Thursday, February 7, 2013

The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living

I am currently reading a collection of beautiful poems, and within this anthology is 'The Last Poem by Robert Desnos. Here it is, en français:

J’ai rêvé tellement fort de toi,
J’ai tellement marché, tellement parlé,
Tellement aimé ton ombre,
Qu’il ne me reste plus rien de toi.

Il me reste d’être l’ombre parmi les ombres
D’être cent fois plus ombre que l’ombre
D’être l’ombre qui viendra et reviendra dans ta vie ensoleillée

It's wondrous. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop and Refugee Blues by W.H. Auden (which reads like a folk song) are also my new loves.

The memory of odors is very rich.

"'You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.' And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way."

I recently went to Taiwan - it is lovely to return, if only for a fleeting weekend. 

He covered his life with a veil of vagueness, while behind his quiet eyes a rich full life went on.

When I finished Of Mice and Men, I knew it would not be the end of my Steinbeck-journey. After ploughing through Plath, I also knew that I had to make a smart choice about my next book to read (I don't particularly want to be trapped neck-deep in a 500-page volume of self-loathing/mother-loathing rambling - albeit tenderly poetic - again). I veeeery much wanted to delve into a bildungsroman, or Fitzgerald, but I'm reading Great Expectations for English class already and reading TWO heavy bildungsromans and 19th century novels will topple me.
East of Eden is huge. I am taking the risk of being uncomfortably squished in the middle of this book (but the show must go on), so I'm reading like mad right now.
Besides, I have a friend who'll disown me if I don't read The Unbearable Lightness of Being asap, so that gives me more incentive to finish off East of Eden.
... SO FAR SO GOOD, truly! It's like the expatiated, multi-character version of Of Mice and Men.

I originally had way more quotes but I'm tired so I've cut some out.
The intense beliefs of Cyrus on an army and being a soldier -

The whole machine devotes itself coldly to the destruction of his difference. They'll beat your spirit and your nerves, your body and your mind, with iron rods until the dangerous difference goes out for you. ... It's better to fall in with them. They only do it to protect themselves. A thing so triumphantly illogical, so beautifully senseless as an army can't allow a question to weaken it. Within itself, if you do not hold it up to other things for comparison and derision, you'll find slowly, surely, a reason and a logic and a kind of dreadful beauty. A man who can accept it is not a worse man always, and sometimes is a much better man.
...A soldier gives up so much to get something back. From the day of a child’s birth he is taught by every circumstance, by every law and rule and right, to protect his own life. He starts with that great instinct, and everything confirms it. And then he is a soldier and he must learn to violate all of this— he must learn coldly to put himself in the way of losing his own life without going mad. 
^These are the type of proclamation that would give capitalists a heart attack.
If you can go down so low, you will be able to rise higher than you can conceive, and you will know a holy joy, a companionship almost like that of a heavenly company of angels.
^This is almost Maoist (It's got continuous revolution, only-through-social-disorder-will-we-succeed vibes)
Nearly all men are afraid, and they don’t even know what causes their fear—shadows, perplexities, dangers without names or numbers, fear of a faceless death. But if you can bring yourself to face not shadows but real death, described and recognizable, by bullet or saber, arrow or lance, then you need never be afraid again, at least not the same way you were before. Then you will be a man set apart from other men, safe where other men may cry in terror. This is the great reward. Maybe this is the only reward. Maybe this is the final purity all ringed with filth.


Things to think about as I read on (BEWARE OF SPOILERS)
Why did Edward want to kill Cathy? Out of fear? Out of self-reassurance? How is it different from how Lennie killed Curly's wife? And WHAT IS WITH John Steinbeck's portrayal of women?!

Cathy is a MONSTER, and absolutely terrifying throughout the book. She is described as so:
I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. [...] Just as there are physical monsters, can there not be mental or psychic monsters born? The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physical monsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree. As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potentialof conscience. A man who loses his arms in an accident has a great struggle to adjust himself to the lack, but one born without arms suffers only from people who find him strange. Having never had arms, he cannot miss them. Sometimes when we are little we imagine how it would be to have wings, but there is no reason to suppose it is the same feeling birds have. No, to a monster the norm must seem monstrous, since everyone is normal to himself. To the inner monster it must be even more obscure, since he has novisible thing to compare with others. To a man born without conscience, a soul-stricken man must seem ridiculous. To a criminal, honesty is foolish. You must not forget that amonster is only a variation, and that to a monster the norm is monstrous.
Diverging a tad -

The motif of cats has popped up WAY too many times in the book - originally, I thought it was a coincidence, then it JUMPED OUT AT ME WHAM and at times Adam/Charles/Cathy are even compared to cats - I don't understand -
- Also, a weak dog has been shot - of Mice and Men - esque again;
- This post is SO, so, ramble-y; it wasn't meant to turn out this way, my apologies.