2017-07-17 05:13 pm

The New Yorker 2016-05-16, 2016-09-12, 2016-09-19, 2016-10-03, 2016-10-31

"A Whole New Ball Game" / D. T. Max
__ "They can make a movie faster than we can make a toy," Berberian jokes. <> Like the Sphero, the BB-8 had whimsical touches.

"Feel Me" / Adam Gopnik
  • There were so many things to vary! But finally one pattern emerged: a sinusoidal envelope, modulating at one hertz, that fits within the biological range of rhythm and change. Tighten the wave, and tingle becomes touch. It may be coincidence, but that wave, the one that communicates touch, is just around the rhythm of a heartbeat, a sort of essential bodily beat.”
  • For itch we have very dedicated behavior. It’s really cool. We inject a chemical into a face. If it’s painful, the animals use a front paw to gently rub it. If you inject an itchy substance, they use a hind leg to scratch. Almost always animals use their hind paw to scratch. So we can tell if they are itchy or painful.”
  • Even more, the experiments suggest an odd asymmetry between the two systems. You can trade pain for itch, Dong points out: that’s why mice and men both scratch. But it won’t work the other way around... A signature of itch is that it’s specific to the skin. Your bones can ache, but they can’t itch.
  • Kuchenbecker says. “It’s like recording a certain natural sound, like a waterfall, and then being able to generate a synthetic sound that sounds the same but goes on forever and never repeats, so it’s not just a looped recording. The trick is that we constantly change the properties of the waveform to match the exploration conditions, like adjusting how fast the waterfall seems to be flowing. And it creates a fluid, moving, three-dimensional illusion of texture.” Choose your texture, drag the tool across nothing, and you feel touch plus time, which is all that texture is.
  • Pressure is tone, and texture melody, but touch presses itself on us most urgently at the extremities, in the experience of pain and of sexual pleasure.
  • A key to being embodied in this way is tactile experience—what we touch, whom we touch, how many we touch, and why we find them touching. Grasping, hugging, striking, playing, caressing, reaching, scratching backs, and rubbing rears: these are not primitive forms of communication. They are the fabric of being conscious. The work of the world is done by handling it. We live by feel.
Alexandra Kleeman: When you seek out - or seek to avoid - your own reflection, the modern city becomes a hall of mirrors... Your own face runs rampant through the world and, like a word repeated too many times, begins to lose its reference.

"Play Ground" / Alexandra Lange
__ "Ecology in Holland is in grids," Geuze said. "Every frog in Holland is in a line, because all the water is linear."
__ "Olmsted manipulated the perspective in a way that Americans have the illusion of the wilderness," Geuze said. "Park history is related to illusions, and is not far from the realm of poetry and painting.
__ Every inch of an artificial hill costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Louis Menand: The irony.. is that sports is essentially anesthetized labor. It is the spectacle of men and women exerting all their mental and physical powers to produce... nothing.

"One Man's Trash" / David Owen
"In Nelson I see an outsider curatorial genius,"

"The New Harpoon" / Tom Kizzia
an open graveyard, with skeletal remains arrayed for miles atop funerary racks of bleached whalebones - essential building materials in a land without trees.

"Knives Out" / Ian Parker
__ what counts as fun in middle age- loyalties divided between abandon and an early night. His expressions of enthusiasm often take the form of wariness swept away
__ Experienced for the first time, this covert cosseting feels slightly melancholy, like an episode of Cold War fiction involving futile charades and a likely defenestration.
__ expensive, stage-managed tasting menus with scant choice: Amanda Cohen.. told me that this style of eating can remind her of the fact that powerful people have been known to enjoy recreational powerlessness in bondage clubs.

Burkhard Bilger: (In "Der Struwwelpeter," the most famous German children's book of that era, a character's thumbs are chopped off because he won't stop sucking them.) One of Bode's respondents remembered her mother scolding her after a bombing raid: "Why can't you be happy for once? Just be glad you're alive."

"Patina" / Ian Frazier
__ Even in places nobody can see, the sculpture isn't blank, it's richly detailed - the strands of hair on the top of her head, the bun, the soles of her sandals... Patina is a crystalline structure; it's not opaque like paint. You're looking into it.
__ When you have Statue of Liberty green on the brain, you see it all around you, especially on infrastructure. Being aware of the color somehow makes the city's bindings and conduits and linkages stand out as if they'd been injected with radioactive dye.

"Wild Man" / Nick Paumgarten
  • He was first.. a climber, a renowned pioneer of rock and ice routes around the world... Then a blacksmith: he designed, and made by hand, a host of ingenious new climbing tools.. Next, itinerant thrill-seaker.. Finally, eco-warrior.
  • Their first catalogue, in 1972, opened iwth a clean-climbing manifesto, a rockhead's version of leave-no-trace. A gambit for better gear had begun to extend into an argument for a better world.
  • The Do Boys.. included.. Tom Brokaw.
  • "Whatever you touch first in the freezer you eat. It's mostly game. I touched a goose. Watch your teeth." There was no buckshot in mine.
  • The (fishing) line is made of horsetail hair - from a stallion, since mares pee on their own tails.
"Eat, Memory" / Jane Kramer
__ The truth is that I remember nothing about those oysters or, in fact, about the rest of the meal, perhaps because later that night I conceived a beautiful daughter, somewhat hurriedly, in the middle of a hotel fire that we then managed to flee with two book manuscripts intact. How could a meal compete with that?
Bertrand de Jouvenel: "There is a tyranny in the womb of every utopia."

Peter Schjeldahl: Fragonard could do, with terrific panache, anything he liked, providing that other people - and he knew just who they were - liked it, too.

"Presumptive" / Thomas Mallon
  • In (Hilary's) case, fifteen years of jury-rigged self-fulfillment cannot make up for the previous twenty-five of self-suppression and worse... She is always still with all the other compromised, renovated, and discarded Hillaries.
  • E.M.Forster memorably said that "the test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way."
  • When the oyster spread the first real layer of nacre on the grain of sand, and the great bivalve that is the Donald puckered and whispered, "Someday, I swear to God, I'm going to do it"?
2017-07-10 04:58 pm

"Everybody's Fool"

Part police procederal, part romance, part writing lesson, with a side of academic skullduggery. All what Richard Russo does best, to bring us up to date with his beloved "Nobody's Fool" characters.
  • after accidentally discharging his weapon, the judge had fixed him with his trademark baleful stare for what had felt like an eternity before turning his attention to Ollie North, the chief back then. “You know my thoughts on arming morons,” he told Ollie. “You arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise it’s not even good sport.
  • In fact Flatt had exhibited little affection of any kind, except for an abstract concept he called “small-town justice,” which he claimed to dispense. How that differed from other kinds of justice Raymer never had the temerity to ask, but he suspected it meant “likely to be reversed in a higher court.”
  • What leads you to believe they’ll be interested in any of this? (Well, if they weren’t, why had she assigned this subject to begin with? Did she imagine he was interested?)
  • But her most mysterious and baffling questions always had to do with the speaker. That side of Raymer’s triangle was always so tiny, and the other two so elongated, that the resulting geometric shape resembled a boat ramp. On each of his essays she wrote Who are you? as if Douglas Raymer weren’t printed clearly at the top of the first page... Raymer had tried his best to comprehend the old lady’s triangle, though it remained as deeply mysterious to him as the Holy Trinity’s Father, Son and Holy Ghost. At least that was billed as a profound mystery that you were meant to contemplate, even while knowing that it was beyond human comprehension—a great comfort to Raymer, since it was certainly beyond his.
  • A uniform, he then discovered, was the next best thing to an identity,
  • Raymer repeated what Charice had told him about how these remotes work, implying that his interest was official, that he himself was concerned because “your remote could open my garage door and let you into my house.” “Except I wasn’t pointing mine at your house. You were pointing yours at mine.” “I was speaking hypothetically,” Raymer told him. “I wasn’t,” the man said.
  • The cruel arithmetic of their friendship was such that while Sully was Rub’s only friend, Rub was one of Sully’s many... Indeed, every time someone in his friend’s inner circle died or moved away, it was as if Sully himself was proportionately diminished, so there was never a net gain.
  • That rare lawyer who was less interested in law than justice, Wirf took even joking references to the latter seriously and could always be counted on for both perspective and sound judgment... “When I’m gone,” he’d told Sully more than once, “you’re going to discover how hard it is to find another one-legged lawyer who’s always in a good mood,” and this had proven true.
  • Poor people concluded that the deck was stacked against them, rich ones that a reshuffle would ruin both them and civilization.
  • What appealed to him, as near as he could tell, was its necessity. That was the thing about the work he and Rub used to do: nasty as it was, it all needed to be done. And once completed, it provided satisfaction, and even pleasure, in inverse proportion to the hardship endured.
  • “Into the grave,” Charice repeated, apparently willing to concede the truth of what he was telling her but still unable to wrap her mind around what had happened. “Like…on top of the casket?
  • “One minute you were standing there and the next it was—timber! You went into that hole like it was dug to your exact specifications. You were just gone. You know like when you try to stuff a cat in a bag? How there’s always a leg sticking out?
  • Carl rotated the schematic, considering it from a different angle, and offered it to the mayor. “Show me on this where there’s a power line.” “Why would I show you on that when I can take you to the actual cable your guys just jacked the shit out of.
  • “Well,” Gus sighed, “several things have to happen. First, some imbecile has to sever the collar ties that secure the walls to the roof.” “Why would anybody do that?” “They were working on the penthouse units, is my understanding. They meant to retie them later.” “Still,” Jerome said, “the floor joists—” “Those were compromised a couple weeks ago in order to construct the interior stairwells... “Boom,” said Gus, puffing out his cheeks. “Maybe that’s the lesson. You can skate on the first idiocy, and maybe even the second, but the third brings down the wrath of God.” He regarded Raymer then as if he might be the physical embodiment of the principle he’d just articulated.
  • (In war, as in the courtroom, never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.)
  • “Chief?” she said. “I ever tell you about the tattoo on my ass?” “No, Charice. That I would’ve remembered.” “Butterfly. Tiny little thing. If you don’t let me out from behind this switchboard, it’s gonna be a pterodactyl by the time I’m forty.
  • Fear is a poor fuel, thin and easily burned through, even when there’s a lot of it.
  • What bearing did mere facts have when it came to how you saw yourself? If Sully never thought of himself as seventy, even on days like today when he felt eighty, why shouldn’t a lonely married woman who read romance novels every night think of herself as a girl?
  • At first he might credit Rub as his source, but as he grew more confident, he’d relate the story as if he himself had been the sole eyewitness. With Sully’s best efforts, Rub sometimes wished he’d been there to enjoy the events his friend was describing, until he remembered he actually had been.
  • Their days would be full of long hours, plenty of time for Rub to tell Sully whatever he wanted, and Sully, chastened, would be devoted to getting him back on his feet. Well…foot. Okay, Rub wasn’t crazy about the idea of losing a leg, but if that was the price of friendship, what choice did he have but to pay it? Sully’s pal Wirf had gotten along fine on one leg, and if he could be happy on just the one, then Rub supposed he could, too.
  • At some point, though, certain facts, as hard and uncomfortable as the severed nub of tree limb he was sitting on, began to intrude on his pleasant dismemberment fantasy... And even if he somehow avoided this fate and recovered, he’d be chasing Sully all over Bath on one leg instead of two.
  • Rotten wood, even when painted over, has the soft, porous feel of a badly told lie,
  • The kettle’s dome, which might’ve killed him, landed with a dull thud behind him, then rolled down into the ravine. Even the rain of ashes and the last of the burning embers wouldn’t have been terribly problematic if he hadn’t been looking up. But of course he was.
  • It was as if mundane and mechanistic things were suddenly revealed to have been specifically designed with an eye toward maximum cruelty and guaranteed suffering. Bad enough that our relationships with the living should always be undermined by fear and venality and narcissism and a hundred other things, but it seemed especially awful that we couldn’t be faithful even to the dead. We put them in the ground with expressions of love and admiration and eternal devotion, promising never to forget, though then we did, or tried to.
  • “Also the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and the Vietnam War,” Carl continued. “Not one of those clusterfucks could truly commence until somebody said, What the hell. We’ve come this far.”
  • Because it was something the way things kept grinding with no apparent reason or need, indifferent to life and death and all else, too.
  • That said, the mechanical world probably wasn’t so different from its living inhabitants, most of whom, Sully included, went about their lives, most days, taking it all for granted. His own happiness, such as it was, had always seemed rooted in his willingness to let each second, minute, hour and day predict the next, today no different from yesterday except in its particulars, which didn’t amount to much.
  • “People generally do notice things,” Kurt continued, “especially when you direct their attention, but they act on very little. Then they wonder why their lives are so full of regret.”
  • judging from the photo, he might as easily have been climbing up, a home-invading burglar. His bruised, swollen face looked like some sort of visual prediction of the damage done by a fall that hadn’t yet occurred. The caption read: What’s up, Chief?
  • “I don’t, Roy. And I’ve tried diets. They don’t work. I bet Janey doesn’t even have to diet.” “I’m not gonna tell you again about not sayin’ her name.” “But that’s what I mean, Roy. She gets to be her and be all lucky and I don’t even get to say her name. And I’m the one bein’ nice to you.
  • When it came to role-playing, Gert, as everyone knew, was without equal. All his life he’d been a sucker for similar conundrums. He leaned one elbow onto the bar to get comfortable. “My car got crushed yesterday, so for me running’s a problem... Gert’s eyes glazed over and crossed slightly as he dove deeper into his role as violent moron. “I’m scared and they gave me painkillers at the hospital, so I’m not thinking straight. I fall back on what I know."
  • Then Dougie reached out with Raymer’s hand, picked up the snake, returned it to the box and secured the lid. Smith was rubbing his eyebrow, which was already ballooning impressively, and looked at Raymer with something like embarrassment. “Fuck,” he said. “I knew better than that."
  • “I know. You said already you’re in love with me.” “You keep leaving out the maybe,” he told her.
  • It was a shame, in fact, that there was only one belligerent asshole in the car, because it would’ve felt good to coldcock a few more. The static in his ears was almost as loud as the honking had been, but as he went back to his car he found himself happily humming a tune from a couple decades earlier and recalled the lyric: I’d rather be a hammer than a nail.
2017-07-04 04:29 pm

"Rules of Civility"

Our ethnic bluestocking's progress through New York's more rarified social spheres is a bit too make-believe,  ("On the morning of Friday, July first, I had a low-paying job at a waning publisher and a dwindling circle of semi-acquaintances. On Friday, July eighth, I had one foot in the door of Condé Nast and the other in the door of the Knickerbocker Club—the professional and social circles that would define the next thirty years of my life.") and it's followed by some romantic plot twists that were a shade lurid. Still, it had its moment with the paper plane flying episode. ("Dear Sir, If you would be so kind, please play us / your interpretation of "It's De-Lovely". / For is it not de-lightful to-nightful? / Your Moonstruck Neighbors")
  • But for me, dinner at a fine restaurant was the ultimate luxury. It was the very height of civilization. For what was civilization but the intellect's ascendancy out of the doldrums of necessity (shelter, sustenance and survival) into the ether of the finely superfluous (poetry, handbags and haute cuisine)?
  • Yes, they’re formulaic. But that’s one of the reasons they are so satisfying. With every character, every room, every murder weapon feeling at once newly crafted and familiar as rote ( the role of the postimperialist uncle from India here being played by the spinster form South Wales, and the mismatched bookends standing in for the jar of fox poison on the upper shelf of the gardener’s shed). Mrs. Christie doles out her little surprises at the carefully calibrated pace of a nanny dispensing sweets to the children in her care.
  • but when a person loses the ability to take pleasure in the mundane - in the cigarette on the stoop or the gingersnap in the bath - she has probably put herself in unnecessary danger. What my father was trying to tell me, as he neared the conclusion of his own course, was that this risk should not be treated lightly: One must be prepared to fight for one's simple pleasures and to defend them against elegance and erudition and all manner of glamorous enticements.
  • I knew too well the nature of life's distractions and enticements--how the piecemeal progress of our hopes and ambitions commands our undivided attention, reshaping the ethereal into the tangible, and commitments into compromises.
  • "Most people have more needs than wants. That's why they live the lives they do. But the world is run by those whose wants outstrip their needs".
  • Be careful when choosing what you're proud of--because the world has every intention of using it against you.
  • Anyone can buy a car or a night on the town. Most of us shell our days like peanuts. One in a thousand can look at the world with amazement. I don't mean gawking at the Chrysler Building. I'm talking about the wing of a dragonfly. The tale of the shoeshine. Walking through an unsullied hour with an unsullied heart.
  • How little imagination and courage we show in our hatreds. If we earn fifty cents an hour, we admire the rich and pity the poor, and we reserve the full force of our venom for those who make a penny more or a penny less. That's why there isn't a revolution every ten years.
  • From the end of the pier he could see the city skyline in its entirety - the whole staggered assembly of townhouses and warehouses and skyscrapers stretching from Washington Heights to the Battery. Nearly every light in every window in every building seemed to be shimmering and tenuous - as if powered by the animal spirits within - by the arguments and endeavours, the whims and elisions. But here and there, scattered across the mosaic, were also the isolated windows that seemed to burn a little brighter and more constant - the windows lit by those few who acted with poise and purpose.
    He scuffed out his cigarette and decided to dwell out in the cold a little while longer.
    For however inhospitable the wind, from this vantage point Manhattan was simply so improbable, so wonderful, so obviously full of promise - that you wanted to approach it for the rest of your life without ever quite arriving.
  • I cracked two eggs in a bowl and whisked them with grated cheese and herbs. I poured them into a pan of heated oil and covered them with a lid. Something about heating the oil and putting on the lid makes the eggs puff upon contact. And they brown without burning.
  • I have no doubt that they were the right choices for me. And at the same time, I know that right choices by definition are the means by which life crystallizes loss.
  • (like phosphorescence supporting a night swimmer)
2017-07-03 04:34 pm

"Rules of Civility"

What builds or tears down our allegiance to a given novel? I have mixed feelings about Amor Towles's debut novel. The one-liners, the repartees, and cameos of a bygone New York are certainly winsome:
  • an old fashioned Irish house (GOOD ALE, RAW ONIONS, NO LADIES)
  • This city where all things beautiful are welcomed and measured if, if not immediately adopted, then at least tried on for size.
  • If New York was a many-cogged machine, then lack of judgement was the grease that kept the gears turning for the rest of us.
  • world-weariness, as if a string of successes have towed along an ugly truth or two.
  • Bred with just the right amount of fresh air, roughhousing, and ignorance, these primitive blondes set out from the cornfields looking like starlight with limbs.
  • “I think we all have some parcel of the past which is falling into disrepair or being sold off piece by piece. It’s just that for most of us, it isn’t an orchard; it’s the way we’ve thought about something or someone."
  • (Ukrainian vaudeville bar), where they could keep a watchful eye on one another. In such proximity, time slowly strengthened their sentiments, while diluting their resolve.
  • The one thing for certain at Belmont was that on Wednesday at 5:00 A.M., there was no place for the common man. This was like the circles of Dante's Inferno - populated with men of varied sins, but also with the shrewdness and devotion of the damned... Hands grip cups where the absence of steam said the cup was filled with liquor.
  • St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street is a pretty powerful example of early nineteenth-century American Gothic... The stained-glass windows were made by craftsmen from Chartres. Tiffany designed two of the altars and a Medici designed the third. And the Pieta in the southeast corner is twice the size of Michelangelo’s. In fact, the whole place is so well made that as the Good Lord sees about His daily business, He can pass right over St. Patrick’s confident that those inside will take pretty good care of themselves.
  • As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion....if the next thing you're going to say makes you feel better, then it's probably the wrong thing to say. This is one of the finer maxims that I've discovered in life. And you can have it, since it's been of no use to me.
  • But there are tens of thousands of butterflies: men and women like Eve with two dramatically different colorings—one which serves to attract and the other which serves to camouflage—and which can be switched at the instant with a flit of the wings.
  • Because when some incident sheds a favorable light on an old and absent friend, that's about as good a gift as chance intends to offer.
  • If we only fell in love with people who were perfect for us, then there wouldn't be so much to fuss about love in the first place.
  • - You're rather well read for a working-class girl.
    - Really? I've found that all my well-read friends are from the working classes.
    - Oh my. Why do you think that is? The purity of the poverty?
    - No. It's just that reading is the cheapest form of entertainment.
    - Sex is the cheapest form of entertainment.
    - Not in this house.
  • I suppose we don't rely on comparison enough to tell us whom it is that we are talking to. We give people the liberty of fashioning themselves in the moment - a span of time that is so much more manageable, stageable, controllable than is a lifetime.
  • He always looked his best, I thought to myself, when circumstances called for him to be a boy and a man at the same time.
  • Slurring is the cursive of speech...
  • That's the problem with living in New York. You've got no New York to run away to.
  • Really. Is there anything nice to be said about other people's vacations?
  • Old times, as my father used to say: If you're not careful, they'll gut you like a fish.
  • New Eglanders respect all aspects of money but its use.
  • Hiker and a talker. This is a reason of self-discovery.
  • elbow to elbow, ethos to ethos / a rifle you can wear to your wedding.
2017-06-26 07:28 pm


萧如瑟的文笔也是异端,把这么狗血的剧情都hold 住了。 还是太虐,有HE的番外暂时没力气看。

  • 那柔曼飘舞的,并不是珊瑚,而是女子湛青的长发。那女子卧在珊瑚中,懒懒抬手,以指尖自海水中搅出丝缕缠绕的澄碧冷蓝。女子将澄碧经线一线一线横展于面前,以冷蓝为纬,纤指穿梭,把那些颜色纺作一幅几近无形的轻绡,姿态宛妙,犹如采撷无数梦幻空花。
  • 男子静默了片刻。“做我的儿子,除了安逸,什么都有。做我的女儿,却是除安逸之外什么都没有。”   “那我要做你的儿子。”男子胸前干燥柔软的衣料,有着微淡的香气。海市将头埋得更深,觉得身上的筋肉一点点松懈下来,声音逐渐模糊,沉沉睡去。
  • 浓碧的水流穿过指间与发间,万千银砂般闪亮细碎的气泡摇曳着汩汩上浮。
  • 这方海市身穿大典朝服,少年身姿英挺,肤色蜜金,眉宇秀丽仿如女子,又听说是个得势太监的养子,直看得张承谦心灰。官少爷见得不少,没有一个出息,已不抱什么指望,只求他不要死在边关教他们难做,也就很好了。这一路来,倒觉出这少年心性坚忍,什么苦都吃得,像借了旁人的躯壳还魂似的,毫不爱惜自己,
  • 那年头的时势,好似壮阔无情的怒涛巨流,史官笔下不动声色溅起一星细浪,便是几千几万条人命。
  • 回到营中的时候,已看不见一个奔跑的迦满孩子了。那天晚上,营内的迦满人久久不见同胞进关,既而发觉大军上山,哗乱起来,终于全体断送了性命。可是,即便不哗乱,他们亦没有活路。
  • 顶不住了。他听见空气中有个声音在耳语,轻微而宏大的声音,无所不在,如一阵瘴风在混战的人群中穿行。那是人们的心声,脱离了肉体与意识,汇集成命运的低语。男人们持刀的手已失去知觉,臂膊麻木,虎口裂至见骨,他们只是不停地砍,砍,砍。
  • 造化小儿,你如此弄人。可是为什么——青年抹了抹面颊上沾染的血迹,直直昂首望向云破天开的星空深处。冷诮的眼神,不像是要寻求答案,倒像是在挑衅——为什么我非得听命于你不可呢?
  • 二十五年人生,前十七年是水波上神光离合的浮华倒影,后八年却是狰狞杂错的刀痕,一刀一刀地,将他那一颗人心尽数斩碎。重返紫宸殿时,眼角已刻上纹路,二十五岁的鬓角,也居然霜华斑驳。
  • 夏季衣物本来不尚刺绣,多取印花织染之术,惟恐绣纹厚重,使穿者溽热不适,衣物重垂。若针脚稀薄,袖裾固然飘逸,却又失了刺绣本身一番浮凸玲珑的好处。这衣裳绣工却不寻常,针脚细密,绝无堆叠板结,绣工巧如天孙,更因使新缫的原色桑蚕丝挑绣,光泽润滑,自然有了浮凸之感,触手却依然如清风流泻,不滞不涩。好一个柘榴姑娘,看这衣裳手工,即便是在禁中织造坊内也是一等一的,想见其人,该是何等灵秀剔透。
  • “心里若是有了什么人,便找个空隙销了军籍,改回女儿模样,回霁风馆住上一年半载,义父去替你说合。”他微笑地说。他亦知道自己忍心,看着眼前那一张天然清艳的面孔神色逐渐哀戚,他只是微笑着说下去,如少年征战时候,在沙场上将刀送入敌人胸膛,深一寸,更深一寸,手下分明觉出骨肉劈裂,一拔刀,血雾便要喷溅出来似的。他却只是微笑着说下去。“即便是王公子弟,也手到擒来。”
  • 那塞外平川冬夏无尽更迭,一年到尾皆是飞沙走石的日子,只有夏季短短三四个月里牧草疯长,迫得草原上的人们只能纵马奔驰,跑在豺狼的前头,跑在日子的前头,跑在暴雪严霜的前头,跑在死的前头,跑得停不下来。天赐予草原之民的,就只有那样严苛的生涯,可是在这样的日子中草原之民依然保有他们的游戏歌咏之心。他们坦然地活着,将生命视作愿赌服输的一局骑射摔角,迟缓者死,犹疑者死,衰弱者死,技艺不如人者死,毫无怨怼。
  • 那茶碗早已为濯缨握碎,只是被手掌生生箍住一刻之久,施力极巧,是以薄脆碎片之间如刀锋互切,却密合得滴水未漏。那筋络分明修长美丽的手渐渐展开,茶碗亦随之分裂为六七片,清茶薄瓷,在月色下闪耀着剔透的光,纷纷落入霜平湖中。
  • 重烟楼台十里。无数青金琉璃瓦的檐顶在月光下起伏连绵成一片静默的碧海,浪尖上偶然一颗金砂闪烁,是吞脊兽眼中点的金睛。
  • 夏日花事盛极,已到了强弩之末的时分。风骏过处,青天下扬起一路落花。濯缨一鞭递一鞭地抽着,只想着早一刻回到宫中也是好的——柘榴,柘榴。<...> 此别经年,今生亦未必可期。她的脾性是端正剔透不劳人挂心的那一种,他知道,无需他叮咛多添衣、加餐饭、少思虑,仔细珍重种种种种,柘榴亦能将她自己安排妥当,然而总是要听她亲口答应了他,才算是就此别过,便要等待,也总有这一句叮咛的念想。
  • 小院内静寂欲死,乱红飞渡,任性零乱得像是也知道它们从此便无人收管似的。    自正午至日暮。天色层层染染,一笔笔添重靛蓝,著上艳橙,又晕散了绯紫,终于黑透了。
  • 宫内用的是特制落地灯笼,隔十五步便安放一个。灯笼约一人半高,长鼓形,均是整张白牛皮蒙制,不使针线缝合,用以煅压收口的黄金亦打造成空花宝相纹,内里安有河络工匠造出的精钢灯盏,燃鲸脂蜡与剑麻芯,少烟少热,明亮耐久。这上百座灯,使得金城宫中从此没有了影子,一切行止无从遁形。
  • “翼垂图南,这召风之术都说是绝迹世间,原来传人却在蛮族。”帝旭似是感叹,又似是欣喜。“鉴明,活着倒还有些意思。”
  • 那伊瓦内惶急扭头,却已不及。一道流丽的金翠光芒急划而来,自他大张的嘴内穿入上颚,直透脑髓,瞳孔立时散开。血与涎水混杂着淌下嘴角,满口里是精工镶嵌的柘榴石与橄榄石璎珞。
  • 因多年不见阳光的缘故,方诸少年时麦色的肌肤褪成了苍青的白。那袒露着的肩膊上,密密杂错着殷紫的浅白的大大小小伤痕——形如铜钱贯穿肩背的是箭伤,纵横浮凸的是刀伤,黑紫永难消褪的,是火伤与冻伤。
  • 濯缨于海市是兄长朋党,可豪饮论剑齐驱并驾,亲如一胞同出。方诸却是她的师,她的父,她的友,是她混沌世界里开天辟地的电与光。她原知道她与他是不能的,亦没有奢望过什么。不问前尘,不顾后路,杀人如麻只为得他一句称许,结果,却换得了这样一个下场。
  • 草原的黄昏分外炽烈艳丽。天际垒起万状云堡,金乌未沉,冰轮已然东升,日月星辰皆明媚硕大,与关内所见的天穹竟似是全然两样。夏草芃茂,高与马背相齐,夕阳下,眼见得那离离之草如赤金的波涛,自广袤远方一浪浪涌动而来。
  • “想不到……这老狐狸。”年轻男子收起了一贯的嬉笑表情。“我们费尽心思拣选的两只上好苍隼,反而成了他局中的踏脚石。现在可好,这方濯缨投身关外,因身负刺杀徵朝皇帝的死罪,鹄库庶民非但不疑心于他,更当他是个忍辱负重十五年的少年英杰。方诸这一手算盘,呵,打得实在精细。”
  • 御驾出城冬狩之日,永安、永乐两大道与承稷门照例不许庶民通行,路旁馔饮买卖商肆一概歇业。五十里积雪大道两侧张设着一丈高的连绵锦幛,为防车辇打滑,路面更洒有匀细海沙,宽广平直澄黄洁净,有如足金铺陈。永安大道上五色衣冠仪仗自成鲜明方阵,相衔而行,一时旌旗冠盖遮天蔽日。
  • 她早该知道,幸福不会来得如此轻易。他是何等绝情无义的男人,怎能奢望他独对她一人真心以待。他那样轻易便舍弃了濯缨,又怎么不能舍弃了她?    然而奇怪的是,她不愤怒,亦不悲伤了。许多年来,他的瞳孔内仿佛始终有面镜子,隔绝内心,只是将外界投映的一切冷冷反射回去。可是那一瞬间,镜面劈开一道裂痕,她深刻清晰地望进了他的眼底,浓烈沉潜的窅黑在那双秀长的眼里沸腾翻搅着,却被死死按捺住,不能夺眶而出。
  • “好一着置之死地而后生。”昶王轻哂,“若那姑娘落在我的手里,怕是真能对方诸有所挟制——也就难怪他宁可将这样一个美人拱手送给皇帝。”静了片刻,又道:“那方濯缨也是个棘手角色,如今大雪封关,亦不知左菩敦王那边情势如何。”
  • 五彩丝绦绾成同心结,左右系起两只满盛醇酿的错金云纹双瓠酒爵。两对金镶头牙箸亦是如此,齐齐整整系了丝绦,连在一处。    百子石榴团花、紫苏余甘子、碧糯佳藕、缕金香药、瑶柱虾脍、鸳鸯炸肚、双百合炊鹌子,满桌吉祥彩头的菜肴未下一箸,眼看着一点点散失了热气,原样冷透。
  • 他幽冷的眼逼近了海市,“六百七十多年来,清海公几乎没有一个得享天年。战死、病死、溺死、毒死、雷殛而死、无故暴毙,死状千奇百怪,满门孤儿寡母,为什么?——因为,方氏一家本不是战将,他们是秘术世家,是我褚氏的柏奚。”
  • “小公子您也知道,这两年为着黄金一事,周边诸国多有不满。除了迦满与鹄库正在交战,无暇顾及之外,其余的都已多半暗地里有了动作。”硝子低声道。从硝子那些言语中,海市仿佛能听见那个人的声音正冷冷重叠于后——嗓音醇净平缓,唇边的旧刀痕一定正微微扬起,成为一抹笑意。“南方各国皆视鲛人为航海通商之守护神祗,我国中若有鲛人守护,多少能有慑服之效。仪王之乱平靖尚不足二十年,眼下正值民间金铢筹算混乱,只要有数月的外征内乱,国体崩毁百姓涂炭之大势即难以挽回。难道小公子要犯下这六千万人命的罪愆么?”    “你错了。”海市昂然地扬起头,冷冷睨视着硝子,仿佛是在对硝子身后的那个幻影说道,“何必自欺欺人?将六千万人拖下深渊,那只能是皇帝的罪愆。”
  • 帝旭的眼里,逐渐浮现一贯的魔魅神情,“如果把天下的刀剑都铸为犁铧、兵书都化为粪肥,会不会从此便太平些?——那不行。人天生便知道争执仇杀,不过是因为杀的人多了,才讲究起技法与效率,终于有了兵书与刀剑。怎么办?”
  • 那十年,他从孩童成长为青年,像从沙漠中脱困的焦渴旅人需要很多很多的水,他需要很多很多的权势,否则夜间便不能安眠。
  • 紫宸殿的重檐庑殿顶上风势浩大,并肩站立其上的二人衣袂飘舞,直欲飞去。街衢纵横如棋盘,屋宇如豆,广袤帝都尽收眼底,直到视线为黯岚山脉所遮挡。
  • 黑白棋子错落于翡翠棋枰,势力消长,侵吞倾轧,永远困囿于经纬纵横之间,是命运巨手下朝生暮死的蜉蝣。半枰残棋间,数十年人生隐约峥嵘。
  • 那自由奔驰于草原的蛮族少年,是从他双臂中放出的鹰隼,亦将会是君临瀚州的王者。而海市——念及于此,另一道劈裂的疼痛撕开了他的胸膛。那英姿飒爽的少女将回到尘土飞扬的人间,结婚生子,在平凡日子的间隙中,偶尔怀想起他,又或许会将他全部忘却。终其一生,她不会知道他是如何珍爱她。如射手珍爱自己的眼睛,如珠蚌珍爱双壳中唯一的明珠——他亦从来不需要她知道。他愿将自己躺平成路,送她去到平安宁静的所在。
  • 可是,至少她做了能为他做的最后一件事。然后她将阖闭双眼,放弃所有坚执与挣扎,永远沉眠于深海之下——她已经疲倦至极。他是她胸中一道长年不能愈合的伤,非死亡不能治愈
  • 那年七月,鹄库王夺罕征服了居兹,七千里瀚北终归统一,各部咸呼夺罕为“渤拉哈汗”,鹄库语意为“乌鬃王”。兴建王都,名庞歌染尼,意即“红花柘榴之城”。其后裔统治传承近五百年,史称庞歌染尼王朝,王徽为千叶红花柘榴。    那是景衡九年夏天,帝都正是柘榴如火的时节,焚风萧萧穿城而过,于青天之下扬起一地残红。
2017-06-19 04:51 pm


  • 丙子年五月初二,本仙君踩着一朵祥云降至尚川府上空,徐风乍起,路人仰头观望,皆缩颈疾奔,摊贩手忙脚乱,本仙君模糊听得一声叫喊:“天阴有雨,赶紧收摊回家!”    世人愚钝,本仙君不与他们一般见识。
  • 轻飘飘做了几千年神仙,再世为人,足踏实地头顶方圆,四肢熟悉的沉重,五味在胸尘音入耳,竟十分塌实的亲切。
  • 劈里啪啦一阵,哭声引来丫鬟,丫鬟去喊家丁,家丁去喊总管和奶妈子,奶妈子扶出夫人。两个忠心耿耿的家丁壮汉抖擞出武松上山的气概从我身边挟起两位小少爷,我向他两人亲切微笑,壮汉面露惊恐之色,一路狼烟狂奔回廊下。一颗颗人头,闪在八丈二尺远的地方,看鬼魂一样看本仙君。    有眼不识真仙,本仙君也不同他们一般见识。
  • 法师起身,“王爷,小公子仙君临世,当然与常人不同,古人曾道,卧虎如石。星君数年潜气钝行,世人碌碌者,却不可知。”    东郡王爷对儿子是老虎星下凡一说很是满意,小儿子之所以傻,乃是老虎星一二十年都在睡觉,这种混话他也信了。
  • 天枢转世,果然还是和在天庭一样爱不动声色,端清高架子。心里闹着,脸上撑着,直把自己撑成个病秧子。
  • 方才又玩得过了……    喊人、传大夫、上药、开方子、煎药、人仰马翻。    本仙君蹲在天枢床头,十分忧郁。我觉得玉帝派我下界,不是让我折腾天枢,实是让天枢折腾我。
  • 晋宁的眼晶亮亮地一闪,挺起小胸脯道:“小叔叔你放心,我一定不会和别人说。我明白了,男人和女人是亲嘴,小叔叔和叔叔都是男人,就叫渡气。”
  • 青衫公子站起身,本仙君惊且喜,恍若东风拂过,三千桃树,花开烂漫。   他在三千树桃花的灼灼风华中向我轻轻一笑。    “在下赵衡,见过思明公子。”       第九章    本仙君如一棵被霜打雪压的老树,忽见东风,不由自主花满枝头。    浅近些说,本仙君心花怒放了。
  • 本仙君没和他客气。这几日白天折腾,晚上还要惦记天枢在旁边,翻身的时候别压着,睡着的时候别梗着颈子,打鼾把他惊着。牵三挂四,不得塌实。本仙君翻身上床,在内侧打了个呵欠,昏昏欲睡。
  • 衡文道:“命格星君写册子一向爱偷懒省事,辞不达意还罔生歧义。只盼他这次写得清楚点,别节外生枝。”
  • 我对他的样貌还没看熟,又呆了一呆,也笑着接道:“当真当真,我到天庭第一次喝这么痛快。”
  • 所谓下棋之趣味,就是要与那对面同下的人为着一子两子的得失,三分两分的局面你争我夺。你喜我怒,你洋洋得意我森森冷笑,彼时抓耳挠腮它时冷汗潸潸踌躇难下,图得就是这个乐子。
  • 天枢的双目如近看的秋水,南明的两眼是远看的秃山。这厢盛着说不尽的凄楚哀伤思慕欣喜与绵绵情意,那厢装着沉甸甸的思念与光秃秃的情。
  • 我将落到地上的诗本捡起来放到桌上,没话找话地道:“没想到你看这个。我还以为你好看王摩诘与孟襄阳。”虽然本仙君在天庭时,每逢有行令联句献诗之类需弄文墨事,都要靠衡文帮我过关,但其实我做凡人的时候也念过诗的,也能和人谈谈。    慕若言道:“王诗与孟诗虽以淡泊悠远著,其实一位是富贵生闲一位是闲想着富贵。倒不如高适图名利便公然的图了,却痛快。”    我道:“也是,此公虽然言大行怯,诗写得铿锵,战场上无能。但这世上行同于言的又有几个?大多如高公尔。”
  • 我陪笑道:“你莫躁,欠你的情回了天庭慢慢还,今天晚上我捅南明给你看解闷,可好么?”    衡文道:“你今儿一天都在琢磨着一刀扎在南明身上什么位置罢。”
  • 我如此待天枢,他竟替我拦下刀子,一喜。    我如此待他,他竟说我不是坏人,不是我未唱够火候,就是他脑子过了火候,一忧。    至于那一愁……    背后衡文道:“你的刀在墙角的大花瓶里立着。”    本仙君立刻道:“阁下夜半入房,未能及时相迎,失礼。白日家丁活计粗重腌杂,委屈了单将军,实在不好意思。但不知单将军半夜将我的人从床上拐下来,欲做些甚。”    我含笑负手,踱到花瓶旁,拎出无鞘的长刀。
  • 本仙君立在殿上,从容惮定,我站理儿“玉帝英明,宋珧此下凡界,事事都按交代做,事事都与交代不同,吃的苦受的罪也没当什么,就不提了。玉帝明鉴万事,是非对错,定能公断。”
  • 天庭的四天门,南天门通如今界,西天门通过往界,东天门通未来界,北天门通随常界。    本仙君打算从西天门转回李思明还在床上诊治的时候,日游神刚将我真身提出,李思明刚咽气,本仙君在这个瞬间再附进去,衡文把那颗扎烂的心还回原样,万事大吉。
  • 身上无处不痒,我伸手在脖子后挠了挠,搓出个颇可观的灰疙瘩。弹了,再搓,再弹,颇有意趣。
  • 我捋须微笑,先向掌柜的微笑,再向慕若言微笑。待张口时,才察觉豆腐干还没咽,于是从容咽下,又微笑,先对掌柜的道:“举手之劳,何必客气。”再蔼声问床上的慕若言,“公子觉得身子好些了么?”
  • 我与狐狸在山腰落地,参参树影深深长草,我问狐狸此山的名字,狐狸冷声道:“宣清山。”宣离的宣,衡文清君的清,本仙君一阵肉紧,道:“你未起这个名字之前,这座山叫什么。”    狐狸悻悻道:“枯藤山。”闷头走了几步,道:“你怎么知道名字是我改的?”
  • 本仙君这个老壳子蹲在一旁,看着青春年少的衡文和青春年少的天枢手拉手站着,颇有种东华帝君在我眼前跳水袖舞滋味。
  • 衡文似懂非懂地眨眼。天枢欲止又言道:“我和衡文下午与他们下棋,他们下不过,就拍桌子说再和我们下棋就给我们做儿子做孙子。在凡间,给人做儿子是不是一件很丢脸的事情。那你为什么……”
  • 我此时像是块闷在锅里的锅贴,又被油煎又被气闷,熬得十分难受。我只能道:“你喜欢这间房,我便和你换一换,从今天中午起你就在这间房中住,我去你的房里睡罢。”
  • 衡文无奈道:“命格这次是一番好意救你,你反而该谢他。你在天庭这些年,众仙与你都有些交情,不忍心见你就这么着灰飞烟灭了。因此命格才向玉帝说,虽然据说仙契线死结不是灰飞烟灭再不能解,但你这个神仙算是意外飞升,这些年没见你和天枢生情,说不定还有别的解决的法子。又因为月老说,毁他人姻缘十分造孽,会自断姻缘做为报应。于是命格就想了这么一出,天枢他向玉帝说愿意一试。南明对青童和芝兰太过狠辣,正有一笔债要还。于是,便有了你下界一场。”
  • 命格星君道:“玉帝本以为,你只是乱了天枢星君和南明帝君天命的变数。没想到你还是衡文清君与那只狐狸之间的引线。”    欠的债,就必定要还。我和天枢栓在仙契线上。命格星君说,他是杜宛铭时,那一世欠了我的债。于是他在天庭护着我吃尽苦头,。狐狸对衡文一片痴心,拼了自己的性命与千年的修为。衡文欠了狐狸,而今我又欠着天枢。    原来一概的缘份,不过是一场要还的债。
  • 我道:“那你记得今天跟我说的话。衡文他喝茶喜欢喝淡茶,写字时常把笔搁在笔洗里忘了收,喝酒不醉不算完,不能由着他喝。睡觉倒是没什么毛病,但记着他起床一定要喝雀舌沏的头遍茶。一看公文就忘了时辰,要时常拖他出来各处散心,他案前有个叫陆景的,时时刻刻都能拿出一堆公文让他看,勿须理会此仙。要是东华帝君碧华灵君太白星君他们找他吃酒时,留神小心着,他有些丢三落四的毛病,离席起身后看看他桌子上有没有忘记拿的扇子之类的。他不怎么吃甜东西,果仁只吃盐培的不吃蜜渍的。枕头要矮,褥子要软,茶水注意温热合宜。”
  • 我这段话比方才天枢的遗言我觉得更动情些,狐狸的眼圈儿都隐约有些红了。
2017-06-16 05:36 pm

"Nobody's Fool"

Oh and also Sully's one-legged attorney friend.
  • To Rub’s mind, Sully’s one human flaw was that he didn’t seem to want much more than he had, which seemed unaccountable. If you were standing outside in the cold and wet, it was only natural to wish you were inside where it was warm and dry, so Rub wished it, and not just selfishly for himself, but for Sully too. That was friendship. Maybe Peter was Sully’s son, but Rub was pretty sure Peter had no such strong feelings for Sully.
  • The problem seemed to be that the animal’s good side, which responded as it always had, was impatient with the defective side, which refused to function at high speed, causing the dog to circle itself, like a boat with only one oar in the water, until finally the animal collapsed and had to start over again. Only when the dog was sufficiently exhausted for the functioning side of his body to go slowly enough to meet the requirements of the stroke-damaged side could he stand. By then he was ready for another nap.
  • But all this had been before Thanksgiving, before Peter showed up needing things and bringing his own needy little boy with him, before Janey had come looking for him when she needed a place to hide, before he learned of Ralph and Vera’s troubles and that Wirf was sick. Maybe there were strings. Maybe you caused things even when you tried hard not to. If that was the case, he probably should find a new place to live.
  • Miss Beryl studied the child too, thinking, as she often had when she surveyed her eighth-grade classes, that maybe people did wear chains of their own forging, but often those chains were half complete before they’d added their own first heavy link. Maybe completing other people’s work was the business of life.
  • li>“Probably not. I’d make them enter the tape into evidence, and my guess is a tape showing you at work would do us as much good as them. They’d be going to a lot of trouble for nothing. See, we got one of the original Ten Commandments on our side.” “Only one?” “Thou Canst Not Get Blood from a Turnip.”
  • For Rub there were a great many mysteries, but none was more perplexing than the way his best friend would team up with any human being on earth against himself. It was almost enough to make Rub doubt that they were best friends... Rub was contemplating all of this, including the unfairness of his own reflection being inside the car while he was kept out,
  • Rub’s wishes didn’t travel well. They came out best when he didn’t have to raise his voice, when he was in a ditch, for instance, and Sully was there in the same ditch a few feet away and ready to receive them. He didn’t like to expel wishes forcefully but rather to release them gently, allow them to locate Sully of their own impetus, on their own struggling wings. Like recently hatched birds, Rub’s wishes were too new to the world and too clumsy to sustain extended flight. They liked the nest.
  • The next morning, the bright morning sun streaming in the bedroom window, Sully saw that his father was right. Swiping a slender, gold-plated letter opener from a dead priest was something a person could do. But you couldn’t steal the whole world.
  • Across the street a pickup truck was driving on the sidewalk, two of its wheels on the concrete, the other two on her neighbors’ terraces. A few short paces in front of the truck, a short, almost dwarflike man, looking maniacally determined, bent forward into the teeth of the wind which had been making the ancient elms moan all afternoon.
  • But he made the mistake of getting out again and grinning triumphantly at Sully, who, when he saw this, saw too that he was not through with his stupid streak. I’m about to fuck up, he thought clearly, and his next thought was, but I don’t have to. This was followed closely by a third thought, the last of this familiar sequence, which was, but I’m going to anyway. And, as always, this third thought was oddly liberating, though Sully knew from experience that the sensation, however pleasurable, would be short-lived.
  • But at such moments of liberation, the clear knowledge that he was about to do himself in coexisted with the exhilarating, if entirely false, sense that he was about to reshape, through the force of his own will, his reality.
  • Rub’s wishes, when you totaled them up, meant simply that he’d have preferred a different sort of world, one where he got his share—of money, pussy, food, warmth, ease. Sully’s job, as he perceived it, was to defend the world they were stuck with, a task made infinitely easier by Rub’s presence.
  • “I need a few paying customers to offset my pro bono work.” “Meaning me?” “No,” Wirf said. “You’re my pro bonehead work. You I do strictly for laughs.” Sully ignored this
  • in human nature that sought to ignore or absolve obvious guilt on the one hand even as it sought to establish connections and therefore responsibility in the most unrelated things.
  • though he doubted making people feel good was much of a talent. More tellingly, he understood that the mechanism behind making people feel good was providing them with an object lesson that things could be worse.
  • He felt again, without fear, the play in the wheel, that he was neither in nor out of control. So this, he reflected, was what it felt like to be Sully.
  • It wasn’t even as powerful as the affection mixed with aggravation that he felt toward Carl Roebuck. Strangely, it was closer to his feeling for Carl’s wife, Toby, a feeling he couldn’t articulate that resided in the pit of his stomach and made him feel foolish, warning him away—perhaps for the same reason, the deep-down knowledge that these were things he couldn’t have, that would not be granted him, a beautiful young woman he had no right to expect, a son he didn’t deserve.
  • An imperfect human heart, perfectly shattered, was her conclusion. A condition so common as to be virtually universal, rendering issues of right and wrong almost incidental.
  • Will had talked of nothing but the leg, and Ralph knew that touching it, bringing the limb to the crippled lawyer, was the bravest thing his grandson had ever done and that the boy was full of pride.
2017-06-13 05:35 pm

"Nobody's Fool"

The parts about Sully's wretched childhood marred (as it was meant to) my complete enjoyment of the book. The bright spots: hapless Rub, Sully's elder grandson Will, and Miss Beryl.
  • that pain could have a cumulative effect. Your ability to withstand it had much to do with your ability to catch your breath between its assaults... What Sully feared now was that he was facing a new kind of pain, one that wouldn’t know or care when he’d had all he could take. It might never be satisfied.
  • What she looked like was a complete list of a man’s past sins come to life, bent on retribution.
  • Miss Beryl remembered one of her mother’s favorite quips, which she now shared with her companion. “Well,” she told Mrs. Gruber. “Either you told a lie or you ‘et’ something.” {??}
  • The responsibility and burden of affection had always weighed heavily on her ex-husband. Given half a chance, he gravitated naturally to the easy camaraderie of the lunchroom, the barroom, the company of men, of another man’s wife.
  • Only Will, her grandson, seemed aware of her distress, and he watched her so fearfully that she wished there was a way to reassure him that this feeling would pass, that truth was something she’d always been able to swallow and keep down.
  • the old man managed to take in each person efficiently—his unhappy daughter, Vera, and her long-suffering husband, his crippled ex-son-in-law, Sully, the little boy’s father, Peter, and his large, graceless, sad wife, and the boy himself, his great-grandson, little dick in hand, so full of life and energy. Robert Halsey took them all in, felt affection for one and all, but concluded then and there that even if his next breath of pure oxygen proved to be his last, he wouldn’t trade places with any of these people,
  • what to say to a kid with a perpetual frown who always watched the speedometer and reported back to his mother how fast Sully had driven. They usually went somewhere where there’d be a crowd—a movie or an amusement park—so they’d seem less alone.
  • the Joyce woman who had whimpered for half an hour in the bathroom was grieving the loss of a loved one—the self she had been when she was flush with the currency of youth.
  • Sully, even as a sophomore, was everything Clive Jr., an eighth-grader, aspired to be—reckless, imaginative, contemptuous of authority and, above all, indifferent to pain.
  • When he thought it through objectively, Clive Jr. didn’t see what was so wrong about a young boy wanting to keep his own family intact. Yet he and his father made no mention of their visit to Miss Beryl. It remained their unspoken secret, and yet instead of drawing father and son closer together, it had driven a further wedge between them.
  • Sully might even manage to kill everybody else, but it would be his own personal destiny to be thrown clear of one head-on collision after another, always the worse for the experience but never dead of it.
  • Trying to get Sully to see things her way was like trying to put a cat into a bag—there was always a leg left over.
  • Peter did as he was told. As things got crazier, he was actually getting the hang of coexisting with his father. Following orders was pretty much essential, far more important than understanding them. Different rules entirely from those that governed his life as an educator. Out on the blacktop the El Camino did a three-point turn and backed into the drive, right up to the gate.
  • Like all the mistakes a man made in his life, which could be worried and picked at like scabs but were better left alone.
  • “So I wouldn’t be you,” Peter said so quickly that Sully wondered if he’d imagined this conversation in advance and had an answer all prepared. As usual, Sully was surprised at how quickly Peter’s resentment surfaced. It wasn’t that he didn’t have reason, just that they’d be going along fine and then, without immediate cause, there it would be. “Actually, that was Mom’s reason. She was the one that wanted it.”
  • “I’ve never wanted you to be more like me,” he said. “There’ve been times I wished you were less like your mother, but that’s a different issue.” Peter’s smirk was less contemptuous now. “Terrific,” he said. “She’s afraid I’ll end up like you, you’re afraid I’ll end up like her.”
  • “When I could,” Sully admitted. In fact, giving his son a car he didn’t own had buoyed his spirits considerably. For much of the evening he had considered that in his son’s hour of need Sully had nothing to give him, and it was good to realize now that he hadn’t been thinking clearly. They shook hands on it more or less successfully, since irony and resentment were difficult to convey through the medium of palms.
  • Sully bent down to see. DON’T REMOVE THIS DEAR, it said, and down in the corner, POLICE DEPT. The note had been scrawled in pen, and someone had inserted, in pencil, a comma between the words “this” and “dear.” Sully considered the various riddles presented by both the dead animal and the note for about thirty seconds before giving up, glad that there were some riddles in this always strange life that had nothing to do with himself, a conclusion that was probably valid in general, if not in this instance.
2017-06-12 05:26 pm

"Nobody's Fool"

Rereading the book after more then ten years was close to reading a new book, but along with "Straight Man", I'm starting to recognize Richard Russo's comedic voice.  Now I want to rewatch the Paul Newman movie.
  • If there was a recurring motif in today’s world, a world Miss Beryl, at age eighty, was no longer sure she was in perfect step with, it was cavalier open-mindedness. “How do you know what it’s like if you don’t try it?” was the way so many young people put it. To Miss Beryl’s way of thinking—and she prided herself on being something of a freethinker—you often could tell, at least if you were paying attention,
  • Where was the middle ground between a sense of adventure and just plain sense? Now there was a human question.
  • “visionary,” which, as everyone knew, was what you called a foolish idea that worked anyway.
  • One of the problems of being eighty was that you built up a pretty impressive store of allusions. Other people didn’t follow them, and they made it clear that this was your fault.
  • Sully... was a careless man, there was no denying it. He was careless with cigarettes, careless, without ever meaning to be, about people and circumstances.
  • Part of getting old, she knew, was becoming unsure... For longer than any of her widowed neighbors, Miss Beryl had staved off the ravages of uncertainty by remaining intellectually challenged and alert. So far she’d been able to keep faith in her own judgment, in part by rigorously questioning the judgment of others.
  • His existence had always been so full of breakage that he viewed it as one of life’s constants
  • to smoke in her house, this exception granted on the grounds that he honestly couldn’t remember that she didn’t want him to. He never took note of the fact that there were no ashtrays. Indeed, it never occurred to him even to look for one until the long gray ash at the end of his cigarette was ready to fall. Even then Sully was not the sort of man to panic. He simply held the cigarette upright, as if its vertical position removed the threat.
  • He didn’t like to go anywhere people wouldn’t recognize him as the North Bath football coach, which put them on a pretty short leash.
  • Throughout his life a case study underachiever, Sully—people still remarked—was nobody’s fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its literal application—that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man’s, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable—all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.
  • In fact, Sully could tell just by looking at him how much Rub wanted (twenty dollars), how much he’d settle for (ten), and how long it would take for them to arrive at this figure (thirty minutes).
  • throughout his life, such sudden sensations of well-being were often harbingers of impending catastrophe. They were, in fact, leading indicators of the approach of a condition that Sully had come to think of as a stupid streak,
  • First he disproved things like chairs and trees that fell in the forest, and then he moved on to concepts like cause and effect and, most recently, free will. Sully’d gotten a kick out of it, watching everything disappear but the bad grades he got along with all the other students.
  • everybody romanticized old people, seeing in them their own lost parents and grandparents, most of whom had bequeathed to their children the usual legacy of guilt, along with the gift of selective recollection.
  • Indeed, Rub looked to be on the verge of tears when Sully finally relented and waved him over. Jumping up quickly, he came toward them at a trot, like a dog released from a difficult command.
  • He was devoted to Sully and just regretted that, with Sully, whenever there were three people, it ended up two against one, and Rub was always the one.
  • The citizenry of Bath were not fetched by this argument. To most people it didn’t seem that the word “up” needed to be symbolically abbreviated, brevity being the word’s most obvious characteristic to begin with. After all, the banner stretched all the way across the street, and there was plenty of room for a two-letter word in the center of it.
  • glad he wasn’t driving every day to the community college where he didn’t belong, glad to be taking the judge’s advice about not blaming people for the way things were, glad not to be placing his trust in lawyers and courts.
  • When Sully needed it most, money had a way of first liquefying, then evaporating, and finally leaving just a filmy residue of vague memory.
  • Sully had been one of the few older students in the large class and had never said much, but he wished he had the professor here now so he could explain why this wasn’t really a choice. He’d probably go about it by disproving the truck. To Sully it looked for all the world like a choice. His. Fuck it, he decided.
  • But other people’s stupidity elicited only sympathy in Rub, who identified so strongly and immediately with dumbness that he lost all advantage.
  • But the real reason he hadn’t let them operate was that the whole idea of a new knee had seemed foolish. In fact, Sully had laughed when the doctor first suggested it, thinking he was joking. The idea of getting a new anything ran contrary to Sully’s upbringing.
  • The only thing Sully envied these men was that they were finished, like ballplayers in an old-timers game who could look back on an episode in their lives that had a particular shape. Having completed it, they could move on to something else. Their lives were full of dates.
  • “I wisht she’d take an interest in me. I’d let her be on top.” Where women were concerned, Rub knew no higher compliment.
  • Ruth said, her thumbs digging deeper now between Sully’s shoulder blades, skillfully crossing the boundary between pleasure and pain. “No,” Sully countered. “I thought you meant seven. I thought you wanted Gregory graduated and away at college.” An indirect hit, apparently, since Ruth’s thumbs returned a little closer to affection mode.
  • Tiny put it into his pocket. “That make you happy, you mallet head?” “Yes,” Sully told him. “I’ve never been happier.” “You remain the uncontested master of the futile gesture,”

  • like most physical labor, there was a rhythm to it that you could find if you cared to look, and once you found this rhythm it’d get you through a morning. Rhythm was what Sully had counted on over the long years—that and the wisdom to understand that no job, no matter how thankless or stupid or backbreaking, could not be gotten through.
  • If for some reason—like they were being paid by the hour—they needed to go slow, then Rub was even more of a marvel the way he was able to stay in motion without accomplishing anything. Rub was a perfect laborer, born to follow orders, not minding in the least when he was told to do things wrong, able to convey the impression of progress even as he ensured that the job wouldn’t get done today. If need be, you could rest easy that the job wouldn’t get done until there was another one to replace it. All of this without ever appearing to stall or even rest.
  • One of his father’s favorite jokes had been the one that went “Why did the moron beat his head against the wall? Because it felt so good when he stopped.” Sully understood that the reason his father liked the joke was not so much that it was funny as because it was literally true.
2017-06-05 05:09 pm

"From the Mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler"

E. L. Konigsburg's tale is sweet, and short enough not to strain the reader's credibility. The siblings' tiffs are adorable.
  • Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her pack. She didn't like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.
  • Jamie liked perspiration, a little bit of dirt, and complications.
  • "I doubt that. Who would drop a whole candy bar and not know it? That's like leaving a statue in a taxi".
  • What happened was: they became a team, a family of two. There had been times before they ran away when they acted like a team, but those were very different from feeling like a team. Becoming a team didn't mean the end of their arguments. But it did mean that the arguments became a part of the adventure, became discussions not threats. To an outsider the arguments would appear to be the same because feeling like part of a team is something that happens invisibly. You might call it caring. You could even call it love. And it is very rarely, indeed, that it happens to two people at the same time-- especially a brother and a sister who had always spent more time with activities than they had with each other.
  • Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.
  • I think you should learn, of course, and some days you must learn a great deal. But you should also have days when you allow what is already in you to swell up inside of you until it touches everything. And you can feel it inside of you. If you never take time out to let that happen, then you accumulate facts, and they begin to rattle around inside of you. You can make noise with them, but never really feel anything with them. It's hollow.
  • Secrets are the kind of adventure she needs. Secrets are safe, and they do much to make you different. On the inside where it counts.
  • Flattery is as important a machine as the lever, isn't it, Saxonberg? Give it a proper place to rest, and it can move the world.
2017-05-31 05:27 pm

"The Last Samurai"

The 小蝌蚪找爸爸 part. The journey is harrowing at times but ends sweetly and fittingly.
  • but I thought I could safely point out more abstruse errors of fact, and this would be the type of thing I could sign Steven aged 11. It was hard to know how simply I should put the selfish gene theory: since he hadn’t understood it I didn’t want to make the explanation complicated, but I thought it would sound obnoxious if I stuck to words of one syllable.
  • I said I liked Amundsen and Scott and I liked King Solomon’s Mines and I liked everything by Dumas and I liked The Bad Seed and The Hound of the Baskervilles and I liked The Name of the Rose but the Italian was rather difficult.
  • Though of course the Icelandic words don’t really have the same register as English words of Anglo-Saxon derivation because they’re not in opposition to a register of Latinate vocabulary. He said: You know Icelandic?
  • It was not hard to imagine a world where my body stood in this room with something else inside it. If I said something he would see that other world.
  • All right, said Sib. Just remember that you are perfect, whatever your father may be. It may be that other people need a sensible father more. We’re not talking about an exhaustible resource, I said.
  • the term originally fixed in the undertaker’s mind. He that runs against Time, has an antagonist not subject to casualities.
  • abstract nouns would have to be turned into clauses, she digressed to explain that Lytton Strachey on Johnson on the Poets, on the other hand, was the type of thing that was very easy to turn into Latin,
  • HC had none of the Socratic scruples that plagued RD, but he carried sportsmanship to so fanatical an extreme that it had a very similar effect
  • He said: You don’t actually ARGUE all the way THROUGH you decide the endgame you want to play you incorporate an opening which might lead to it by REFERENCE as it might be Black played an unusual version of the Queen’s Indian you incorporate the middle game largely by REFERENCE
  • Now Fraenkel once said in a class that a scholar should be able to look at any word in a passage and instantly think of another passage where it occurred; HC was unperturbed by this remark, but RD took it to heart, and the longer he worked the more any text was like a pack of icebergs each word a snowy peak with a huge frozen mass of cross-references beneath the surface. So that now in addition to Socratic reservations on answering any question was added a conviction that in any linguistic analysis a real scholar would haul up the whole iceberg.
  • RD said: I can’t do this any more. I can’t do this to PHILOSOPHY. I can’t write some piece of rubbish in half an hour and say they MADE me do it. HC said: Opening middle game endgame.
  • English as a foreign language. RD was rather tired. Everyone can imagine a life’s regret for a moment of cowardice, but you could just as easily regret a moment’s courage;
  • The written language was constructed of ideograms compatible with many spoken realisations of the words & he felt that people spoke here any way they liked, while the written language flew on kites overhead. He felt at last free of philology.
  • The sky had cleared above, as if a solution of air and fine rain had separated until the heavier of the two had silted the valley in thick white mist leaving the clear pure air above.
  • HC would never back down. He was a linguist, and therefore he had pushed the bounds of obstinacy well beyond anything that is conceivable to other men.
  • Anything will have lift if its front edge is higher than its back, and it will have more if the top surface area is greater than the bottom. His idea was that if you made a pair of silk wings open at the front and cut the bottom shorter than the top the air rushing in would inflate them and the resultant taut surface would produce lift.
  • There was light in the upper air, but as soon as he reached the ground the light was gone. The sun was a bloody ball on the horizon.
  • he would find that if he asked a question of a man, no matter how slim or even non-existent the knowledge might be on which an answer might be given, it would always be given as a statement of fact—whereas you might ask a woman whether it was raining outside and she would commit herself only to saying that it might be so.
  • I was surprised by the shining wooden floors and thick rugs and stuffed sofas. An interesting form of the subjunctive is not something you can bring back as a trophy but still this was not what I had expected.
  • I plan to learn to work as a member of a team when the other members of the team are out of their teens.
  • I stumbled down the street. He had not killed to learn those moodless verbs and uninflected nouns, but he had brought a slave into existence for their sake.
Arch:  mischievous, teasing, knowing, playful, roguish, impish, cheeky, tongue-in-cheek;
  • Sorabji always liked to say that the unfortunate consul had travelled hundreds of miles into the interior to rescue a British citizen, only to find Gunga Din. It was true that the loincloth had come from Gieves & Hawkes, but this was not something you’d notice on a casual inspection.
  • That boy, said Sorabji very gravely, can add all the numbers between 1 and 500 in 20 seconds. The consul said: Hm. Sorabji was a Zoroastrian but he was not much of a believer, and he had been to chapel a lot at school but he believed even less in that, and yet he found himself saying Please Please Please Please. Please let him not know about Gauss please please please please please.
  • Her brother’s other friends were unfailingly charming, so that she could not talk to one without instantly afterwards taking out a horse and setting it at a six-foot fence. She had never met a man who could open his mouth without imperilling the life of a horse.
  • The first time he ran away was at night. He looked up at the Northern sky; it was like going from a Bond Street jeweller to a street trader hawking chips of glass on cheap velvet.
  • The whole time he was saying it, even though he was saying it seriously, he would suddenly break into a smile as if he had been saving the smile for the son he had always wanted and never had.
  • when you get right down to it you can’t beat the religious for sheer wanton contempt for Creator and Creation alike
  • It seemed to me that things were easier in the days when I just had Val Peters to worry about. He had his faults. Mixing up DNA and RNA. Dabbling in sexual tourism. One could go on. But no one would ever blame me for having a father like that - he just came that way.
  • I thought suddenly that it was stupid to be so sentimental. What we needed was not a hero to worship but money. If we had money we could go anywhere. Give us the money and we would be the heroes.
  • Journey into Danger! was out so I got Half Mile Down instead.
  • It was of an indefinable translucent blue quite unlike anything I have ever seen in the upper world, and it excited our optic nerves in a most confusing manner. We kept thinking and calling it brilliant, and again and again I picked up a book to read the type, only to find that I could not tell the difference between a blank page and a coloured plate. I brought all my logic to bear, I put out of mind the excitement of our position in watery space and tried to think sanely of comparative colour, and I failed utterly. I flashed on the search-light, which seemed the yellowest thing I have ever seen, and let it soak into my eyes, yet the moment it was switched off, it was like the long vanished sunlight—it was as though it had never been—and the blueness of the blue, both outside and inside our sphere, seemed to pass materially through the eye into our very beings. This is all very unscientific; quite worthy of being jeered at by optician or physicist; but there it was … I think we both experienced a wholly new kind of mental reception of colour impression.
  • that might be true up to a point. But in the capsule you were inside a pocket of air. What it felt like was being in a pocket of blue light—light that was blue the way water is wet.
  • Looking for a father had turned out to be an unexpectedly high-risk activity. Stand behind the door, Kambei tells Katsushiro. Bring down the stick as hard as you can, it will be good training for you. Any more training and I might not live to see 12.
  • I knew what she was thinking anyway. The silence stretched out, for my mother was debating inwardly the right of one rational being to exercise arbitrary authority over another rational being on the ground of seniority.
  • You could say it to me because it wasn’t true? he said. I see! He saw it in a single second. He laughed suddenly. But this is marvellous!
  • Life is such a chancy business, you may lose everything you have at any moment—if a stroke of luck can rob you of whatever it is you live by, where does that leave you?
  • We’re such cowards in front of a piece of paper these days—my mother was an Egyptian, and my father was from Hungary, both countries with a particularly impressive tradition of bureaucracy, and it gave me an indescribable frisson to cock a snook at the official channels.
  • (At a movie:) suitable moment at which to place your arm around the shoulders of your companion and kiss her. You cannot? No more could I. After half an hour, no suitable moment presenting itself, I chose an unsuitable moment—I was rebuked. With nothing to distract me, my mind returned with ever greater foreboding to my partner, at that very moment imbibing pernicious heresy from the lips of our fellow club members.
  • She’s not really pretty, I said. She’s beautiful. When she’s excited. When she’s bored she looks like someone who’s got two weeks to live.
  • would have liked to hear him talk this way about anything, as if you could be impervious to sorrow just by being a man.
  • When you play bridge with beginners—when you try to help them out—you give them some general rules to go by. Then they follow the rule and something goes wrong. But if you’d had their hand you wouldn’t have played the thing you told them to play, because you’d have seen all the reasons the rule did not apply... People who generalise about people are dismissed as superficial. It’s only when you’ve known large numbers of people that you can spot the unusual ones—when you look at each one as if you’d never seen one before, they all look alike.
  • I thought that I was beginning to get the hang of this. I had started by picking the wrong kind of father, but now I knew what to look for I could build up a collection of 20 or so. I felt ashamed, really ashamed of all the years I’d spent trying to identify the father who happened to be mine, instead of simply claiming the best on offer.
  • He said even if you weren’t interested in music wouldn’t the idea that things could be different— He stopped by the piano. He said But actually people don’t really like a piece of music until they’re used to it.
  • But we don’t live in a society where every schoolchild has Korner’s The Pleasures of Counting, or Steiner’s The Chemistry Maths Book, where every library has a copy of Lang’s Astrophysical Formulae
2017-05-30 05:17 pm

"The Last Samurai"

It's always thrilling to read about boy geniuses - sadly and unjustly girl geniuses don't appear in novels as much.
  • Brain left school at six while body did time: Well that wasn’t very nice now was it? L: If someone’s about to eat you you don't have to be nice.
  • Excellent idea as Greek so helpful for reading New Testament, camel through eye of needle for example mistranslation of very similar word for rope:
  • L is up to the pentekaipentekontapus under the admiring & indulgent eyes of people who get on and are able to get off again after a few stops.
  • so may salve conscience by just touching on highlights like Sound of Music cutting from Doe A Deer to seven-part harmony or heptaphony as some people (naming no names) would probably call it.
  • I said politely but firmly I think if you see the film again you will find that the samurai are not, in fact, an elite band. Lesser directors have of course succumbed to the glamour of the eliteness of a band, with predictable results; not Kurosawa. She said there was no need to take that tone
  • & I said politely Essentially the film is about the importance of rational thought. We should draw our conclusions from the evidence available rather than from hearsay and try not to be influenced by our preconceptions. We should strive to see what we can see for ourselves rather than what we would like to see.
  • smiling pleasantly through 273 verses (10 + 0 + –262) of the green bottles song. Could I be sure that he would not start up again at –263 or rather would anyone familiar with the child offer even straight odds that he would not? No.
  • there’s a stomach-turning swerve into another key and you’re in the middle of Over the Rainbow, swerve, Climb Every Mountain, swerve, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, swerve, swerve, swerve. Well then, you have only to imagine Liberace, hands, mouth, penis now here, now there, no sooner here than there, no sooner there than here again, starting something only to stop and start something else instead, and you will have a pretty accurate picture of the Drunken Medley.
  • how cruel that we must wake each time to answer to the same name, revive the same memories, take up the same habits and stupidities that we shouldered the day before and lay down to sleep.
  • All I would have to do was write down a short passage of Greek, as if for this interested sceptic, with translation transliteration vocabulary and grammatical comments—taking pains, of course, to write the latter as if for the type of person who can’t get enough of things like the middle voice, dual number, aorist and tmesis. I am usually not very good at dealing with social dilemmas, but this seemed a stroke of genius. It would take about an hour (comparing favourably with the five-hour unwritable note)
  • By the looks of things I have about three days’ grace before I start teaching Japanese to a child with no sense of proportion whatsoever.
  • And DON’T YOU DARE colour in ANY OTHER BOOK without ASKING ME FIRST. That was all I said, & it was too much. A chittering Alien bursts from the breast to devour your child before your eyes. He looked down at the page
  • Drums over Africa was written by an Australian named Peter McPherson
  • Once you saw that you saw that you could potentially have dozens of fragments that could not be part of the finished work, and what you saw was that it was perceiving these fragments as fragments that made it possible to have a real conception of what wholeness might be in a work
  • It was as if after the illusion that you could have a thing 500 ways without giving up one he said No, there is only one chance at life once gone it is gone for good you must seize the moment before it goes, tears were streaming down my face as I heard these three pieces each with just one chance of being heard if there was a mistake then the piece was played just once with a mistake if there was some other way to play the piece you heard what you heard and it was time to go home.
  • I said Well do you want me to show you some kanji? He said I think I can probably do it myself. I knew what this meant, it meant for all my good intentions I had been a monster.
L takes over:
  • I said so are you picking four, and Sibylla said yes because she could not wait four days for the term jinsai which was obviously an indispensable euphemism for small child.
  • I have read Kon Tiki, Into the Heart of Borneo, Arabian Sands, Journey into Danger!, Quest for Adventure!, The Snow Leopard, In Patagonia, Amazon Nights, To Caucasus, Tents on the Steppe, Igloo Winter, With Camel and Compass, Among Pygmies and After Alexander.
  • Sibylla put the magazine on the floor. She said, You will not be ready to know your father until you can see what’s wrong with these things... I said, It’s not fair, nobody else has to wait until they’re old enough to know who their father is. She said, We should not elevate the fortuitous to the desirable.
  • I said, ‘Let’s take two people about to undergo 10 years of horrible excruciating boredom at school, A dies at the age of 6 from falling out a window and B dies at the age of 6 + n where n is a number less than 10, I think we would all agree that B’s life was not improved by the additional n years.
  • The hero is a man actively engaged in becoming himself—never a very reassuring sight. The villain, on the other hand, has already become something.
  • I said: According to one reviewer this writer I am supposed to regard from a state of grace beyond pity
  • I said: Well just tell me this. He didn’t rape you did he? (Everything I know about delicacy I learned at my mother’s knee.)
  • There is a strange taboo in our society against ending something merely because it is not pleasant—life, love, a conversation, you name it, the etiquette is that you must begin in ignorance & persevere in the face of knowledge,
  • thought you thought disenfranchisement on grounds of age the hallmark of a BARBARIC SOCIETY. I thought of saying, How do you know something I don’t know is something I don’t want to know?
  • the problem is that they are classicistic rather than classic, pursuing both truth and beauty not for themselves but because manifested in these forms in the great works of the past. It would be harder, of course, to seem as though I saw these faults from a state of grace, but maybe she would overlook that.
  • You can tell just from the names of the mathematicians. Bernoulli’s equation—Euler’s equation—Gauss’s divergence theorem—I have no idea what these actually ARE, but essentially the mathematics at the heart of the subject seems to be post-Newtonian developments in calculus, 18th 19th century stuff. How hard can it be?
  • could try the hunchbacked midget costume I had to wear when we went to see The Crying Game—but I thought I might have trouble getting into a bar even as a midget sensitive about his height.
2017-05-29 05:08 pm

"The Last Samurai"

I've wanted to read Helen DeWitt's book for ages and it didn't let me down. Sib's voice is instantly eccentric and captivating:
  • The children could all play five or six instruments with flair but they hated to practice: They emerged from each piece either bloody but unbowed or miraculously unscathed, and they had all assumed they would be musicians. Buddy was the first to find they would not.
  • My father stood by the piano and he suddenly thought What would be the odds against going to a seminary and going to synagogue and learning to play pool, just suppose he fell in love with a Jewish girl from Philadelphia and made a fortune in motels and lived happily ever after, say the odds were a billion to one that was still not the same as impossible so it was not actually impossible that his father had not, in fact— Linda plunged down
  • There are people who think contraception is immoral because the object of copulation is procreation. In a similar way there are people who think the only reason to read a book is to write a book; people should call up books from the dust and the dark and write thousands of words to be sent down to the dust and the dark which can be called up so that other people can send further thousands of words to join them in the dust and the dark.
  • It took five to ten minutes to read a sentence—an hour a page. Slowly the outlines of the argument loomed out of the mist, like Debussy’s drowned cathedral sortant peu à peu de la brume.
  • they loved scenes in which people who had gone berserk raved in strange, fractured speeches studded with unjustly neglected vocabulary; they loved to focus on some trivial element of a myth and spin it out and skip the myth—they could make a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of any Hamlet. As scholars, as scientists, as mathematicians, as poets who led the flower of Roman youth astray, they crowd their way into books not mainly about them; given a book to themselves they burst out at once into a whole separate volume of footnotes—I speak of course of Fraser’s Ptolemaic Alexandria
  • Having settled on stupidity as the criterion of inauthenticity he went on to discard one stupid remark after another as really by Zenodotus or Aristophanes
  • Each bedside table, he explains, has a copy of Darwin’s Origin of Species in the top drawer. In fact it’s a really good day because that very morning one of the guests stole the Origin of Species instead of a towel.
  • Surely Oxford would not insist on mindless enthusiasm just to prove you can be enthusiastic about something. Surely Oxford would not accept hearsay as evidence. Surely Oxford wouldn’t hold a reference against you without knowing anything about the writer.
  • I had spent 46+ hours on this bizarre piece of logic at a time when I had read not a word of Musil, or Rilke, or Zweig. But I did not have a scholarship to read things that were merely good; I had a scholarship to make a contribution to knowledge.
  • But I suddenly thought that this was exactly the problem, this was the diabolical thing about life: one minute of a Carling Black Label ad to two hours of Ghostbusters XXXV that you didn’t even want to see in the first place.
  • I thought suddenly: Rilke was the secretary of Rodin.
  • How is it possible to argue this, you say, AND to know that a brother and sister may have no genes in common, without being committed to the unlikely theory that any man could be a Mozart with similar training? You say it, and I thought it; but the fact is that a clever man so seldom needs to think
  • The Alien has a long eel-like neck and little reptilian eyes. I put both hands around its throat & I said: Rot in hell. It coughed & said sweetly: So sorry to intrude. Admirable maternity! All time devoted to infant amelioration. Selflessly devoted!
  • Emma was really the next worst thing to the States. She loved America in the way that the Victorians loved Scotland, French Impressionists Japan.
  • The fact is that though things were better than when I had been reading things people had thrown their lives away on seventy years before at any moment a passion would fling itself on the first idea standing by and gallop off ventre à terre—how quietly and calmly some people argue.
  • it was depressing in a literature to see all the languages fading into English which in America was the language of forgetfulness.
  • it was preposterous that people who were by and large the most interesting the most heroic the most villainous the newest immigrants could appear in the literature of the country only as character actors speaking bad English or italics & by & large both they & their descendants’ ignorance of their language & customs could not be represented at all in the new language, which had forgotten that there was anything to forget.
  • In the same way a composer does not for the most part think that he would like to imitate this or that sound—he thinks that he wants the texture of a piano with a violin, or a piano with a cello, or four stringed instruments or six, or a symphony orchestra; he thinks of relations of notes... but if a book just used them so that the English spoke English & the Italians Italian that would be as stupid as saying use yellow for the sun because the sun is yellow.
  • Perhaps a writer would think of the monosyllables and lack of grammatical inflection in Chinese, and of how this would sound next to lovely long Finnish words all double letters & long vowels in 14 cases or lovely Hungarian all prefixes suffixes, & having first thought of that would then think of some story about Hungarians or Finns with Chinese.
  • that compromise which we call the tempered system, which amounts to an indefinitely extended truce
  • & in my mind I would hear languages related like a circle of fifths, I would see languages with shades of each other,
  • I realised that, faced with coming up with a reply, I had thought of the question and not the questioner.
  • No one had ever asked me if he was boring me who wasn't.
  • Lord Leighton (the painter of Greek Girls Playing at Ball) specialised in scenes of antiquity in which marvellous perplexities of drapery roamed the canvas, tarrying only in their travels to protect the modesty of a recruit from the Tyrone Power school of acting. His fault was not a lack of skill: it is the faultlessness of his skill which makes the paintings embarrassing to watch, so bare do they strip the mind of their creator.
  • so did Lord Leighton (the writer) bring the most agitated emotions to an airless to a hushed to an unhurried while each word took on because there was all the time in the world for each word to take on the bloom which only a great Master can give to a word using his time to allow all unseemly energy to become aware of its nakedness and snatch gratefully at the fig leaf provided until all passion in the airlessness in the hush in the absence of hurry sank decently down in the slow death of motion to perpetual stasis
  • he is like a man who plays Yesterday on the piano with Brahmsian amplitude & lushness and so casually kicks aside the very thing which is the essence of the song.
  • In a less barbarous society children would not be in absolute economic subjection to the irrational beings into whose keeping fate has consigned them: they would be paid a decent hourly wage for attending school.
  • is a tiresome feature of piano music that (since 10 or more notes may be played simultaneously) it involves anything up to 10 times the amount of sight reading of any other instrument.
  • She said: What about the violin? Is there anything you’d like me to do on the violin? The homely man started to laugh & said No I don’t think so. He said he also had no advice to offer on the viola, the mandolin or the flute.
  • But even after just three weeks of the exercise she thought that she would never again be able to walk innocently into a room to show what she could do.
  • But after the audition my mother thought it might work some other way. If there was this desert of technical work to be crossed before you could play the piano, maybe every other instrument and maybe the voice was also surrounded by a desert.
  • If I could read anything I wanted I would read The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap.
2017-05-22 06:08 pm

"When Breath Becomes Air"

There's much moral urgency in Paul Kalanithi's book.
  • He had reached some compromise in his mind that fatherhood could be distilled; short, concentrated (but sincere) bursts of high intensity could equal…whatever it was that other fathers did. All I knew was, if that was the price of medicine, it was simply too high.
  • For every country fact that seemed preposterous, there was one that felt solid and true. Always check your shoes for scorpions.
  • Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.
  • Meaning, while a slippery concept, seemed inextricable from human relationships and moral values. T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land resonated profoundly, relating meaninglessness and isolation, and the desperate quest for human connection.
  • If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?
  • And then we would sit and watch as the first hint of sunlight, a light tinge of day blue, would leak out of the eastern horizon, slowly erasing the stars. The day sky would spread wide and high, until the first ray of the sun made an appearance. The morning commuters began to animate the distant South Lake Tahoe roads. But craning your head back, you could see the day’s blue darken halfway across the sky, and to the west, the night remained yet unconquered—pitch-black, stars in full glimmer, the full moon still pinned in the sky. To the east, the full light of day beamed toward you; to the west, night reigned with no hint of surrender. No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night. It was as if this were the moment God said, “Let there be light!” You could not help but feel your specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe, and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus, reaffirming your presence amid the grandeur.
  • "I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment."
  • (Then I learned that Virginia Woolf once boarded a battleship dressed as Abyssinian royalty, and, duly chastened
  • A word meant something only between people, and life’s meaning, its virtue, had something to do with the depth of the relationships we form. It was the relational aspect of humans—i.e., “human relationality”—that undergirded meaning.
  • Everything teeters between pathos and bathos: here you are, violating society’s most fundamental taboos, and yet formaldehyde is a powerful appetite stimulant, so you also crave a burrito.
  • Cadavers reverse the polarity. The mannequins you pretend are real; the cadavers you pretend are fake.
  • Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici: “With what strife and pains we come into the world we know not, but ’tis commonly no easy matter to get out of it.”
  • And as I sat there, I realized that the questions intersecting life, death, and meaning, questions that all people face at some point, usually arise in a medical context. In the actual situations where one encounters these questions, it becomes a necessarily philosophical and biological exercise. Humans are organisms, subject to physical laws, including, alas, the one that says entropy always increases. Diseases are molecules misbehaving; the basic requirement of life is metabolism, and death its cessation.
  • While all doctors treat diseases, neurosurgeons work in the crucible of identity: every operation on the brain is, by necessity, a manipulation of the substance of our selves
  • Because the brain mediates our experience of the world, any neurosurgical problem forces a patient and family, ideally with a doctor as a guide, to answer this question: What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?
  • Still, when you work in a hospital, the papers you file aren’t just papers: they are fragments of narratives filled with risks and triumphs.
  • Some days, this is how it felt when I was in the hospital: trapped in an endless jungle summer, wet with sweat, the rain of tears of the families of the dying pouring down.
  • As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives—everyone dies eventually—but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness...  In these moments, I acted not, as I most often did, as death’s enemy, but as its ambassador.
  • The call to protect life—and not merely life but another’s identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul—was obvious in its sacredness.
  • Those burdens are what make medicine holy and wholly impossible: in taking up another’s cross, one must sometimes get crushed by the weight.
  • During our final weekly chat, he turned to me and said, “You know, today is the first day it all seems worth it. I mean, obviously, I would’ve gone through anything for my kids, but today is the first day that all the suffering seems worth it.” How little do doctors understand the hells through which we put patients.
  • If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, then surgery felt like the opposite: the intense focus made the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed.
  • Most lives are lived with passivity toward death—it’s something that happens to you and those around you. But Jeff and I had trained for years to actively engage with death, to grapple with it, like Jacob with the angel, and, in so doing, to confront the meaning of a life. We had assumed an onerous yoke, that of mortal responsibility.
  • Is that what hope was? Could we divide the curve into existential sections, from “defeated” to “pessimistic” to “realistic” to “hopeful” to “delusional”? Weren’t the numbers just the numbers? Had we all just given in to the “hope” that every patient was above average? It occurred to me that my relationship with statistics changed as soon as I became one.
  • What patients seek is not scientific knowledge that doctors hide but existential authenticity each person must find on her own. Getting too deeply into statistics is like trying to quench a thirst with salty water. The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability.
  • My body was frail and weak—the person who could run half marathons was a distant memory—and that, too, shapes your identity.
  • Day after day I kept at it, and every tiny increase in strength broadened the possible worlds, the possible versions of me.
  • Years ago, it had occurred to me that Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the organism is striving. Describing life otherwise was like painting a tiger without stripes.
  • Hemingway described his process in similar terms: acquiring rich experiences, then retreating to cogitate and write about them. I needed words to go forward.
  • The monolithic uncertainty of my future was deadening; everywhere I turned, the shadow of death obscured the meaning of any action.
  • decision: I would push myself to return to the OR. Why? Because I could. Because that’s who I was. Because I would have to learn to live in a different way, seeing death as an imposing itinerant visitor but knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.
  • The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget. You may decide you want to spend your time working as a neurosurgeon, but two months later, you may feel differently. Two months after that, you may want to learn to play the saxophone or devote yourself to the church.
  • Death maybe be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.
  • the physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.
  • Emma hadn’t given me back my old identity. She’d protected my ability to forge a new one.
  • --to make science the arbiter of metaphysics is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning—to consider a world that is self-evidently not the world we live in... It is to say, though, that if you believe that science provides no basis for God, then you are almost obligated to conclude that science provides no basis for meaning and, therefore, life itself doesn’t have any. {Um, where do I start...}
  • My life up until my illness could be understood as the linear sum of my choices. As in most modern narratives, a character’s fate depended on human actions, his and others... From the Enlightenment onward, the individual occupied center stage. But now I lived in a different world, a more ancient one, where human action paled against superhuman forces, a world that was more Greek tragedy than Shakespeare.
  • Graham Greene once said that life was lived in the first twenty years and the remainder was just reflection. So what tense am I living in now? Have I proceeded beyond the present tense and into the past perfect? The future tense seems vacant and, on others’ lips, jarring.
2017-05-15 03:12 pm

"Today Will Be Different", "The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle"

Maria Semple's prose certainly hasn't lost its screwball energy or its penchant for lists, but the hasty reveal and resolution in the last 20 pages is a letdown. In contrast, her previous book stuck the landing and left a much stronger impression.
  • ”I don’t mean to ruin the ending for you, sweet child, but life is one long headwind. To make any kind of impact requires self-will bordering on madness. The world will be hostile, it will be suspicious of your intent, it will misinterpret you, it will inject you with doubt, it will flatter you into self-sabotage. My God, I’m making it sound so glamorous and personal! What the world is, more than anything? It’s indifferent.”  “Say amen to that,” Spencer said.  “But you have a vision. You put a frame around it. You sign your name anyway. That’s the risk. That’s the leap. That’s the madness:thinking anyone’s going to care.”
  • That was happiness. Not the framed greatest hits, but the moments between. At the time, I hadn't pegged them as being particularly happy. But now, looking back at those phantom snapshots, I'm struck by my calm, my ease, the evident comfort with my life. I'm happy in retrospect.
  • Every person has it in him to be either the Competent Traveler or the Helpless Traveler. Because Joe is so clearheaded and sharp, I’ve been able to go through life as the Helpless Traveler.
  • The world isn’t your friend,” Joe told Eleanor. “It’s not designed to go your way. All you can do is make the decision to muscle through and fight the trend.
  • “Smell the soup, cool the soup,” Timby said. “Huh?” “It’s what they teach us in school when we’re upset. Smell the soup.” He took a deep breath in. “Cool the soup.” He blew out.
  • As far as I’m concerned, the only thing sweeter than seeing a friend is that friend canceling on me.
  • “Today will be different. Today I will be present. Today, anyone I speak to, I will look them in the eye and listen deeply. Today I’ll play a board game with Timby. I’ll initiate sex with Joe. Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. Today I won’t swear. I won’t talk about money. Today there will be an ease about me. My face will be relaxed, its resting place a smile. Today I will radiate calm. Kindness and self-control will abound. Today I will buy local. Today I will be my best self, the person I’m capable of being. Today will be different.”
  • One thing that happens when you have an alcoholic for a parent is you grow up the child of an alcoholic. ... For a quick trip around the bases, it means you blame yourself for everything, you avoid reality, you can't trust people, you're hungry to please. Which isn't all bad: perfectionism makes the straight-A student; lack of trust begets self-sufficiency; low self-esteem can be a terrific motivator; if everyone were so gung-ho on reality, there'd be no art.
  • A live concert needs to be listened to live. Otherwise, it’s like eating day-old salad.
  • Because the other way wasn’t working. The waking up just to get the day over with until it was time for bed. The grinding it out was a disgrace, an affront to the honor and long shot of being alive at all.
  • As everybody knows, being raised Catholic with half a brain means becoming an atheist.
  • Living too long in New York does that to a girl, gives her the false sense that the world is full of interesting people. Or at least people who are crazy in an interesting way.
  • Violet once told me, "Change is the goal. Insight is the booby prize." She was right, of course.

Christopher Healy reminds me of Robert Asprin, down to the affable cover art.
  • When facing unbeatable odds, just think of yourself as unbeatably odd. (The Hero's Guide to Being a Hero)
  • No one is defined by a single act," Frederic said. "Whether it was years ago or weeks ago. We're all given chances to change, to make up for things we've done wrong. It's how we handle those opportunities that really matters.
  • When writing down a plan, I suggest numbering the steps. But just in case your plan falls into enemy hands, make sure you number them in the wrong order.
  • It's still a cowl," Frederic grumbled (few things could cause him to summon up his inner courage like improper word usage).
  • a shish kabob of kingdoms
  • Gustav kicked the table. “Never mind, I’m out,” he grumbled. “But, Gustav,” Ella said. “You might still get the chance to punch someone.” “All right, I’m back in.”
2017-05-08 07:06 pm

"The White Road: Journey into an Obsession"

There's a lot more clammy heat in this book than in Edmund de Waal's previous one on netsuke. It's more about making than possessing.
  • Pinch a walnut-sized piece between thumb and forefingers until it is as thin as paper until the whorls of your fingers emerge. Keep pinching. It feels endless. You feel it will get thinner and thinner until it is as thin as a gold leaf and lifts into the air. And it feels clean. Your hands feel cleaner after you have used it. It feels white.
  • I want poems that compare white porcelains to smoke coiling up from a chimney, or from incense on an alter, or mist from a valley, or, at the very least, an egret in a paddy field poised.
  • There are the pleasures of being envied and the pleasures of being feared and the pleasures of looking down on a sea of new possessions but of all the pleasures. More is the only thing that works.
  • The connoisseurs sniff, categorise, rank, price, demote.
  • Celadons, the colour caught between green and blue, get sky after rain, and kingfishers, and iced water, all of which are lyrical.
  • “In many natural objects, whiteness refiningly enhances beauty, as if imparting some special virtue of its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls,” Herman Melville wrote.
  • “The Auroras of Autumn” by Wallace Stevens: being visible is being white, / Is being of the solid white, the accomplishment / Of an extremist in an exercise….
  • If you make God in your own image, then William's God is an interested God. Not kind, perhaps, too many bereavements have knocked away that pietism, but good on detail, and definitely good on surprise.
  • All emperors look like Dorothy L. Sayers, legs planted firmly apart, hands on lap, solid, unknowable.
Of a necessity, there's a lot about doings of autocratic rulers:
  • Augustus II, elector of Saxony, an omnivorous collector of both mistresses and china, wrote, “The same is true for oranges as for porcelain, that once one has the sickness of one or the other, one can never get enough of the things and wishes to have more and more.”
  • The tale here comes very close to fairy story. There are tests, kilns, firing, failures. The boy is imprisoned, and then freed on condition he keep good his promise to transmute clay. Tschirnhaus invents large lenses capable of concentrating enough heat to melt Chinese porcelain. Between them, after years of error, they manage to produce one white translucent cup, whereupon Tschirnhaus dies.
  • Louis XIV built a porcelain pavillion for his mistress. In it, they made love: "in a Chinese bed below a ceiling painted with Chinese birds."
  • In 1909, someone writing on behalf of the boy emperor, then five years old, requests “one white porcelain vase, four white porcelain ju vessels, one white porcelain bowl, and twelve large white porcelain dishes. The vessels will be placed in front of the portrait of the late Empress Xiao Qin Xian for ritual purposes.” A response to another request arrives two years later, and it is the last imperial correspondence regarding porcelain—a staggering detail, when one realizes that such letters were exchanged for more than a millennium. Here, de Waal paraphrases: “It says that we received your letter, but we cannot fulfill a demand for one hundred seven-inch dishes glazed in sacrificial red. We no longer have the skills. So we are sending a hundred white dishes with red dragons on them.” <> “A thousand years of imperial porcelain ends on this,” De Waal writes. “For the first time in decades I feel like a cigarette.”
  • The emperor Zhu Di, who seized the imperial throne in a bloody act of usurpation in 1402, slaughtering hundreds of relatives in the process, was so fascinated by its purity he commissioned a towering pagoda of white porcelain brick that rose nine storeys and was celebrated as one of the wonders of the world.
  • The last section in which the author's pilgrimage to the lands and people who make porcelain takes him to Dachau where he uncovers the dark history of Allach porcelain.
Reviews are respectful but mixed, which align with my takeaways from this book:
  • He applies it to delicious effect in the strongest section of “The White Road,” which describes the travails of Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus — student of Spinoza, friend of Newton and Leibniz — as he rattled around Europe seeking an aristocrat to fund his research: “If you are interested in optics or mineralogy or funding a dictionary of philosophy, you are lucky to get two minutes of the attention of a margrave who lives for killing stags or boar in inventive ways.”
  • De Waal juxtaposes Cookworthy’s small-time ­efforts to fire the stuff with the enterprises of Josiah Wedgwood, the potentate of English pottery, who sent a factotum all the way to a mountain in the Cherokee Nation in the Carolinas to retrieve five tons of white clay.
  • De Waal is concerned also with ownership; and the undertow is one of misery and forced labour on the part of those who will never own anything much.
  • De Waal can tease a lot of atmosphere out of the most unprepossessing archival research — an imperial order for “hundreds of shallow dishes for narcissi” leads him to “imagine walking down one of those endless corridors in the Forbidden City, a paced rhythm of steps and scent.” He’s not, however, a natural travel writer, and the many places he visits flicker past without making much of an impression, backdrops to his perpetual agitation.
  • There was something almost holy in his earnestness: any holier and The Hare with Amber Eyes would have lost its poise and toppled into piety.
  • There emerged a robust market of export ware: porcelain exclusively made in China for Europe. Today, one can still marvel at the strange game of decorative, Orientalist telephone that this development created. A porcelain ewer has the seal of Portugal painted across its bulbous body in mild blue brushstrokes—except the seal is upside down.
2017-05-01 06:36 pm


马克李维的短小说,让我想起《解忧杂货店》 —— 同样有精巧的脑洞,同样写小人物的悲欢离合,同样温情治愈。
  • 他的问题让我陷入沉思,我徒劳无功地在脑中把问题翻来覆去,想了又想,还是想不出我有任何一点儿天分。然后我突然明白,为何爸妈在我早读六个月这件事上这么执著:因为我没有其他可以让他们为儿子骄傲的地方啊!
  • “自然老师快急疯了,他已经准备要展开大规模搜索,我跟他说我一定会找到你。打猎时,我爸总是不停地说我天生只会找到劣等猎物,我终于相信他说对了。喂,快点啦,你真该看看自己的蠢样,我确定我要是再等一会儿才出现,铁定会看到你像个爱哭鬼一样挂着两行眼泪!”
  • 爱情,莫非像影子一样,有人踩中了,就带着离去?还是因为爱情跟影子一样怕光,又或者,情况正好相反,没有了光,爱情的影子就被拭去,最终黯然 .

  • “人们连他人都不会关心了,更何况他人的影子……而且,我生来就懂得隐身暗处,只要靠着一点练习和一点默契,我们一定能成功的。“
  • 能看穿对方跟你说违心话,这才是朋友,不是吗?
  • 我把衣服换下,把领带放回衣柜,希望自己接下来的几个月不要长得太快,这样的话,爸爸来接我时,我的漂亮衣服还是可以穿得上。
  • 想想看,要捏造一封未曾谋面的妈妈写的信,他的心里隐藏着多少悲伤啊。妈妈的存在就像一口深不见底的井,一口无法被填满的悲伤之井,而伊凡只能以杜撰出来的信,为这口井封上盖子。
  • “正是如此,”影子接着说,仿佛已读出我的心思,“为每一个你所偷来的影子找到点亮生命的小小光芒,为它们找回隐匿的记忆拼图,这便是我们对你的全部请托。”
  • 清晨,当我睁开眼睛,看到妈妈的信放在床头柜上,而爸爸的照片则放在床头灯下,这是六个月来第一次,我们三个聚集在我的房间里。<> 妈妈的这封信是全世界最美的信,它属于我并且永远为我所有。但我还有一项重要的任务要完成,为了这个原因,我得把这封信与他人分享。虽然妈妈被我蒙在鼓里,但我相信她一定会谅解我的。
  • 新的信和原来那封看起来简直一模一样,一封几可乱真的信,就像妈妈的信和信的影子。我自己留了妈妈的原信正本。
  • 每次都一样,一部分的自我遗落在离开的人身上,就像爱情的忧愁,这是友谊的愁绪。千万不要跟别人产生牵绊,风险太大了。
  • 克蕾儿会在空中写字、写诗,伊丽莎白根本一点儿都比不上她。爸爸常说永远不要把人拿来比较,每个人都与众不同,重要的是要找到最适合自己的差异性。克蕾儿就是我的差异性。
  • 克蕾儿会以左腕的细微波动来刻画波浪,再以起伏的右手来呈现大型帆船在海面上来回穿梭的情景。当夕阳西斜,她用两手的拇指和食指圈成虚拟的太阳,从我背后滑下,然后她大提琴般的笑声就占据了整个空间。
  • 规则能让那些没有想象力的人安心,这实在很蠢!
  • “我是班代表,即使这个班已经四散,我们还是持续关注着你,影子老去的方式和人不同。
  • 一天晚上,我们偶然同时出现在艾丽斯家,她向我们提出了一个颇为惊人的论点:“与其生孩子,再尽全力把他们养大,还不如领养成年的大人,至少知道自己在跟谁打交道。像你们两个,我立刻就会选择领养你们。”
  • 谢谢你带我去看海,谢谢你给了我这意外的两天。我知道如果我骗你,告诉你我很幸福,你会相信。但我做不到。最难过的是看到你和我在一起,你却显得如此孤单。我不怪你,但我认为我并没有做错什么而需要遭受这样的惩罚,成为隐身在门后的女人。我觉得我们还是普通朋友时你更有吸引力,我不想失去最好的朋友,我太需要他的温柔和真诚。我必须找回从前的你。
  • “我明天不上班,我会到医院拿一些抗生素,然后帮你拿去给音乐学院的警卫,我会趁机试试看能不能探听到更多消息。”吕克承诺。

  • 苏菲每次都会把其中提及我的几行给我看,吕克总是致歉说没有时间写信给我,但我知道这是他的方式,好让我知道他和苏菲的书信往来。
  • “我昨天失去了妈妈,她从来没向我提过她的病情,而今晚,我在阁楼里找到她之前藏起来的我爸爸写给我的信。人们一旦开始说谎,就再也不知如何停止。”
  • “一个拒绝长大的男人,一个被你解放自由的学校警卫,又或是在你需要朋友时虚构出来的影子,全都取决于你的定义。
  • 在城市的天空里,她用纸老鹰画出大大的S和无数个完美的8。克蕾儿向来擅长在空中写诗,当我终于看懂她写的句子时,我读出:“我想你。”
2017-04-25 11:40 am

"Basin and Range"

It's beyond dizzying, when the zoom is pulled waaaaay back like this.
  • It is not unknown for a geological textbook to include snatches of the poem. It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind). That each by observation Might satisfy his mind. {盲人摸象~}
  • the science seems for the moment more imaginative than descriptive. Where it is solid, it is imaginative enough. Geologists are famous for picking up two or three bones and sketching an entire and previously unheard-of creature into a landscape long established in the Picture. They look at mud and see mountains, in mountains oceans, in oceans mountains to be.
  • “If you go down into the earth here to a depth that about equals the width of one of these fault blocks, the temperature is halfway between absolute zero and the melting point of the rock. The crust is brittle above that point and plastic below it. Where the brittleness ends is the bottom of the tilting fault block, which rests—floats, if you like—in the hot and plastic, slowly flowing lower crust and upper mantle. I think this is why the ranges are so rhythmic. The spacing between them seems to be governed by their depth—the depth of the cold brittle part of the crust.
  • The Humboldt River, blue and full, was flowing toward us, with panes of white ice at its edges, sage and green meadow beside it, and dry russet uplands rising behind. I said I thought that was lovely. He said yes, it was lovely indeed, it was one of the loveliest angular unconformities I was ever likely to see.
  • To make the rock of that lower formation and then tilt it up and wear it down and deposit sediment on it to form the rock above would require an immense quantity of time, an amount that was expressed in the clean, sharp line that divided the formations—the angular unconformity itself. You could place a finger on that line and touch forty million years.
  • Black is regarded as the discoverer of carbon dioxide. He is one of the great figures in the history of chemistry. Hutton and Black were among the founders of an institution called the Oyster Club, where they whiled away an evening a week with their preferred companions—Adam Smith, David Hume, John Playfair, John Clerk, Robert Adam, Adam Ferguson, and, when they were in town, visitors from near and far such as James Watt and Benjamin Franklin.
  • Some creatures, on the other hand, had appeared suddenly, had evolved quickly, had become both abundant and geographically widespread, and then had died out, or died down, abruptly. Geologists canonized them as “index fossils” and studied them in groups. Experience proved that the surest method of working out relative ages of rock was not through individual creatures but through the relating of successive strata to whole collections of creatures whose fossils were contained therein—a painstaking comparison of arrivals and extinctions that helped to characterize the divisions of the time scale and define its boundaries with precision.
  • the Paleozoic era. It was a unit—well below the surface but far above the bottom—just hanging there suspended in the formless pelagics of time.
  • Like the general run of meteorites, an Apollo Object could be expected to contain a percentage of iridium and other platinum-like metals at least a thousand times greater than the concentration of the same metals in the crust of the earth. In widely separated parts of the world—Italy, Denmark, New Zealand—the Berkeley researchers found a thin depositional band, often just a centimetre thick, that contains unearthly concentrations of iridium. Below that sharp line are abundant Cretaceous fossils, and above it they are gone.
  • the Mesozoic, an era of burgeoning creation within deadly brackets of time.
  • The opossum may be Cretaceous, certain clams Devonian, and oysters Triassic, but for each and every oyster in the sea, it seems, there is a species gone forever.
  • “This stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect.
  • It was at some moment in the Pleistocene that humanity crossed what the geologist-theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the Threshold of Reflection,
  • Seeing a race unaware of its own instantaneousness in time, they can reel off all the species that have come and gone, with emphasis on those that have specialized themselves to death.
  • “A million years is a short time—the shortest worth messing with for most problems. You begin tuning your mind to a time scale that is the planet’s time scale. For me, it is almost unconscious now and is a kind of companionship with the earth.”
  • “If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever.”
  • the “early late-middle Mississippian.” To say “middle Mississippian” might do, but with millions of years in the middle Mississippian there is an evident compunction to be more precise.
  • I put two nickels in a slot machine and got two nickels back. The result was a certain radiance of mood.
  • “Silver is our most depleted resource, because it gave itself away,” said Deffeyes, looking mournful. “You didn’t need a Ph.D. in geology to find a supergene enrichment.”
  • he appeared to be the Gnome of Princeton, with evident ambition to escalate to Zurich.
  • And so he had invented and machined a corer that would tap clear-plastic tubing gingerly into the earth with a micropiledriver made of nonmagnetic {洛阳铲?}
  • So by looking at the paleomagnetic compasses in rock you can tell not only whether the magnetic pole was in the north or south when the rock formed but also—from the more subtle positions of the needles—the latitude of the rock at the time it formed.”
  • Curves based on Paleozoic and Triassic rock in North America and in Europe looked much alike but, oddly, stood separate in the way that a single line will appear to be double in inebriate vision. The gap corresponds to the present width of the Atlantic Ocean. The opening of the Atlantic began in the Triassic.
  • Eurasian Plate, a large part of which used to be known as the (heaven help us) China Plate.
  • much to help lift it twenty thousand feet. Seafloor—ocean crust—is dense enough to go down a trench, but continents are too light, too buoyant.
  • The mountains are in some trouble. India has not stopped pushing them, and they are still going up. Their height and volume are already so great they are beginning to melt in their own self-generated radioactive heat.
  • If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone.
  • The huge body of sediment would one day be lifted far above sea level and dissected by weather and wrinkled into mountains in the way that the skin of an apple wrinkles as the apple grows old and dry.
  • The whole of plate tectonics, a story of steady-state violence along boundaries, was being brought to light largely as a result of the development of instruments of war. Earthquakes “focus” where earth begins to move,
  • The profile of the spreading center in the ocean bottom off Oregon seemed remarkably familiar to someone who had done his thesis field work in Nevada. It appeared to be, in miniature, a cross section of the Basin and Range. The new crust, spreading out, had broken into fault blocks and had become a microcosm of the Basin and Range, because both were expressions of the same cause.
2017-04-24 11:36 am

"Basin and Range"

John McPhee's love of unusual words is on ample display here.
  • The mantle below the crust—exciting and excited by these events—would send up fillings of fluid rock, and with such pressure behind them that they could intrude between horizontal layers of, say, shale and sandstone and lift the country a thousand feet. The intrusion could spread laterally through hundreds of square miles, becoming a broad new layer—a sill—within the country rock.
  • she says, turning the sample in her hand. With a smaller hammer, she tidies it up, like a butcher trimming a roast. With a felt-tip pen, she marks it “1.” Moving along the cut, she points out xenoliths—blobs of the country rock that fell into the magma and became encased there like raisins in bread.
  • The sea is not all that responds to the moon. Twice a day the solid earth bobs up and down, as much as a foot. That kind of force and that kind of distance are more than enough to break hard rock. Wells will flow faster during lunar high tides.
  • “Roadcuts can be a godsend. There’s a series of roadcuts near Pikeville, Kentucky—very big ones—where you can see distributary channels in a riverdelta system, with natural levees, and with splay deposits going out from the levees into overbank deposits of shales and coal. It’s a face-on view of the fingers of a delta, coming at you—
  • “We as geologists are fortunate to live in a period of great road building.”
  • In no manner would one wish to mitigate the importance of the Eastern scene. Undeniably, though, the West is where the rocks are—the vastnesses of exposed rock—
  • There are mountains now behind you, mountains before you, mountains that are set on top of mountains, a complex score of underthrust, upthrust, overthrust mountains, at the conclusion of which, through another canyon, you come into the Basin and Range.
  • Triassic rock is not exclusively red, but much of it is red all over the world—red in the shales of New Jersey, red in the sandstones of Yunan, red in the banks of the Volga, red by the Sol-way Firth. Triassic redbeds, as they are called, are in the dry valleys of Antarctica, the red marls of Worcestershire,.. not merely weathered red on the surface, like the great Red-wall Limestone of the Grand Canyon, which is actually gray.
  • All over the world, so much carbon was buried in Pennsylvanian time that the oxygen pressure in the atmosphere quite possibly doubled... but what could the oxygen do? Where could it go? After carbon, the one other thing it could oxidize in great quantity was iron—abundant, pale-green ferrous iron, which exists everywhere
  • mountains rammed into thin air, with snow banners flying off the matterhorns, ridges, crests, and spurs.
  • There was fatigued rock and incompetent rock and inequigranular fabric in rock.
  • The inclination of a slope on which boulders would stay put was the angle of repose.
  • The far-out stuff was in the Far West of the country—wild, weirdsma, a leather-jacket geology in mirrored shades, with its welded tuffs and Franciscan mélange (internally deformed, complex beyond analysis), its strike-slip faults and falling buildings, its boiling springs and fresh volcanics, its extensional disassembling of the earth.
  • Meteoric water, with study, turned out to be rain. It ran downhill in consequent, subsequent, obsequent, resequent, and not a few insequent streams.
  • They say granodiorite when they are in church and granite the rest of the week.
  • Deffeyes is a big man with a tenured waistline.
  • he appears to be less attached to any one part of the story than to the entire narrative of geology in its four-dimensional recapitulations of space and time.
  • It is geologically shrewd. It was the route of animal migrations, and of human history that followed. It avoids melodrama, avoids the Grand Canyons, the Jackson Holes, the geologic operas of the country, but it would surely be a sound experience of the big picture, of the history, the construction, the components of the continent. And in all likelihood it would display in its roadcuts rock from every epoch and era.
  • The whole region, very evidently, was the bottom of a lake, for a lake itself is by definition a sign of poor drainage, an aneurysm in a river, a highly temporary feature on the land.
  • ‘Zeolite’ means ‘the stone that boils.’ If you take one small zeolite crystal, of scarcely more than a pinhead’s diameter, and heat it until the water has come out, the crystal will have an internal surface area equivalent to a bedspread. Zeolites are often used to separate one kind of molecule from another. They can, for example, sort out molecules for detergents, choosing the ones that are biodegradable. They love water. In refrigerators, they are used to adsorb water that accidently gets into the Freon.
  • When William Wyler made The Big Country, there was a climactic chase scene in which the bad guy was shot and came clattering down a canyon wall in what appeared to be a shower of clinoptilolite. Geologists were on the phone to Wyler at once. ‘Loved your movie. Where was that canyon?’
  • What we are looking at here in New Jersey is not just some little geologic feature, like a zeolite crystal. This is the opening of the Atlantic. If you want to see happening right now what happened here two hundred million years ago, you can see it all in Nevada.”
  • Deffeyes remarks. “The faunas in the high ranges here are quite distinct from one to another. Animals are isolated like Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos. These ranges are truly islands.”
  • Mountains are not somehow created whole and subsequently worn away. They wear down as they come up, and these mountains have been rising and eroding in fairly even ratio for millions of years—rising and shedding sediment steadily through time, always the same, never the same, like row upon row of fountains.
  • So in the mountains’ contest with erosion they gained in one moment about twenty thousand years. These mountains do not rise like bread. They sit still for a long time and build up tension, and then suddenly jump.
  • This Nevada topography is what you see during mountain building. There are no foothills. It is all too young. It is live country. This is the tectonic, active, spreading, mountain-building world. To a nongeologist, it’s just ranges, ranges, ranges.”
  • The crust of the Great Basin has broken into blocks. The blocks are not, except for simplicity’s sake, analogous to dominoes. They are irregular in shape. They more truly suggest stretch marks.
  • As the developing Sierra made its skyward climb—as it went on up past ten and twelve and fourteen thousand feet—it became so predominant that it cut off the incoming Pacific rain, cast a rain shadow (as the phenomenon is called) over lush, warm, Floridian and verdant Nevada. Cut it off and kept it dry.
  • happens to find there—silver, tungsten, copper, gold. An ore-deposit map and a hot-springs map will look much the same. Seismic waves move slowly through hot rock. The hotter the rock, the slower the waves. Nowhere in the continental United States do seismic waves move more slowly than they do beneath the Basin and Range.
  • The heat and the pressure are so great down there that the silt is turning into siltstone, the sand into sandstone, the mud into shale.
  • Piano wire. Look under the hood of a well-tuned Steinway and you are looking at strings that could float a small continent. They are rigid, but ever so slowly they will sag, will slacken, will deform and give way, with the exact viscosity of the earth’s mantle.
  • There is an entire nation in Europe that is upside down. It is not a superpower, but it is a whole country nonetheless—San Marino, overturned.
  • randomly exposed former seafloors and basaltic dikes, entombed rivers and veins of gold, volcanic spewings and dunal sands—chaotic, concatenated shards of time.
  • It was so thick—as much as three hundred metres thick—that crystals formed slowly in the cooling glass. “When you bury a countryside in that much rock so hot it welds, that is the ultimate environmental catastrophe,”
  • the water shrank back past Erie size and kept on shrinking and turning more and more chemical and getting smaller and shallower and shallower and smaller and near the end of its days became the Great Salt Lake.
  • In a sense, there was no beach. The basin flatness just ran to the lake and kept on going, wet. The angle formed at the shoreline appeared to be about 179.9 degrees.
  • It was sand that had formed in the lake. Just as raindrops are created around motes of dust, oolites form around bits of rock so tiny that in wave-tossed water they will stir up and move. They move, and settle, move, and settle. And while they are up in the water calcium carbonate forms around them in layer after layer, building something like a pearl.
  • And now in the autumn snow, Deffeyes and I could see shoreline terraces of Lake Bonneville a thousand feet above us on mountain slopes. That a lake so deep had been brought down to a present average depth of thirteen feet was food for melancholia.
  • Under a wind, playa lakes move like puddles of mercury in motion on a floor—two or three hundred square miles of water on the move, here today, there tomorrow
  • Salt gets into fence posts and explodes them at the base.
  • When the drivers of jet cars move at Mach .8 over the Bonneville Salt Flats, they feel that they are always about to crest a hill.
  • Enter the strange companionship of oil and salt. Oil also moves after it forms. You never find it where God put it. It moves great distances through permeable rock. ... If, however, the oil moves upward through inclined sandstone and then hits a wall of salt, it stops, and stays—trapped. Run a little drill down the side of a salt dome and when you hit “sand” it may be full of oil.
2017-04-18 03:55 pm


__ 山王庄的小香瓜很精巧,象古代武将用的铜锤。金黄瓜皮上,一牙一楞凹进去,用一只芦苇子顺着小格楞划下去,可均匀分成数等份。瓤子如同香蜜,可以直接喝进去。
__ 列位看官!不知道你们吃过撑瓜没有?长条形,金黄色,成熟后摘回来。一切两半,放在饭锅上蒸,蒸熟后把一双筷子伸进去搅,故名“搅瓜”。搅出来的丝象粉丝或者米线一样,透明的。然后再放盐、蒜泥、熬好的香油,是夏季很好的一味凉拌菜。 {spagetti squash!!}
__ 这种一震即破的瓜最好吃,瓜瓤极嫩,入口就化了,没有一点絮的感觉。也没有一般西瓜那种入口的丝络感。

__ 水面有鱼的泼刺声,新生的香蒲散发着脉脉的香气。荷叶从水里钻出来,绿中带点暗红。叶子卷得很玲珑。
__ 山被一层黛色裹住了,云从山脚下蒸腾起来,山被一层一层抬高了。远处的山象云端的大城,巍然峨然。山脚下农舍屋顶上冒出了炊烟。这些烟直直升上来,在高处遇上了风,就和其它人家烟囱冒出的烟纠缠到一起。然后又决然分开。最后越来越薄,和远处黛色混合到一起

__ 自己舍不得吃也要给孩子带上,穷家富路。
__ 长缸豆泡了最下饭,一碗饭一根长缸豆搭在饭上,两边各长出一截。以后再偷,我就喊:知青!偷菜了——
__ 牛爱干净,把腿叉开。做个势子。扑通!扑通!在地上做个宝塔。牧童儿翻身从牛背上下来,趁着滚热的,撮将起来。过去太行山那边放牛的牧童,冬天没有鞋。看牛一拉,赶紧把脚踩进去,能得一会暖乎劲。

__ 他跟我们比力气时,只伸出两只胳膊由我们攀上,一边一个转圈,一扔就把我们扔出去了。大家把舌头都晾在空气中,倒吸一口凉气,心想哥哥啊,你该不是李元霸托生的吧?
__ 打到第六回时,张为民的怒火像火山一样爆发了。他把谢老师的手一下子拧到后面,屈起他那捣蒜小擂子一样的手指头,在谢老师头上像敲木鱼一样狂敲起来。谢老师负痛不过,嘴里喊:“张为民!你放不放手?不放手开除你!”张为民只一个劲地擂,擂痛快了才放手。这就叫卷堂大乱,跟鲁智深闹了五台山的禅林一样。

__ 等了好长时间没看到人来,心里恨得毒毒的,
__ 虽然有小驴,拉沙也是一件很重的活儿。特别是从江堤下把一车重载的沙拖上来,人畜合力要用到极致。可怜的小驴把头快勾到地上了,人把背车的挽带绷得笔直,人驴俱俯。后背上衣服早已泛出盐花,小腿上青筋凸出,簌簌地抖动。
__ 星星一颗一颗地在天上跳出来,像一个个小人,喊到一声就往外一跳。只觉得天好大,船好小,人更小。人在江上,反而话少。看着船舷外汤汤的流水,风如夜游的哨兵轻轻卷动着船上的三角形旗子,甩打甩打的。
__ 秋天,长江水浅下去,许多地方露出了河床。轮船靠近江边时像一只找不到鸡窝的鸡,在曲折的航道中穿来穿去才能靠岸。
__ 长江和县这边一到秋天麻雀特别多,麻雀像云一样从江南移到江北。麻雀知道哪里有吃的,江北的田里刚割完稻谷,麻雀像一阵急雨,从这块地倾泻到另外一块地里。

__ 他说我在故宫博物院看到一架宋琴就那么平放着,很心疼。陈列文物的人一定是个外行,古琴一定要挂起来,还要常常抚,越抚琴音越好听。
__ 他说过去在南通小城里都有个画会、诗社、琴社或者春秋雅集什么的,后来都慢慢消失了。一种社会结构没有了,伴生着的文化自然也就消亡了。自清人入关一次浩劫,然后就一路紧锣密鼓地下来,每一劫毁坏一些东西。

__ 这位画家是蒙马特高地出名的美男子,鬈发,高鼻梁。母亲是意大利人,父亲是犹太人。而且他本人还是结核病患者,尤其美,到了下午,会双腮发红,眼睛灼灼发光。这是一种垂死的美,女人最迷这个了。
__ 一个社会闲人多了或者少了,起来都不像一个正常的社会。记得我小时,夏天时候长街上晚饭后有弹月琴的,也有拉二胡的,孩子们在凉床间追打游戏。那时中国人有很多悠闲的时光,虽然穷,但不像现在这么火上房似的,现在是没来由地急。贫穷的时光中,如果米桶里还能刮出一碗米来,也不妨在夜深人静时铺张一回爱情。
__ 她就隔着窗子把花一枝一枝地扔进去了,后来碰到莫迪利亚尼,他很惊讶,他说:“你摆的花可真美,怎么进去的,有钥匙吗?”阿赫玛托娃真不愧诗人本色,偶然间扔一扔都是诗。

__ 世界之大,哪儿没有死皮赖脸的人,比如说:“齐老先生添条虾吧!”“齐先生您受累!多画条鱼吧,我内人最喜欢鱼了!”齐先生也不话,只是斜着看来客一眼,又不好当场驳人的面子,慢慢把笔墨,沉吟半晌,一笔、两笔,鱼、虾、蟹自画面跃然而出,但都不大精神,看着好像离水好几天,要翻肚子的样子。客人不解地问:这虾怎么看着像死虾?”齐老先生坐在圈椅中说:“活虾子市面上多贵啊!”主客心到神知,一拍两散。
__ 给我印象比较深的是一张包鞋纸上,有“内联升”的红色印记,齐老先生在上面画了一个持弓搭箭的人,旁边注明画时执弓的手要下移一寸还是多少,我忘记了。
__ 后来还是徐悲鸿去做工作,他才勉强强从画台的“消息”里掏出几卷画出来。他是细木匠出身,在画台里做几个暗格或者小抽斗之类的“消息”那还不是驾轻就熟。
__ 黄永玉、李可染他们老问齐白石先生如何把画画好。这个问题真是让人很烦哎!这问题真没办法能用语言说明白。齐老先生画了一辈子,就知道怎么把画画好,因为他画不坏!这问题真是要人亲命了,他们还死问,又不能直接跟他们说:“我就是天纵之才!”话不能这么说啊!齐老先生只好把笔举到空中,拿眼睛死盯着看了一会儿,慢慢说:“笔不要掉下来!”这话如同一偈,你怎么理解都行。于是两人笔不掉下来地死画,各有各造化。

__ 他的学生也学他,牙齿、舌头全黑糊糊的,像孔煤窑似的。有一次我跟其中的一个人吃饭,我就他的理想,假如发达了你怎么办?他说花钱雇个人站旁边,画画的时候把毛笔伸他嘴里舔笔,比如:“哎!张嘴!”但到目前为止,他还在自己嘴里舔笔。我本人也只有画非常工细的草虫翅膀的时候,把毛笔伸到嘴里去。否则画的墨线在生宣上极易洇开。
__ 明代的董其昌只用砚中心新磨的一点墨,笔要新发的。
__ 这种墨法他本人称之为“宿墨法”。不过天气热的时候墨中的骨胶会发酵,散发出一股恶臭。现在有许多画画的人也喜欢用宿墨法,渐成一种流行。画展上只好掩鼻而过,如入鲍鱼之肆。自从黄老先生用宿墨法以后,算是开了先河。

__ 刚有电视机那会儿,萧老喜欢瞧京戏,家人就给买了一台。开戏了!老人家高兴极了,把全家人喊来看,看到唱得精彩的地方就鼓掌叫好,跟在现场瞧戏一样。承霭、承震他们白天要工作,就先去睡了。老人家早上起来脸色就不好,说他们不懂规矩,说人家演员在台上演多累呀!你们不等人家谢幕就走了真是不懂礼数!原来他在为这个跟家人生闷气。

__ 有个弄考古的朋友,她说汉唐石狮子的头是昂昂然的,然后一步一步向低向下,到了清代机巧百出,石狮子精巧得如同趴儿狗一般,这且不说,还要让它爪子里弄着球,早前那种仰天而歌、浑然天成的气势丧失殆尽。所有伟大的时代都有一个小宇宙在烈烈燃烧。中国历史长,杀伐也多,小宇宙比较旺的人就比较容易死,剩下一批元气不大旺的或者弱萎的人群,繁殖后代,散枝开叶,然后就比较容易存活!
__ 罗梭说了几句拉斐尔的画不好,他的学生就要组团来杀他,吓得罗梭赶紧跑路了。瓦萨里喜欢留长指甲,加上喜欢男风,跟徒弟玛诺同睡,夜里身上痒就用手挠,结果挠到玛诺的腿上,玛诺就天天拿着刀追着师傅要捅死他。

__ 画家莫迪利亚尼穷得连雕塑的材料也买不起,夜里偷偷跑到铁路工地偷人家的枕木。枕木太重,莫迪利亚尼是个结核病患者,黄皮寡瘦,他也扛不动,只好坐在枕木上雕,挥一刀,咳几声,吐半口血。天亮了,筑路工人来了,莫迪利亚尼被惊跑了。筑路工人看着歪七扭八的枕木,心疼!看看还能用,也就将就着给埋在地下了。现在这枕木如果从地下起出来,该多值钱呀!

__ 学佛、学禅第一要义是学做人,与人为善。悟不悟的还看各人缘法,被打得鼻青眼肿的都不是好和尚。

__ 王朔在小说《看上去很美》中曾说:这种拳一般流行于幼儿园中,打这种拳,讲究的是打拳的小朋友眼睛紧闭,双拳握紧,两条胳膊以肩为圆心,向前乱抡圆圈,远看就像乌龟爬坡爬不上去乱蹬的那个样子。这种拳一般不以击中目标为目的,主要是以一种盲目的抡拳动作在气势上威吓对你有攻击企图的小朋友。如果打拳者在使出这种拳法的时候伴以大声哭叫,更可以极大地增加威吓对方的力量。
__ 左宗棠有一次闹待遇,在征伊犁的路上,忽然给皇上呈一表,说要回去参加秋闱。皇上没办法,给他一个赐同进士出身。这个事情后来被一班正途出身的人差点没挖苦死。

__ 觉睡不好,就会悲观,想打架,想咬人,想跳墙,一会儿嗒然如丧,一会儿沸反盈天。

__ 老头说做斋菜难,唱戏的腔,厨子的汤。做素菜最难是吊汤。他给我说过斋菜要用黄豆芽和菇子煨汤,煨的时候把砂罐放在最小的火头上,保持一息之火,似有似无地炖上一两天。他显过一手艺,做过一道素鱼,紫菜做的鱼皮,确实鲜嫩无比。
__ 齐如山先生说过去讲究的大馆子,厨子要知道客人坐的位置,然后以此来判定每道菜的火头大小。

__ 其实读书也要有一种机缘,小的时候如果缘好,一下子读进一本与自己性情相符的书,会养成一种口味。也不要太多太滥,一两本就好了。因为这个时候读书像庙里哑和尚撞钟,一杵是一杵,声音受用一生。
__ 躺在床上,看到窗外天上一朵云,也是孤独寂寞,云就停在窗外不动,看着看着,就在原地消散了,状如一个人的死亡。这时没来由地怕死,把毛巾毯子拉到自己下巴的地方,眼睛四下看,身上汗如浆。中午外面的蝉叫成一片,叫累了歇下来,静得能听到家里座钟一格一格地走针。
__ 一个人如果到图书馆去看看,是根本不想写书的。那里是书的国,一座迷宫,是文字的火葬场。坐拥书城,会把真实的人生丧尽。
__ 好的文字是浑成的,没办法去分析它,比如李后主的劈空一句:“春花秋月何时了,往事知多少?”动也动不得。“砌下落梅如雪乱,拂了一身还满。”明知道还要落,为什么还要拂?此便是人世。
__ 不在读书上附加什么意义,就是读书的所有意义。书店里写发财术的书全是穷鬼写的。读书就是一种爱好,像抽烟喝酒叉麻将。爱好有什么办法呢?只好愿赌服输,只求不要满盘皆输就好了。

__ 旧文人写字,笔不是全发开的,只开一半,这样笔头有支撑,写起来很得力。