Thursday, May 21, 2009
( 5:32 PM ) The Rat
So the 'Méséglise way' and the 'Guermantes way' remain for me linked with many of the little incidents of that one of all the divers lives along whose parallel lines we are moved, which is the most abundant in sudden reverses of fortune, the richest in episodes; I mean the life of the mind. Doubtless it makes in us an imperceptible progress, and the truths which have changed for us its meaning and its aspect, which have opened new paths before our feet, we had for long been preparing for their discovery; but that preparation was unconscious; and for us those truths date only from the day, from the minute when they became apparent. The flowers which played then among the grass, the water which rippled past in the sunshine, the whole landscape which served as environment to their apparition lingers around the memory of them still with its unconscious or unheeding air; and, certainly, when they were slowly scrutinized by this humble passer-by, by this dreaming child—as the face of a king is scrutinized by a petitioner lost in the crowd—that scrap of nature, that corner of a garden could never suppose that it would be thanks to him that they would be elected to survive in all their most ephemeral details; and yet the scent of hawthorn which strays plundering along the hedge from which, in a little while, the dog-roses will have banished it, a sound of footsteps followed by no echo, upon a gravel path, a bubble formed at the side of a waterplant by the current, and formed only to burst—my exaltation of mind has borne them with it, and has succeeded in making them traverse all these successive years, while all around them the one-trodden ways have vanished, while those who thronged those trodden ways, are dead. Sometimes the fragment of landscape thus transported into the present will detach itself in such isolation from all associations that it floats uncertainly upon my mind, like a flowering isle of Delos, and I am unable to say from what place, from what time—perhaps, quite simply, from which of my dreams—it comes. But it is pre-eminently as the deepest layer of my mental soil, as firm sites on which I still may build, that I regard the Méséglise and Guermantes 'ways.' It is because I used to think of certain things, of certain people, while I was roaming along them, that the things, the people which they taught me to know, and these alone, I still take seriously, still give me joy. Whether it be that the faith which creates has ceased to exist in me, or that reality will take shape in the memory alone, the flowers that people shew me nowadays for the first time never seem to me to be true flowers. The 'Méséglise way' with its lilacs, its hawthorns, its cornflowers, its poppies, its apple-trees, the 'Guermantes way' with its river full of tadpoles, its water-lilies, and its buttercups have constituted for me for all time the picture of the land in which I fain would pass my life, in which my only requirements are that I may go out fishing, drift idly in a boat, see the ruins of a gothic fortress in the grass, and find hidden among the cornfields—as Saint-André-des-Champs lay hidden—an old church, monumental, rustic, and yellow like a mill-stone; and the cornflowers, the hawthorns, the apple-trees which I may happen, when I go walking, to encounter in the fields, because they are situated at the same depth, on the level of my past life, at once establish contact with my heart. And yet, because there is an element of individuality in places, when I am seized with a desire to see again the 'Guermantes way,' it would not be satisfied were I led to the banks of a river in which were lilies as fair, or even fairer than those in the Vivonne, any more than on my return home in the evening, at the hour when there awakened in me that anguish which, later on in life, transfers itself to the passion of love, and may even become its inseparable companion, I should have wished for any strange mother to come in and say good night to me, though she were far more beautiful and more intelligent than my own. No: just as the one thing necessary to send me to sleep contented (in that untroubled peace which no mistress, in later years, has ever been able to give me, since one has doubts of them at the moment when one believes in them, and never can possess their hearts as I used to receive, in her kiss, the heart of my mother, complete, without scruple or reservation, unburdened by any liability save to myself) was that it should be my mother who came, that she should incline towards me that face on which there was, beneath her eye, something that was, it appears, a blemish, and which I loved as much as all the rest—so what I want to see again is the 'Guermantes way' as I knew it, with the farm that stood a little apart from the two neighbouring farms, pressed so close together, at the entrance to the oak avenue; those meadows upon whose surface, when it is polished by the sun to the mirroring radiance of a lake, are outlined the leaves of the apple-trees; that whole landscape whose individuality sometimes, at night, in my dreams, binds me with a power that is almost fantastic, of which I can discover no trace when I awake.
No doubt, by virtue of having permanently and indissolubly combined in me groups of different impressions, for no reason save that they had made me feel several separate things at the same time, the Méséglise and Guermantes 'ways' left me exposed, in later life, to much disillusionment, and even to many mistakes. For often I have wished to see a person again without realizing that it was simply because that person recalled to me a hedge of hawthorns in blossom; and I have been led to believe, and to make some one else believe in an aftermath of affection, by what was no more than an inclination to travel. But by the same qualities, and by their persistence in those of my impressions, to-day, to which they can find an attachment, the two 'ways' give to those impressions a foundation, depth, a dimension lacking from the rest. They invest them, too, with a charm, a significance which is for me alone. When, on a summer evening, the resounding sky growls like a tawny lion, and everyone is complaining of the storm, it is along the 'Méséglise way' that my fancy strays alone in ecstasy, inhaling, through the noise of falling rain, the odour of invisible and persistent lilac-trees.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:32 PM
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
( 5:58 PM ) The Rat
It's been said, uncharitably, that São Paulo feels like L.A. threw up on New York.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:58 PM
Thursday, May 14, 2009
( 3:02 AM ) The Rat
EXILED TIENANMEN-ERA DISSIDENT DETAINED IN CHINA.
An exiled Chinese dissident and a leading figure in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests was detained trying to enter mainland China six months ago and held without charge since then, his family said Wednesday.
It was the second time Zhou Yongjun, a permanent U.S. resident, has been detained while trying to enter China to visit his family. He spent more than two years in a Chinese labor camp in the late 1990s after being detained in Shenzhen, a southeastern city next to Hong Kong.
Zhou's older sister, Zhou Sufen, said Wednesday that her brother disappeared in October after entering the mainland from Hong Kong...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:02 AM
Monday, May 11, 2009
( 11:18 PM ) The Rat
DOES EVERY CULTURE USE THE SUGGESTION OF MATERNAL INCEST AS AN INSULT? Via Slate.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:18 PM
Thursday, May 07, 2009
( 12:09 AM ) The Rat
When I say, in support of my claims about the English love of words, that over 80 per cent of us read a national daily newspaper, some of those unfamiliar with English culture may mistakenly imagine a nation of super-literate highbrows, engrossed in the solemn analyses of political and current affairs in the pages of The Times, The Guardian or another big, serious-looking paper. In fact, although we have four of them to choose from, only about 16 per cent of us read the so-called 'quality' national daily papers.
These are also known as 'broadsheets,' because of their large format. I could never understand why these papers were such an awkward, unwieldy size, until I started watching English commuters reading them on trains, and realized that readability and manoeuvrability were not the point: the point is clearly to have a newspaper large enough to hide behind. The English broadsheet is a formidable example of what psychologists call a 'barrier signal'—in this case more like a 'fortress signal.' Not only can one conceal oneself completely behind its outsize, outstretched pages—effectively prohibiting any form of interaction with other humans, and successfully maintaining the comforting illusion that they do not exist—but one is enclosed, cocooned, in a solid wall of words. How very English.
—Watching the English
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:09 AM
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
( 3:04 AM ) The Rat
SCIENTISTS UNVEIL CHOCOLATE-FUELED RACE CAR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:04 AM
( 12:36 AM ) The Rat
We are also very partial to toast. Toast is a breakfast staple, and an all-purpose, anytime comfort food. What tea alone does not cure, tea and toast surely will. The 'toast rack' is a peculiarly English object. My father, who lives in America and has become somewhat American in his tastes and habits, calls it a 'toast cooler' and claims that its sole function is to ensure that one's toast gets stone cold as quickly as possible. English supporters of the toast rack would argue that it keeps toast dry and crisp, that separating the slices of toast and standing them upright stops them becoming soggy, which is what happens to American toast, served piled up hugger-mugger in a humid, perspiring stack on the plate, sometimes even wrapped in a napkin to retain yet more moisture. The English would rather have their toast cool and dry than warm and damp. American toast lacks reserve and dignity: it is too sweaty and indiscreet and emotional.
—Watching the English
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:36 AM
Saturday, May 02, 2009
( 3:53 AM ) The Rat
By the new Boots, a tool-chest with flagpoles
Glued on, and flanges, and a dirty great
Baronial doorway, and things like portholes,
Evans met Mrs. Rhys on their first date.
Beau Nash House, that sells Clothes for Gentlemen,
Jacobethan, every beam nailed on tight—
Real wood, though, mind you—was in full view when
Lunching at the Three Lamps, she said all right.
And he dropped her beside the grimy hunk
Of castle, that with luck might one day fall
On to the Evening Post, the time they slunk
Back from that lousy week-end in Porthcawl.
The journal of some bunch of architects
Named this the worst town centre they could find;
But how disparage what so well reflects
Permanent tendencies of heart and mind?
All love demands a witness: something 'there'
Which it yet makes part of itself. These two
Might find Carlton House Terrace, St Mark's Square,
A bit on the grand side. What about you?
—Kingsley Amis, 'Aberdarcy: The Main Square' (quoted in Class: A Guide Through the American Status System)
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:53 AM