Books-2011

The ninth book I read this year was The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart.

I have really enjoyed this series of books. Yes, it is a children’s series, but it is fun and mysterious. I like trying to figure out what will happen, and enjoy being surprised by the simple child answers to the situations.

Heroin landed purring at the base of his skull, and wrapped itself darkly around his nervous system, like a black cat curling up on its favourite cushion. It was as soft and rich as the throat of a wood pigeon, or the splash of sealing wax onto a page, or a handful of gems slipping from palm to palm.
The way other people felt about love, he felt about heroin, and he felt about love the way other people felt about heroin: that it was a dangerous and incomprehensible waste of time.
—  Some Hope by Edward St Aubyn
Maybe this was it: the fatal blow. Or maybe it was just the beginning of what would be the fatal blow. I might be standing in the entrance of something big, and inside lay a world that belonged to Kumiko alone, a vast world that I had never know. I saw it as a big, dark room. I was standing there holding a cigarette lighter, its tiny flame showing me only the smallest part of the room.
— 

From Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. The image of the cigarette lighter in the dark room creates this extremely insightful thought on what it means to be at the end of a relationship. It does feel like this: where you’re wandering around in a dark room that is your relationship and trying to figure out who this person is that you’ve been spending your life with. What triggers this? This is probably the moment when you know things won’t be working out. You’re just clinging to the last straw of the happiness that you once had by stumbling around in the dark trying to see where it went. This sad note continues:

Would I ever see the rest? Or would I grow old and die without really knowing her? If that was all that lay in store for me, then what was the point of this married life I was leading? What was the point of my life at all if I was spending it bed with an unknown companion?

I felt quite a bit like this for most of September to June last year, but what I find most beautiful about this is how simple, in such an so easy-going way, Murakami communicates this feeling of loss. It’s as if he knows everything is going to be okay, but he’s just taking you along on this imaginative and weird story of discovery and realization. 

It seems to him that he has seen it all the while: that that which is destroying the Church is not the outward groping of those within it nor the inward groping of those without, but the professionals who control it and who have removed the bells from its steeples. He seems to see them, endless, without order, empty, symbolical, bleak, skypointed not with ecstasy or passion but in adjuration, threat, and doom. He seems to see the churches of the world like a rampart, like one of those barricades of the middleages planted with dead and sharpened stakes, against truth and against that peace in which to sin and be forgiven which is the life of man.
—  William Faulkner, Light in August
To make a perfectly unified character out of all that one has done, as Nietzsche wants may involve us in a vicious effort: we may have to be writing our autobiography as we are living our life, and we would also have to be writing about writing that autobiography, and to be writing in turn about that, and so and so on without end.
— 

Nehamas on “How One Becomes What One Is,” at the end Nietzsche: Life as Literature.

What struck me about this, in our final faculty study group discussing this book, was not the occasionally blatantly obvious thought, but how my very actions have exemplified this. The original mission of The Worst Writer Ever (TWWE) was to, well, not so much be about the very worst things of myself and be an egotistical prick, but be about who I would be ten years from now if certain things didn’t happen the way they did happen in my reality. On the surface level, you know, saying enough is enough and being the asshole I always held inside and never let out. Letting the things in my younger days get to me, which turned me into this alternate version of myself. Like I said, Earth-2 Dave.

However, what is very wisely put by Nehamas here is the idea that in order to find oneself you have to write about your own internal motivations and shortcomings, so I like to think that (TWWE) has been worth it as an exercise in that spirit.

Also, this sentiment kind of predicts bloggers. The life-blogging that people do might bring a smile to Nietzsche’s face now even though a lot of it is downright revolting and shallow. I’m definitely as guilty as any other blogger. (I mean just look at this fucking post; Jesus). This book made me consider the idea that even though some of the ideas expressed come off extremely obvious to me, I don’t think it’s because these ideas are essential and nothing special. Even though I never read Nehamas and Nietzsche before this study group, I now think the concepts discussed have been sewn into the fabric of basically every aspect of my reality so as a result they come off obvious and that speaks to the power of these ideas. Their writing has become a part of the lives of people who have never read them, so when one does discover them, people are un-shocked by some of the ideas expressed and find a way of understanding themselves, but also to stop writing about writing and just write about life.

Daniel’s love for her was one long, uninterrupted stream. It was the purest form of love there was, purer even than the love Luce returned. His love flowed without breaking, without stopping. Whereas Luce’s love was wiped clean with every death, Daniel’s grew over time, across all eternity. How powerfully strong must it be by now? Hundreds of lifetimes of love stacked one top of the other? It was almost too massive for Luce to comprehend. He loved her so much, that in every lifetime, over and over again, he had to wait for her to catch up.
—  Lauren Kate (Passion)