Via Brookline Booksmith Find Archive
I want to talk about happiness and well-being, about those rare, unexpected moments when the voice in your head goes silent and you feel at one with the world.
I want to talk about the early June weather, about harmony and blissful repose, about robins and yellow finches and bluebirds darting past the green leaves of trees.
I want to talk about the benefits of sleep, about the pleasures of food and alcohol, about what happens to your mind when you step into the light of the two o'clock sun and feel the warm embrace of air around your body.
I want to remember the cerulean dusks, the languorous, rosy dawns, the bears yelping in the woods at night.
I want to remember it all. If all is too much to ask, then some of it. No, more than some of it. Almost all. Almost all, with blanks reserved for the missing parts.
- The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster
- Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion
We had loved people we really shouldn't have loved and then married other people in order to forget our impossible loves, or we had once called out hello into the cauldron of the world and then run away before anyone could respond.
- It Was Romance, Miranda July
A couple of months after my heart attack, fifty-seven years after I'd given it up, I started to write again. I did it for myself alone, not for anyone else, and that was the difference. It didn't matter if I found the words, and more than that, I knew it would be impossible to find the right ones. And because I accepted that what I'd once believed was possible was in fact impossible, and because I knew I would never show a word of it to anyone, I wrote a sentence:
Once upon a time there was a boy.
It remained there, staring up from the otherwise blank page for days. The next week I added another. Soon there was a whole page. It made me happy, like talking alound to myself, which I sometimes do.
- The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
"So what would happen if oil and gas development goes ahead on the coastal plain?" I asked.
"If?" Roger asked. "It already has! Just look at Prudhoe Bay and the National Petroleum Reserve," he said, pointing west. "Ninety-five percent of Alaska's Arctic coast is already open or in the process of being opened to oil and gas development. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is only 5 per cent of it, and it's all that's left!" Roger paused, then remembered the question. "What would happen?" He shook his head. "In terms of caribou and birds and wolves and bears, I'm not sure. Nobody is. But there would be no question the intent of the refuge would be violated. It was meant to be the ultimate symbol of human restraint. It was meant to be left untouched. Something sacred would be desecrated ..." Roger grasped for a better way to express himself. "It would be like building a video arcade in the Sistine Chapel," he declared. "In a world filled with compromise, the refuge is one of the few sacrosanct things we have left."
- Being Caribou, Karsten Heuer
Something like 123,000 caribou migrate five months every year to arrive at the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, which is their chosen grounds for calving. Bears, wolves and birds follow the migration and depend on it for their own survival. All this has been going on for 27,000 years.
Below the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve lies a supply of oil that would fuel the United States for no more than six months. I don't even think it's worth the cost of the drilling and piping to extract it, let alone the cost of destroying a complex ecosystem. But some people do.
6 months v. 27,000 years.
How is it even a debate?
Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling. To say that so and so was born here and went there, that he did this and did that, that he married this woman and had these children, that he lived, that he died, that he left behind these books, or this battle or that bridge - none of that tells us very much. We all want to be told stories, and we listen to them in the same way we did when we were young. We imagine the real story inside the words, and to do this we substitute ourselves for the person in the story, pretending that we can understand him because we understand ourselves. This is a deception. We exist for ourselves, perhaps, and at times we even have a glimmer of who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and as our lives go on, we become more and more opague to ourselves, more and more aware of our own incoherence. No one can cross the boundary into another - for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself.
- Paul Auster, The Locked Room