Satin Island Quotes

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Satin Island Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
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Satin Island Quotes Showing 1-23 of 23
“If people were to tell other people everything about themselves, we’d live in a dull world.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“People need foundation myths.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
tags: myths
“Forget family, or ethnic and religious groupings: corporations have supplanted all these as the primary structure of the modern tribe.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“For anthropologists, even the exotic’s not exotic, let alone the everyday.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“We require experience to stay ahead, if only by a nose, of our consciousness of experience—if for no other reason than that the latter needs to make sense of the former, to (as Peyman would say) narrate it both to others and ourselves, and, for this purpose, has to be fed with a constant, unsorted supply of fresh sensations and events.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“People need foundation myths, some imprint of year zero, a bolt that secures the scaffolding that in turn holds fast the entire architecture of reality, of time: memory-chambers and oblivion-cellars, walls between eras, hallways that sweep us on towards the end-days and the coming whatever-it-is. We see things shroudedly, as through a veil, an over-pixellated screen. When the shapeless plasma takes on form and resolution, like a fish approaching us through murky waters or an image looming into view from noxious liquid in a darkroom, when it begins to coalesce into a figure that's discernible, if ciphered, we can say: This is it, stirring, looming even if it isn't really, if it's all just ink-blots.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Everything becomes buffering, and buffering becomes everything.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“To the anthropologist, as I explained before, it’s generic episodes and phenomena that stand out as significant, not singular ones. To the anthropologist, there’s no such thing as a singular episode, a singular phenomenon—only a set of variations on generic ones; the more generic, therefore, the more pure, the closer to an unvariegated or unscrambled archetype.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Master-meaning! Concealed revealment! I spent my twenties wanting to be Lévi-Strauss – which is ironic, since he spent most of his life wanting to be somebody or something else: a philosopher, say, or novelist, or poet.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Incomprehensible is no better than banal – it’s just its flip-side.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Everything, as Peyman said, may be a fiction – but the Future is the biggest shaggy-dog story of all.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
tags: future
“episode, I’d had a sense of déjà-vu, a sense of having read this article, or one very like it, at least once before. Oh, a dead parachutist: one of those. Everyone can recognize and understand that situation. Before I’d ever heard of Vanuatans, the first joke I learnt to tell as a child was about a classified ad for a used parachute, “no strings attached.” To the anthropologist, as I explained before, it’s generic episodes and phenomena that stand out as significant, not singular ones. To the anthropologist, there’s no such thing as a singular episode, a singular phenomenon—only a set of variations on generic ones; the more generic, therefore, the more pure, the closer to an unvariegated or unscrambled archetype.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Satin Island, like all books, contains hundreds of borrowings, echoes, remixes and straight repetitions. To list them all would take up as much space as the text itself. The critical reader can entertain him- or herself tracking some of them down, if he or she is that way inclined.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“But now there are no natives – or we’re the natives.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“The first move of any strategy of cultural production, he’d say, must be to liberate things – objects, situations, systems – into uselessness.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“Well, he replied, finally letting my hand go so that he could gesticulate with his; you don your khakis, schlep off to some jungle, hang out with the natives, fish and hunt with them, shiver from their fevers, drink strange brew fermented in their virgins’ mouths, and all the rest; then, after about a year, they lug your bales and cases down to the small jetty that connects their tiny world to the big one that they kind of know exists, but only as an abstract concept, like adultery for children; and, waving with big, gap-toothed smiles, they send you back to your study—where, khakis swapped for cotton shirt and tie, saliva-liquor for the Twinings, tisane or iced Scotch your housekeeper purveys you on a tray, you write the book: that’s what I mean, he said. Not just a book: the fucking Book. You write the Book on them. Sum their tribe up. Speak its secret name.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“If it was a video-file that I was trying to watch, then at the bottom of the screen there’d be that line, that bar that slowly fills itself in—twice: once in bold red and, at the same time, running ahead of that, in fainter grey; the fainter section, of course, has to remain in advance of the bold section, and of the cursor showing which part of the video you’re actually watching at a given moment; if the cursor and red section catch up, then buffering sets in again. Staring at this bar, losing myself in it just as with the circle, I was granted a small revelation: it dawned on me that what I was actually watching was nothing less than the skeleton, laid bare, of time or memory itself. Not our computers’ time and memory, but our own. This was its structure. We require experience to stay ahead, if only by a nose, of our consciousness of experience—if for no other reason than that the latter needs to make sense of the former, to (as Peyman would say) narrate it both to others and ourselves, and, for this purpose, has to be fed with a constant, unsorted supply of fresh sensations and events. But when the narrating cursor catches right up with the rendering one, when occurrences and situations don’t replenish themselves quickly enough for the awareness they sustain, when, no matter how fast they regenerate, they’re instantly devoured by a mouth too voracious to let anything gather or accrue unconsumed before it, then we find ourselves jammed, stuck in limbo: we can enjoy neither experience nor consciousness of it. Everything becomes buffering, and buffering becomes everything. The revelation pleased me. I decided I would start a dossier on buffering.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“I’d met Madison, as I’ve already mentioned, two months earlier, in Budapest. I’d been at a conference. She’d been there with some girlfriends. We’d got talking in the hotel bar. An anthropologist, she’d said; that’s … exotic. Not at all, I’d replied; I work for an incorporated business, in a basement. Yes, she said, but … But what? I asked. Dances, and masks, and feathers, she eventually responded: that’s the essence of your work, isn’t it? I mean, even if you’re writing a report on workplace etiquette, or how to motivate employees or whatever, you’re seeing it all through a lens of rituals, and rites, and stuff. It must make the everyday all primitive and strange—no? I saw what she was getting at; but she was wrong. For anthropologists, even the exotic’s not exotic, let alone the everyday. In his key volume Tristes Tropiques, Claude Lévi-Strauss, the twentieth century’s most brilliant ethnographer, describes pacing the streets, all draped with new electric cable, of Lahore’s Old Town sometime in the nineteen-fifties, trying to piece together, long after the event, a vanished purity—of local colour, texture, custom, life in general—from nothing but leftovers and debris. He goes on to describe being struck by the same impression when he lived among the Amazonian Nambikwara tribe: the sense of having come “too late”—although he knows, from having read a previous account of life among the Nambikwara, that the anthropologist (that account’s author) who came here fifty years earlier, before the rubber-traders and the telegraph, was struck by that impression also; and knows as well that the anthropologist who, inspired by the account that Lévi-Strauss will himself write of this trip, shall come back in fifty more will be struck by it too, and wish—if only!—that he could have been here fifty years ago (that is, now, or, rather, then) to see what he, Lévi-Strauss, saw, or failed to see. This leads him to identify a “double-bind” to which all anthropologists, and anthropology itself, are, by their very nature, prey: the “purity” they crave is no more than a state in which all frames of comprehension, of interpretation and analysis, are lacking; once these are brought to bear, the mystery that drew the anthropologist towards his subject in the first place vanishes. I explained this to her; and she seemed, despite the fact that she was drunk, to understand what I was saying. Wow, she murmured; that’s kind of fucked. 2.8 When I arrived at Madison’s, we had sex. Afterwards,”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“You all want to be the hero in the film who runs away in slo-mo from the villain’s factory that he’s just mined, throwing himself to the ground as it explodes. But the explosion’s taking place already—it’s always been taking place. You just didn’t notice …”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“To the anthropologist, there’s no such thing as a singular episode, a singular phenomenon – only a set of variations on generic ones; the more generic, therefore, the more pure, the closer to an unvariegated or unscrambled archetype.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“We’re the noblest savages of all.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“And that we, far from being its authors, or its operators, or even its slaves (for slaves are agents who can harbour hopes, however faint, that one day a Moses or a Spartacus will set them free), were no more than actions and commands within its key-chains.”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island
“11.8 Christmas came and went. Parties; provincial exile; a return to London more relieved than joyous; more parties. On the 1st of January I found myself sitting, once more, beside my desk and blotter, looking through the window at the dawn. I always wake up early after drinking. It was a clear dawn, a good one to usher the new year in. The first phase of the Project would be going live this year. I looked at the pond, this site (since I’d rescued the girl there) of a minor resurrection, and thought of Vanuatans once again. On New Year’s Day, the men ride out on horses or just run about a stretch of pasture firing arrows up into the air: straight up, more or less vertically. The arrows, naturally, fall back down, with pretty much the same velocity as that with which they flew up in the first place. The men ride or run around until an arrow lands on one of them and kills him. Then they stop: the ritual demands that one man must be taken every year. Hungover, jaded, generally un-invigorated by the world, I found myself, in reverie, wishing—just as I had as a child when jumping from my sisters’ bed—that I could be one of these Vanuatan warriors, galloping about the fields, new-year’s wind biting at my cheeks, death whistling all around me, whistling me to life …”
Tom McCarthy, Satin Island