Tag Archives: Truth

selections from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

‘I think,’ said Anna, toying with the glove she had taken off, ‘I think . . . if there are as many minds as there are men, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.’ 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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Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Continue reading

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selections from Room by Emma Donoghue

Presents

“It’s called mind over matter. If we don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” (10)

—————

I climb on Rocker to get the books from Shelf and I make a ten-story skyscraper on Rug. “Ten stories,” says Ma and laughs, that wasn’t very funny. (16)

—————

[R]aw things make us extra alive. (20)

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Silly Penis is always standing up in the morning, I push him down. (28)

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The cartoon planet’s not in evenings, maybe because it’s dark and they don’t have lamps there. I choose a cooking tonight, it’s not real food, they don’t have any cans. The she and the he smile at each other and do a meat with a pie on top and green things around other green things in bunches. Then I switch over to the fitness planet where persons in underwear with all machines have to keep doing things over and over, I think they’re locked in. That’s over soon and it’s the knockerdowners, they make houses into different shapes and also millions of colors with paint, not just on a picture but all over everything. Houses are like lots of Rooms stuck together, TV persons stay in them mostly but sometimes they go in their outsides and weather happens to them.

“What if we put the bed over there?” says Ma.

I stare at her, then I look where she’s pointing. “That’s TV Wall.”

“That’s just what we call it,” she says, “but the bed could probably fit there, between the toilet and…we’d have to shift the wardrobe over a bit. Then the dresser would be right here instead of the bed, with the TV on top of it.”

I’m shaking my head a lot. “Then we couldn’t see.”

“We could, we’d be sitting right here in the rocker.”

“Bad idea.”

“OK, forget it.” Ma folds her arms tight.

The TV woman is crying because her house is yellow now. “Did she like it brown better?” I ask.

“No,” says Ma, “she’s so happy it’s making her cry.”

That’s weird. “Is she happysad, like you get when there’s lovely music on TV?”

“No, she’s just an idiot. Let’s switch the TV off now.” (41-42)

—————

[E]verything’s breakable. (43)

—————

“If you play you won’t mind and you won’t matter.” (44)

—————

—————

Unlying

But when I want something I want it always, like chocolates, I never ate a chocolate too many times. (56)

—————

She goes to Sink and washes her face, I don’t know why because it wasn’t dirty but maybe there were germs. (57)

—————

“I don’t know.”

They way she says it, it’s strange. I think she’s pretending. “You have to know. You know everything.” (59)

—————

“Stories are a different kind of true.” (71)

—————

“My ears hurt,” I tell her.

Her eyebrows go up.

“It’s too quiet in them.”

“Ah, that’s because we’re not hearing all the little sounds we’re used to, like the heat coming on or the refrigerator hum.” (76)

—————

“What I’m doing is the opposite of lying. It’s, like, unlying.” (85)

—————

—————

Dying

When I was a little kid I thought like a little kid, but now I’m five I know everything. (102)

—————

I can think and do interesting stuff at the same time. Can’t she? (104)

—————

“Nobody’s going to rescue us.”

I don’t say anything. And then I say, “You don’t know everything there is.”

Her face is the strangest I ever saw. (104)

—————

“Scared is what you’re feeling,” says Ma, “but brave is what you’re doing.”

“Huh?”

“Scaredybrave.”

“Scave.”

Word sandwiches always make her laugh but I wasn’t being funny. (116)

—————

Ma’s still nodding. “You’re the one who matters, though. Just you.”

I shake my head till it’s wobbling because there’s no just me.

We look at each other not smiling. (128)

—————

Outsider don’t understand anything, I wonder do they watch too much TV. (152)

—————

“Yeah. I’ve seen the world and I’m tired now.”

“Oh, Jack,” she says, “we’re never going back.”

The car starts moving and I’m crying so much I can’t stop. (155)

—————

—————

After

catatonic (adj., Psychiatry)
of, relating to, or characterized by catatonia.
—informal: of or in an immobile or unresponsive stupor.
“The despot’s victims have an eerie pallor and appear to be in a borderline catatonic state after the long nightmare of their incarceration.” (165)

—————

Ma wipes my face with her hand, that spreads the tears. “Sorry,” she says, “sorry, I guess I’m moving too fast.” She gives me a hug that wets me all down me. “There’s nothing to cry about anymore.”

When I was a baby I only cried for a good reason. But Ma going in the shower and shutting me on the wrong side, that’s a good reason. (173)

—————

Every wall’s a different color, that must be the rule. (175)

—————

The glasses are invisible like ours but the plates are blue, that’s disgusting. (177)

—————

I go look at the tray Noreen brought. I’m not hungry but when I ask Ma she says it’s after one o’clock, that’s too late for lunch even, lunch should be twelve something but there’s room in my tummy yet.

“Relax,” Ma tells me. “Everything’s different here.”

“But what’s the rule?”

“There is no rule. We can have lunch at ten or one or three or the middle of the night.”

“I don’t want lunch in the middle of the night.”

Ma puffs her breath. “Let’s make a new rule that we’ll have lunch…anytime between twelve and two. And if we’re not hungry we’ll just skip it.”

“How do we skip it?”

“Eat nothing. Zero.”

“OK.” I don’t mind eating zero. “But what will Noreen do with all the food?”

“Throw it away.”

“That’s waste.”

“Yeah, but it has to go in the trash because it’s—it’s like it’s dirty.”

I look at the food all multicolored on the blue plates. “It doesn’t look dirty.”

“It’s not actually, but nobody else here would want it after it’s been on our plates,” says Ma. “Don’t worry about it.”

She keeps saying that but I don’t know to not worry.

I yawn so huge it nearly knocks me over. My arm still hurts from where it wasn’t numb. I ask if we can go back to sleep again and Ma says sure, but she’s going to read the paper. I don’t know why she wants to read the paper instead of being asleep with me. (184-185)

—————

I never saw Ma hug a someone else. (187)

—————

“Why did she laugh about me knowing all the words when I wasn’t making a joke?” I ask Ma after.

“Oh, it doesn’t matter, it’s always good to make people laugh.” (189)

—————

I remember manners, that’s when persons are scared to make each other persons mad. I say, “Please may you have me more pancakes?”

The she with the apron says, “He’s a doll.”

I’m not a doll, but Ma whispers it means the woman like me so I should let her call me one.

I try the syrup, it’s super extra sweet, I drink a whole little tub before Ma stops me. She says it’s only for putting on pancakes but I think that’s yucky.

People keep coming at her with jugs of coffee, she says no. I eat so many bacon I lose count, when I say, “Thank you, Baby Jesus,” people stare because I think they don’t know him in Outside. (192)

—————

“Are you enjoying it here?”

“I’m enjoying the bacon.”

He laughs, I didn’t know I made a joke again. “I enjoy bacon too. Too much.”

How can enjoying be too much? (194)

—————

“‘World is suddener than we fancy it.'” (194)

—————

“Everyone’s got a different story.” (195)

—————

In Outside the time’s all mixed up. Ma keeps saying, “Slow down, Jack,” and “Hang on,” and “Finish up now,” and “Hurry up, Jack,” she says Jack a lot so I’ll know it’s me she’s talking to not persons else. (196)

—————

“You were born with your eyes open.” (206)

—————

“The very best thing you did was, you got him out early,” says Dr. Clay. “At five, they’re still plastic.”

But I’m not plastic, I’m a real boy. (209)

—————

“Because we didn’t belong to him.”

“That’s right.” Dr. Clay’s smiling. “You know who you belong to, Jack?”

“Yeah.”

“Yourself.”

He’s wrong, actually, I belong to Ma. (209)

—————

When we go see Dr. Clay, Ma makes me tell about my dreams.

He thinks my brain is probably doing a spring cleaning.

I stare at him.

“Now you’re safe, it’s gathering up all those scary thoughts you don’t need anymore, and throwing them out as bad dreams.” His hands do the throwing.

I don’t say because of manners, but actually he’s got it backwards. In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary. (218-219)

—————

“Be gentle with it, Jack, it’s my present from Paul.”

I didn’t know it was hers-not-mine. In Room everything was ours. (220)

—————

“I keep messing up. I know you need me to be your ma but I’m having to remember how to be me as well at the same time and it’s…”

But I thought the her and the Ma were the same. (221-222)

—————

Lots and lots of hes and shes on the sidewalks, I never saw so many, I wonder are they all real for real or just some. “Some of the women grow long hair like us,” I tell Ma, “but the men don’t.”

“Oh, a few do, rock stars. It’s not a rule, just a convention.”

“What’s a—?”

“A silly habit everybody has. Would you like a haircut?” asks Ma.

“No.”

“It doesn’t hurt. I had short hair before—back when I was nineteen.”

I shake my head. “I don’t want to lose my strong.”

“Your what?”

“My muscles, like Samson in the story.”

That makes her laugh. (222-223)

—————

“Jack, there’s a lot of things in the world.”

“Zillions?”

“Zillions and zillions. If you try to fit them in all your head, it’ll just burst.” (228)

—————

I think buddy is man talk for sweetie. (240)

—————

I take Dora out and put my arms in her straps and I’m wearing it, I’m actually wearing Dora. (243)

—————

—————

Living

“That was Dr. Clay, your ma is stable. That sounds good, doesn’t it?”

It sounds like horses. (258)

—————

“He wants me not born.”

“He wants what?”

“He said I shouldn’t be and then Ma wouldn’t have to be Ma.”

Grandma doesn’t say anything so I think she’s gone downstairs. I take my face out to see. She’s still here with her arms wrapped around her tight. “Never you mind that a-hole.” (259)

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At breakfast Grandma takes a pill. I ask if it’s a vitamin. Steppa laughs. She tells him, “You should talk.” Then she says to me, “Everybody needs a little something.” (263)

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In Room we knowed what everything was called but in the world there’s so much, persons don’t even know the names. (267)

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God’s yellow face has a cloud on top. Colder suddenly. The world is always changing brightness and soundness, I never know how it’s going to be the next minute. (268)

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“‘Human kind cannot bear very much reality.'” (274)

—————

“She’s in the other wing, she needs to be on her own for a while.”

I think he’s wrong, if I was sick I’d need Ma with me even more.

“But she’s working really hard to get better,” he tells me.

I thought people are just sick or better, I didn’t know it was work. (275)

—————

“Why are places to eat called coffee shops?” I ask him.

“Well, coffee’s the most important thing they sell because most of us need it to keep us going, like gas in the car.” (278)

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The little cards with numbers all over are called a lottery, idiots buy them hoping to get magicked into millionaires. (285)

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I didn’t know persons could be private out in the world. (285)

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In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. (286)

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“Remember,” she says on the way to the white car, “we don’t hug strangers. Even nice ones.”

“Why not?”

“We just don’t, we save our hugs for people we love.”

“I love that boy Walker.”

“Jack, you never saw him before in your life.” (288)

—————

“Noreen tells me you’ve had a haircut.” Ma’s voice is tiny on the phone.

“Yeah. But I still have my strong.” I’m sitting under Rug with the phone, all in the dark to pretend Ma’s right here. “I have baths on my own now,” I tell her. “I’ve been on swings and I know money and fire and street persons and I’ve got two Dylan the Diggers and a conscience and spongy shoes.”

“Wow.”

“Oh and I’ve seen the sea, there’s no poo in it, you were tricking me.”

“You had so many questions,” says Ma. “And I didn’t have all the answers, so I had to make some up.”

I hear her crying breath.

“Ma, can you come get me tonight?”

“Not quite yet.”

“Why not?”

“They’re still fiddling with my dosage, trying to figure out what I need.”

Me, she needs me. (292-293)

—————

“Well, celebrity is a secondary trauma.” (306)

—————

Ma says everybody’s got a few different selves. (310)

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Grandma says why doesn’t Ma take me to the zoo but Ma says she couldn’t stand the cages. (312)

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“Do you sometimes wish we didn’t escape?”

I don’t hear anything. Then she says, “No, I never wish that.” (313)

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“‘The Soul selects her own Society—Then—shuts the Door—'” (314) Continue reading

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selections from Plato’s Lysis, Symposium, and Gorgias, translated by W.R.M. Lamb (1925)

PREFACE recension (n.) a revised edition of a text; an act of making a revised edition of a text. The Greek text in this volume is based on the recension of Schanz. (v) ————— ————— GENERAL INTRODUCTION Though [Socrates] seems, … Continue reading

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seven lines

what truth can possibly be expressed
on a white page
in blue ink
under red light
against the mountainside
beneath dark skies
with only seven lines? Continue reading

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selections from the second volume of Parerga and Paralipomena by Arthur Schopenhauer

SCHOPENHAUER. Essays and Aphorisms. Penguin Classics. Translated with an introduction by R. J. HOLLINGDALE. 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 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo… 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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