“The catalog of emotion that disappears when someone dies, and the degree to which we rely on a few people to record something of what life was to them, is almost too much to bear.”—Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary
I’ve started an entirely superfluous and infrequent newsletter relating to things (mostly) literary. Among topics to be discussed: footnotes; why describing the miniature requires more language than describing the large; the distance between authors and their characters; &c.
Also featuring interviews, book recommendations, pretty pictures, and links to some of the better things on the internet. Letters to the presumptuous arbiter are, of course, welcome.
“So there you have it: two things & I can’t bring them together & they are wrenching me apart. These two feelings, this knowledge of a world so awful, this sense of a life so extraordinary - how am I to resolve them?”—Richard Flanagan, Gould’s Book of Fish
“He believed books had an aura that protected him, that without one beside him he would die. He happily slept without women. He never slept without a book.”—Richard Flanagan, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
“Like the Atman of the Vedas, like the Buddhist Mind, like Tao, the Great Spirit of the American Indian is everywhere and in all things, unchanging… It stirs me that this primordial intuition has been perpetuated by voice and act across countless horizons and for centuries on end… it is a profound consolation, perhaps the only one, to this haunted animal that wastes most of a long a ghostly life wandering the future and the past on its hind legs, looking for meanings, only to see in the eyes of others of its kind that it must die.”—Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
“The canker of self-consciousness has been long in me, so like a lot of writers I not only do a thing, I see myself doing it too—it’s almost like not being alone.”—Charles D’Ambrosio, “Whaling Out West”
“Cities have often been compared to language: you can read a city, it’s said, as you read a book. But the metaphor can be inverted. The journeys we make during the reading of a book trace out, in some way, the private spaces we inhabit. There are texts that will always be our dead-end streets; fragments that will be bridges; words that will be like the scaffolding that protects fragile constructions. T.S. Eliot: a plant growing in the debris of a ruined building; Salvador Novo: a tree-lined street transformed into an expressway; Tomas Segovia: a boulevard, a breath of air; Roberto Bolano: a rooftop terrace; Isabel Allende: a (magically real) shopping mall; Gilles Deleuze: a summit; and Jacques Derrida: a pothole. Robert Walser: a chink in the wall, for looking through to the other side; Charles Baudelaire: a waiting room; Hannah Arendt: a tower, an Archimedean point; Martin Heidegger: a cul-de-sac; Walter Benjamin: a one-way street walked down against the flow.”—Valeria Luiselli, “Relingos: The Cartography of Empty Spaces”
“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)