Sympathists

Lost and Found

This page aims to provide a forum for all sorts of quotations that strike the imagination but that the reader does not wish to work up into a full post.  Note to contributors: This page should host only extraneous material that has no other home, not drafts of posts that one is simply not up to finishing.  Unfinished posts can be left in the “drafts” section indefinitely.

Eric Ambler, “The Levanter”

Here’s Eric Ambler describing a mid-level minister in Syria: “The image he projected of himself was that of the super-efficient specialist quietly doing his own job as only he knew how, and with eyes for nobody else’s. Never once did he attempt to display himself as a potential leader. He must have been tempted at times. Men with his vanity, ambition, and peculiar abilities are rarely able to set limits to their aspirations, but he was one of the exceptions. A threat to no one with the power to destroy him, he had accordingly survived.” (Ambler, The Levanter, 61-62. Italics mine.)

Matthew

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East River Pipe, “Make a Deal with the City”

you live in this city
make a deal with the city now
you live in this city
make a deal with the city right now

Matthew

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“Trains Across the Sea,” by the Silver Jews

Troubles, no troubles, on the line,
I can’t stand to see you,
I can’t stand to see you when you’re crying at home.
Scotch & penicillin, please try Carlton,
a cold black maple hanger and husbands on the run
I just got back from a dream attack
that took me by surprise
and in there I met a lady, her name was Shady Sides
and she said:
“It’s been evening all day long,
it’s been evening all day long
and how can something so old be so wrong”.
Sin and gravity
drag me down to sleep to dream of trains across the sea,
trains across the sea.
Half hours on earth, what are they worth, I don’t know.
In 27 years I’ve drunk fifty thousand beers
and they just wash against me like the sea into a pier.

Matthew

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A. E. Houseman on Poetry

“I did not begin to write poetry in earnest until the really emotional part of my life was over.”

“The function of poetry is to transfuse emotion–not to transmit thought but to set up in the reader’s sense a vibration corresponding to what was felt by the writer.”

Puritano

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Wallace Stevens: From Notes toward a Supreme Fiction

Begin, ephebe, by perceiving the idea
Of this invention, this invented world,
The inconceivable idea of the sun.
You must become an ignorant man again
And see the sun again with an ignorant eye
And see it clearly in the idea of it.

Puritano

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Ween, “The Stallion Pt. 3”

Hey, dude, he’s the stallion
Yo, dude, he’s the stallion
Dude, he’s the stallion

Matthew

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Walt Whitman

There is a man in the world who never gets turned down
whenever he chances to stray;
He gets the glad hand in the populous town,
or out where the famers make hay;
He is greeted with pleasure on deserts of sand,
and deep in the aisles of the woods;
Wherever he goes there is a welcoming hand–
he’s the man who delivers the goods.

Matthew

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David Foster Wallace:

“I’ve gotten convinced that there’s something kind of timelessly vital and sacred about good writing. This thing doesn’t have that much to do with talent, even glittering talent…Talent’s just an instrument. It’s like having a pen that works instead of one that doesn’t. I’m not saying I’m able to work consistently out of the premise, but it seems like the big distinction between good art and so-so art lies somewhere in the art’s heart’s purpose, the agenda of the consciousness behind the text. It’s got something to do with love. With having the discipline to talk out of the part of yourself that can love instead of the part that just wants to be loved.”

Puritano

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“Wit is the epitaph of an emotion” Nietzsche.

Matthew

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Eridanus

Harper’s findings: “Neuroscientists identified an irrelevance filter in the brain’s basal ganglia.” I like that. “Astrophysicists speculated that a billion-light-year-wide hole in the universe, discovered last August in the constellation Eridanus, is the imprint of another universe upon our own.” Eridanus is the name of the non-river from Herotodus. And, this is a hell of a discovery.

Matthew

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Achieving Old Age:

Lewis Lapham cites Daniel Boorstin’s The Image, from 1962, on travel: “Boorstin observed that modern travel differs very little from going to a movie or turning the pages of a magazine. The travelers never arrive at any new place. Having seen it all on film, not once but a thousand times, they meet with experiences already embalmed in some other medium, and they might as well be living in a museum or an electronic store.” Lapham says that we might not want to travel to some of the times in the past we romanticize, and talks at length about the court of Louis XIV with a funny portrait of M. de L’Orme from Nancy Mitford, “the king’s physician who lived to the age of ninety-four {…} he was a careful man, ‘who spent his days in a sedan chair draped with blankets and lined with rabbit fur. When obliged to go out he covered himself with a morocco robe and mask, also with six pairs of stockings and several fur hats. He slept in a sort of brick oven, surrounded by hot-water bottles, and he always kept a bit of garlic in his mouth, incense in his ears, and a stalk of rue sticking out of each nostril.” That’s one prescription for vigor, I suppose.

Matthew

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Victor Hugo:

Victor Hugo wrote this poem, entitled “Postscript”, as he neared completion of Les Miserables:

‘Go on,’ you say, ‘finish your book Miseres.’
Before completing works of that vast sort,
My friend, I need some liberty of thought.
When a whole world stirs in the human heart,
You can’t reflect on Monsieur Bonaparte,
The Jesuits, Rome, Faucher or Mole.
Give me the silent woods, the Milky Way,
Solitude, and the far-flung starry night!
How can you be both poet in full flight
And tribune swallowing what some Nosy Parker says,
Eagle in the ideal and vulture among carcasses?

Puritano

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Three More Quotes from J.G. Ballard’s Conversations:

“We now have an adolescent America with enough intelligence to run a war and run a vast economy. It’s beginning to swallow its own myth” (68, italics mine).

“I imagine Clinton as a great fondler of women…any women within arm’s reach–particularly when he was President–got fondled. And he probably didn’t really regard that as ‘sexual’–it was his right as the tribal chief” (88).

“Liberalism has consistently underestimated the latent psychopathology of all human beings” (99).

Matthew

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