarse, back-door rug. I watched him take slow, solemn breaths, his sable eyes squinting, mordant. He died in the wash of a final sunrise that milked across a violescent sky, on the dawn of Halloween. Creatures come to me to die, sometimes.
The ants are burrowing into his raisin eyes, now. In a week or three, his tiny white mouse skull will be decoration on my desk.
There is always a glimmer through grief.
“Walk on down the hill Through the grass grown tall and brown And still it’s hard somehow to let go of my pain On past the busted back Of that old and rusted Cadillac That sinks into this field collecting rain” – From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne