Feb 23, 2012

"...we could hurt each other even when we weren't trying to,
and that none of us was as perfect as we liked to pretend."
—Meg Waite Clayton (via A Sea of Quotes)
You see, a writer doesn't pretend to be a saint but that does not mean he is entirely a sinner. If he cannot live his life certainly then he cannot write anything of substance. Is it worth it? I ask you: is it worth it, knowing that the man you love cannot return it in the way you would have liked, but still you cannot help feeling a certain tenderness towards him, even as you despise yourself for it? And then you watch him crash and burn, but each time he comes back smiling like a sweet young boy, grime on his face and flashing white teeth, and you melt once more upon seeing that twinkle in his eyes. But the years will take a toll on all of us—and your love may not die completely, but it will be preserved like a pressed flower; and the boy may not become a man entirely, but the twinkle in his eyes will be long gone.

Go watch J. Edgar.

Feb 22, 2012

This morning as I lay in a bed with eyes half-opened, and through a thin veil of curtain languidly watching the light from outside dispersed into a hundred little geometries through the frosted window; as I cautiously pulled the thick sheets over my naked torso, taking care not to interrupt the peaceful snores beside me; and slowing my breathing to a tedium—I thought of the baseness which I allowed myself after months of self-restraint, all because I wanted to know what it feels again as how you must have felt, knowing that you are craved, wanted, capable of stirring desire in others, capable of an easy tryst like a cheap prostitute. But one thing differentiates the two of us: I am certain of my immorality, and I can accept it. Which is why I decided, on my way home, how important it is to write about it, even if it is nothing glorious. And he told me that I'm different; and I agree I'm different—I understand the world, I do not grasp. He said he could see me as a father. I agree too. But that road is no longer open to me. I have gone to Hell.

Feb 21, 2012

"What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid."
—Sylvia Plath (via A Sea of Quotes)

Then one must always remind himself not to see 'too deep and too much'. But when all this is over, if I have not become something... Dust in the wind, the empty song of a billion men.

Feb 20, 2012

... And he can hold her hand; but he can never hold her heart.

How strange the way Fate toys with us. Tell me, Loner, are you writing stories with your life too? You must be strong then—you must survive everything you shall come to face in order to write that epic. It is your own story, like Tidus', and you must be strong enough to change your flawed world. How strange the way Fate plays with us—but perhaps, you will succeed where I'm fumbling.

Feb 16, 2012

The nagging feeling: what if I turned out to be a dilettante after all?

And the man would rather be damned together than to be in a paradise without him. You say love redeems everything; I say he who is willing to go to hell is the one who understands its true face.

Feb 9, 2012

While Woolf was in the early stages of To The Lighthouse, in the autumn of 1925, she was preparing a lecture called 'How Should One Read a Book?'. In it she compares the thirty-two chapters of a novel to 'an attempt to make something as formal and controlled as a building: but words are more impalpable than bricks'. Try, she suggests, to write on 'some event that has left a distinct impression on you', when 'a whole vision, an entire conception, seemed contained in that moment'. As soon as you attempt to 'reconstruct' it in words, you will find that it 'breaks into a thousand conflicting impressions'.
—Hermione Lee, Introduction to To The Lighthouse
The Woolfian monologue and the Kafkaesque time. A fork of cake to a hundred buzzings of the mind. A cacophany of voices, sizzling milk steamers, dinging bells, wooden chairs dragging across wooden floorboards, chachinking tills. Out of the chaos in her ears a rhythm builds up in her mind.
"Don't love a poet," said he. "His incompleteness and incompetence will wear you out. His days, too dark, only shot through occasionally by a grand radiance; and like the weather nothing about him is predictable, is consistent."

"But I don't," said she. "It is true that I have loved many poets—Blake, Wordsworth, Rilke—and you are right. They are incomplete: they cannot complete me. They cannot complete me as a man in flesh would; as you, standing here with me, alive, would. I can love words on a page; but a heart, that's divine poetry."
"After the bare requisites to living and reproducing, man wants most to leave some record of himself, a proof, perhaps, that he has really existed. He leaves his proof on wood, on stone or on the lives of other people. This deep desire exists in everyone, from the boy who writes dirty words in a public toilet to the Buddha who etches his image in the race mind. Life is so unreal. I think that we seriously doubt that we exist and go about trying to prove that we do."
—John Steinbeck, The Pastures of Heaven

"I'll hold on to that fragile slice of hope and keep it close, remembering that in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We're each of us our own chiaroscuro1, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We've got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there's an awful lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all the time."
—Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty

1   In art, an Italian term which means 'light-dark'.

Feb 8, 2012

"Is there really such a thing as love?" the boy found himself questioning. Soon, he grew up into a man and one day remembered the question he once asked as a boy. Having tasted what fruits the world could offer him over the years, he concluded that there is love, but it is for the lucky ones who found it, held on to it, and nurtured it into a strong tree. With love, he thought, you only get one chance to make good. After that, what keeps coming back with every new face isn't love; it is only the need for redemption: he who finally wins a heart will be absolved of all his past.

Feb 7, 2012

But it's true—I am a monster, only pretending to be human.
  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
  4. Be in love with your life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in your morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of character in the bleak inhuman loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. Writer-Director of Earthly movies sponsored & angeled in Heaven
  30. You're a genius all the time.
—Jack Kerouac, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

Feb 6, 2012

The difficult thing is to admit that over the course of development, one has ended up tragically flawed and simply not cut out for the rigours of a normal life. But reality is real, so somehow he must find himself a way of living in this world, even as he cannot be fully assimilated into it.

Feb 5, 2012

I shouldn't be up now since I have to wake in four hours' time, but this happens to be one of those nights when the mind decides to consume itself. Two hours spent flipping on the bed seemed like an eternity; and no amount of bashing the head against the pillow helped towards an earlier concussion. Camus' words rang loudly: "Have you never had a sudden need for sympathy, for help or for friendship? Of course you have. I have learned to make do with sympathy. It is easier to come by and it carries no commitment. Friendship is not so easy: it's long and hard to win, but when it's there, you can't get rid of it, you have to make do." Sympathy, even you are on a break tonight. It is no wonder the old English lady committed suicide in the end after noting everyday: "Today, nobody came." There'll be cake to eat at training later, to celebrate the birthdays of those born in January and February. I feel proud of myself for buying a strawberry shortcake. Yet at the same time I worry it is too small—it is probably just right for fifteen people but there will be twenty going tomorrow. Do you know that people kill themselves over such trivial matters? In fact, it is usually over the most trivial of matters that one decides to die. A character who kills herself because the cake she bought is not big enough for twenty people: that's ingenious. And people, they do not see how they are the ones responsible for her death. If only they had promptly replied to her invitation. Now she's dead because the cake is not enough for everyone.

Feb 4, 2012

"When you start to really know someone, all his physical characteristics start to disappear. You begin to dwell in his energy, recognize the scent of his skin. You see only the essence of the person, not the shell. That's why you can't fall in love with beauty. You can lust after it, be infatuated by it, want to own it. You can love it with your eyes and your body but not your heart. And that's why, when you really connect with a person's inner self, any physical imperfections disappear, become irrelevant."

—Lisa Unger, Beautiful Lies (via A Sea of Quotes)

Feb 2, 2012

"Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up."

—Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
I have one too, of course, but I cannot say with certainty what it is. These days I spend my hours researching on and sketching dragons with the seriousness of an artist—doesn't matter if no one pays me to do it. I read up on brand identity and pore through hundreds of logos—doesn't matter if it isn't real work. I scribble in secret notebooks for my own joy—doesn't matter if they will never be read. I take bus rides to town to buy books and have coffee—doesn't matter if I've only four dollars left in my bank account. But I still wonder why I turned out like this. Perhaps there is meaning to an epic mediocrity after all.

So the book cannot be anything less than epic; its characters anything more than ordinary.

Feb 1, 2012

The Modern Hamlet: How Clichés Killed the Language

To be, or not to be: that is, like, the question:
Whether 'tis, like, nobler in the mind to, like, suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or, you know, to, like, take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, like, end them?