The Insect World

The spring racing carnival was on. At Caulfield station the doors opened and a horde of racegoers stumbled aboard the train. They were young, raucous, the women underdressed and hanging on to mouth-breathing boys unused to wearing suits. They were mindlessly having fun and would mindlessly marry, raise families and vote. It was not contempt that Wyatt felt. He was barely curious about them. Some of them would have money one day, that was all, and he would take it away from them.

— Wyatt (2010), by Garry Disher

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (via liquidnight)

A Selection from the Posthumously Published Ernest Hemingway Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, A Very Short Death, c.1959

It was late summer and you were alone in the café. You were sipping vermouth and reading about the war. You liked the way the vermouth tasted good when you drank it with your mouth. The war was going badly.

You tapped your tired fingers on the arm of the wooden chair where you were sitting in the café when it was dark and late. You liked how the chair was made of wood.

“Oh darling, you mustn’t talk such rot,” she had said.

“I’ll kill him.”

You felt broken and drunk in the cool night and remembered the white boat on the river.

DID YOU?

a. Grit teeth and think about the war.
b. Order a brandy that overflowed and ran down the stem of the glass and think about the war.
c. Notice the electric light hanging over the empty terrace and think about the war.

— Chris McCoy and Matthew Collison

Bedtime Stories by Thom Yorke

The Happy Little Bunny

Once there was a little bunny who had a little furry tail and a little shiny nose. But the electrodeath cloud of commerce strangled it and its foxhole was converted to a parking lot, a parking lot, a parking lot. Ample parking asphalted over bunny bones. Everyone everyone everyone get in.

Hannah and Gunther

Hannah and her brother Gunther lived in a happy wooden house at the end of a windy road by the forest. Chomping tree-eating machines grinding, halting, grinding the forest destroyed the trees—birches branches Branford—to make end tables and politician luncheon plates, spin spin spin. I can’t feel my legs anymore.

Whoopsie the Clumsy Dragon

In the dragon family in the enchanted cave, there lived Mother, Father, Brother, and Whoopsie. Whoopsie tried to be like the other dragons, but anytime he tried to help he ended up making a mess. Diplomats destroy the ozone and waiting, wailing. Crawl in the hole, leap the banshee, and eat the sunlight. Tonight, tomorrow, why bother? Another. Another. I’m a grown monkey wastechain.

Everybody Enjoys Manners!

When we eat, it’s fun to have our manners eat with us! Wear your napkin on your lap and don’t hit your sister, even if she throws peas at you. Reason your reasons, razors shave the planet clean. Blood fills the rivers, clogs the tubes. I want to die, eat your ice cream.

David Hart

What did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like, it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. And, going further, what did Time look like? Time looked like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theater, one hundred billion faces falling like those New Year balloons, down and down into nothing.
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (via mycolorbook)

In these disturbed days in which we live, it has probably occurred to all thinking men that something drastic ought to be done about aunts. Speaking for myself, I have long felt that stones should be turned and avenues explored with a view to putting a stopper on the relatives in question. If someone were to come to me and say, ‘Wooster, would you be interested in joining a society I am starting whose aim will be the suppression of aunts or at least will see to it that they are kept on a short chain and not permitted to roam hither and thither at will, scattering desolation on all sides…’

— P.G. Wodehouse

History shows that a main hindrance to real progress is the ever-popular myth of the “great man.” While “greatness” may perhaps be used in a comparative sense, if even then referring more to particular qualities than to the embodied sum, the “great man” is a clay idol whose pedestal has been built up by the natural human desire to look up to someone, but whose form has been carved by men who have not yet outgrown the desire to be regarded, or to picture themselves, as great men. Many of those who gain power under present systems have much that is good in them. Few are without some good in them. But to keep their power it is easier, and seems safer, to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the people, to instinct rather than to reason, to interest rather than to right, to expediency rather than to principle. It sounds practical and may thus command respect where to speak of ideals might only arouse distrust. But in practice there is nothing more difficult than to discover where expediency lies, it is apt to lead from one expedient to another, in a vicious circle through endless knots.

— B.H. Liddell Hart

"Don’t complicate matters by assuming for me a cupidity and corruption beyond the limits I have set for myself. You’re suffering from an occupational disease. When an international financier is confronted by a holdup man with a gun, he automatically hands over not only his money and jewelry, but also his shirt and pants, because it doesn’t occur to him that a robber might draw the line somewhere."

Over My Dead Body (1939), by Rex Stout

Stars, I have seen them fall,
   But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
   From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
   Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
   And still the sea is salt.

— A.E. Housman

I to my perils
   Of cheat and charmer
   Came clad in armour
      By stars benign.
Hope lies to mortals
   And most believe her,
   But man’s deceiver
      Was never mine.

The thoughts of others
   Were light and fleeting,
   Of lovers’ meeting
      Or luck or fame.
Mine were of trouble,
   And mine were steady,
   So I was ready
      When trouble came.

— A.E. Housman