Friday, November 09, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: Literary Edition

This will be snippets of books, because I was re-reading part of Bridehead Revisited yesterday, and When I Was a Child... yesterday. So some of my favourite passages:

1. My two favourite novels are probably Brideshead and Gilead, although it's hard to quantify. Maybe I should include the whole Anne series? Maybe not.

2. From Outlaw Cook, by John Thorne: 

It's my experience that truly good cooks are born. I was not born to be one, and I don't like being trained, especially if the result is going to be mere competency. I've generally found life a lot more interesting learning to use my limitations than struggling to overcome them.

For example, since I have little patience in getting things just right, I tend to avoid dishes that require a calculated perfection. I'm a compulsive fiddler, so I steer clear of foods that must be set up to run and then left to cook strictly on their own. And since I can't abide following someone else's directions, I rarely prepare anything that I can't get a good mental fix on before I start. 

3. Brideshead:

“Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.” 

4. Looking for a good one from the new Marilynne Robinson, I'm reading what she says about Poe and his view of the universe having started from a single, tiny, explosive point. Being Poe, he was persuaded that the universe is at present contracting towards its end.  He saw in the rhythm of it all a great beating heart. In his hands this is a frightening image....

5. Relating to the above Evelyn Waugh quote brings to mind the T. S. Eliot quote from, I think, Little Gidding: (Wrong, it's The Dry Salvages, oops).

Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.

6. And to go with the time theme in Four Quartets:

Fulfilment, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end.
It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and a return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell.

Outside the locked room is the landscape of time, in which the spirit may, with luck and courage, construct the fragile, makeshift, improbable roads amd cities of fidelity: a landscape inhabitable by human beings.

It is not until an act occurs within the landscape of the past and the future that it is a human act. Loyalty, which asserts the continuity of past and future, binding time into a whole, is the root of human strength; there is no good to be done without it.
-The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin

7. And I'm out of literary-ness for th eevening. Go see Jen!

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