Wrong, Wrong, Uncertainly Right

Flickr.com: '041/365 - Skeptical,' by Artamir78 on Flickr

[Image: “041/365 – Skeptical,” by Artamir78 on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license; thank you!)]

From whiskey river:

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another’s interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that—well, lucky you.

(Philip Roth [source])


Theories of Personal Identity

The photograph;
the past life;
the long lost
black sheep who’s become
the shoe that fits.
The ghost town,
a.k.a. the rummage bin,
that old sweet song.
The suitcase; the hotel
room; the surprise
box lunch; the plain
brown wrapper. The umbrella
someone opened in the house.
The alphabet, or perhaps
I mean a river, or a well.
The skeleton in the closet.
The writing on the wall.
The telltale heart.

(Jan Zwicky [source])

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Shadows Over Stuff

“It’s me. I was just calling to tell you that there is a big white cloud coming.”
Cartoon by French cartoonist Voutch, from his 2007 collection, This Is as Bad as It Gets. (Click to enlarge.)

From whiskey river:

From Here to Eternity

One day you wake up
and your life is over.
But it doesn’t mean
you have to die.
It means last October was yellower
than this, and this the yellowest
anyone can remember.
It means you have produced enough tears
to fill, to one-eighth of an inch
of the top, Lake Baikal,
and now someone would like to swim.
It means what it meant
to listen to the teacher
tell the story of Dante and Beatrice
and break down crying in the middle,
because his wife was taken away by the police
last night, you so happy
to be dismissed early
you and your pals broke out
a pack of cards on the tram.
It means you are more interested
in the shadows of objects than objects
themselves, and if asked to draw anything
you would only need charcoal
to convince the world
it is waiting, in the shadows
of things, and you will wait back.

(Mary Ruefle [source])


The sun shines, snow falls, mountains rise and valleys sink, night deepens and pales into day, but it is only very seldom that we attend to such things. When we are grasping the inexpressible meaning of these things, this is life, this is living.

(R. H. Blyth, from Haiku, Vol. 1)


Perhaps the whisper was born before lips,
And the leaves in treelessness circled and flew,
And those, to whom we impart our experience as bliss,
Acquire their forms before we do.

(Osip Mandelstam, from “Octaves: 7”  [source])

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