Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Quotes Part 42

The dog opened one eye, cocked it at me, and rolled it up before her lids closed.  People should not feed moralistic animals.  If they’re so holy, where are their books?  (51)

This is another example of the perverse humor Dillard shares in her book because prior to this quirky observation she is questioning her reason for writing, struggling with the temptation to just chuck it all for something easier, less complicated, less demanding.  And then she looks at her dog . . . who obviously is nonplussed. 

A work in progress quickly becomes feral.  It reverts to a wild state overnight.  It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch.  It is a lion you cage in your study.  As the work grows, it gets hard to control; it is a lion growing in strength.  You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it.  If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room.  (52)

 I'm afraid my WIP has become feral . .  . I don't know that I dare approach it.

I was too far removed from the world.  My work was too obscure, too symbolic, too intellectual.  It was not available to people.  Recently I had published a complex narrative essay. . . . (54)

Dillard goes on to describe this "complex narrative essay" which is part of her book Holy the Firm.  If you read my review, you know I didn't like the book because I thought it was overly pretentious and obtuse.  When I read this confession from Dillard that she herself thought it was too obscure/symbolic/intellectual, I was thrilled.  She's right.  It is.  And maybe someday I'll be smart enough to reread it and actually enjoy it.  But Ms. Dillard, if you are reading this, I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you; you'll simply have to settle for my liking this later book.

[I]f you ask a twenty-one-year-old poet whose poetry he likes, he might say, unblushing, 'Nobody’s.'  In his youth, he has not yet understood that poets like poetry, and novelists like novels; he himself likes the role, the thought of himself in a hat.  (70)

Dillard teaches writing and this observation of hers, no doubt, is not unique to her experience.  I can imagine professors everywhere hearing something equally pretentious in various forms.  I never met  a  published poet (or writer of any prose) who didn't read voraciously.  It's rather like saying you're a singer but don't like listening to music.  Or an artist who doesn't like to look at drawings/paintings/whatever.

Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.  (79)

Quoting Julian Barnes’s Flaubert’s Parrot
It’s easy, after all not to be a writer.  Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them.  (91)

Best argument I've ever heard for not writing.  

[T]he sense of an Italian love-song must not be talked of. . . .  (184)

I would argue that the sense of any love song must never be talked of but I can see where Italian love songs might take this to a whole new level of pointlessness.

[I]f you please, no examples in books.  Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story.  Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.  I will not allow books to prove any thing.  (231)

Given the era in which this novel was written, when the protagonist, Anne Elliot, says this I laughed aloud.  Clearly, an intelligent woman who knows how to make her point.  

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.  (214)

[T]o the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.  (297)

The trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.  (297)

Always use the proper name for things.  Fear of a name increases fear for the thing itself.  (298)

The truth. . . . It is a beautiful and terrible thing and should therefore be treated with great caution.  (298)

I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance.  I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know.  I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help.  (302)

This last quote struck me, not so much for its profundity as for its irony.  Given that this book has been challenged (along with the rest of the series, obviously) I can't help but be bemused by the idea that an adult (the "he" in this quote is Dumbledore) wanting to allow a younger person to find his or her own way being an offense to some people.  Of course, I realize that those who dislike the books are offended by the use of magic, which is Satanic, overlooking the more relevant theme of good versus evil, the power of friendship and love, etc.  There's no use in defending these books to some people.  I shall continue to adore the books for more reasons than I can enumerate.

Artists of the everyday excel in elevating the simple to the level of the Sacred.  (October 15)

Monday, October 17, 2011


If you have read this blog post from blogger you will understand why I am saying that I am probably going to stop using blogger.  I tried the new interface for over a month and hated it by the end.  I found it difficult to impossible to upload photographs, to get the text to look right.

In other words, thanks to the new interface my blog posts looked an utter mess and what used to take me less than five minutes to complete couldn't be done in under thirty minutes.  Which is why for a while there, I had no photos in my posts.  It was too much damn trouble.

Then I switched back and I was happy.

This new announcement basically says, "Fuck you if you like it the old way.  We're making changes so deal with it."

And that's fine.  I totally understand.  It would even be effective.  Except for one thing:


And this other thing:


And yet another thing:


And there are soooo many others out there that don't even include the idea of micro-blogging!

You see, the problem here is that there are other options and if another option allows me to do in five minutes what it currently takes me five minutes to do then guess where I'll be posting . . .

However, they claim that they have worked out some of the bugs from the feedback they've already received (I'm sure my feedback was part of that because I gave a lot of feedback).  When the change is shoved down my throat, as it obviously will be, I will give it a try and I will even be open-minded about doing so.

And if I can make my posts in a timely manner then I shall happily stay put because I've been here a very long time (my oldest posts have been archived as private but I've been here a lot longer than my posted archives would imply).  Nonetheless, if I find myself once again fighting to make a post and wasting time and energy doing something that should be easily done in a few minutes then I may just forego blogger/blogspot altogether.

The writing, I suppose, is on the wall.  In the meantime, here be berries:

Photograph by Joe