Tag Archives: religion

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A Christmas Carol

Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. New York: Bantam, 2009. Print. (First ed. 1895)

“Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing-gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall.” p. 12

“”Business cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was by business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.!”” p. 17

“Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor adobe?”p. 17

“The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when the spectre reached it, it was wide open.” p. 19

“The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.” p. 19

“They walked along the road; Scrooge recognising every gate, and post, and tree; until a little market-town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its church, and winding river.” p. 25

“It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he had used to be.” p. 26

“”What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined.
“A golden one.” p. 34

“If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” p. 50

“It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! to hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!”” p. 50

“And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial-place of giants” p. 53

“Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in the thich gloom of darkest night.” p. 53

“lifted his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming, like a mist along the ground, towards him.” p. 62

“in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.” p. 63

“Secrets that few would like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepulchres of bones.” p. 67

“He thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts? Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares? They have brought him to a rich end, truly!” p. 71

“A cat was tearing at the door, and there was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearth-stone. What they wanted in the room of death, and why they were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to think.” p. 71

“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset” p. 85

“Dickens spent considerable energy giving public readings of his own works.” p. 87

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A Bend in The River

Naipaul, V. S. A Bend in the River. New York: Vintage International, 1989. Print. (First ed. 1979)

“The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.” p. 3

“In the darkness of the river and forest you could be sure only of what you could see–made a noise–dipped a paddle in the water–you heard yourself as though you were another person. The river and the forest were like presences, and much more powerful than you.” p. 8

“Zabeth was a magician, and was known in our region as a magician. Her smell was he smell of her protecting ointments. Other women used perfumes and scents to attract; Zabeth’s ointments repelled and warned.” p. 10

“Without Europeans, I feel, all our past would have been washed away, like the scuff marks of fishermen on the beach outside our town.” p. 12

***”All that had happened in the past was washed away; there was always only the present. It was as though, as a result of some disturbance in the heavens, the early morning light was always receding into the darkness, and men lived in a perpetual dawn.” p. 12

“When things went wrong they had the consolations of religion. This wasn’t just a readiness to accept Fate; this was a quiet and profound conviction about the vanity of all human endeavour.” p. 16

“a relisher of life, a seeker after experience” p. 25

“I wondered about the nature of my aspirations, the very supports of my existence; and I began to feel that any life I might have anywhere–however rich and successful and better furnished–would only be a version of the life I lived now.” p. 42

**”Always, sailing up from the south, from beyond the bend in the river, were clumps of water hyacinths, dark floating islands on the dark river, bobbing over the rapids. It was as if rain and river were tearing away bush from the heart of the continent and floating it down to the ocean, incalculable miles away… Night and day the water hyacinth floated up from the south, seeding itself as if travelled.” p. 46

Eichhornia crassipes (water hyacinth)

“They said they were poor and wanted money to continue their studies. Some of these beggars were bold, coming straight to me and reciting their requests; the shy ones hung around until there was no one else in the shop. Only a few had bothered to prepare stories, and these stories were like Ferdinand’s: a father dead or far away, a mother in a village, an unprotected boy full of ambition… The guilelessness, the innocence that wasn’t innocence–I thought it could be traced back to Ferdinand, his interpretation of our relationship and his idea of what I could be used for.” p. 55

“The people here were malins the way a dog chasing a lizard was malins because they lived with the knowledge of men as prey.” p. 56

“Every carving, every mask, served a specific religious purpose, and could only be made once. Copies were copies; there was no magical feeling or power in them; and in such copies Father Huismans was not interested. He looked in masks and carvings for a religious quality; without that quality the things were dead and without beauty.” p. 61  

“The first Roman hero, travelling to Italy to found his city, lands on the coast of Africa. The local queen falls in love with him, and it seems that the journey to Italy might be called off. But then the watching gods take a hand; and one of them says that the great Roman god might not approved of a settlement in Africa, of a mingling of peoples there, of treaties of union between Africans and Romans.”  p. 62

Dido and Aeneas, from a Roman fresco, Pompeian Third Style (10 BC – 45 AD), Pompeii, Italy. Via Wikimedia.

 See Dido and Aeneas

Read Aeneid by Virgil

Map of Aeneas’ journeys by Rcsprinter123. Via Wikimedia.

“This is Zabeth’s world. This is the world to which she returns when she leaves my shop. But Zabeth’s world was living, and this was dead. That was the effect of those masks lying flat on the shelves, looking up not forest or sky but at the underside of other shelves. They were masks that had been laid low, in more than one way, and had lost their power.” p. 65

“wandering back to the food stalls: little oily heaps of fried flying ants (expensive, and sold by the spoonful) laid out on scraps of newspaper; hairy orange-coloured caterpillars with protuberant eyes wriggling in enamel basins; fat white grubs kept moist and soft in little bags of damp earth, five or six grubs to a bag–these grubs, absorbent in body and of neutral taste, being an all-purpose fatty food, sweet with sweet things, savory with savory things. These were all forest foods, but the villages had been cleaned out of them (grubs came from the heart of a pal tree); and no one wanted to go foraging too far in the forest.” p. 66

“While he lived, Father Huismans, collecting the things of Africa, had been thought a friend of Africa. But now that changed. It was felt that the collection was an affront to African religion… The masks themselves, crumbling n the slatted shelves, seemed to lose the religious power Father Huismans had taught me to see in them; without him, they simply became extravagant objects.” p. 84

“It wasn’t the ice cream that attracted Mahesh. It was the idea of the simple machine, or rather the idea of being the only man in the town to own such a machine… They are dazzled by the machines they import. That is part of their intelligence; but they soon start behaving as though they don’t just own the machines, but the patents as well; they would like to be the only men in the world with such magical instruments.” p. 90

“They didn’t see, these young men, that there was anything to build in their country. As far as they were concerned, it was all there already. They had only to take. They believed that, by being what they were, they had earned the right to take; and the higher the officer, the greater the crookedness–if that word had any meaning.” p. 91

“It seemed as easy as that, if you came late to the world and found ready-made those things that other countries and peoples had taken so long to arrive at–writing, printing, universities, books, knowledge. The rest of us had to take thngs in stages. I thought of my own family, Nazruddin, myself–we were so clogged by what the centuries had deposited in our minds and hearts. Ferdinand, starting from nothing, had with one step made himself free, and was ready to race ahead of us.” p. 102-103

“We lived on the same patch of earth; we looked at the same views. Yet to him the world was new and getting newer. For me that same world was drab, without possibilities.” p. 103

“”Would the honourable visitor state whether he feels that Africans have been depersonalized by Christianity?”
¶Indar did what he had done before. He restated the question. He said, “I suppose you are really asking whether Africa can be served by a religion which is not African. Is Islam an African religion? Do you feel that Africans have been depersonalized by that?”” p. 121

“You are men of the modern world. Do you need African religion? Or are you being sentimental about it? Are you nervous of losing it? Or do you feel you have to hold on to it just because it’s yours?” p. 122

Raymond “I find that the most difficult thing in prose narrative is linking one thing with the other. The link might just be a sentence, or even a word. It sums up what has gone before and prepares one for what is to come.” p. 136

To read A History of Rome by Theodor Mommsen 

Theodor Mommsen. Ludwig Knaus. 1881. Via Wikimedia.

“There may be some parts of the world–dead countries, or secure and by-passed ones–where men can cherish the past and think of passing on furniture and china to their heirs. Men can do that perhaps in Sweden or Canada. Some peasant department of France full of half-wits in châteaux; some crumbling Indian palace-city, or some dead colonial town in a hopeless South American country. Everywhere else men are in movement, the world is in movement, and the past can only cause pain.” p. 141

“But I hadn’t understood to what extent our civilization had also been our prison. I hadn’t understood either to what extent we had been made by the place where we had grown up, made by Africa and the simple life of the coast, and how incapable we had become of understanding the outside world.” p. 142

“But this lady also thought that my education and background made me extraordinary,and I couldn’t fight the idea of my extraordinariness.
¶”An extraordinary man, a man of two worlds, needed an extraordinary job. And she suggested I become a diplomat.” p. 145

“there was the Edgware Road, where the shops and restaurants seemed continually to be changing hands; there were the shops and crowds of Oxford Street and Regent Street. The openness of Trafalgar Square gave me a lift, but it reminded me that I was almost at the end of my journey.” p. 146

“Now I saw differently. And I understood that London wasn’t simply a place that was there, as people say of mountains, but that it had been made by men, that men had given attention to details as minute as those camels.
¶I began to understand at the same time that my anguish about being a man adrift was false, that for me that dream of home and security was nothing more than a dream of isolation, anachronistic and stupid and very feeble. I belonged to myself alone.” p. 151

“We solace ourselves with that idea of the great men of our tribe, the Gandhi and the Nehru, and we castrate ourselves. ‘Here, take my manhood and invest it for me. Take my manhood and be a greater man yourself, for my sake!’ No! I want to be a man myself.” p. 152

“The job is thee, waiting. But it doesn’t exist for you or anyone else until you discover it, and you discover it because it’s for you and you alone.” p. 153

“These three people were in many ways alike–renegades, concerned with their personal beauty, finding in that beauty the easiest form of dignity.” p. 157

“Rustic manners, forest manners, in a setting not of the forest. But that was how, in our ancestral lands, we all began–the prayer may on the sand, then the marble floor of a mosque; the rituals and taboos of nomads, which transferred to the palace of a sultan or a maharaja, become the traditions of an aristocracy.” p. 161

“In spite of the corrupt physical ways our passion had begun to take, the photographs of Yvette that I preferred were the chastest. I was especially interested in those of her as a girl in Belgium, to whom the future was still a mystery.” p. 184

“The businessman bought at ten and was happy to get out at twelve; the mathematician saw his ten rise to eighteen, but didn’t sell because he wanted to double his ten to twenty.” p. 198

“Uganda was beautiful, fertile, easy, without poverty, and with high African traditions. It ought to have had a future, but the problem with Uganda was that it wasn’t big enough. The country was now too small for its tribal hatreds.” p. 200-201

Shoba and Mahesh “Acid on the face of the woman, the killing of the man–they were the standard family threats on these occasions,” p. 203

“”You can hire them, but you can’t buy them.” It was one of his sayings; it meant that stable relationships were not possible here, that there could only be day-to-day contracts between men, that in a crisis peace was something you had to buy afresh every day.” p. 210

“We came down slowly, leaving the upper light. Below the heavy cloud Africa showed as a dark-green, wet-looking land. You could see that it was barely dawn down there; in the forests and creeks it would still be quite dark.” p. 247

“The water hyacinths, “the new thing in the river,” beginning so far away, in the centre of the continent, bucked past in clumps and tangles and single vines, here almost at the end of their journey.” p. 249

“If there was a plan, these events had meaning. If there was law, these events had meaning. But there was no plan; there was no law; this was only make-believe, play, a waste of men’s time in the world. And how often here, even in the days of bush, it must have happened before, this game of warders and prisoners in which men could be destroyed for nothing. I remembered what Raymond used to say–about events being forgotten, lost, swallowed up.” p. 267

“The searchlight lit up the barge passengers, who, behind bars and wire guards, as yet scarcely seemed to understand that they were adrift. Then there were gunshots. The searchlight was turned off; the barge was no longer to be seen. The steamer started up again and moved without lights down the river, away from the area of battle. The air would have been full of moths and flying insects. The searchlight, while it was on, had shown thousands, white in the white light.
¶July 1977-August 1978″ p. 278

 

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mulberry-crop

Silence

NY Times The Passion of Martin Scorsese article

To watch Silence (2016):

To read: Silence by Shūsaku Endō (1966)

“As the hours passed, the room, already dark, seemed to diminish around us, until it resembled a screening room, or a chapel, a place where questions of how to live are posed through stories and images.”
“The Italian-American Catholicism of the area was centered on street processions devoted to saints brought over from the old country: San Gandolfo for the Sicilians on Elizabeth Street, San Gennaro for the Neapolitans on Mulberry Street.”

Mulberry Street c. 1900. Via Wikimedia/Library of Congress.

To read: Don DeLillo

“Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits)

“The exercises, devised in the 1520s, invite the “exercitant” to use his imagination to place himself in the company of Jesus, at the foot of the cross, among tormented souls in hell.”

To read: Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola (1522–1524)

Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins

To watch again The Mission (1986) Roland Joffé

“A.O. Scott, now a chief film critic for The New York Times, once wrote that Scorsese approaches filmmaking as “a priestly avocation, a set of spiritual exercises embedded in technical problems.””

To watch Boxcar Bertha (1972), After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986)

To read: The Last Temptation of Christ (1955) by Nikos Kazantzakis

To watch again The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

 

“Like the novel, the picture interrogates the very idea of Christian martyrdom, by proposing that there are instances when martyrdom — the believer holding fast to Christ to the bitter end — is not holy or even right. It makes in the way of art the arguments made in defense of “Last Temptation”: that an act can’t be fully understood if the intentions behind it aren’t taken into account, and that a seeming act of profanation can be an act of devotion if done out of an underlying faith.”
“He will go to hell — but he will go to hell for their sake.”

To watch: La Strada (1954) Federico Fellini

bitacora. dic. 1

I wake up. Tiny claws scratching the wooden floor. A tongue lapping at the water. The dogs are ready to eat. Boil the water. Soften the food. I put Yolo in the pen. He demands to be set free. Chocolino come here. Treat time. Choco sit, down, beg, spiiiiiin, down, gidaria, eat. Repeat five times. Then his plate. Down. Gidaria. Eat. He wolfs it down.
Out the door. Elevator from the 5th floor to the first. The morning sun is bright. The city has already had a few hours to get started. I wait for 155.
The 155 is almost empty. I sit at the back on one of the single seats, and continue reading The Sound and The Fury. The 155 travels east. We cross the Suyeong at Millak. I look down at the water and try to come up something pretty. Nothing comes up. Just water moving toward more water. In India it would be spiritual. People get off at Centum. We turn north. I read. We turn at Jaesong and climb up toward Jangsan mountain. I hear the bus shift gears. People get off and on. A blue and white bus with red numbers driving up a city built on a mountain slope on a sunny morning in Korea. The market at Banyeo samdong, people with grocery bags, people reading their phones. We descend into Banyeo ildong. The view opens and a large slice of city appears framed by pine forests at each side, rows of tall monolithic white buildings beyond the basin of the Suyeong. The spine of the Geumjeongsan still green. The mountain disappears behind older and smaller houses. We enter Banyeon ildong. Narrow streets. A blue work truck parked at a tight corner. Honking. I read. We turn. The bus gathers speed. I hear the bus shift gears.  We careen down the strip until the overpass. The whiny bell announces a passenger stop. An old lady with curly hair waddles to the backdoor holding the handrails as if enjoying an adventure at a moving jungle gym. I get off at the elementary school. The yellow leaves of the unheng tree strewn on the sidewalk. I think of my dad and how once as a kid I pretended to be a blind boy or an old man, using an imaginary cane to prod my way around the subsuelo hallway of the hotel. My dad frowned and asked me, ¿te haci de ciego o de viejo? I pondered the question. I looked at the corral my dad had been chatting with before he’d decided to test my morals. His friend looked back at me, grinned and waited for my response. I looked at my dad. De viejo, I said. Ah, bien, porque algun dia vai a ser viejo. I buy an ice americano at Amico for 2,500 won. The lady that made it hands it to me and bends the end of my straw so I won’t have to. I sip and exit the coffee shop.

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Dubliners

Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Signet Classics, 2007. Print. (First ed. 1914.)

The Sisters

The priest “Sometimes he had amused himself by putting difficult questions to me, asking me what one should do in certain circumstances or whether such and such sins were mortal or venial or only imperfections. His questions showed me how complex and mysterious were certain institutions of the Church which I had always regarded as the simplest acts.” p. 5

“His face was very truculent, grey and massive, with black cavernous nostrils and circled by a scanty white fur. There was a heavy odour in the room — the flowers.” p. 7

**An Encounter p. 13

“It was too late and we were too tired to carry out our project of visiting the Pigeon House.” p. 18

“- I say! Look what he’s doing!
As I neither answered nor raised my eyes Mahony exclaimed again:
-I say …He’s a queer old josser!
-In case he asks us for our names, I said, let you be Murphy and I’ll be Smith.” p. 21

“A slap on the hand or a box on the ear was no good: what he wanted was to get a nice warm whipping. I was surprised at this sentiment and involuntarily glanced up at his face. As I did do I met the gaze of a pair of bottle-green eyes peering at me from under a twitching forehead. I turned my eyes away again.” p. 22

Araby

“I allowed the two pennies to fall against the sixpence in my pocket. I heard a voice call from one end of the gallery that the light was out. The upper part of the hall was now completely dark.
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” p. 32

After the Race

“They walked northward with a curious feeling of disappointment in the exercise, while the city hung its pale globes of light above them in a haze of summer evening.” p. 42

Two Gallants

“Corley halted at the first lamp and stared grimly before him. Then with a grave gesture he extended a hand toward the light and, smiling, opened it slowly to the gaze of his disciple. A small gold coin shone in the palm.” p. 59

A Little Cloud

“A gentle melancholy took possession of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.” p. 72

“Their faces were powdered and they caught up their dresses, when they touched earth, like alarmed Atalantas.” p. 73

“The bar seemed to him to be full of people and he felt that the people were observing him curiously. He glanced quickly to right and left (frowning slightly to make his errand appear serious), but when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody had turned to look at him:” p. 75-76

Lord Byron

“Hushed are the winds and still the evening gloom,
Not e’en a Zephyr wanders through the grove,
Whilst I return to view my Margaret’s tomb
And scatter flowers on the dust I love.”

Counterparts

“The dark damp night was coming and he longed to spend it in the bars, drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas and the clatter of glasses.” p. 92

“His wife was a little sharp-faced woman who bullied her husband when he was sober and was bullied by him when he was drunk. They had five children. A little boy came running down the stairs.” p. 101

Clay

“Then she asked all the children had any of them eaten it — by mistake, of course–but the children all said no and looked as if they did not like to eat cakes if they were to be accused of stealing.” p. 108

I dreamt that I Dwelt (song)

“I had riches too great to count, could boast
of a high ancestral name,
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you loved me still the same.” p. 110

“But no one tried to show her her mistake” p. 111

A Painful  Case

“He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense. He never gave alms to beggars, and walked firmly, carrying a stout hazel.” p. 114

“The workmen’s discussions, he said, were too timorous; the interest they took in the question of wages was inordinate. He felt that they were hard-featured realists and that they resented an exactitude which was the product of a leisure not within their reach. No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to strike Dublin for some centuries.” p. 117

“he heard the strange impersonal voice which he recognised as his own, insisting on the soul’s incurable loneliness. We cannot give ourselves, it said: we are our own.” p. 118

“he realised that she was dead, that she had ceased to exist, that she had become a memory.” p. 123

No one wanted him; he was outcast from life’s feast. He turned his eyes to the grey gleaming river, winding along towards Dublin. Beyond the river he saw a goods train winding out of Kingsbridge Station, like a worm with a fiery head winding through the darkness, obstinately and laboriously. It passed slowly out of sight; but still he heard in his ears the laborious drone of the engines reiterating the syllables of her name.” p. 124

Ivy Day in the Committee Room

“-There’s no tumblers, said the old man.
-O, don’t let that trouble you, Jack, said Mr Henchy. Many’s the good man before now drank out of the bottle.” p. 136

“Then he took up the corkscrew and went out of the door sideways, muttering some form of salutation.
-That’s the way it begins, said the old man.
-The thin edge of the wedge, said Mr Henchy.” p. 137

“Mr Crofton sat down on a box and looked fixedly at the other bottle on the hob. He was silent for two reasons. The first reason, sufficient in itself, was that he had nothing to say; the second reason was that he considered his companions beneath him.” p. 138-139

“Mr Hynes hesitated a little longer. Then amid the silence he took off his hat, laid it on the table and stood up. He seemed to be rehearsing the piece in his mind. After a rather long pause he announced:

The Death of Parnell
6TH OCTOBER 1891″ p. 142

“-Good man, Joe! said Mr O’Connor, taking out his cigarette-papers and pouch the better to hide his emotion.” p. 144

A Mother

Mr O’Madden Burke “His magniloquent western name was the moral umbrella upon which he balanced the fine problem of his finances. He was widely respected.” p. 155

Grace

“She believed steadily in the Sacred Heart as the most generally useful of all Catholic devotions and approved of the sacraments. Her faith was bounded by her kitchen but, if she was put to it, she could believe also in the banshee and in the Holy Ghost.” p. 169

Soldiers at Dublin Castle, c.1905. Via Wikimedia.

Dublin Castle (Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath)

peloothered (drunk)

 

“The General of the Jesuits stands next to the Pope.” p. 175

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, first Superior General. Via Wikimedia.

The Prisoner of the Vatican

Orangeman

Pope Leo XIII “union of the Latin and Greek Churches.” p. 179

Lux upon Lux
Lux in Tenebris

Papal infallibility

John of Tuam

*****The Dead p. 189

Mr Browne “He was astonished to hear that the monks never spoke, got up at two in the morning and slept in their coffins…
-The coffin, said Mary Jane, is to remind them of their last end.” p. 217

***”Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and righly claim, our strenuous endeavours.” p. 220

“And everything went on beautifully until Johnny came in sight of King Billy’s statue: and whether he fell in love with the horse King Billy sits on or whether he thought he was back again in the mill, anyhow he began to walk round the statue.
Gabriel paced in a circle round the hall in his goloshes amid the laughter of the others.” p. 224

*****”He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. If he were a painted he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light tones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter.” p. 226

“O, the rain falls on my heavy locks
And the dew wets my skin,
My babe lies cold…” p. 227

****”A wave of yet more tender joy escaped from his heart and went coursing in warm flood along his arternies. Like the tender fires of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illuminated his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy.” p. 230-231

“A ghostly light from the street lamp lay in a long shaft from one window to the door. Gabriel threw his overcoat and hat on a couch and crossed the room towards the window. He looked down into the street in order that his emotion might calm him a little.” p. 233

*******”The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.” p. 240

*******”A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill were Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly though the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” p. 241


Afterword

“The Irish playwright John Millington Synge once said that words should have the crispness of an autumn apple,” p. 244

“Dubliners was accepted for publication in 1904 and, due to the prevailing puritan prudery, it got passed from fearful publisher to fearful publisher and was eventually published nine years later. It was not a book that reverberated like the shot heard around the world; indeed it sold three hundred copies, of which one hundred were purchased by the author himself, a not unfamiliar tactic to gain bestseller status,” p. 247

Ireland “is somewhat a matriarchy, which to me is a society where men look down on their women with reverence.” p. 248

“Some scholars say that James Augustine Aloysius Joyce could not, in his early years, write anything that he had not observed and personally experienced in some way; thus Dubliners follows a path through childhood, through puberty and ts sins of the flesh, a constant torment to Irish teenagers, sometime maturity, and the emerging of the man into public view.” p. 248

To read Anton Chekhov Анто́н Па́влович Че́хов

The Dead (1987 film) John Huston

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The Lawless Roads

Greene, Graham. The Lawless Roads. London: Penguin, 1976. Print. (First Ed. 1939)

“Man’s like the earth, his hair like grasse is grown,
His veins the rivers are, his heart the stone.”
Wit’s Recreations (1640)

“Most priests wear their mufti with a kind of uneasiness, but Pro was a good actor.” p. 19

The execution of Miguel Pro. Via Wikimedia.

“Within two months of Pro’s landing, President Calles had begun the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth.” p. 19

President Plutarco Elías Calles.

“For Mexico remained Catholic; it was only the governing class – politicians and pistoleros – which was anti-Catholic.” p. 20

“Over there – one argued to oneself – were Chichen Itza and Mitla and Palenque, the enormous tombstones of history,” p. 24

“For the priest prison, and for the politician a bullet.” p. 24

Quadragesimo Anno (encyclical issued by Pope Pius XI on 15 May 1931)

“We writers are apt to judge a country by freedom of the Press, and politicians by freedom of speech – it’s the same really.” p. 32

“This was Mexico, that was the United States. The only difference was dirt and darkness: there weren’t so many lights in Mexico. They called this Nuevo Laredo to distinguish it from the town in Texas, but as so often happens the son looked older than the father, more acquainted with the seamy side of life.” p. 33

“A drunken voice sung in Spanish and the rain fell over the dreary  Nuevo León plain,” p. 34

“mud huts and a few factories and then nothing at all until the seal-grey mountains gathered slowly round, little outcrops of rock like sailing-ships on the horizon.” p. 36

“The dry and prickly desert: the cacti sticking up like pins with an effect of untidiness, and the night deepening. Paths went off into the dark gleaming with wet, going to nowhere one knew of at all.” p. 37

“For one can respect an atheist as one cannot respect a deist: once accept a God and reason should carry you further, but to accept nothing at all – that requires some stubbornness, some courage.” p. 37

“The cheers were everywhere, stretching out to the dim mountains: they weren’t cheers at all, but the cocks crowing for miles around, an odd Biblical rhapsody at dawn.” p. 39

“God didn’t cease to exist when men lost their faith in Him; there were always catacombs where the secret rite could be kept alive till the bad times passed” p. 39

“At dinner the old gentleman couldn’t get over the joke of it: here I’d been walking miles about town and he’d gone all round in one hour by street car – for five cents. American money. ‘But I like walking,’ I kept on telling him – uselessly. ‘I’m going to tell them that back home,’ he said, ‘about my English friend who walked all day and saved five cents American.'” p. 41

(San Luis Potosí) “Roads were like the lines on a map; you saw them meandering thinly for an immense distance, dying out at the margin among the rocks and cacti. The cacti had no beauty – they were like some simple shorthand sign for such words as ‘barrenness’ and ‘drought'; you felt they were less the product than the cause of this dryness, that they had absorbed all the water there was in the land and held it as camels do in their green, aged, tubular bellies. ” p. 42

“Everything is repeated there, even the blood sacrifices of the Aztecs; the age of Mexico falls on the spirit like a cloud.” p. 44

“‘If you are a philosopher,’ he rebuked me, ‘every place is the same. Why not Mexico?'” p. 52

“The veranda was crowded with politicians waiting for the General to appear, with guns on their hips, the holsters and the cartridge belts beautifully worked, a decorative death” p. 53

“The General sat in the front seat; the great back and rounded shoulders reminded me of Tommy Brock in Miss Beatrice Potter‘s book – ‘he waddled about by moonlight, digging things up'” p. 56

Illustration of Tommy Brock from The Tale of Mr. Tod (via wikimedia)

“Presently somebody thought of trying a switch and the light went obediently on, a bare globe beating on a cracked mirror, a few hard chairs, a miniature billiard table with a ragged cloth.” p. 57

“He was caught in a maze of friends and enemies with similar faces.” p. 58

“Somewhere far away a thunderstorm shifted cumbrously in the hills… like cargo unloaded in a railway-yard.” p. 60

Rural Rides by William Cobbet

To Mexico City “[Cobbet] judged landscape by its value to human beings… The Romantics would have enjoyed the Mexican scene, describing it as ‘sublime’ and ‘awe-inspiring'; they scented God in the most barren regions, as if He were a poet of escape whom it was necessary to watch tactfully through spy-glasses as He brooded beside a waterfall or on the summit of Helvellyn: as if God, disappointed in His final creation, had fallen back on one of His earlier works. They preferred the kind of Nature which rejects man.” p. 61

Tacuba area in Mexico City. See Tlacopan

Map of “Valley of Mexico on the eve of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.” Via Wikimedia.

José Clemente Orozco

See mural Entering the Mine by Rivera (Murals by Diego Rivera in the Secretaria de Educacion Publico)

 

“All monuments in Mexico are to violent deaths.” p. 80

“In the great grey courtyard of Teotihuacán, surrounded by the platforms of small pyramidal temples, you do get the sense of a continent over the world’s edge – a flatness, a vacancy, through which peer plumed serpents and faces like gas-masks over over orifices that might be the mouths of Lewis guns or flamethrowers.” p. 82

Virgen de Guadalupe 

“But this shrine of Guadalupe, even at the height of the persecution, remained open – no government dared to rob the Indian of his Virgin, and it helped to break the career of the only man who ever threatened it.” p. 87

“The Virgin of Guadalupe, like St Joan in France, had become identified not only with the faith but with the country, she was a patriotic symbol even to the faithless…” p. 88

“I didn’t like the serious way he took this matter of the insurance; this was graveyard talk. The boat couldn’t be as bad as all that.” p. 101

“We climbed over the rail with the suitcase, and a sailor led the way down a few stairs into the engine-room, where one old greasy engine say like an elephant neglected in its tiny house.” p. 101

“breakfast was handed up through a hatch in the deck from the engine-room – a loaf of bread and a plate of anonymous fish scraps from which the eyeballs stood mournfully out.” p. 105

“Shark fins glided like periscopes at the entrance to the Grijalva River, the scene of the Conquistadores’ first landing in Mexico” 105-106

Villahermosa, Tabasco

“The vultures squatted on the roofs. It was like a place besieged by scavengers – sharks in the river and vultures in the streets.” p. 107

“For twelve hours there had been nothing but trees on either side; one had moved forward only into darkness; and here with an effect of melodrama was a city – lights burning down into the river, a great crown outlined in electricity like a casino. All felt the shock – it was like coming to Venice through an uninhabited jungle – they called, triumphantly, ‘El puerto, el puerto!'” p. 111

Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope

“I went back to the hotel to bed and began to read Dr Thorne… A cockchafer came buzzing and beating through the room and I turned out the light – the light went out all over Barsetshire, the hedges and hte rectories and paddocks dropped into darkness,” p. 114

“It will be a fine journey, the man said, if you can make it – you’ll know what Cortés had to face in heavy armour on his march to Guatemala.” p. 116

“I had won twenty pesos with my first ticket. That sold the lottery to me: I bought at least a small share in a ticket in every town I came to, but never won again.” p. 117

“In the night beetles woke me, thumping against the wall. I killed two – one in the very centre of the great tiles floor, but when I woke there wasn’t a sign of it. It was uncanny.” p. 118

A Victorian Adventurer (p. 118-122)

The frontispiece for the 1638 edition of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. Via Wikimedia.

“In West Africa once I had made the mistake of taking the Anatomy of Melancholy, with the idea that it would, as it were, match the mood. It matched all right, but what one really needs is contrast, and so I surrendered perhaps my only hope of ever reading War and Peace in favour of something overwhelmingly national.” p. 128

“Ortega’s little red plane moved back across the merciless sky, like an insect on a mirror, towards Villahermosa. I had a sense of being marooned… ” p. 132

“The fireflies moved like brilliant pocket torches, and a small boy stood by the track with a flaming brand making mysterious animal noises into the dark.” p. 134

“I dreamed of a Mr Wang, also known as Mr Moon, who was to guide me – somewhere. He was dressed in the most extravagant robes – all silk and gold embroidery and dragons” p. 134

“the two mules swimming beside the canoe, with just their muzzles and their eyes above the water like a pair of alligator heads,” p. 135

***”Then the sound of horses came beating up across the plain – this is the romantic attraction of the Mexican countryside, the armed stranger travelling at night who may be a friend of an enemy. The door of the hut was barred shut. A horse whistled, stirrup irons jangled; when the lightning flared I could see four horses, and a man dismounting. He felt his way across the veranda and knocked at the door – ‘Con amistad.'” p.

“I learned from her for the first time of the rather wild dream that buoys up many people in Chiapas: the hope of a rising which will separate Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo from the rest of Mexico and of an alliance with Catholic Guatemala.” p. 153

“Time passed; I saw the mule climbing briskly up the opposite slope, the size of a toy animal, and fifty yards behind it a toy man. Then they both disappeared altogether, and dusk began to fall. I was alone with the two mules – it seemed to be the end of that journey.
“In the mountains the sun sets early – the horizon is high up the sky. I waited half an hour; the sun dropped out of sight, the forests became black below their gilded tips. The world was all steel and gold, like war. The opposite slope dropped into obscurity, untenanted.” p. 164

“The guide couldn’t put up in their presence that Mexican façade of bonhomie – the embrace, the spar, the joke – with which they hide from themselves the cruelty and treachery of their life.” p. 167

“When we rode up the beds heaved on their piles and rows of eyes peered out of the darkness like a cave of cats: there wasn’t an inch of space to spare in the windswept shelter.” p. 168

“About eleven a fist beating on the barred door woke us all. I switched on my torch and saw the doubtful bearded faces lifted from the beds; somebody felt for his revolver holster, and then the password came, ‘Con amistad.'” p. 168

A Grove of Crosses “The scenery was magnificent: the great pine forests swept down to where we trudge at a mere six thousand feet, great rocky precipices showed like grey castle walls through breaks in the pines.” p. 169

“It was like a scene from the past before the human race had bred its millions – England of the Conquest before the forests had been cut, a herd called Sweyn, the wattle huts, the word of Ivanhoe.”

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

“It was like an adventure of Rider Haggard – coming so unexpectedly out of the forest above this city, once the capital of Chiapas and the home of Las Casas, a place with one rough road, impassable in the rains, running down to Tuxtla and the coast, and only a mule track for the traveller from the north.” p. 171

“I felt my incredulity shaken. Suppose there was a miracle, suppose out of some box a voice did speak… it was horrifying thought that life could never be the same again; one couldn’t go on living as one had been living. What happens afterwards to the people who are present at a genuine miracle?”

Mixtec ruins

“We stopped at a cantina, and had some mescal – the driver told me it was good for dysentery. I don’t think it was, but it was good for our spirits.” p. 198

Puebla’s Hidden Convent “In a glass of case enclosed in a reliquary was the founder’s withered heart, the colour of long-dried blood.” p. 203

“For the first time since I came to Mexico I could see the great volcano Popocatepetl, a cone of ice bobbing between the woods and peaks, over the decaying churches, like the moon outliving everything. It was beautiful, but I was more concerned with the incompetence of the drive.” p. 205

Garci Crespo “I had to ask him several times before I got it, and every time he nodded more winningly, darkly, knowingly – as if I were insisting on the letter of a code. When I was undressing, the glass of the door darkened; somebody scratched, scratched at the pane: it was the waiter. I asked him what he wanted; he merely grinned and said hadn’t I asked for a Garci Crespo? I slammed the door shut nad a little while later he came padding up the passage and scratched again. I shouted to him to go and turned out the light, but for a long while the small vicious shadow waited, with the patience of a snake, on the other side of the glass.” p. 206

Taxco is the showplace of the Mexican tourist belt – old Mexico carefully preserved by a society of business men and American artists known as ‘The Friends of Taxco’. It is the Greenwich Village of Mexico” p. 208

Tempest Over Mexico by Rosa E.King (Zapata rising)

The Escapist (218-222)

“Somewhere I suppose, the Ruiz Cano rolled from Vercruz or Villahermosa and back and the sailors stood about doing up their trousers; the dentists was back at El Frontera; and the Norwegian lady waited with hopeless optimism for her son’s return. It is awful how things go on when you are not there.” p. 223

The Wheel by W. B. Yeats (p. 223)

Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter’s best of all;
And after that there s nothing good
Because the spring-time has not come –
Nor know that what disturbs our blood
Is but its longing for the tomb.

To read

Greene’s The Power and the Glory, Journey Without Maps, The Heart of the Matter, The Third Man (film treatment), Our Man in Havana.

Beatrice Potter

W. B. Yeats

 See

Caste War of Yucatán

Project Gutenberg (free e-books)

 

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Everyman

Roth, Philip. Everyman. New York: Vintage International, 2006.

“Most days the water was clear and he didn’t worry that a drowned man would collide with his bare legs as he stepped out into the low surf. But when oil from torpedoed tankers clotted the sand and caked the bottom of his feet as he crossed the beach, he was terrified of stumbling upon a corpse. Or stumbling upon a saboteur, coming ashore to work for Hitler.” p. 25-26

“His father had read that the waters of New Jersey were “the worst ship graveyard” along the entire U.S. coastline,” p. 26

“The profusion of stars told him unambiguously that he was doomed to die, and the thunder of the sea only yards away–and the nightmare of the blackest blackness beneath the frenzy of the water–made him want to run from the menace of oblivion to their cozy, lighted, underfurnished house.” p. 30

“And convinced of his right, as an average human being, to be pardoned ultimately for whatever deprivations he may have inflicted upon his innocent children in order not to live deranged half the time.” p. 32

“Her father owned an avocado farm in Jamaica, and her mother kept a dream book in whose pages, each morning, she recorded her children’s dreams.” p. 47

“one small brick mausoleum, whose filigreed steel door and original two windows–which, at the time of the interment of its occupants, would have been colored with stained glass–had been sealed with concrete blocks to protect against further vandalism, so that now the little square building looked more like an abandoned tool-shed or an outdoor toilet no longer in operation that an eternal dwelling place in keeping with the renown, wealth, or status of those who’d constructed it to house their family dead.” p. 53

“There the dead man would remain for even more hours than he’d spent selling jewelry, and that was in itself no number to sneer at.” p. 55

“His father was going to lie not only in the coffin but under the weight of that dirt, and all at once he saw his father’s mouth as if there were no coffin, as if the dirt they were throwing into the frave was being deposited straight down on him, filling up his mouth, blinding his eyes, clogging his nostrils, and closing off his ears.” p. 59-60

“couldn’t stop the tears from running down her face: she wanted her father to be the way he was when she was ten and eleven and twelve and thirteen, without impediment or incapacity–and so did he.” p. 76

“He was amazed when he looked around himself and saw how bitterly disappointed parents could be–as he was with his own two sons, who continued to act as if what had happened to them never happened before or since to anyone else” p. 76

“All but two were older than he, and though they assembled each week in a mood of comradely good cheer, the conversation invariably turned to matters of sickness and health, their personal biographies having by this time become identical with their medical biographies and the swapping of medical date crowding out nearly everything else.” p. 80

“His third marriage had been founded on boundless desire for a woman he had no business with but desire that never lost its power to blind him and lead him, at fifty, to play a young man’s game.” p. 96

“Into their forties they remained with their father the children that they’d been back when he’d first left their mother, children who by their nature could not understand that there might be more than one explanation to human behavior” p. 97

“They elected to make the absent father suffer, and so he did, investing them with that power. Suffering his wrongdoing was all he could ever do to please them, to pay his bill, to indulge like the best of dads their maddening opposition.” p. 97

“He hated him because, though they were offspring of the same two parents and looked so very much alike, Howie had inherited the physical impregnability and he the coronary and vascular weaknesses. It was ridiculous to hate him, because there was nothing Howie could do about his good health other than to enjoy it.” p. 99

“But now he hated him and he envied him and he was poisonously jealous of him and, in his thoughts, all but rose up in rage against him because the force that Howie brought to bear on life had in no way been impeded.” p. 100

“and the cost was about as much as the entire inventory of the Elizabeth store, if not more, back when he was running one-hundred-dollar engagement rings of a quarter or a half carat to be sized for his father’s customers by a man working on a bench in a cubbyhole on Frelinghuysen Avenue circa 1942.” p. 116-117

“But lying–lying is cheap, contemptible control over the other person. It’s watching the other person acting on incomplete information–in other words, humiliating herself.” p. 121

“”The man loses the passion for the marriage and he cannot live without. The wife is pragmatic. The wife is realistic. Yes, passion is gone, she’s older and not what she was, but to her it’s enough to have the physical affection, just being there with him in the bed, she holding him, he holding her.” p. 122

“Altogether he was a little late in learning that all her boldness was encompassed in her eroticism and that her carrying everything erotic between them to the limit was their only overpowering affinity. He had replaced the most helpful wife imaginable with a wife who went to pieces under the slightest pressure. But in the immediate aftermath, marrying her had seemed the simplest way to cover up the crime.” p. 124

“My God, he thought, the man I once was! The life that surrounded me! The force that was mine! No “otherness” to be felt anywhere! Once upon a time I was a full human being.” p. 130

“Nancy, the twins, and himself–it had been a ridiculous idea to begin with, and unfair as well, an abdication of the pledge he’d made to himself after having moved to the shore, which was to insulate his all too responsive daughter from the fears and vulnerabilities of an aging man.” p. 138

“Her beauty, frail to begin with, was smashed and broken, and tall as she was, under the hospital sheets she looked shrunken and already on the way to decomposing.” p. 139

“Old age isn’t a battle; old age is a massacre.” p. 156

“He saw himself racing in every direction at once through downtown Elizabeth’s main intersection–the unsuccessful father, the envious brother, the duplicitous husband, the helpless son” p. 164-165

“At his father’s burial he had been informed by the rabbi that, if he was on his own, it would be wisest to visit his mother and father during the High Holy Day period, when the local police department, as the request of a committee of cemetery chairmen, had agreed to provide protection for the observant who turned out to recite the appropriate psalms and remember their dead.” p. 167

“But he was thinking in terms of days. He was musing like a marked man.” p. 168

“It’s because life’s most disturbing intensity is death.” p. 169

“Daylight, he thought, penetrating everywhere, day after summer day of that daylight blazing off a living sea, an optical treasure so vast and valuable that he could have been peering through the jeweler’s loupe engraved with his father’s initials at the perfect, priceless planet itself–at his home, the billion-, the trillion-, the quadrillion carat planet Earth!”  p. 182

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Eat Pray Love

Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. New York, N.Y.; Penguin, 2007. Print. (First ed. 2006)

“When the Crusaders drove East for the holy wars, they witnessed worshipers praying with these japa malas, admired the technique, and brought the idea home to Europe as rosary.” p. 1

“the number 108 is held to be most auspicious, a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes.” p. 1-2

“This division means that there are 36 tales in each section, which appeals to me on a personal level because I am writing all this during my thirty-sixth year.” p. 2

Om Namah Shivaya

“It wasn’t so much that I wanted to thoroughly explore the countries themselves; this has been done. It was more that I wanted to thoroughly explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country,” p. 37

“Therefore, what we today call French is really a version of medieval Parisian. Portuguese is really Lisboan. Spanish is essentially Madrileño. These were capitalist victories; the strongest city ultimately determined the language of the whole country.” p. 57

“What this congress decided would henceforth be considered proper Italian was the personal language of the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri. When Dante published his Divine Comedy back in 1321, detailing a visionary progression through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, he’d shocked the literate world by not writing in Latin.” p. 58-59

“He wrote his masterpiece in what he called il dolce stil nuovo, the “sweet new style” of the vernacular, and he shaped that vernacular even as he was writing it, affecting it as personally as Shakespeare would someday affect Elizabethan English.” p. 59

terza rima

“Dante writes that God is not merely a blinding vision of glorious light, but that He is, most of all, l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle… ” p, 60

il bel far niente “the beauty of doing nothing” p. 80

“For me, though, a major obstacle in my pursuit of pleasure was my ingrained sense of Puritan guilt. Do I really deserve this pleasure? This is very American, too–the insecurity about whether we have earned our happiness.”p. 81

“Dai, dai, dai, Albertini, dai … va bene, va bene, ragazzo mio, perfetto, bravo, bravo… Dai! Dai! Via! Via! Nella porta! Eccola, eccola, eccola, mio bravo ragazzo, caro mio, eccola, eccola, ecco–AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!  VAFFANCULO!! FIGLIO DI MIGNOTTA!! STRONZO! CAFONE! TRADITORE! Madonna… Ah, Dio mio, perché, perché, perché, questo e stupido, e una vergogna, la vergogna… Che casino, che bordello… NON HAI UN CUORE, ALBERTINI! FAI FINTA! Guarda, non e successo niente.. Dai, dai, ah… Molto migliore, si si si, eccola, bello, bravo, anima mia, ah ottimo, eccola adesso … nella porta, nella porta, nell–VAFFANCULO!!!!!!!” p. 90-91

Plan Roms im Altertum. Via Wikimedia.

Augusteum

“The Augusteum warns me not to get attached to any obsolete ideas about who I am, what I represent, whom I belong to, or what function I may once have intended to serve… Even in the Eternal City, says the silent Augusteum, one must always be prepared for riotous and endless waves of transformation.” p. 100

magari (maybe, if only, I wish)

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

“Parla come magni.” p. 115

“Virginia Woolf wrote, “Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword.” On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where “all is correct.” But on the other side of that sword, if you’re crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, “all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course.”” p. 126

The Bhagavad Gita–that ancient Indian Yogic text–says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.” p. 127

“I drop out of my Italian-language school, having come to feel that it was interfering with my efforts to learn Italian, since it was keeping me stuck in the classroom instead of wandering around Italy, where I could practice with people in person.” p. 128

codega “a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets.” p. 135

“Or maybe I only want to go to Sicily because of what Goethe said: “Without seeing Sicily one cannot get a clear idea of what Italy is.”” p. 148

 

“Historians say that rhetoric was invented in Syracuse, and also (and this is just a minor thing) plot.” p. 150

The Italians (1964) by Luigi Barzini

“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible.” p. 152

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.” p. 154

arati prayer

“Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus: “You bear God within you, poor wretched, and you know it not.”” p. 161

To Read: Epictetus

“”Our whole business therefore in this life,” wrote Saint Augustine, rather Yogically, “is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.”” p. 162

To Read: Saint Augustine

“the monk quoted to me from the Bhagavad Gita, the most sacred ancient text of Yoga: “Oh Khrisna, the mind is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding. I consider it as difficult to subdue as the wind.”” p. 174

Ham-sa mantra

Saint Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens. Via Wikimedia.

Saint Teresa of Avila

“The most difficult challenge, the saint wrote in her memoirs, was to not stir up the intellect during meditation, for any thoughts of the mind–even the most fervent prayers–will extinguish the fire of God.” p. 190

kundalini shakti  

“You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” p. 199

guru gita

“Zen masters always say that you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water.” p. 226

Vipassana meditation

“”The world is afflicted with death and decay, therefore the wise do not grieve, knowing the terms of the world,” says an old Buddhist teaching.” p. 229

“Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of a clearly posed and well-considered intention.” p. 235

“Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.” p. 236

“”Guilt’s just your ego’s way of tricking you into thinking that you’re making moral progress.”” p. 244

(Instructions for Freedom) “3. The day is ending. It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.” p. 245

“7. Let your intentions be freedom from useless suffering. Then, let go.” p. 246

“the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame.” p. 247

“To know God, you need only to renounce one thing–your sense of division from God.” p. 255

Sextus “”The wise man is always similar to himself.” p. 256

Sentences of Sextus

turiya state (pure consciousness)

 

“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, begging for pennies from every passerby, unaware that his fortune was right under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But claim it,” p. 262

“”All know that the drop merges into the coean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir” p. 265

To Read: Kabir

“”Imagine that the universe is a great spinning engine,” he said. “You want to stay near the core of the thing–right in the hub of the wheel–not out at the edges where all the wild whirling takes place,” p. 275

“In the dead of night the dogs howl about how misunderstood they are.” p. 312

“The word paradise, by the way, which comes to us from the Persian, means literally “a walled garden.”” p. 313

“The next piece of land was rejected because it was too close to a river, which, as everyone knows, is where ghosts live.” p. 411

“We get seduced by our own mantras (I’m a failure… I’m lonely…I’m a failure… I’m lonely…) and we become monuments to them.” p. 433

Saint Anthony once wrote about having gone into the desert on silent retreat and being assaulted by all manner of visions–devils and angels, both… you can only tell which is which by the way you feel after the creature has left your company.” p. 435

The Meeting of Saint Anthony and Saint Paul, Master of the Osservanza, 15th century. Via Wikimedia.

To Read: Saint Anthony

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