Friday, December 28, 2007

"In the play, Laura is psychologically broken by the visit of one gentleman caller; in life, Rose's troubles began when she was abandoned by her ambitious boyfriend after her father had lost part of his ear in a fight at an all-night poker game, thus ruining his chance of further professional advancement."
-- Colm Toibin, The New York Review of Books, Dec. 20, 2007.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"The degree of estimation in which the art was held by these, and other eminent characters, will, in general, it is apprehended, be thought a sufficient encomium on its merits. But, for the sake of young people, and those of a confined education, it may not be amiss to give a few more instances of its advantage, and show that its importance in trade and business is not inferior to its dignity as a science."
-- John Bonnycastle, An Introduction to Mensuration and Practical Geometry.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"The revel had lasted since four o'clock, and, at length... the frolicsome company had begun to practise the ancient and now forgotten pastime of high jinks."
-- Walter Scott, Guy Mannering; or the astrologer, 1815.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"By what seemed then and still seems a chance, the suggestion of a moment's idle thought followed up upon familiar lines and paths that I had tracked a hundred times already, the great truth burst upon me, and I saw, mapped out in lines of sight, a whole world, a sphere unknown; continents and islands, and great oceans in which no ship has sailed (to my belief) since a Man first lifted up his eyes and beheld the sun, and the stars of heaven, and the quiet earth beneath. You will think this all high-flown language, Clarke, but it is hard to be literal. And yet; I do not know whether what I am hinting at cannot be set forth in plain and lonely terms. For instance, this world of ours is pretty well girded now with the telegraph wires and cables; thought, with something less than the speed of thought, flashes from sunrise to sunset, from north to south, across the floods and the desert places. Suppose that an electrician of today were suddenly to perceive that he and his friends have merely been playing with pebbles and mistaking them for the foundations of the world; suppose that such a man saw uttermost space lie open before the current, and words of men flash forth to the sun and beyond the sun into the systems beyond, and the voice of articulate-speaking men echo in the waste void that bounds our thought. As analogies go, that is a pretty good analogy of what I have done; you can understand now a little of what I felt as I stood here one evening; it was a summer evening, and the valley looked much as it does now; I stood here, and saw before me the unutterable, the unthinkable gulf that yawns profound between two worlds, the world of matter and the world of spirit; I saw the great empty deep stretch dim before me, and in that instant a bridge of light leapt from the earth to the unknown shore, and the abyss was spanned."
-- Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan.

[The Great God Pan was apparently written in 1890, although revised and expanded in 1894. This seems a remarkable choice of analogy, especially if it was in the original version. The first public demonstration of wireless telegraphy was in 1894.]

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Around 1990, role-playing games such as Ravenloft and Dungeons and Dragons spurred interest in acting out fictional characters and events."
-- Lynne Hume, Popular Spiritualities: The Politics of Contemporary Enchantment.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

"He says the only people he ever really wants to meet for a drink somewhere are all either dead or unavailable. He says he never even wants to have lunch with anybody, even, unless he thinks there's a good chance it's going to turn out to be Jesus, the person--or the Buddha, or Hui-neng, or Shankaracharya, or somebody like that. You know." Franny suddenly put out her cigarette in the tiny ashtray--with some awkwardness, not having her second hand free to brace the ashtray. "You know what else he said to me?" she said. "You know what he swore up and down to me? He told me last night he once had a glass of ginger ale with Jesus in the kitchen when he was eight years old. Are you listening?"

"I'm listening, I'm listening . . . sweetheart." "He said he was--this is exactly what he said --he said he was sitting at the table in the kitchen, all by himself, drinking a glass of ginger ale and eating saltines and reading 'Dombey and Son,' and all of a sudden Jesus sat down in the other chair and asked if he could have a small glass of ginger ale. A small glass, mind you --that's exactly what he said."

-- J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

Saturday, December 1, 2007

"He is as Lucifer would be, were that proud spirit banished to a society of soulless, Tomlinsonian ghosts." -- Jack London, The Sea Wolf.