“It is truly a phantom, for which you may seek for years, and then, when least expected it suddenly stands before you in some dim forest aisle, a vision of soft, white loveliness, that once seen can never be forgotten.”—Barry Lopez, Field Notes (via mythologyofblue)
“Literature has played a dual and contradictory role in my life. The act of writing appeases one’s memories and eases the act of forgetting. When I write, I make my memories tangible, and in this way I can get rid of them. On the other hand, writing is but a ploy to convulse memory back into life. And the more I write, the more my memories return to inhabit me.”—Jorge Semprun, The Art of Fiction no. 192
“Adjectives are the handles of Being. Nouns name the world, adjectives let you get hold of the name and keep it from flying all over your mind like a pre-Socratic explanation of the cosmos. Air, for example, in Proust can be (adjectivally) gummy, flaked, squeezed, frayed, pressed or percolated in Book 1; powdery, crumbling, embalmed, distilled, scattered, liquid or volatilized in Book 2; woven or brittle in Book 3; congealed in Book 4; melted, glazed, unctuous, elastic, fermenting, contracted, distended in Book 5; solidified in Book 6; and there seems to be no air at all in Book 7. I can see very little value in this kind of information, but making such lists is some of the best fun you’ll have once you enter the desert of After Proust.”—
[Speaking of entering a desert After Proust, I am reminded of a passage in Mary Ruefle’s essay “Someone Holding a Book is a Sign of Order in the World,” in which she relates the “old story of Somerset Maugham reading Proust while crossing the desert by camel, and to lighten his load he tore out each page after reading both sides and let if fall behind him.”]
“What interests me, of course, is the book. I keep wondering what Prospero was reading on that first boat journey. I imagine my father, shadowed and tubercular, profile deepened against water, reading the last poem Shelley had written before he died in Spoleto. Or maybe it was the passage in Melville, in which our archipelago is unnamed but recalled by the beckoning of a black vast sea, between the description of ropes and the listing of harpoons. Or perhaps it had been the tale of his namesake Prospero, a betrayed man on a boat, laden only with books and a child.”—From Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol. (via othersashas)
“The bicycle is not only noble in relation to body rhythms: it is also generous to thought. For anyone with a tendency to digress, the sinuous company of the handlebars is perfect. When ideas are gliding smoothly along in straight lines, the two wheels of the bicycle carry both rider and ideas in tandem. And when some stray thought afflicts the cyclist and blocks the natural flow of his mind, he only has to find a steep slope and let gravity and the wind work their redemptive alchemy.”—Valeria Luiselli, “Manifesto a Velo”
“Russian literature, like colonial Canadian literature, comes with a lot of landscape backdrop. The characters often gaze reflectively at the great forest and pass repeatedly through it as they travel from one house or outpost to another. These characters seldom demonstrate detailed knowledge of that forest—most of them belong to a social class that has other concerns, which means they’re doomed to a kind of romantic and hollow relation to the land they float around in. Still, the forest is powerfully present, like the ocean in Moby Dick. The forest, in fact, can be one of the major characters in the story. So for a reader, it can be immensely helpful to understand what kind of forest it is.