Come from his burial, none knew where but she, Daily Alice came among them like daybreak, her tears like day-odorous dew. They swallowed tears and wonder before her presence, and made to leave; but no one would say later that she hadn’t smiled for them, and made them glad with her blessing, as they parted. They sighed, some yawned, they took hands; they took themselves by twos and threes away to where she sent them, to rocks, fields, streams and woods, to the four corners of the earth, their kingdom new-made.
Then Alice walked alone there, by where the moist ground was marked with the dark circle of their dance, her skirts trailing damp in the sparkling grasses. She thought that if she could she might take away this summer day, this one day, for him; but he wouldn’t have liked her to do that and she could not do it anyway. So instead she would make it, which she could do, this her anniversary day, a day of such perfect brilliance, a morning so new, an afternoon so endless, that the whole world would remember it ever after.
- excerpt from Little, Big by John Crowley 📚 💬
The morning was huge, and went on in all directions before her, and blew coldly past her into the house. She stood a long time in the open doorway, thinking: one step. One step, which will seem to be a step away, but which will not be; one step into the rainbow, a step she had long ago taken, and which could not be untaken, every other step was only further. She took one step. Out on the lawn, amid the rags of mist, a little dog ran toward her, leaping and barking excitedly.
– excerpt from Little, Big by John Crowley 📚 💬
“I dream everyone in the world is asleep, dreaming. I dream frost patterns on a temple bell. I dream bright water dripping from the spear of Izanagi, and the alchemy that transforms these drips into the land we call Japan. I dream the Pleiades, and flying fish, and speckled eggs in nests. I dream of skin flakes in keyboard gullies. I dream cities and the ovaries they issue from. I dream lovers who glimpse each other long before they become lovers, and I dream the songs they fall in love to, and I dream the songwriters who find the songs. I dream a mind in eight parts, and a compass rose. I dream of a girl, drowning, resigned to her fate now that she knows that there is no possibility of being saved by her brother. Her willowy body is passed from current to current, tide to tide, until it has dissolved into pure blue; and I am sorry, but she knows I am sorry, and she wants me to let her go because she does not want me to drown too, which I will, if I spend the rest of my life looking for her. I dream of a stone whale, of barnacles on the whale, watching it all. When my dream falters, all the world questions its own substance, so it is no surprise that I also dream the message bubbling from the stone whale’s blowhole.”This is the National Seismology Bureau, interrupring this program to bring you an emergency news flash … ”
― Number Nine Dream by David Mitchell 📚 💬
“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.”
― Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 📚 💬
How sad the evening earth
“How sad the evening earth! How mysterious the mists over the swamps! He who has wandered in these mists, he who has suffered much before death, he who has flown over this earth bearing on himself too heavy a burden, knows it. The weary man knows it. And without regret he leaves the mists of the earth, its swamps and rivers, with a light heart he gives himself into the hands of death, knowing that she alone can bring him peace.”
From Mikhail Bulgakov. “THE MASTER AND MARGARITA” 📚 💬
Landsman, of course, is sorry, too. He has already apologized to her several times, alone and in the presence of others, orally and in writing, formally in measured phrases and in untrammeled spasms: Sorry I’m sorry I’m so, so sorry. He has apologized for his craziness, his erratic behavior, his glooms and jags, for the years of round-robin exaltation and despair. He has apologized for leaving her, and for begging her to take him back again, and for breaking down the door to their old apartment when she declined to do so. He has abased himself, and rent his garments, and groveled at her shoes. Most of the time Bina has, good and caring woman that she is, offered Landsman the words he wanted to hear. He has prayed to her for rain, and she has sent cool showers. But what he really requires is a flood to wash his wickedness from the face of the earth. That or the blessing of a yid who will never bless anyone again.
- excerpt from Michael Chabon. “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”. 📚 💬
This is a Possible Letter
But this is a new chapter. The city is going back in time, readying itself to start again with its simple piracy in the rich shores near my home. Everything has changed, and I find myself trembling, excited, biding my time, eager to finish this letter.
It does not embarrass me. I am opened up by it.
This is a Possible Letter. Until the last second, when I write your name beside that word “Dear,” all those sheets and months ago, this is a Possible Letter, pregnant with potentiality. I am very powerful right now. I am all ready to mine the possibilities, make one of them fact.
I have not been the best friend to you, and I need you to forgive me that. I think back to my friends in New Crobuzon, and I wonder which of them you are to be.
And if I want this letter to be a remembrance, to be something with which to say goodbye instead of hello again, then you will be Carrianne. You are my dear friend, if that is so, and the fact that I did not know you when I started to write you this letter means nothing. This is a Possible Letter, after all.
Whoever you are, I have not been the best friend to you, and I am sorry.
- excerpt from China Mieville. “The Scar”. 📚 💬
I hope that you were motivated by a desire for knowledge, a yearning to see what can arise from a universe’s exhalation. Because even if a universe’s life span is calculable, the variety of life that is generated within it is not. The buildings we have erected, the art and music and verse we have composed, the very lives we’ve led: none of them could have been predicted, because none of them was inevitable. Our universe might have slid into equilibrium emitting nothing more than a quiet hiss. The fact that it spawned such plenitude is a miracle, one that is matched only by your universe giving rise to you.
Though I am long dead as you read this, explorer, I offer to you a valediction. Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same.
exceprt from Ted Chiang’s Exhalation. 📚 💬
“Where did I come from?” you asked. “Where’s my father?”
“You don’t have one,” I said. “I made you myself.”
“Everyone has a father.”
“Why did you make me?” you said.
“I made you so that I could love you,” I said.
- from “Cloudberry Jam” by Karin Tidbeck (from the short story collection Jagannath) 📚 💬
No doubt about it: there were two moons.
One was the moon that had always been there, and the other was a far smaller, greenish moon, somewhat lopsided in shape, and much less bright. It looked like a poor, ugly, distantly related child that had been foisted on the family by unfortunate events and was welcomed by no one. But it was undeniably there, neither a phantom nor an optical illusion, hanging in space like other heavenly bodies, a solid mass with a clear-cut outline. Not a plane, not a blimp, not an artificial satellite, not a papier-mache moon that someone made for fun. It was without a doubt a chunk of rock, having quietly, stubbornly settled on a position in the night sky, like a punctuation mark placed only after long deliberation or a mole bestowed by destiny.
- from 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. 📚 💬
Never to let her go
I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.
― Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 📚 💬
I close my eyes and see a flock of birds. The vision lasts a second, or perhaps less; I am not sure how many birds I saw. Was the number of birds definite or indefinite? The problem involves the existence of God. If God exists, the number is definite, because God knows how many birds I saw. If God does not exist, the number is indefinite, because no one can have counted. In this case I saw fewer than ten birds (let us say) and more than one, but did not see nine, eight, seven, six, four, three, or two birds. I saw a number between ten and one, which was not nine, eight, seven, six, five, etc. That integer — not-nine, not-eight, not-seven, not-six, not-five, etc. — is inconceivable. Ergo, God exists.
- excerpt from Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph and Other Stories” 📚 💬
Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.
Emily Dickinson 📚 💬
“I know an ash, it is called Yggdrasil A hairy tree, moistened by a brilliant cloud.
In the beginning was the tree. The stone ball rushed through emptiness. Under the crust was fire. Rocks boiled, gases seethed. Blebs burst through the crust. Dense salt water clung to the rolling ball. Slime slid on it and in the slime shapes shifted. Any point on a ball is the centre and the tree was at the centre. It held the world together, in the air, in the earth, in the light, in the dark, in the mind.”
Excerpt From Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt 📚 💬
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
- Job 38:4,7 📚 💬
- Also beautifully quoted in Terence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”
The Story of Your Life
I would have liked to experience more of the heptapods’ worldview, to feel the way they feel. Then, perhaps I could immerse myself fully in the necessity of events, as they must, instead of merely wading in its surf for the rest of my life.
from “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang 📚 💬
Let us dare …
The source of our suffering has been our timidity. We have been afraid to think….Let us dare to read, think, speak, write.” - John Adams
from John Adams by David McCullough 📚 💬
How do you aim a volcano?
“The population of Iceland is 1,000 times smaller than that of the United States. We do not hide behind our apparent lack of superpower status. What we lack in manpower, we make up in volcanoes. But we are still figuring out how to aim them."
—Prime Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, speaking at a White House dinner for Nordic leaders in May 2016.
From How Iceland Changed the World by Egill Bjarnason 📚 💬
This is how it was
There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace, are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the same, as though such things had never been.
Two people met, on a hot May Day, and never later mentioned their meeting. This is how it was.
- from A.S. Byatt, Possession 📚 💬
All the trees of the field shall clap their hands
“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
- Isaiah 55:12 📚 💬
Yes, but suddenly one hears a clock tick, We who had been immersed in this world became aware of another. It is pain- ful. It was Neville who changed our time. He who had been thinking with the unlimited time of the mind, which stretches in a flash from Shakespeare to ourselves, poked the fire and began to live by that other clock which marks the approach of a particular person. The wide and dignified sweep of his mind contracted. He became on the alert… . I noted how he touched a cushion. From the myriads of mankind and all time past, he had chosen one person one moment in particular.
- from The Waves by Virginia Woolf 📚💬
These things are there
These things are there. The garden and the tree
The serpent at its root, the fruit of gold
The woman in the shadow of the boughs
The running water and the grassy space.
They are and were there.
- from A.S. Byatt, Possession 📚 💬
The smell of the aftermath
In the morning, the whole world had a strange new smell. It was the smell of the aftermath, a green smell, a smell of shredded leaves and oozing resin, of crushed wood and splashed sap, a tart smell, which bore some relation to the smell of bitten apples. It was the smell of death and destruction and it smelled fresh and lively and hopeful.
- from A.S. Byatt, Possession 📚 💬
He was suddenly aware of someone sitting beside him, holding his right hand. LIke a small creature seeking warmth, a hand slipped inside the pocket of his leather jacket and clasped his large hand. By the time he became fully aware, it had already happened. Without any preface, the situation had jumped to the next stage. How strange, Tengo thought, his eyes still closed. How did this happen? At one point time was flowing along so slowly that he could barely stand it. Then suddenly it had leapt ahead, skipping whatever lay between.
This person help his big hand even tighter, as if to make sure he was really there. Long smooth fingers, with an underlying strength.
Aomame. But he didn’t say it aloud. He didn’t open his eyes. He just squeezed her hand in return. He remembered this hand. Never once in twenty years had he forgotten the feeling. Of course, it was no longer the tiny hand of a ten-year-old girl. Over the past twenty years her hand touched many things. It had clasped untold numbers of objects in every possible shape. And the strength within it had grown. Yet Tengo knew right away: this was the very same hand. The way it squeezed his own hand and the feeling it was trying to convey were exactly the same.
an excerpt from 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami 📚 💬
I've made my mind a sunless space
And what do you sacrifice?
Calm. Kindness, kinship. Love. I’ve given up all chance at inner peace, I’ve made my mind a sunless space. I share my dreams with ghosts. I wake up every day to an equation I wrote 15 years ago from which there’s only one conclusion: I’m damned for what I do. My anger, my ego, my unwillingness to yield, my eagerness to fight, they’ve set me on a path from which there is no escape. I yearned to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost, and by the time I looked down, there was no longer any ground beneath my feet.
What is… what is my sacrifice? I’m condemned to use the tools of my enemy to defeat them. I burn my decency for someone else’s future. I burn my life, to make a sunrise that I know I’ll never see. No, the ego that started this fight will never have a mirror, or an audience, or the light of gratitude. So what do I sacrifice?