Tag Archives: language

selections from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“She’ll come back and be a serious Americanah like Bisi,” Ranyinudo said.

They roared with laughter, at that word “Americanah,” wreathed in glee, the fourth syllable extended, and at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below them, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affectations, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke. (78) Continue reading

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selections from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

“It’s only possible to betray where loyalty is due,” said Sandy. Continue reading

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SAS 1

Strength can be gentle
But you don’t see it that way

I saw a light in you
trying to grab it before it fades

Trying to grab it ‘fore
Trying to grab it ‘fore

Fades
The cold and the dark enter your heart
You’re afraid
The monsters inside you, cripple and blind you
and I know you are
and I know you are
The same

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the apes sat around scrawling their squishy mochi minds all over the table. the mochi would leap out their skulls and slam against the table in an explosion of colors, portraying different forms of flesh, perspective, landscape, language. there an avocado, an orange outta nowhere. there a woman steps out of the shadows w red wine bleeding from her right ear socket, watercolors streaming down her face. there voltages fired through a test tube, attempting to synthesize volcanic activity here in the comfort of our own home. here the voice of the prophet, inky and wet, dripping everywhere, staining everyone’s fingers, the same contagious fairy tales and riddles told for thousands and thousands of years. what does the future hold? the same fairy tales, riddles, prophets? can it be forecast in cheap blue ink? in the name of the gracious and glorious crime of poetic appropriation, may we all grow to be the most beautiful blooms of ourselves. Continue reading

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selections from The San Francisco Poets by David Meltzer

The DNA molecule is the memory. It is the memory of the meat. Four billion years of memory telling you to be a mammal. (274) Continue reading

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selections from The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville

‘True; but look, now, what my doubt is. I am one who thinks well of man. I love man. I have confidence in man. But what was told me not a half-hour since? I was told that I would find it written — “Believe not his many words — an enemy speaketh sweetly with his lips” — and also I was told that I would find a good deal more to the same effect, and all in this book. I could not think it; and, coming here to look for myself, what do I read? Not only just what was quoted, but also, as was engaged, more to the same purpose, such as this: “With much communication he will tempt thee; he will smile upon thee, and speak thee fair, and say What wantest thou? If thou be for his profit he will use thee; he will make thee bear, and will not be sorry for it. Observe and take good heed. When thou hearest these things, awake in thy sleep.”‘

‘Who’s that describing the confidence-man?’ here came from the berth again. (286) Continue reading

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selections from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1912)

LIZA. Every girl has a right to be loved. (102) Continue reading

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Emily Dickinson favorites (301-500)

478

I had no time to Hate –
Because
The Grave would hinder Me –
And Life was not so
Ample I
Could finish – Enmity –

Nor had I time to Love –
But since
Some Industry must be –
The little Toil of Love –
I thought
Be large enough for Me – Continue reading

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Paris · Farningham · London · Amsterdam

~ 0 ~
horrible traffic
in n out
4-hour delay
“this is the worst airline ever”
chili’s out of salad and Mexican food
geographically challenged hostess
know your rights!
sleep? dreamy purple pinkish tint thereof
a moment in Oslo
Paris
nightmare on rue chaptal
Moulin Rouge

~ 1 ~
walk to espresso
Tour Eiffel
walk along the Seine
lunch in the Latin Quarter?
Notre Dame
espresso for the Louvre
kill in the garden
fancy ass French food
Arc de Triomphe
legs falling off
white wine and Lucky Strike

~ 2 ~
Père Lachaise
Indian at Chapelle
Musée d’Orsay
USA WINS 0-1
fancy ass fucking ave (dck sp + chkn brst)
farewell to the Seine
1-2-3!!! something something Algérie!!!

~ 3 ~
omelette complet at the Gare du Nord
Eurostar to Ebbsfleet
tea (twice) on the Tabsfield green
tomato basil, cheesy mushroom quiche, fresh strawberry creme brûlée, and a couple pints with the wedding party and co.
the cottage

~ 4 ~
fresh fruit, meat, a poached egg, and coffee
dressing for the wedding
Frost on the green
wedding at St Peter and St Paul’s Church
half Indian feast and dance (the Brits, the delicious Indian food, the champagne beer red and white wine, the light rain, and heavy dancing)
afterparty at the cottage

~ 5 ~
breakfast redux (hungover version)
football w Maya on the green
to London
appetizing Indian leftovers
The Tower
wandering in the rain
St. Paul’s
old fucking white egg-headed, perfectly circular black spectacle-wearing, pound-grubbing pieces of shit ushers guarding against pilgrims at the footsteps to the house of god
covent garden
pho
lazying and familying

~ 6 ~
waking up sans Natalie in a nasty mood
bacon on a roll
cold shower
Tate Modern
Eat.
The Globe
Parliament
Westminster
Evensong
Upminster then Whitechapel
ALG v GER

~ 7 ~
waking up w Natalie, happily
full English breakfast in Whitechapel
Natural History Museum
Kensington Gardens
fancy ass Indian food
£5 to the girl from Canada Macedonia CA
USA v BLG :(

~ 8 ~
scratched iris
mushroom omelette
nap to
Stonehenge
and nap from
Nando’s w David and Evelyn

~ 9 ~
to Amsterdam
grocery shopping
white wine
Concertgebouw
a spliff at Rookie’s
shoarma on the corner

~ 10 ~
homemade breakfast
double espresso
spliff on the diagonal green
Rijksmuseum
shopping, snacks in bed
Little Thai Prince
red light district
overpriced and pre-rolled
stoned wander home
ice cream

~ 11 ~
bacon breakfast
Blue Bird
Myrabelle, bartended by a more muscular and more feminine version of John Dwyer.
gluten-free crackers, goat cheese, smoked salmon, olives dripping in oil and basil, water, and wine
second Thai dinner
Vondelpark
Amstels all night at the cafe
NED v CRC

~ 12 ~
nightmare
check out
fresh fruit pancake across from Anne Frank
spliff on the green
Van Gogh Museum
rest in Vondelpark
walk
coffee
bus
plane
tube

~ 13 ~
tube
train
plane
Oslo
plane
Oakland
home? Continue reading

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selections from Oedipus the King and Antigone by Sophocles

sure, i’ve read them before, but this one has a different translator (Peter D. Arnott), so here are some of my favorite selections.

OEDIPUS THE KING

For city walls without their men are nothing,
Or empty ships, when once the crew has gone. (56-7)

Words will not scare a man when actions do not. (286)

My strength is in my truth. (345)

I am what I am. (425)

It takes men and money to make a revolution. (523)

I prefer not to talk about things I do not know. (550)

For time alone can tell an honest man
While one day is enough to show a villain. (595-6)

Hasty thoughts are dangerous. (598)

OEDIPUS: “Kings must still be obeyed.”
CREON: “Kings, but not tyrants.” (608-9)

And man turns his face away from heaven. (876)

When a man is old his life hangs by a thread. (927)

What has a man to fear, when life is ruled
By chance, and the future is unknowable?
The best way is to take life as it comes. (943-5)

Oh, oh, then everything has come out true.
Light, I shall not look on you again.
I have been born when I should not be born,
I have married where I should not marry,
I have killed whom I should not kill; now all is clear. (1144-8)

Time sees all. (1174)

Tears, ruin, death, disgrace, as many ills
As there are names for them; not one is lacking. (1243-4)

Oedipus is no more. (1301)

Nothing can kill me now. (1409)

There must be moderation in all things. (1468)

When I do not know, I do not speak. (1473)

That is why we wait until we see the final day,
Not calling anybody happy who is mortal
Until he has passed the last milestone without calamity. (1481-3)

ANTIGONE

Anything is better than to die a coward! (99)

Nor have I time for anyone who puts
His popularity before his country. (176-7)

The state keeps us afloat. (183)

CHORUS: No man is fool enough to ask for death.
CREON: That is what you would get. But hope of gain
Has often led men on to their destruction. (214-6)

Of all the institutions of mankind
The greatest curse is money. It destroys
Our cities, it takes men away from home,
Corrupts men’s honest minds, and teaches them
To enter on disreputable courses.
It shows them how to lead immortal lives
And flout the gods in everything they do. (290-6)

It’s in the hands of fortune now. (323)

The world is full of wonderful things
But none more so than man,
This prodigy who sails before the storm-winds,
Cutting a path across the sea’s gray face
Beneath the towering menace of the waves.
And Earth, the oldest, the primeval god,
Immortal, inexhaustible Earth,
She too has felt the weight of his hand
As year after year the mules are harnessed
And plows go back and forwards in the fields.

Merry birds and forest beasts,
Fish that swim in the deep waters,
Are gathered into the woven nets
Of man the crafty hunter.
He conquers with his arts
The beasts that roam in the wild hill-country,
He tames the horses with their shaggy manes
Throwing a harness around their necks,
And the tireless mountain bull.

Speech he has made his own, and thought
That travels swift as the wind,
And how to live in harmony with others
In cities, and how to shelter himself
From the piercing frost, cold rain, when the open
Fields can offer but a poor night’s lodging.
He is ever-resourceful; nothing that comes
Will find him unready, save Death alone.
Then he will call for help and call in vain,
Though often, when cure was despaired of, he has found one.

The wit of man surpasses belief,
It works for good and evil too;
When he honors his country’s laws, and the right
He is pledged to uphold, then city
Hold up your head; but the man
Who yields to temptation and brings evil home
Is a man without a city; he has
No place in the circle of my hearth,
Nor any part in my counsels. (327-64)

Nothing makes you happier than to get yourself
Out of trouble; but it’s quite another thing
To get friends into it. But there’s nothing
I wouldn’t do, to keep myself from harm. (425-8)

CREON: And yet you dared to go against the law?
ANTIGONE: Why not? It was not Zeus who gave the order,
And Justice living with the dead below
Has never given men a law like this.
Nor did I think that your pronouncements were
So powerful that mere man could override
The unwritten and unfailing laws of heaven.
These live, not for today and yesterday
But for all time; they came, no man knows whence.
There is no man’s resolve I fear enough
To answer to the gods for breaking these.
I knew that I must die–how could I help it?
Even without your edict; but if I die
Before my time is up, I count it gain.
For when a person lives as I do, in the midst
Of evils, what can death be but gain?
And so for me to happen on this fate
Is grief not worth a thought; but if I had left
My mother’s son to lie a homeless corpse,
Then had I grieved. I do not grieve for this.
If what I do seems foolish in your sight
It may be that a fool condemns my folly. (437-58)

In his wisdom, someone coined the famous saying
That when a god leads a man’s mind on
To destruction, sooner or later he comes
To believe that evil is good, good evil,
And then his days of happiness are numbered. (607-11)

Two heads are sometimes better than one. (670)

So wear an open mind; do not suppose
That you are right, and everyone else is wrong.
A man who thinks he has monopoly
Of wisdom, no rival in speech or intellect,
Will turn out hollow when you look inside him.
However wise he is, it is no disgrace
To learn, and give way gracefully.
You see how trees that bend to winter floods
Preserve themselves, save every twig unbroken,
But those that stand rigid perish root and branch,
And also how the man who keeps his sails
Stretched taut, and never slackens them, overturns
And finishes his voyage upside down.
Let your anger rest; allow us to persuade you.
If a young man may be permitted his opinion
I should say it would be best for everyone
To be born omniscient; but otherwise–
And things have a habit of falling out differently–
It is also good to learn from good advice. (688-706)

There is no state, when one man is its master. (720)

Love, whom we fight but never conquer,
Love, the ravager of proud possessions
Who keep eternal vigilance
In the softness of a young girl’s cheek,
You go wherever the wide seas go
And among the cottages of country-dwellers.
None of the immortal gods can escape you,
Nor man, whose life is as a single day,
And, to whoever takes you in, comes madness.

The minds of honest men you lead
Out of the paths of virtue to destruction.
Father is at odds with son
And it is you who set this quarrel in their hearts.
One glance from the eyes of a ready bride
Bright with desire, and a man is enslaved.
On the throne of the eternal laws
Love has a place, for there the goddess Aphrodite
Decides men’s fates, and there is no withstanding her. (764-81)

To err is human,
But when we err, then happy is the man
Who is not stubborn, and has sense enough
To remedy the fault he has committed. (974-7)

No human being can defile the gods. (994)

Truth is always best. (1230)

I am crushed beneath my fate. (1268)

To be happy it is first of all necessary
To be wise, and always remember
To give the gods their due.
The measure of a proud man’s boasting
Shall be the measure of his punishment
And teach him late in life
The nature of true wisdom. (1269-75) Continue reading

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notes from volume 199 of the Greek collection in the Loeb Classical Library

notes on Aristotle, Longinus, and Demetrius. Continue reading

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