Sunday, December 28, 2008

Beckett and Ecclesiastes

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.

(first sentence of Murphy)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Borges: Those... that from a long way off look like flies

Because I am always organizing and reorganizing and certain that once the files are filed and the desk is clean, productivity will follow, when what I really need is a classification strategy, like Jose Luis Borges':

These ambiguities, redundancies and deficiencies remind us of those which doctor Franz Kuhn attributes to a certain Chinese encyclopaedia entitled 'Celestial Empire of benevolent Knowledge'. In its remote pages it is written that the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) suckling pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.

full text of Borges' piece

Friday, December 19, 2008

Coen Brothers - Barton Fink

We don't gotta tackle the world our
first time out. The important thing is we all
have that Barton Fink feeling, but since you're
Barton Fink I'm assuming you have it in spades.


(Joel and Ethan Coen - Barton Fink)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hunter Thompson: On W at Superbowl Parties

I can't be expected to remember what every drug-addled yuppie hanger-on-er who wanted to get close to me during a football game twenty-five years ago digested. There were so many dope fiends milling about, I don't remember what some Yalie named Bush, whose father was a factotum in the Nixon Administration, was doing. But he strikes me as the sort of person I would have thrown out of the room. A rich, beer-drunk yahoo with a big allowance who passes out in your bathtub.

James: On Context and Ambiguity

ambiguities are just places where contexts join.

(Clive James on Tom Stoppard)

Adolph Reed: The Convenience of Racial Leaders

The idea that black racial interest can be embodied in a single individual has always been attractively economical for white elites.

(from "All For One And None For All," part two of Adolph Reed's two-part series on Farrakhan in The Nation, January, 28 1991)

Adolph Reed: Supporting Farrakhan

[Supporting Farrakhan] is a totemic act of the sort distinctive to mass-consumption culture: highly salient but without clear meaning, effortlessly accessible but somehow bestowing in-group status.

(from "All For One And None For All," part two of Adolph Reed's two-part series on Farrakhan in The Nation, January, 28 1991)

Tynan and James: On The Thrills of Theater

Kenneth Tynan: I still get a thrill every time the curtain goes up.

Clive James: I get a thrill every time it goes down.

(conversation at an Observer reception thrown at the Garrick Club by David Astor, the editor, for his journalists and critics, in late 1973, recounted in the preface to James' volume of television criticism, Visions at Midnight.)

Orwell: Turning the Other Cheek

If you turn the other cheek, you will get a harder blow on it than you got on the first one. This does not always happen, but it is to be expected, and you ought not to complain if it does happen. The second blow is, so to speak, part of the act of turning the other cheek.

("Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool")

Proust: I would rest my cheeks...

I would rest my cheeks tenderly against the lovely cheeks of the pillow, which, full and fresh, are like the cheeks of our childhood.

(p8, The Way by Swann's, Lydia David trans.)

Proust: what the book was talking about seemed that I myself was what the book was talking about.
(p7, The Way By Swann's, Lydia Davis trans.)

Here it seems that Marcel is giving us the secret to the story, or maybe not at all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For a long time, I went to bed early...

In this space, I will be collecting inspired and inspiring writers. Hopefully, a group of people will contribute to this collective common-place book.