I don’t know why people do the things they do to each other. We’re all here to live out lives, to do our work, to raise our families, to love who we love. We’re all here for the same things, but some, they can’t let that be. They can’t be happy or content with that. I don’t know what that is. She handed the photos back to Peabody. Do you? At a loss, Eve shifted. No. If you don’t, I don’t suppose anybody really does.
When I was twelve I was obsessed. Everything was sex. Latin was sex. The dictionary fell open at 'meretrix', a harlot. You could feel the mystery coming off the word like musk. 'Meretrix'! This was none of your mensa-a-table, this was a flash from a forbidden planet, and it was everywhere. History was sex, French was sex, art was sex, the Bible, poetry, penfriends, games, music, everything was sex except biology which was obviously sex but not really sex, not the one which was secret and ecstatic and wicked and a sacrament and all the things it was supposed to be but couldn't be at one and the same time - I got that in the boiler room and it turned out to be biology after all.
Mr. Benedict: "After I woke up and composed myself, however, I realized the flowers must certainly be yours, Constance, to do with as you please. At any rate -- " Mr.Benedict broke off, for just then Constance jumped to her feet, snatched the bouquet from his desk, and hurled it into the wastebasket with all the force she could muster -- so hard that flower petals flew up out of the wastebasket like tiny pink butterflies. Then placing her hands against the wall to steady herself, she stomped one foot repeatedly into the wastebasket as if trying to put out a fire. "I see we are of the same opinion," said Mr. Benedict as Constance returned to her seat, and the others congratulated her on her judgment.
I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.
But I cannot be worrying-worrying all the time about the truth. I have to worry about the truth that can be lived with. And that is the difference between losing your marbles drinking the salty sea, or swallowing the stuff that comes from the streams. My Niece-of-Shame believes in the talking cure, eh?" says Alsana, with something of a grin. "Talk, talk, talk and it will be better. Be honest, slice open your heart and spread the red stuff around. But the past is made of more than words, dearie. We married old men, you see? These bumps" - Alasana pats them both - "they will always have daddy-long-legs for fathers. One leg in the present, one in the past. No talking will change this. Their roots will always be tangled. And roots get dug up. Just look in my garden - birds at the coriander every bloody day...
Well,' said Can o' Beans, a bit hesitantly,' imprecise speech is one of the major causes of mental illness in human beings.'Huh?'Quite so. The inability to correctly perceive reality is often responsible for humans' insane behavior. And every time they substitute an all-purpose, sloppy slang word for the words that would accurately describe an emotion or a situation, it lowers their reality orientations, pushes them farther from shore, out onto the foggy waters of alienation and confusion.'The manner in which the other were regarding him/her made Can O' Beans feel compelled to continue. 'The word neat, for example, has precise connotations. Neat means tidy, orderly, well-groomed. It's a valuable tool for describing the appearance of a room, a hairdo, or a manuscript. When it's generically and inappropriately applied, though, as it is in the slang aspect, it only obscures the true nature of the thing or feeling that it's supposed to be representing. It's turned into a sponge word. You can wring meanings out of it by the bucketful--and never know which one is right. When a person says a movie is 'neat,' does he mean that it's funny or tragic or thrilling or romantic, does he mean that the cinematography is beautiful, the acting heartfelt, the script intelligent, the direction deft, or the leading lady has cleavage to die for? Slang possesses an economy, an immediacy that's attractive, all right, but it devalues experience by standardizing and fuzzing it. It hangs between humanity and the real world like a . . . a veil. Slang just makes people more stupid, that's all, and stupidity eventually makes them crazy. I'd hate to ever see that kind of craziness rub off onto objects.
This was supposed to be yesterday. I was sitting on the Cardiff/London train, supposedly about to write this very column, and realising something quite terrible. My head was entirely empty. A vast echoing void. Bigger on the inside, but with nothing in it. You could drop a pebble in my brain and wait for an hour to hear it land. No actually, you couldn't - that would be aggressive and unhelpful, so keep your damn pebbles to yourself.
I told her we were going to get married, and all she could talk about was frogs.She said there's these hills where it's hot and rains all the time, and in the rainforests there are these very tall trees and right in the top branches of the trees there are these like great big flowers called . . . bromeliads, I think, and water gets into the flowers and makes little pools and there's a type of frog that lays eggs in the pools and tadpoles hatch and grow into new frogs and these little frogs live their whole lives in the flowers right at the top of the trees and don't even know about the ground, and once you know the world is full of things like that, your life is never the same.
ROSE of all Roses, Rose of all the World!The tall thought-woven sails, that flap unfurledAbove the tide of hours, trouble the air,And God’s bell buoyed to be the water’s care;While hushed from fear, or loud with hope, a band With blown, spray-dabbled hair gather at hand.Turn if you may from battles never done,I call, as they go by me one by one,Danger no refuge holds, and war no peace,For him who hears love sing and never cease, Beside her clean-swept hearth, her quiet shade:But gather all for whom no love hath madeA woven silence, or but came to castA song into the air, and singing pastTo smile on the pale dawn; and gather you Who have sought more than is in rain or dewOr in the sun and moon, or on the earth,Or sighs amid the wandering starry mirth,Or comes in laughter from the sea’s sad lips;And wage God’s battles in the long grey ships. The sad, the lonely, the insatiable,To these Old Night shall all her mystery tell;God’s bell has claimed them by the little cryOf their sad hearts, that may not live nor die.Rose of all Roses, Rose of all the World! You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurledUpon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ringThe bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.Beauty grown sad with its eternityMade you of us, and of the dim grey sea.Our long ships loose thought-woven sails and wait,For God has bid them share an equal fate;And when at last defeated in His wars,They have gone down under the same white stars,We shall no longer hear the little cry Of our sad hearts, that may not live nor die.The Sweet Far Thing
I suppose that now would be the time to ask for forgiveness for all the things I've done, but I'm sure my list would never be complete. I also don't believe that whatever comes after life depends on my correctly reciting a list of my transgressions...I don't believe that what comes after depends on anything I do at all.
I never saw "being different" in and of itself as the point to "being Goth" -- dressing different from most others, maybe, but the point to me was to get together with people who liked the same music and clothes, or at least very similar music and clothes, and go to clubs, go to movies, go to coffee-houses and hold poetry readings and, in general, just have some good harmless fun. Did I look like a dork? Sure, but so did everybody else in the club. We weren't "being different", at least not all of us, we just were different and the point was to stop bitching about being different and just have fun.
All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE."Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES."So we can believe the big ones?"YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING."They're not the same at all!"YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED."Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"MY POINT EXACTLY.