Charles Shields, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, 2011
In an odd, misguided, and immensely frustrating biography of Kurt Vonnegut, Shields seems to forget that Vonnegut was, foremost, a literary artist, not a Park Avenue celebrity or target of speculative gossip. I may gather my thoughts into a coherent essay of this promising and ultimately disappointing piece.
Here’s to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died today. He was a grand master of magical realism, a lion of Latin American letters, and an extraordinary modern myth-maker. He could retell the history of the world in an instant and stretch the lives of his characters out to infinity.
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
Who’s ready for an eclipse tonight?
P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters, 1938
'There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, “Do trousers matter?”'
‘The mood will pass, sir.’
Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere) arranging
a window, into which people look (while
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here) and
changing everything carefully
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and from moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there) and
without breaking anything.”
—ee cummings, “Spring is like a perhaps hand”, 1925
From The Messianic Reduction (2010) by Peter Fenves
Heidegger the suck-up and Benjamin the sausage-nibbler.
Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 1985
If you’re about to lose your mind, it’s best to do it while listening to Bob Dylan.
Really Mr. O’Reilly? Saul Bellow disagrees:
"Odd that mankind’s benefactors should be amusing people. In America at least this is often the case. Anyone who wants to govern the country has to entertain it. During the Civil War people complained about Lincoln’s funny stories. Perhaps he sensed that strict seriousness was far more dangerous than any joke. But critics said that he was frivolous and his own Secretary of War referred to him as an ape."
- Saul Bellow, Ravelstein, 2000
I’m an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it. I free myself for today and forever from human immobility.
I’m in constant movement. I approach and pull away from objects. I creep under them. I move alongside a running horse’s mouth. I fall and rise with the falling and rising bodies. This is I, the machine, manoeuvring in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations.
Freed from the boundaries of time and space, I coordinate any and all points of the universe, wherever I want them to be. My way leads to the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way the world unknown to you.”
—Dziga Vertov, 1923 (via palethrough)