Wednesday, December 07, 2016

See Yourself Seeing Yourself

"You will never stop seeing yourself. You can do nothing, you cannot escape yourself, you cannot escape your own gaze, you never will be able to: even if you were to fall into a sleep so deep that no shock, no shout, no burning pain could rouse you, there would still be this eye, your eye, that will never close, that will never sleep.

You see yourself, you see yourself seeing yourself, you watch yourself watching yourself. Even if you were to wake up, your vision would remain the same, immutable. Even if you managed to grow thousands, billions of extra eyelids, there would still be this eye, behind, which would see you. You are not asleep but sleep will never come again. You are not awake and you will never wake up. You are not dead and even death could never set you free."

- Georges Perec (1936 - 1982)

Monday, December 05, 2016

By Means of the Senses

"Wherefore a man can know nothing by himself, save after a natural manner, which is only that which he attains by means of the senses. For this cause he must have the phantasms and the forms of objects present in themselves and in their likenesses; otherwise it cannot be, for, as philosophers say: Ab objecto et potentia paritur notitia. That is: From the object that is present and from the faculty, knowledge is born in the soul. Wherefore, if one should speak to a man of things which he has never been able to understand, and whose likeness he has never seen, he would have no more illumination from them whatever than if naught had been said of them to him."

- John of the Cross (1542 - 1591)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Source of it All

"Coastal people never really know what the ocean symbolizes to landlocked inland people—what a great distant dream it is, present but unseen in the deepest levels of subconsciousness, and when they arrive at the ocean and the conscious images are compared with the subconscious dream there is a sense of defeat at having come so far to be so stopped by the mystery that can never be fathomed. The source of it all."

- Robert M. Pirsig (1928 - )

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Living Light

"There is the motion, the actual wave and radiation of the darted beam: not the dull universal daylight, which falls on the landscape without life, or direction, or speculation, equal on all things and dead on all things; but the breathing, animated, exulting light, which feels, and receives, and rejoices, and acts — which chooses one thing, and rejects another — which seeks, and finds, and loses again — leaping from rock to rock, from leaf to leaf, from wave to wave — glowing, or flashing, or scintillating, according to what it strikes; or, in its holier moods, absorbing and enfolding all things in the deep fullness of its repose, and then again losing itself in bewilderment, and doubt, and dimness ... It is the living light, which breathes in its deepest, most entranced rest, which sleeps, but never dies."

- John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

Postscript: Ruskin's quote was inspired by his devotion to J. M. W. Turner's art (as is my Synesthetic Landscape that appears above it). I have been thinking of Turner lately because I've started reading what is turning out to be a magnificent new biography: The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner, by Franny Moyle (Penguin Press, Oct 2016).

Monday, November 21, 2016


“Imagination should be used,
not to escape reality,
but to create it.”

- Colin Wilson (1931 - 2013)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Speaking of Greater Forces

"Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction - so easy to lapse into - that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us."

-  Robert Macfarlane (1976 - )

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seashore of the Mind

"Sit in reverie
and watch the
changing color of
the waves that break
upon the idle
seashore of the mind."