George Plimpton:Aren’t you tempted to lie? Novelists lie, don’t they?
Maya Angelou:I don’t know about lying for novelists. I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being — what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.
Literally “the pathos of things”, and also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, is a Japanese term for the awareness of impermanence, or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life. 物の哀れ
James Gibbons:Do you write with a sense of your audience? Or is it more like Gertrude Stein said, that you write for yourself and strangers?
Jeffrey Eugenides:I tell my students that when you write, you should pretend you’re writing the best letter you ever wrote to the smartest friend you have. That way, you’ll never dumb things down. You won’t have to explain things that don’t need explaining. You’ll assume an intimacy and a natural shorthand, which is good because readers are smart and don’t wish to be condescended to. I think about the reader. I care about the reader. Not “audience.” Not “readership.” Just the reader. That one person, alone in a room, whose time I’m asking for. I want my books to be worth the reader’s time, and that’s why I don’t publish the books I’ve written that don’t meet this criterion, and why I don’t publish the books I do until they’re ready. The novels I love are novels I live for. They make me feel smarter, more alive, more tender toward the world. I hope, with my own books, to transmit that same experience, to pass it on as best I can.
“I do the best I can, honey. I know it’s not enough, and I’m sorry.
But that’s what you get in life, you know? You get whoever you end up with. Whoever is willing to stick by you, and fight for you, when everyone else is gone.
And it ain’t always who you expect. But you just have to make do.”—[Boys on the Side, 1995]
Never want to come down, never want to put my feet back down on the ground
Summer. Time of downpours and gigs. A cloudburst in the afternoon can make you panic and feel nostalgia, if other than hail it’s raining memories and regrets. 15 June 1988, a lifetime ago, more or less. In Pasadena there’s Depeche Mode’s show, hundred-and-first of their still short career. The next year “101” will be the title of the live and of the VHS that document the evening. I’ve literally wore out the album and the videocassette. The only survivor, now somewhere at my parents’ home, a wonky audio cassette with the number in plain sight, written in black marker. Faithful companion of endless nights spent under the sheets, with the walkman on my belly and the headphones stuck to my ears. From that very concert comes the idea of the *wheat field* of “Never Let Me Down Again”, or that’s what people say: Dave Gahan spots in the audience a small group of people with their hands in the air, exactly at the climax of the track, then he incites the crowd by letting himself go to the rhythm and the (over) eighty thousand of the Rose Bowl follow him, creating an incredible emotion. One of the few things that still affect my tear ducts, no matter what. It’s one of those scenes filed under “shivers of excitement”, but this time watching it again was different. Tonight I thought back at the time when those images were an absolute novelty, about how much joy they’ve given me through the years, about how young Martin, Alan, Andy and Dave were. And so was I. About how much far we were from hell, having still few scars. About how easy it seemed to fly high, waiting to grow up. Without knowing that from those heights you can ruinously fall.
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life.
But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”—[John Keating, Dead Poets Society]
"Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes. Who set the bar so high that most of our attempts to sail gracefully over it on the viewless wings of Poesy end in an undignified scramble or a nasty fall into the mud? Who told us we had to succeed at any cost?” [Margaret Atwood]