The Insect World

"The trouble with this country is that the weather is all the same. Predictable. One has to get used to it, accept it, or it can bore one to extinction." Jensen pronounced "extinction" with clarity, like an Englishman. "Today I painted an imaginary bird in flight. He flies downward. Tomorrow I shall paint two birds in one picture, one flying up, one down. They will look like opposite tulips. There are few basic shapes, you know, the egg which is a variation of the circle, the bird which resembles the fish, the tree and its branches which resemble its own roots and also the bronchii in the lungs. All the more complex forms, the key, the automobile, the typewriter, the tin-opener, are all man-made. But are they beautiful? No, they’re as ugly as man’s soul. I admit some keys are beautiful. To be beautiful, something must be stylized, that is to say streamlined, which can only be achieved through being alive for centuries of time."

The Tremor of Forgery (1969), by Patricia Highsmith

He thought suddenly of Ina, and the thought caused a throb in his body, making Ina strangely more real than she had been since he got to Europe, or Africa. He could see Ina in her office in New York now. It would be noonish. She would be reaching for a pencil, or a sheet of typewriter paper. If she had a lunch date, she would be a little late for it.

The Tremor of Forgery (1969), by Patricia Highsmith

Women who write novels face a kind of dual consciousness: they are expected to either fight against the “chick lit” stereotype by embracing arch seriousness or stereotypically masculine prose, or to embrace it under a theory of reappropriation. But they are not permitted to opt out of the question, even if it bores them…
Freddie DeBoer

In a dream I was stone …I was one of the sinners on the tympanum of the west portal of the Cathedral of St Lazare. Is this all there is? I thought. If so, nothing much can happen. But just then two gigantic stone hands gripped my head and lifted me by it and I was eye to eye with Christ. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘what have we here? It looks like a von Peng sort of sinner.’

'Delarue,' I said faintly.

'Whatever,' said Christ. From his garment he took out a much-used stone notebook and a stub of stone pencil. As he leafed through the pages it was like the riffling of tombstones. He frowned, licked the point of the stone pencil, and made a note. 'I regret to see,' he said, 'that you have done business with some people not of the best, have you not, my old?'

'That was my father, Gottfried von Peng,' I said. 'Of his business affairs I know nothing.'

Again Christ flipped through the stone pages. ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘did you inherit from him?’

'Well, yes,' I said.

'It goes,' he said. 'With the money, the sins.'

'That hardly seems fair.'

'What can I tell you?' he said with a smile. 'Would you like to hear chapter and verse of how you've spent your time and your money since coming into your inheritance? Shall we speak, for example, of lewd toys?'

'You must have a great many demands on your time,' I said. 'How can you concern yourself with such trifles?'

'There are no trifles,' said Christ. 'There are no little things; everything is big.'

The Bat Tattoo (2002), by Russell Hoban

Clinical psychology has played a uniquely central role in suggesting (and bestowing scientific legitimacy on) the idea that love and its failures must be explained by the psychic history of the individual, and that, as a result, they are within the purview of her/his control. Although the original Freudian notion of the unconscious aimed at dissolving traditional authorial notions of responsibility, in practice, psychology played a crucial role in relegating the realm of the romantic and the erotic to the individual’s private responsibility. Whether psychoanalysis and psychotherapy intended to or not, they have provided a formidable arsenal of techniques to make us the verbose but inescapable bearers of responsibility for our romantic miseries.

Why Love Hurts (2012), by Eva Illouz

The male ideal of chivalry had one cardinal stipulation: to defend the weak with courage and loyalty. The weakness of women was thus contained in a cultural system in which it was acknowledged and glorified because it transfigured male power and female fraility into lovable qualities, such as “protectiveness” for the one, and “softness” and gentleness for the other. Women’s social inferiority could thus be traded for men’s absolute devotion in love, which in turn served as the very site of display and exercise of their masculinity, prowess, and honor. More: women’s dispossession of economic and political rights was accompanied (and presumably compensated) by the reassurance that in love they were not only protected by men but also superior to them. It is therefore unsurprising that love has been historically so powerfully seductive to women; it promised them the moral status and dignity they were otherwise denied in society and it glorified their social fate: taking care of and loving others, as mothers, wives, and lovers. Thus, historically, love was highly seductive precisely because it concealed as it beautified the deep inequalities at the heart of gender relationships.

Why Love Hurts (2012), by Eva Illouz

Precisely because we live in a time where the idea of individual responsibility reigns supreme, the vocation of sociology remains vital. In the same way that at the end of the nineteenth century it was radical to claim that poverty was the result not of dubious morality or weak character, but of systematic economic exploitation, it is now urgent to claim not that the failures of our private lives are the result of weak psyches, but rather that the vagaries and miseries of our emotional life are shaped by institutional arrangements.

Why Love Hurts (2012), by Eva Illouz

She said: ‘D’you know what I think? I think people do what they have to do, and then the time comes when they can’t any more, and they crack up. And that’s that.’

'Yes,' he said, 'and perhaps I know something about cracking up too. I went through the war, you know.'

'I was twenty when the war started,' she told him. 'I rather liked the air raids…'

He leaned forward and stared at her, and she looked back at him in a heavy, bewildered, sleepy way.

'She asked me up here,' he thought. 'She asked me.'

When he kissed her, her body was soft and unresisting.

There was a subdued rumble of trains in the distance. He thought again: ‘The Great Western.’

You are thirsty, dried up with thirst, and yet you don’t know it until somebody holds up water to your mouth and says: ‘You’re thirsty, drink.’ It’s like that. You are thirsty, and you drink.

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1931), by Jean Rhys

Mostly I just kill time,” he said, “and it dies hard.
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (via liquidnight)

'People are such beasts, such mean beasts,' she said. 'They'll let you die for want of a decent word, and then they'll lick the feet of anybody they can get anything out of. And do you think I'm going to cringe to a lot of mean, stupid animals? If all good, respectable people had one face, I'd spit in it. I wish they all had one face so that I could spit in it.'

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1931), by Jean Rhys