The Fortress

Saturday, 20 February 2010


Have you ever encountered a few sentences and thought, these ones are going into the storage-box of my memory, like a fortress? I have, many times over. I'm feeling a bit reflective due to having a small party in honour of my PhD-completion last night. In my reflective mood, here are a few of the gems I've encountered in the last few years of writing. Feel free to add to my list ...

"How beautiful!" said Lydia, looking at a stage setting. "It's almost real."
"How beautiful!" said Kira, looking at a landscape. "It's almost artificial."
-Ayn Rand, We the Living.

Alice wanted silence. She wanted the nullity of deep space. In her bed in Paris, she experienced a twinge of homesickness. Not the longing for a place, so much, as a space into which her self could be poured, without erasure.
-Gail Jones, Dreams of Speaking.

To burn always with that hard gem-like flame and to maintain this ecstasy is success in life.
-Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance.

We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.
-Henry James, The Middle Years.

Camus had said in his Carnets that the lives of others appear always, from the outside, to have a completion our own dismally lacks. Only when we understand this as a projection - that other lives, too, are unclosed and contingent - do we approach maturity. Alice felt immature. She felt that she was a spy in the cold.
-Gail Jones, Dreams of Speaking.

I wish I were a girl again, half savage and hardy, and free.
-Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

The first sentence of every novel should be: "Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human." Meander if you want to get to town.
-Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a lion.

Image by Julie Morstad.


A Sight To Be Seen said...

SUCH a great post. i'm going to save this post so i can read it over and over. i love your blog my dear.

heleen said...

I immediately recognized the drawing by Julie Morstad, her work is so sweet! These phrases are indeed true gems, beautiful in their simplicity and honesty.

kerri said...

girl, you just made my saturday. wish i could have partied with you. x

urban flea said...

wonderful image and wonderful post as always! thanks so much for the comment over at urban flea, it really makes my day! have a beautiful weekend my dear!

xo urban flea

Des said...

What a brilliant post.

flossy-p said...

Oh, Gail Jones certainly has that effect on me!

gracia said...

"Alice wanted silence. She wanted the nullity of deep space..."

I have earmarked that Gail Jones fragment too. All my books have little folded corners so I can easily find favourite lines or revisit scenes painted. There are many, and along the way I always find something else.

Happy reading, and congratulations once again. Celebrate!

Ann Marie said...

"i wish i were a girl again"...sigh. all of these are so wonderful.

Hila said...

a sight to be seen: why thank you, that's very sweet.

heleen: yes, I'm appreciating honesty more and more.

kerri: we would have partied like stars :)

urban flea: my pleasure!

Thanks Des!

flossy-p: I'm glad I'm not the only one, she has a way of making the most ordinary words seem unique.

Gracia: me too, most of my books have earmarks.

ann marie: poor misunderstood Cathy :)

please sir said...

The quote by Henry James is amazing...thank you for sharing these.

amy said...

i could have earmarked all of 'naive super' by erlend loe.. its like one long beautiful quote.

prousted said...

"The largest island in the world," Marvin said. "But you don't know anyone who's ever been there. And the size keeps changing. What's more, listen to this, the location also changes. Because if you look closely at one map and then another, Greenland seems to move. It's in a slightly different part of the ocean. Which is the whole juxt of my argument."

"What's your argument?"
"You asked so I'll tell you. That the biggest secrets are staring us right in the face and we don't see a thing."
"What's the secret about Greenland?"
"First, does it exist? Second, why does it keep changing its size and its location? Third, why can't we find anyone who's personally been there? Fourth, didn't a B-52 crash about ten years ago that the facts were so hush-hush we still don't know for sure if there were nuclear weapons aboard?"

He pronounced it nucular.

"You think Greenland has a secret function and a secret meaning. But then you think everything has a secret function and a secret meaning," she said.

"The bigger the object, the easier it is to hide it. How do you get to Greenland? What boat do you take? Where do you find an airport that has a flight to this main city that nobody knows the name of and nobody has ever been to? And this is the main city. What about the outlying areas? The whole enormous island is one big outlying area. What colour is it? Is it green? Iceland is green. Iceland's on TV. You can see the houses and the countryside. If Iceland is green, is Greenland white? I'm only asking because nobody else is asking. I have no personal stake in this place. But I watch the nature channel and I see tribes they wear mud on their body in New Guinea and I see those thingabeests, they're mating in some valley in Africa."

"Wildebeests," Eleanor said.
"But I never hear a peep from Greenland."

--Don DeLillo, 'Underworld'

Hila said...

please sir: it's my pleasure :)

amy: I've read many books like that, and then all the pages get folded. Probably not a good habit, I may end up ruining books.

Prousted: oh Bec, you're wonderful! Thank you for this. My favourite is the last one: "Wildebeests," Eleanor said.
"But I never hear a peep from Greenland."
See you Wednesday!

louise said...

What gems, they have all set my mind swirling. I especially enjoyed Henry James line. xo lj

Hila said...

so glad they made your mind swirl :)