Mar. 6th, 2017

"Nutshell"

Mar. 6th, 2017 04:31 pm
Bravo, Mr. Ian McEwan. Once I got over the "Look Who's Talking" gimmick, this adaptation makes a lot of sense. Who's better to muse on to be or not to be than the unborn?
  • My eyes close nostalgically when I remember how I once drifted in my translucent body bag, floated dreamily in the bubble of my thoughts through my private ocean in slow-motion somersaults, colliding gently against the transparent bounds of my confinement, the confiding membrane that vibrated with, even as it muffled, the voices of conspirators in a vile enterprise. That was in my careless youth. Now, fully inverted, not an inch of space to myself, knees crammed against belly, my thoughts as well as my head are fully engaged. I’ve no choice, my ear is pressed all day and night against the bloody walls.
  • I’m immersed in abstractions, and only the proliferating relations between them create the illusion of a known world. When I hear “blue,” which I’ve never seen, I imagine some kind of mental event that’s fairly close to “green”—which I’ve never seen.
  • No one to contradict or reprimand me, no name or previous address, no religion, no debts, no enemies. My appointment diary, if it existed, notes only my forthcoming birthday.
  • Long ago, many weeks ago, my neural groove closed upon itself to become my spine and my many million young neurons, busy as silkworms, spun and wove from their trailing axons the gorgeous golden fabric of my first idea, a notion so simple it partly eludes me now. Was it me? Too self-loving. Was it now? Overly dramatic. Then something antecedent to both, containing both, a single word mediated by a mental sigh or swoon of acceptance, of pure being, something like—this? Too precious. So, getting closer, my idea was To be.
  • The beginning of conscious life was the end of illusion, the illusion of non-being, and the eruption of the real. The triumph of realism over magic, of is over seems.
  • palmy Norway—my first choice on account of its gigantic sovereign fund and generous social provision; nor my second, Italy, on grounds of regional cuisine and sun-blessed decay; and not even my third, France, for its Pinot Noir and jaunty self-regard.
  • He lingers on “pan-fried.” What is pan but a deceitful benediction on the vulgar and unhealthy fried?
  • I know that alcohol will lower my intelligence. It lowers everybody’s intelligence. But oh, a joyous, blushful Pinot Noir, or a gooseberried Sauvignon, sets me turning and tumbling across my secret sea, reeling off the walls of my castle, the bouncy castle that is my home. Or so it did when I had more space. Now I take my pleasures sedately, and by the second glass my speculations bloom with that licence whose name is poetry. My thoughts unspool in well-sprung pentameters, end-stopped and run-on lines in pleasing variation. But she never takes a third, and it wounds me.
  • Who cares? Besides, she told him out loud, whatever power she was supposed to have was only what men conferred in their fantasies.
  • I also blend John and Trudy in my daydreams—like every child of estranged parents, I long to remarry them, this base pair, and so unite my circumstances to my genome.
  • Whenever she and I listen, I sense in her slowing heart a retinal crust of boredom that blinds her to the pathos of the scene
  • like those famed creations of bank employees The Cremation of Sam McGee and The Waste Land
  • But as warm as the embrace of brothers are John Keats and Wilfred Owen. I feel their breath upon my lips. Their kiss. Who would not wish to have written Candied apple, quince, and plum and gourd, or The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall?
  • one exposed foot, its line of diminishing, innocent toes like children in a family photo
  • In my mother’s usage, space, her need for it, is a misshapen metaphor, if not a synonym. For being selfish, devious, cruel. But wait, I love her, she’s my divinity and I need her. I take it back! I spoke in anguish. I’m as deluded as my father. And it’s true. Her beauty and remoteness and resolve are one.
  • paper plates with loathsome wounds of ketchup, teetering teabags like tiny sacks of grain that mice or elves might hoard.
  • Not everyone knows what it is to have your father’s rival’s penis inches from your nose.
  • On each occasion, on every piston stroke, I dread that he’ll break through and shaft my soft-boned skull and seed my thoughts with his essence, with the teeming cream of his banality.
  • I’ve heard it all. Maggot farming in Utah. Hiking across The Burren. Hitler’s last-chance offensive in the Ardennes. Sexual etiquette among the Yanomami. How Poggio Bracciolini rescued Lucretius from oblivion. The physics of tennis.
  • She considered two common states of mind: self-pity and aggression. Each one a poor choice for individuals. In combination, for groups or nations, a noxious brew.
  • And foe-of-convenience, the United States, barely the hope of the world, guilty of torture, helpless before its sacred text conceived in an age of powdered wigs, a constitution as unchallengeable as the Koran. Its nervous population obese, fearful, tormented by inarticulate anger, contemptuous of governance, murdering sleep with every new handgun.
  • We’ve built a world too complicated and dangerous for our quarrelsome natures to manage. In such hopelessness, the general vote will be for the supernatural. It’s dusk in the second Age of Reason. We were wonderful, but now we are doomed.
  • We’ll always be troubled by how things are—that’s how it stands with the difficult gift of consciousness.
  • Nature, a mother herself, ordains a struggle for resources that may be needed to nurture my future sibling rivals.
  • Among much else, people are sociable and kind. Ripeness isn’t everything.
  • But here’s life’s most limiting truth—it’s always now, always here, never then and there. And now we are frying in a London heatwave
  • If hypocrisy’s the only price, I’ll buy the bourgeois life and consider it cheap.
  • Adversity forced awareness on us, and it works, it bites us when we go too near the fire, when we love too hard. Those felt sensations are the beginning of the invention of the self.
  • God said, Let there be pain. And there was poetry. Eventually.

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