Category Archives: quotes

“i can’t say it”

Lucky me, getting to attend two Jonsi shows in one year.  Yesterday’s show was just as moving and entertaining and beautiful as the first; a stunning backdrop with still and moving images projected onto it, all kinds of lights (flashing at times, strobe-ing at times, still/off at times), and above all, absolutely gorgeous music filling every inch of the old theater we were standing together in.

It’s tough to describe his show, let alone his music – do explore some of the videos on his website (or these on Pitchfork) if you’re interested. It’s also tough to process both his show and his music…last night, we all just stood around after it ended, not quite sure what to feel or say or do. I had mixed feelings – half of me felt incredibly alone and overwhelmed, while the other half wanted to seize every opportunity presented by every moment and just  stay awake and alive forever – I felt like I’d just been shown and told that the world is, indeed, a place overflowing with beauty and joy and grace.

Anyways. I was reminded of this passage I came across a few weeks ago, one I’d been waiting for the right time to share:

When I look at my life and its secret colours, I feel like bursting into tears. Like that sky. It’s rain and sun both, noon and midnight… I think of the lips I’ve kissed, and of the wretched child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away. I’m all those things at once. I’m sure there are times when you wouldn’t even recognize me. Extreme in misery, excessive in happiness – I can’t say it.

–from Albert Camus’ A Happy Death

Haven’t we all felt this way? So overwhelmed in ways both good and bad, so much so that we fear we won’t be recognized, even by those we stand in front of.


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I’d *almost* forgotten just how good this book was, until a summer re-read bridged the gap between finishing some old New Yorkers and waiting for this. I still have the copy I read in high school (and used again in college (twice)). Pages are falling out,  and it’s brimming with reviews and newspaper clippings and old term papers and there’s hardly an unmarked page. Oh…I also have a first edition, thanks to my extremely generous and thoughtful father.

The last page in particular just slays me; I read it aloud and it nearly breaks my heart every time.

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning –

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

One of my favorite lines in all of literature, right there.

*This was a good little article by someone who also re-visited Gatsby this summer and had more time than I do to write about it.

*Now: who who who will come with me to NYC to see GATZ? Every word of The Great Gatsby performed on stage (which, by the way, apparently takes over six hours). I need to go. Currently accepting offers and/or donations to cover flights, lodging, and admission to the show.

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because I can’t say it better:

“Reading [Alice] Munro puts me in that state of quiet reflection in which I think about my own life: about the decisions I’ve made, the things I’ve done and haven’t done, the kind of person I am, the prospect of death. She is one of the handful of writers, some living, most dead, whom I have in mind when I say that fiction is my religion. For as long as I’m immersed in a Munro story, I am according to an entirely make-believe character the kind of solemn respect and quiet rooting interest that I accord myself in my better moments as a human being.”

– Jonathan Franzen, from his 2004 NYT review of Alice Munro’s Runaway

I’m reading Runaway now. And so far, he’s absolutely right.


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what i’ve been trying to say:

I’d say it better if I could, but I can’t:

“My loyalty is to human loveliness and the deep experience of self that every self deserves.”

Marilynne Robinson

(Looking forward to reading Absence of Mind. Do read Housekeeping, if you haven’t. It’ll knock your socks off. Poetry as prose.)

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today we have today

Definitely understand Jay Reatard’s sentiments, as quoted in the NYT article printed after his death last week.:

Everything I do is motivated by the fear of running out of time.

I wouldn’t say *everything* I do is motivated by this feeling that life’s too short and time passes too fast. But there’s just so much I want to do and see and feel and read and hear and…you know. This guy churned out albums and songs so fast it made critics’ heads spin…but he was “just trying to get the idea out before the inspiration is gone”. And because I understand the way he felt, I can’t help but feel inspired, or at least encouraged, to get my creative ideas out onto paper instead of sitting around being overwhelmed by them, before their inspiration or their time expires.  I can choose to not be paralyzed by this fear of running out of time, as I often am now.

Today we have today. Fumbling towards some sort of balance in my days; a balance allowing for normalcy, for constant appreciation, for wonder and spontaneity, for a steady pace, and for space to do what Jeff Tweedy (Wilco!) realized was essential as an artist:

“…I worked harder at laying the groundwork to generate inspiration. The work is putting yourself in that position more often. Creating the environment is the work. Picking up the guitar, picking up the pen, making yourself do that every day and resigning yourself to the idea that it won’t happen every day, but realizing that it’s more likely to happen if you have the pen in your hand than if you don’t.

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resolve to always beginning

From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet:

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can…to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Another version includes this at the end: Resolve to always beginning – to be a beginner.

No reflections. Off to live everything, with a newfound sense of peace and anticipation, remembering that we are always exactly where we need to be.

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an artist’s burden/blessing

Currently reading/enjoying May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. How fitting, given my recent reclusive tendencies and bouts of feverish reading and writing. This passage helped me understand those tendencies/bouts. The chain: May Sarton recalling Humphrey Trevelyan’s reflections on Goethe, and the qualities necessary for an artist to remain creative:

He must retain an abnormally keen awareness of life, he must never grow complacent, never be content with life, must always demand the impossible and when he cannot have it, must despair. The burden of the mystery must be with him day and night. He must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.

Sounds so hard, so uncomfortable, and so desirable, all at once. The *examined* life isn’t always an easy one to live. Which is why I find art (writing, photography, music, film, etc.) such a relief…a way of living creatively, instead of fearfully, a way to make some small sense of the confusions and complications of life (to quote Madeleine L’Engle – she’ll get her own post, soon). Not that art can only be produced because of/with such turmoil and angst and pain. But any understanding that comes from dealing with/confronting confusions and complications by creating art or experiencing someone else’s is more than welcome, in my mind. More to come…

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