New Used Book: The Waves by Virginia Woolf

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The Waves by Virginia Woolf

Bought this on Amazon for $4.40 and found something inside.

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Blue in Green

I thought about re-writing this, making it cleaner, getting rid of the typos, but this was the first page of my first notebook that I actually managed to update regularly. It marks a special time in my life when I finally got down to making my aspirations as a writer a reality. So here it is, flaws and all:


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My Books

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The New Yorker on Philip Roth

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“For Roth, the story of American Jews is the story of Americans—Jewishness being no more inherently alien to American-ness than the Protestantism of any Mayflower descendant…”

“History, for Roth, isn’t destiny; it’s a source of knowledge, of empathy, but not of identity or entitlement. And his sense of an identity that isn’t a grand epic fate but a product of a specific environment and specific experience—that is burdened less by history than by memory—makes him an exemplary literary modernist.”

– Richard Brody in The New Yorker

Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire

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From Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire:

Which one of us, in his moments of ambition, has not dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical, without rhythm and without rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of reverie, the jibes of conscience?

Such erratic pranks are not without danger and one often has to pay dearly for them. But what is an eternity of damnation compared to an infinity of pleasure in a single second?

At last! I am alone! Nothing can be heard but the rambling of a few belated and weary cabs. For a few hours at least silence will be ours, if not sleep. At last! the tyranny of the human face has disappeared, and now there will be no one but myself to make me suffer.

Ah miserable dog, if I had offered you a package of excrement you would have sniffed at it with delight and perhaps gobbled it up. In this you resemble the public, which should never be offered delicate perfumes that infuriate them, but only carefully selected garbage.

The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself or someone else, as he chooses. Like those wandering souls who go looking for a body, he enters as he likes into each man’s personality. For him alone everything is vacant; and if certain places seem closed to him, it is only because in his eyes they are not worth visiting.

All I ask of my cursed journalist is to be allowed to amuse myself in my own way. ‘And so,’ he says with his most evangelical and nasal inflection, ‘you never feel the need of sharing your pleasures?’ Ah, the subtle envy! He knows that I scorn his pleasures and he tries to insinuate himself into mine, the odious kill-joy!

‘Almost all our ills come from not staying in our own room,’ says another wise man. I believe it was Pascal, recalling from his cell of self-communion all those madmen who seek happiness in activity and in what I might call, to use the wonderful language of the day, the brotherhood of prostitution.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some virtue in knowing one is; the unforgivable vice is to do harm out of stupidity.

One should always be drunk. That’s the great thing; the only question. Not to feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and bowing you to the earth, you should be drunk without respite.

Perhaps you will say ‘Are you sure that your story is the real one?’ But what does it matter what reality is outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?

There are women who inspire you with desire to conquer them and to take your pleasure of them; but this one fills you only with the desire to die slowly beneath her gaze.

Don DeLillo on the American Novel

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On Bellow:

“Bellow was a strong force in our literature, making leaps from one book to the next. He was one of the writers who expanded my sense of the American novel’s range, or, maybe a better word for Bellow—its clutch, its grasp.”

On the American Novel:

“There are many kinds of American fiction and I’ve always had special admiration for work that attempts to be equal to the sweep of American experience. Sinclair Lewis called for ‘a literature worthy of our vastness.’ A novelist tends to feel this spread and breadth in his fingertips (or not) and I’ve tried to bring a sense of our strange and dangerous times into my work. I guess I’ve said before that I don’t think my novels could have been written in the culture that existed before the assassination of President Kennedy. I would eventually write about the event itself and have tried, from the beginning, to find a language—an American language—that might carry the ideas and events in my work to their full potential.”

On the new American Religion:

“Religion has not been a major element in my work, and for some years now I think the true American religion has been “the American People.” The term quickly developed an aura of sanctity and inviolability. First used mainly by politicians at nominating conventions and in inaugural speeches, the phrase became a mainstay of news broadcasts and other more or less nonpartisan occasions. All the reverence once invested in the name of God was transferred to an entity safely defined as you and me. But do we still exist? Does the phrase still soar over the airwaves? Or are the American People dead and buried? It seems the case, more than ever, that there are only factions, movements, sects, splinter groups, and deeply aggrieved individual voices. The media absorbs it all.”

On Paranoia:

“The earlier era of paranoia in this country was based largely on violent events arid on the suspicions that spread concerning the true nature of the particular event, from Dallas to Memphis to Vietnam. Who was behind it, what led to it, what will flow from it? How many shots, how many gunmen, how many wounds on the President’s body? People believed, sometimes justifiably, that they were being lied to by the government or elements within the government. Today, it seems, the virus is self-generated. Distrust and disbelief are centered in a deep need to raise individual discontent to an art form, often with no basis in fact. In many cases, people choose to believe a clear falsehood, about President Obama, for instance, or September 11, or immigrants, or Muslims. These are often symbolic beliefs, usable kinds of fiction, a means of protest rising from political, economic, religious, or racial complaints, or just a lousy life in a dying suburb.”

Full Interview: PEN Interview w/ Don DeLillo

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

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This is an incredible book about a failed intellectual grappling with the end of a relationship. He goes through an existential crisis–that starts in Paris and ends in Buenos Aires–about the futility of his own intelligence to help him cope with his life instead of miring him down into an abstract labyrinth of madness. It’s a postmodern tale told through hypertext, fake books, fake authors, jazz translated into prose, and a literary philosophy that describes how a novel should be written and specifically how this one should be read.

Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

To believe that action could crown something, or that the sum total of actions could really be a life worthy of the name was the illusion of a moralist.

If the volume or the tone of the work can lead one to believe that the author is attempting a sum, hasten to point out to him that he is face to face with the opposite attempt, that of an implacable subtraction.

At least those modern guys make you think of Jackson Pollock or Tobey, it’s easy to see that they’ve left the age of the pianola and the box of watercolors.

And when you start talking about the search for unity, then I start to see a lot of beautiful things, but they’re all dead, pressed flowers and things like that.

Of all our feelings the only one which really doesn’t belong to us is hope. Hope belongs to life, it’s life itself defending itself. Etcetera.

A perniciously comfortable attitude which even becomes easy as it grows into a reflex or technique; the frightful lucidity of the paralytic, the blindness of the perfectly stupid athlete. One begins to go about with the sluggish step of a philosopher or a clochard, as more and more vital gestures become reduced to mere instincts of preservation, to a conscience more alert not to be deceived than to grasp truth.

I touch your mouth, I touch the edge of your mouth with my finger, I am drawing it as if it were something my hand was sketching, as if for the first time your mouth opened a little, and all I have to do is close my eyes to erase it and start all over again, every time I can make the mouth I want appear, the mouth which my hand chooses and sketches on your face, and which by some chance that I do not seek to understand coincides exactly with your mouth which smiles beneath the one my hand is sketching on you.

You look at me, from close up you look at me, closer and closer and then we play cyclops, we look closer and closer at one another and our eyes get larger, they come closer, they merge into one and the two cyplopses look at each other, blending as they breathe, our mouths touch and struggle in gentle warmth, biting each other with their lips, barely holding their tongues on their teeth, playing in corners where a heavy air comes and goes with an old perfume and a silence. Then my hands go to sink into your hair, to cherish slowly the depth of your hair while we kiss as if our mouths were filled with flowers or with fish, with lively movements and dark fragrance. And if we bite each other the pain is sweet, and if we smother each other in a brief and terrible sucking in together of our breaths, that momentary death is beautiful. And there is but one saliva and one flavor of ripe fruit, and I feel you tremble against me like a moon on the water.

Americana by Don DeLillo

If I were on my death bed today, and did not know the date, my cells would probably refuse to surrender. Without a calendar, a stopwatch, a measuring cup on the night table, I couldn’t possibly know how to die.

A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

Virginia WoolfA Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf

What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings.