For the record, I don’t think I have ever disliked anything as long or as well as I disliked school: the arbitrary violence, the lack of power, the pointlessness of so much of it….
My defense against the adult world was to read everything I could. I read whatever was in front of me, whether I understood it or not.
I was escaping. Of course I was—C.S. Lewis wisely pointed out that the only people who inveigh against escape tend to be the jailers. (“What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book, Anyway? The Zena Sutherland Lecture,”pp. 80, 81)
We [Neil Gaiman and Geoff Notkin] drew comics together, in the back of the classes that bored us. Most classes bored us. We were smart kids who ignored most of school (we both liked the art rooms, I liked the schools library) and taught ourselves, because that seemed like more fun. We liked being disliked by the teachers, and neither of us actually got around to graduating. (“Goeff Notkin: Meteorite Man,” pp. 141-142)
What is left out of the picture is Jim, lying opposite him at the other end of the couch, also, reading; the two of them absorbed in their books yet so completely aware of each other’s presence.
A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood
I dreamed what you were offering
Imagine lying next to me
Your shirt and your reputation tossed
[S]ome moments teach one the price of the human condition: if one can live with one’s pain, then one respects the pain of others, and so, briefly, but transcendentally, we can release each other from pain.
Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, James Baldwin
To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.
The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
I became a fan of HBO’s True Detective despite the flaws, but was skeptical about season 2 since each season is a new cast, a new story. Many have been negatively critical of season 2 for dialogue, plot, and such, but I have watched each episode so far, including the 26 July 2015 episode “Church in Ruins.”
In the background of one scene, a nugget—Hotel Room, 1931 by Edward Hopper:
And while searching for the painting I discovered a poem, Edward Hopper, Hotel Room, 1931 by Larry Levis:
Edward Hopper, Hotel Room, 1931
The young woman is just sitting on the bed,
Looking down. The room is so narrow she keeps
Her elbows tucked in, resting, on her bare thighs,
As if that could help.
She is wearing, now, only an orange half-slip
That comes down as far as her waist, but does not
Console her body, which fails.
Which must sleep, by now, apart from everyone.
And her face, in shadow,
Is more silent than this painting, or any
Painting: it feels like the sad, blank hull
Of a ship is passing, slowly, the stones of a wharf,
Though there is no ocean for a thousand miles,
And outside this room I can imagine only Kansas:
Its wheat, and the blackening silos, and, beyond that,
The plains that will stare back at you until
The day your mother, kneeling in fumes
On a hardwood floor, begins to laugh out loud.
When you visit her, you see the same, faint grass
Around the edge of the asylum, and a few moths,
White and flagrant, against the wet brick there,
Where she has gone to live. She never
Recognizes you again.
You sell the house, and auction off each thing
Inside the house, until
You have a satchel, a pair of black, acceptable
Shoes, and one good flowered dress. There is a check
Between your hands and your bare knees for all of it—
The land and the wheat that never cared who
Touched it, or why.
You think of curves, of the slow, mild arcs
Of harbors in California: Half Moon Bay,
Malibu, names that seem to undress
When you say them, beaches that stay white
Until you get there. Still, you’re only thirty-five,
And that is not too old to be a single woman,
Traveling west with a purse in her gray lap
Until all of Kansas dies inside her stare…
But you never moved, never roused yourself
To go down Grain Street to the sobering station,
Never gazed out at the raw tracks, and waited
For the train that pushed its black smoke up
Into the sky like something important…
And now it is too late for you. Now no one,
Turning his collar up against the cold
To walk past the first, full sunlight flooding
The white sides of houses, knows why
You’ve kept on sitting here for forty years—alone,
Almost left out of the picture, half undressed.
from The Dollmaker’s Ghost, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1981
From a certain perspective one might even hazard to say that the great trouble with the world was that that which survived was held in hard evidence as to past events. A false authority clung to what persisted, as if those artifacts of the past which had endured had done so by some act of their own will. Yet the witness could not survive the witnessing. In the world that came to be that which prevailed could never speak for that which perished but could only parade its own arrogance. It pretended symbol and summation of the vanished world but was neither. He said that in any case the past was little more than a dream and its force in the world greatly exaggerated. For the world was made new each day and it was only men’s clinging to its vanished husks that could make of that one husk more.
La cáscara no es la cosa, he said. It looked the same. But it was not.
Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing
On poetry: “It’s not a place of measurement.”
Naomi Shihab Nye: The Art of Teaching Poetry
Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change, Naomi Shihab Nye
The rose curls up as if there is fire in the petals.
The cat who knew me is buried under the bush.
“Excrement….We’re not laying pipe; we’re talking about poetry.”
Paul Proteus to his wife Anita, Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut:
“No, no. You’ve got something the tests and machines will never be able to measure: you’re artistic. That’s one of the tragedies of our times, that no machine has ever been built that can recognize that quality, appreciate it, foster it, sympathize with it.” (p. 178)