“We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other. We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house. According to the second law of thermodynamics, things fall apart. Structures disintegrate. Buckminster Fuller hinted at a reason we are here: By creating things, by thinking up new combinations, we counteract this flow of entropy. We make new structures, new wholeness, so the universe comes out even. A shepherd on a hilltop who looks at a mess of stars and thinks, ‘There’s a hunter, a plow, a fish,’ is making mental connections that have as much real force in the universe as the very fires in those stars themselves.”
A fog that won’t burn away drifts and flows across my field of vision. When you see fog move against a backdrop of deep pines, you don’t see the fog itself, but streaks of clearness floating across the air in dark shreds.
“How much noticing could I permit myself without driving myself round the bend? Too much noticing and I was too self-conscious to live; I trapped and paralyzed myself, and dragged my friends down with me, so we couldn't meet each other's eyes, my own loud awareness damning us both. Too little noticing, though--I would risk much to avoid this--and I would miss the whole show. I would wake on my deathbed and say, What was that?”
“ One night a month flew into the candle,
was caught, burnt dry, and held.
— Annie Dillard, A typo from “Transfiguration”
Back in the day, my grandmother would dry meat in the sun
to save for winter so that no child would go without thick stew
in Februaries as cold as this.
Time is never fresh, always fleeting, always drying itself out
while wetting its bed simultaneously. It twines together with other
pasts, other futures, other nows, until it makes a braid thick enough
to hang our memories with.
Months pass and seasons come and go, and history repeats itself
in ways too small for textbooks to explain to us.
Archaeologists dug up a six-page love letter from remains in Nepal,
and here we are, recreating history — keeping the light of love
from fading by writing 140-character tweets to each other
that any server crash could easily lose.
Last November, pickled by words, was held dry
between the pages of my journal. Our first kiss, just a flip of a page away
Not even the body forgets. There are scars on my knees
from falling and never getting back up. There are calluses on my thumbs
from burning myself with lighters too much, too often.
Even the streets I live around hold histories that I can always
return to — the Thai place, now closed; the Highline; the poetry
club that I first read at. Everything holds our echoes. Even months
dry out when you press them like petals between pages. Even time
can be made into something that can last forever: like beef jerky, like
light, like this gravity before we fall.
—“One night a moth flew into the candle,” Shinji Moon
“This book is dedicated to the people whose names are, for the most part, unknown to me. They are men and women across the country who love literature and give it their lives: who respect literature’s capacity to mean, who perhaps teach, who perhaps write fiction or criticism or poetry, and who above all read and reread the world’s good books. These are people who, if you told them the world would end in ten minutes, would try to decide--quickly--what to read. ”
“A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, ''Do you think I could be a writer?'' ''Well,'' the writer said, ''I don't know. . . . Do you like sentences?'' The writer could see the student's amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am 20 years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, ''I liked the smell of the paint.''”
“You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment. "The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one's own most intimate sensitivity." Anne Truitt, the sculptor, said this. Thoreau said it another way: know your own bone. "Pursue, keep up with, circle round and round your life... Know your own bone: gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still." Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case.”