“When you describe an experience, what you are recounting is your memory of the act, not the act itself. Experiencing a moment is an inarticulate act....more“When you describe an experience, what you are recounting is your memory of the act, not the act itself. Experiencing a moment is an inarticulate act. There are no words. It is in the sensory world. To recall it and to put words to it is to illustrate how one remembers the past, rather than actually experiencing the past. Keep this in mind as you read to words of others as they remember an incident.”
“Catholics rehearse their stories. They tell stories over and over. The same story, torquing it a little, realizing a certain detail is not working, adding stuff. I’ve heard the same two dozen stories out of Lydia about thirty times. And then there are the daily stories. Events that happen that she recounts. She’ll tell me, and then she’ll call Daphne, and then her brother phones and she tells her brother. The thing I find interesting about this story-telling thing is that if you heard only one of these stories, you’d think she was telling it for the first time. The enthusiasm behind it. That’s definitely a Catholic thing. Protestants tell a story once and it’s over with. They feel self-conscious to tell the story again. They are aware of who has already heard the story. Protestants tell a story best the first time; Catholics, the last time.”(less)
“‘If we go on at our present rate then in a hundred years’ time there won’t be ten thousand people in this island: there may not be ten. They’ll have...more“‘If we go on at our present rate then in a hundred years’ time there won’t be ten thousand people in this island: there may not be ten. They’ll have lovingly wiped each other out.’ The thunder was rolling further away.
“‘How nice!’ she said.
“‘Quite nice! To contemplate the extermination of the human species and the long pause that follows before some other species crops up, it calms you more than anything else. And if we go on in this way, with everybody, intellectuals, artists, government, industrialists and workers all frantically killing off the last human feeling, the last bit of their intuition, the last healthy instinct; if it goes on in algebraical progression, as it is going on: then ta-tah! to the human species! Goodbye! darling! the serpent swallows itself and leaves a void, considerably messed up, but not hopeless.’”
"One may hear the most private affairs of other people, but only in a spirit of respect for the struggling, battered thing which any human soul is, and in a spirit of fine, discriminative sympathy. For even satire is a form of sympathy. It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore, the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life: for it is in the passional secret places of life, above all, that the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening."(less)
“Grace thought to herself how different all this was going to look in a few weeks, when it had become familiar. Houses are entirely different when you...more“Grace thought to herself how different all this was going to look in a few weeks, when it had become familiar. Houses are entirely different when you know them well, she thought, and on first acquaintance even more different from their real selves, more deceptive about their real character than human beings. As with human beings, you can have an impression, that is all. Her impression of Bellandargues was entirely favourable, one of hot, sleepy, beautiful magnitude. She longed to be on everyday terms with it, to know the rooms that lay behind the vast windows of the first floor, to know what happened around the corner of the terrace, and where the staircase led to, just visible in the interior darkness. It is a funny feeling to visit your home for the first time and have to be taken about step by step like a blind person.” (less)
“‘You know, eating’s much more important than most people think. There comes a time in your life when you’ve just got to have something super-deliciou...more“‘You know, eating’s much more important than most people think. There comes a time in your life when you’ve just got to have something super-delicious. And when you’re standing at that crossroads your whole life can change, depending on which one you go into — the good restaurant or the awful one. It’s like — do you fall on this side of the fence, or the other side.” (From “Crabs”)(less)
“‘But, before we can go any further, you’ve got to make up your minds what this novel actually is about.’
“They spend the rest of the hour making up th...more“‘But, before we can go any further, you’ve got to make up your minds what this novel actually is about.’
“They spend the rest of the hour making up their minds.
“At first, as always, there is a blank silence. The class sits staring, as it were, at the semantically prodigious word. About. What is it about? Well, what does George want them to say it’s about? They’ll say it’s about anything he likes, anything at all. For nearly all of them, despite their academic training, deep, deep down still regard this about business as a tiresomely sophisticated game. As for the minority who have cultivated the about approach until it has become second nature, who dream of writing an about book of their own one day, on Faulkner, James or Conrad, proving definitively that all previous about books on that subject are about nothing — they aren’t going to say anything yet awhile. They are waiting for the moment when they can come forward like star detectives with the solution to Huxley’s crime. Meanwhile, let the little ones flounder. Let the mud be stirred up, first.”(less)
“If the earth were one unified island, a smooth ball, we would all be one species, a tremulous muck. The fact is that when you get down to the busines...more“If the earth were one unified island, a smooth ball, we would all be one species, a tremulous muck. The fact is that when you get down to the business of species formation, you eventually hit some form of reproductive isolation. Cells tend to fuse. Cells tend to engulf each other; primitive creatures tend to move in on each other and on us, to colonize, aggregate, blur. … As much of the world’s energy seems to be devoted to keeping us apart as it was directed to bringing us here in the first place. … Geography is the key, the crucial accident of birth.” (From “Life on the Rocks: The Galápagos”)(less)
“Staring out through the window, off into the horizon, Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through...more“Staring out through the window, off into the horizon, Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through nature, one could also find in people themselves, all collected there, all together in a single place. No matter what terror or loveliness the earth could produce — winds, seas — a person could produce the same, lived with the same, lived with all that mixed-up nature swirling inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world — no flower or stone — as a single hello from a human being.” (From “Which Is More Than I Can Say About Some People”)
“It seemed to her that everything she had ever needed to know in her life she had known at one time or another, but she just hadn’t known all those things at once, at the same time, at a single moment. They were scattered through and she had had to leave and forget one in order to get to another. A shadow fell across her, inside her, and she could feel herself retreat to that place in her bones where death was and you greeted it like an acquaintance in a room; you said hello and were then ready for whatever was next — which might be a guide, the guide that might be sent to you, the guide to lead you back out into your life again.” (From “Terrific Mother”)(less)