“If I am not mistaken, the heterogeneous pieces I have enumerated resemble Kafka; if I am not mistaken, not all of them resemble each other. The second fact is the more significant. In each of these texts we find Kafka’s idiosyncrasy to a greater or lesser degree, but if Kafka had never written a line, we would not perceive this quality; in other words, it would not exist. The poem “Fears and Scruples” by Browning foretells Kafka’s work, but our reading of Kafka perceptibly sharpens and deflects our reading of the poem. Browning did not read it as we do now. In the critics’ vocabulary, the word ‘precursor’ is indispensable, but it should be cleansed of all connotation of polemics or rivalry. The fact is that every writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.”—Borges
“there is a period near the beginning of every man’s life when he has little to cling to except his unmanageable dream, little to support him except good health, and nowhere to go but all over the place.”—
“Tell me the best fantasy lands aren’t deep, deep conversations. The one you had when everyone else was asleep at a slumber party when you were nine years old on the basement floor covered by a green outdoor rug next to her brother’s barbell stand. Or the one you had on the bus with that boy when you were fourteen who said girls didn’t go out with him because he had a paunch and didn’t play football. And you admitted a few things about yourself that didn’t sound good. Or the one that kept you in the dining hall so you missed all your afternoon classes in college. Or the one that led you to elope. Or the one last week when you talked about how you felt about failing and failing again until one of the children came running in because you’d forgotten dinner. Tell me, aren’t the best fantasies where you have those conversations you don’t want to leave, like an island, ancient volcano, surrounded by jeweled waters, warm in the sunlight, icy in the shadow of its caves—a place you remember best for being rare, for being far in the middle of the sea, uninhabitable, or unbearably too inhabitable, left before we ruined it.”—Jimin Han, in The Rumpus Readers Report: Fantasy Land. (via therumpus)
True joy is to take pleasure in one’s own accomplishments; courtesy is to learn from the models of the past. Did not the ancients say, in death the wolf turns his head toward the hills? This is virtue.
The birds fly, returning to their homeland; and without fail, the dying wolf turns his head toward the hills.
“As it happened, in thus underling to Albertine these protestations of coldness towards her, I was merely—because of a particular circumstance and with a particular object in view—making more perceptible, accentuating more markedly, that binary rhythm which love adopts in all those who have too little confidence in themselves to believe that a woman can even fall in love with them, and also that they themselves can genuinely fall in love with her. They know themselves well enough to have observed that in the presence of the most divergent types of woman they felt the same hopes, the same agonies, invented the same romances, uttered the same words, and to have realized therefore that their feelings, their actions, bear no close and necessary relation to the woman they love, but pass to one side of her, splash her, encircle her, like the incoming tide breaking against the rocks, and their sense of their own instability increases still further their misgivings that this woman, by whom they so long to be loved, does not love them. Why should chance have brought it about, when she is simply an accident placed in the path of our surging desires, that we should ourselves be the object of the desires that she feels? And so, while feeling the need to pour out to her all those sentiments, so different form the merely human sentiments that our neighbor inspires in us, those highly specialized sentiments which are those of lovers, after having taken a step forward, in avowing to the one we love our passion for her, our hopes, we are overcome at once by the fear of offending her, and ashamed too that the language we have used to her was not fashioned expressly for her, that it has served us already, will serve us again for others, that if she does not love us she cannot understand us, and that we have spoken in that case with the lack of taste and discretion of a pedant who addresses an ignorant audience in subtle phrases which are not for them; and this fear and shame provoke the counter-rhythm, the reflux, the need, if only by first drawing back, hotly denying the affection previously confessed, to resume the offensive and regain respect and domination; the double rhythm is perceptible in the various periods of a single love affair, in all the corresponding periods of similar love affairs, in all those people whose self-analysis outweighs their self-esteem.”—Proust
“No doubt it happens at times that people, even those whom we love best, become permeated with the gloom or irritation that emanates from us. There is however an inanimate object which is capable of a power of exasperation to which no human being will ever attain: to wit, a piano.”—Proust