“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…”
“I have always shook with fright before human beings.” ― Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human
“Nothing like poetry when you lie awake at night. It keeps the old brain limber. It washes away the mud and sand that keeps on blocking up the bends. Like waves to make the pebbles dance on my old floors. And turn them into rubies and jacinths; or at any rate, good imitations.” ― Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth
“The . . . sun was shining in at the smoky small-paned windows; sometimes an outside shutter swung to with a creak, and eclipsed the glare. The narrow door stood wide open . . . and an old spotted dog lay asleep on the step, and looked wise and old enough to have gone to school with several generations of children.” ― Sarah Orne Jewett, A Native of Winby
“It is a strange thing to come home. While yet on the journey, you cannot at all realize how strange it will be.” ― Selma Lagerlöf
“You know, David, if I could send a message to mankind, I would send them a New Year’s greeting. I would like them to dwell on a single New Year’s prayer: ‘Lord, please let my soul come to maturity before it is reaped.'” ― The Phantom Carriage (1921), directed by Victor Sjöström; based on Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! by Selma Lagerlöf
“Our eyes lifted over the rose-beds and the hot lawn and the weedy refuse of the dog-days alongshore. Slowly the white wings of the boat moved against the blue cool limit of the sky. Ahead lay the scalloped ocean and the abounding blessed isles.” ― F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Pages flutter in the wind. My idle hand shuts the words away.
Cloud-shadows shudder up and down the beach.
“Barefoot by the sea, stopping to scratch one ankle With one toe” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Haikus
I get up, walk into a wave and disappear.
“All you are is a bag of particles acting out the laws of physics. That to me is pretty clear.” ― Brian Greene
(Oh the sharp taste of seaside repose)
“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.” ― Albert Camus, The Stranger
“There were hints of sunrise on the rim of the sky, yet it was still dark, and the traces of morning color were like goldfish swimming in ink.”― Truman Capote, The Muses Are Heard
“I imagined the wind moving through all these places, and many more like them: places that were separated from one another by roads and housing, fences and shopping-centres, street-lights and cities, but that were joined across space at that time by their wildness in the wind. We are fallen in mostly broken pieces, I thought, but the wild can still return us to ourselves.”― Robert Macfarlane, The Wild Places
“It’s better to look at the sky than live there. Such an empty place; so vague. Just a country where the thunder goes.”― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories
“We all commit our crimes. The thing is to not lie about them — to try to understand what you have done, why you have done it. That way, you can begin to forgive yourself. That’s very important. If you don’t forgive yourself you’ll never be able to forgive anybody else and you’ll go on committing the same crimes forever.”― James Baldwin, Another Country
“All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don’t come back.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
“At their very feet had been the river. The boat came breasting out of the mist, and in they stepped. All new things in life were meant to come like that.”― Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter
“The average personality re-shapes frequently, every few years even our bodies undergo a complete overhaul-desirable or not, it is a natural thing that we should change.”― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories
“Oh! The long, long walks, way into the nights!–in the afterhours—sometimes lasting till two or three in the morning! The air, the stars, the moon, the water—what a fullness of inspiration they imparted!–what exhilaration! And there were the detours, too—wanderings off into the country out of the beaten path: I remember one place in Maryland in particular to which we would go. How splendid, above all, was the moon—the full moon, the half moon: and then the wonder, the delight, of the silences.”― Walt Whitman
“Life need not be easy, provided only that it is not empty.”― Lise Meitner (1878-1968), physicist
Sun-blotted days have bleached my shoulders. My mane is turning white. Hunch-backed, I grasp a scallop-shelled walking-stick, ambling along on driftwood legs.
“My characters are drifters and searchers and they look for something. The journey is a state of mind for them.” ―Wim Wenders
Details peel from my face and trickle away into the citrus breeze.
(Sometimes, I can hear atomies skitter across the metalled sands of apathy.)
“The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” ―John Milton
A froth of dinoflagellates sparks electric blue ‘round my stubble-feet. Each step is measured, defying suction as I trace along the arrow of time.
“It all looks the same. You can’t imagine anything anymore. Above all, you can’t imagine any change. I became estranged from myself. All I could imagine was going on and on like this forever.” ―Alice in the Cities, 1974, Written by Wim Wenders and Veith von Furstenberg
(There’s a black maw gaping in the back of my brain.)
“Today was a gloomy, rainy day without a glimmer of sunlight, like the old age before me. I am oppressed by such strange thoughts, such gloomy sensations; questions still so obscure to me are crowding into my brain- and I seem to have neither power nor will to settle them.” ―Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one.” ―Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Mewling cries swarm like midges inside my weltering mind. I turn away from the virason gasping off the sea.
Flailing like a killdeer, I struggle toward the lavender dunes. A wide yellow moon grins overhead.
“Sweet is sweet, bitter is bitter, hot is hot, cold is cold, color is color; but in truth there are only atoms and the void.” ―Brian Greene, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe
I can hear the wail of a train from across the lagoon, punctuating the still-water-night. The cloistered whine of mosquitoes quickly throttles the noise. And then, the sound of my quickening steps.
“A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.” ―Harold and Maude, 1971, Written by Colin Higgins, Directed by Hal Ashby
Steps that begin to rap like rain. And thunder through the frenzied lights of the howling causeway. Steps that are heading north.
“I’m glad we went to the Rhine. For the first time I see myself…as someone who’s gone through a certain time, and that time is my story. [Pausing] That feeling is quite comfortable.” ―Kings of the Road(Im Lauf der Zeit, “In the Course of Time”), 1974, Written/Directed by Wim Wenders
Determined to run into myself again.
“We all talked about leaving, but only one of us, one morning, without a word to a soul, actually left.” ―I Vitelloni (“The Bullocks/The Layabouts”),1953, Written/Directed by Federico Fellini …………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
A little over a year ago, I traveled north and did something I’d never done before. Toured a series of universities.
Here’s to new beginnings.
“I have to go on makin’ a livin’…so I can die.”―Pickup on South Street, 1953, Written/Directed by Samuel Fuller
“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 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)
“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