Share this note

I'll do this later

🎉Get 40% of all upgrades for our Black Friday sale


this book, when I am dead, will be A little faint perfume of me

04th Jan 2021

There is a sense in which an artist can submit to only one influence and be so completely enslaved by it that his own personality is obliterated. And there is a sense in which an artist can submit to a multitude of influences and yet always remain himself. •  Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art

03rd Jan 2021

Going insane is very popular these days, and it frightens me to see so many young people flirting with the idea of it. They think that going crazy will turn them into better poets. That’s just not true at all! Insanity is a terrible thing … a terrible thing! I’ve seen it first-hand in some of my friends, and it is not the “poetic" sort of thing that these young people seem to think it is. John Clare did not write glorious poetry while he was in the asylum, I’m glad to say. I’ve known a Marianne Moore extremely well over a long time. Perhaps I’ll tell my students about her some time—to show them what can be drawn from such a relatively limited life as she has had. I think it’s important that my students start to know some of these things. They have such narrow and sometimes destructive ideas about what it is to be a poet. I’ve been thinking lately that I really should say something to them about all of this. It’s a very serious matter. • Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop

18th Dec 2020

The house in winter creaks like a ship.

Snow-locked to the sills and harbored snug

In soft white meadows, it is not asleep.

When icicles pend on the low roof's lip,

The shifting weight of a slow-motion tug

May slide off sometimes in a crashing slip.

At zero I have heard a nail pop out

From clapboard like a pistol shot.

All day this ship is sailing out on light:

At dawn we wake to rose and amber meadows,

At noon plunge on across the waves of white,

And, later, when the world becomes too bright,

Tack in among the lengthening blue shadows

To anchor in black-silver pools of night.

Although we do not really come and go,

It feels a long way up and down from zero.

At night I am aware of life aboard.

The scampering presences are often kind,

Leaving under a cushion a seed-hoard,

But I can never open any cupboard

Without a question: what shall I find?

A hard nut in my boot? An apple cored?

The house around me has become an ark

As we go creaking on from dark to dark.

There is a wilder solitude in winter

When every sense is pricked alive and keen

For what my pop or tumble down or splinter.

The light itself, as active as a painter,

Swashes bright flowing banners down

The flat white walls. I stand here like a hunter

on the qui vive, though all appears quite calm,

And feel the silence gather like a storm.

The House In Winter • Selected Poems of May Sarton

27th May 2020

Reading what I didn't understand was, for one blissful period of my life, the source of a profound if perverse pleasure. I also liked to look at the card pasted in the back of the book to record previous borrowings--a card that is, like so much other information, there no longer or discreetly incomplete. It gave me a good deal of satisfaction to be taking home some rarely read, symbolically dusty, arcane tome. I checked out both my books and my pride at the same desk. • William H. Gass • In Defense Of The Book

24th May 2020

"My father once broke my mother's pinky because she talked to the mailman. My mother was 4'11", she wore braids and laced shoes and had pillows for breasts and walked like Charlie Chaplin—not your flirtatious girlie kind of woman—but my father was panic-stricken about that. So for me, married is prison. Before I got married a few years ago, I actually dreamt of prison, where all of the people in the prison were women. And my marriage didn't last, of course. It had nothing to do with my husband. He was a wonderful man. Honorable. But I would have to be by myself, you know, be alone sometimes and I would say things like 'I'm going to close the door now and it' not personal,' and I'm afraid it was taken personally. I need time away, alone. Not even going out of the house, but alone, just thinking. Friends have been known to come to my house after I've been alone three or four weeks and say 'that's enough, that's enough now." • Joan Hackett interviewed by Steve Gelman for TV Guide • August 16, 1980

17th Dec 2019

He wanted to be an artist, an artist of life wasn’t enough for him, although precisely this concept provides everything we need to be happy if we think about it, I thought. Ultimately he was enamored of failure, if not even a little smitten, I thought, had clung to this failure of his until the end. I could actually say he was unhappy in his unhappiness but he would have been even more unhappy had he lost his unhappiness overnight, had it been taken away from him from one moment to the next, which is again proof that basically he wasn’t unhappy at all but happy, and by virtue of and with his unhappiness, I thought. Many people are basically happy because they’re up to their necks in unhappiness, I thought, and I told myself that Wertheimer actually was happy because he was continually aware of his unhappiness, could take pleasure in his unhappiness. All at once this thought struck me as not at all absurd, that is to think that he was afraid of losing his unhappiness for a reason I couldn’t know and for that reason went to Chur and to Zizers and killed himself. It’s possible we have to assume that the so-called unhappy person doesn’t exist, I thought, for we first make most of them unhappy by taking their unhappiness away from them. Wertheimer was afraid of losing his unhappiness and killed himself for this and no other reason, I thought, with a subtle sleight of hand he withdrew from the world, kept a promise so to speak in which no one believed anymore, I thought, withdrew from a world that actually always wanted only to make him and his millions of other suffering companions happy, a condition he however always knew how to prevent with the greatest ruthlessness toward himself and everybody else, because like these others, in deadly fashion, he’d grown more accustomed to his unhappiness than to anything else. — Thomas Bernhard • The Loser [rendered into english by Jack Dawson]

17th Dec 2019

Again and again we picture ourselves sitting together with the people we feel drawn to all our lives, precisely these so-called simple people, whom naturally we imagine much differently from the way they truly are, for if we actually sit down with them we see that they aren’t the way we’ve pictured them and that we absolutely don’t belong with them, as we’ve talked ourselves into believing, and we get rejected at their table and in their midst as we logically should get after sitting down at their table and believing we belonged with them or we could sit with them for even the shortest time without being punished, which is the biggest mistake, I thought. All our lives we yearn to be with these people and want to reach out to them and when we realize what we feel for them are rejected by them and indeed in the most brutal fashion. Wertheimer often described how he always failed in his effort to fit in, to be together with so-called simple folk and thus with the so-called people, and he often reported that he went to the Dichtel Mill with the idea of sitting at the table of simple people, only to have to admit after the first such attempt that it was a mistake to think that individuals like him, Wertheimer, or like me could just sit down at the table of simple people. Individuals like us have cut themselves off from the table of simple people at an early age, he said, as I recall, have been born at quite a different table, he said, not at the table of simple people. Individuals like us are naturally drawn to the table of simple people, he said. But we have no business sitting at the table of simple people, as he said, as I recall. — Thomas Bernhard • The Loser [rendered into english by Jack Dawson]

25th Nov 2019

In an atmosphere of “voluntary” prayer, pupils coming from homes where other faiths prevail will feel an embarrassment by their non-participation; in the eyes of their schoolmates they will be “queer” or “different” or “irreligious.” Such a stigma for a child can be emotionally disturbing, and although we no longer hang and burn our infidels and our witches, a schoolchild who is left out in the cold during a prayer session suffers scars that are very real. • Letters of E. B. White

I don't believe in school prayer. I think it's total nonsense...who is the teacher there that is going to have them pray? And is the teacher going to be Catholic or Mormon or Episcopalian or what? It just causes all sorts of problems. And what are the kids praying about anyway? Does it really matter, does praying in school...what are you doing it for? The whole thing just opens up all sorts of elements of discussion. I think it's crazy. • Charles M. Schulz: Conversations

19th Nov 2019

November is a time for departures, you know...August isn’t bad as a choice, but November is more appropriate...Ishmael joined Captain Ahab’s crew when it was November in his soul.

My bones are in his November reach...The escort. Not so very far away, the door will open and in he’ll come, wearing an old bathrobe soiled with the residues of all the times, the stains and streaks and smears . . . and tears . . . tears from a thousand eyes...A time for departure, damp and drizzly—November, you see!

— David Berry • The Whales of August

16th Nov 2019

Why should their foolish bands, their hopeless hearses

Blot the perpetual festival of day?

Ravens, for prosperously-boded curses

Returning thanks, might offer such array.

Heaven comfort sends, but harry it away,

Gather the sooty plumage from Death's wings

And the poor corse impale with it and fray

Far from its head an angel's hoverings,

And count the rosy cross with bann'd disastrous things.

• Gerard Manley Hopkins

16th Nov 2019

— I am like a slip of comet,

Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen

Bridging the slender difference of two stars,

Come out of space, or suddenly engender'd

By heady elements, for no man knows:

But when she sights the sun she grows and sizes

And spins her skirts out, while her central star

Shakes its cocooning mists; and so she comes

To fields of light; millions of travelling rays

Pierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,

And sucks the light as full as Gideon's fleece:

But then her tether calls her; she falls off,

And as she dwindles shreds her smock of gold

Amidst the sistering planets, till she comes

To single Saturn, last and solitary;

And then goes out into the cavernous dark.

So I go out: my little sweet is done:

I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:

To not ungentle death now forth I run.

• Gerard Manley Hopkins

16th Nov 2019

Now I am minded to take pipe in hand

And yield a song to the decaying year;

Now while the full-leaved hursts unalter'd stand,

And scarcely does appear

The Autumn yellow feather in the boughs

While there is neither sun nor rain;

And a grey heaven does the hush'd earth house,

And bluer grey the flocks of trees look in the plain.

So late the hoar green chestnut breaks a bud,

And feeds new leaves upon the winds of Fall;

So late there is no force in sap or blood;

The fruit against the wall

Loose on the stem has done its summering;

These should have starv'd with the green broods of spring,

Or never been at all;

Too late or else much, much too soon,

Who first knew moonlight by the hunters' moon.

• Gerard Manley Hopkins

16th Nov 2019

—She by a sycamore,

Whose all-belated leaves yield up themselves

To the often takings of desirous winds,

Sits without consolation, marking not

The time save when her tears which still descend

Her barred fingers clasp'd upon her eyes,

Shape on the under side and size and drop.

Meanwhile a litter of the jagged leaves

Lies in her lap, which she anon sweeps off.

'This weary Martinmas, would it were summer'

I heard her say, poor poor afflicted soul,—

'Would it were summer-time.' Anon she sang

The country song of Willow. 'The poor soul—

(Like me)—sat sighing by a sycamore-tree.'

Perhaps it was for this she chose the place.

• Gerard Manley Hopkins

05th Nov 2019

When a child first catches adults out—when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just—his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing. — John Steinbeck • East of Eden 

29th Oct 2019

I talk about my respect for Michael’s attempts to take creation in his own hands and invent a non-black, non-white, non-male, non-female creature by utilizing plastic surgery and modern technology. He’s totally Walt-Disneyed out! An interesting phenomenon at the least. A little scary, maybe, but nonetheless remarkable, and I think somehow a healthier example than Rambo or Ronald Reagan. He’s denied the finality of God’s creation and taken it into his own hands, while all the time parading around in front of American pop culture. I think it would be much cooler if he would go all the way and get his ears pointed or add a tail or something, but give him time! ● Keith Haring Journals

The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael. All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair—to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America. — James Baldwin • Freaks and the Ideal of American Manhood • Playboy magazine January 1985

16th Oct 2019

The only thing that I've ever watched in a movie that I wished I've never seen is real-life animal death or real-life insect death in a movie. That's absolutely positively where I draw the line. And a lot of European and Asian movies do that, and we even did that in America for a little bit of time. I don't like seeing horses being yanked on cables from running Ws. I don't like seeing animals murdered on screen. I don't. Movies are about make believe. It's about imagination. Part of the thing is we're trying to create a realistic experience but we are faking it. And the faking it is the art. The faking it is the art of it, it's the make-believe of it all. I don't think that there's any place in a movie for real death...I don't want to see real death, though. That's the problem. It's the watching of the real chicken get his real head blown off. I didn't—I don't pay money, or I don't want to sit down and watch real death when I watch a movie. I don't even want to see an animal terrified. I've seen movies where they've terrified an animal to get a response from him, and I don't want to see that. — Quentin Tarantino ● NPR: Fresh Air January 2, 2013

16th Oct 2019

One believes because he has taken over the faith of his fathers, and his faith is strong. The other has arrived at faith through thinking and studying. The difference between them is this: The advantage of the first is that, no matter what arguments may be brought against it, his faith cannot be shaken; his faith is firm because it was taken over from his fathers. But there is one flaw in it: he has faith only in response to the command of man, and he has acquired it without studying and thinking for himself. The advantage of the second is that, because he found God through much thinking, he has arrived at a faith of his own. But here too there is a flaw: it is easy to shake his faith by refuting it through evidence. But he who unites both kinds of faith is invincible. And so we say, “Our God” with reference to our studies, and “God of our fathers” with an eye to tradition. The same interpretation has been given to our saying, “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” and not “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” for this indicates that Isaac and Jacob did not merely take over the tradition of Abraham; they themselves searched for God. ● Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings ed. Martin Buber trans. Olga Marx

15th Oct 2019

In the scriptures we read: "I stood between the Lord and you." The "I" stands between God and us. When a man says "I" and presumes to use his Maker's word, he is shutting himself off from him. But there is no dividing wall before him who sacrifices his "I." For of him it is written: "I am  my beloved's, and his desire is toward me." When my "I" comes to belong to my beloved, then his desire is toward me. ● Ten Rungs: Hasidic Sayings ed. Martin Buber trans. Olga Marx

02nd Oct 2019

In Hardwood Groves

The same leaves over and over again!

They fall from giving shade above

To make one texture of faded brown

And fit the earth like a leather glove.

Before the leaves can mount again

To fill the trees with another shade,

They must go down past things coming up.

They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put

Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.

However it is in some other world

I know that this is way in ours.

Robert Frost • A Boy’s Will

01st Oct 2019

I actually don't blame the educational system at all, I blame the television. I don't think it's a bogey and I don't think it's wicked, I just think purely practically it is much simpler for a child to come home from school tired and turn it on, and be given—what I've already said—what every human being needs, a narrative, to be given a few bright colors, to be given a bit of music, a bit of language. My generation got all that out of books and we got all sorts of other things while we were getting that, they can get that out of the television, and therefore the book becomes a bit more of an effort for them. And of course this is producing illiteracy. ● A. S. Byatt — Desert Island Discs, 1991

01st Oct 2019

No, you don't get over it and you suffer greatly from people supposing you will, I think. You suffer from people not understanding the pace of grief. Most days I think about him and most days I still undergo the shock of realizing I hadn't remembered not to think about being told that he had been killed, because if you remember, by accident, without preparing yourself, you start panicking again, and you start feeling that you would rather be dead and what I do think, is that if a child is killed when they're that sort of age, the actual symbiotic bond is still not broken. I thought that child was almost about to become separate from me, but he still wasn't quite. I remember thinking if he had been ten years older, I could've borne this. Writing does have a large element of being done for pleasure in it, and I lost that completely for a very long time, I think. I wrote a ghost story once and I wrote last week the first poem I've ever written under my own name. It was published in The Times Literary Supplement and that was about him. I wrote the story really in order partly to stop living only in that, and in a sense although it's a story which moves people—I think because it's an account of a woman grieving for her son who is lost, and her lodger can see the ghost and she can't—the writing of it was actually rather brutal, because of course it distanced it, and one did feel one might be exploiting something. She's too realistic, she knows that he isn't there and she's taught herself that he's not there. I know a lot of women whose children have died who do really believe that their children speak to them in some ways, but I myself feel that the dead are gone and that this is a lesson one has to learn—this is the way my moral temperament takes me—but it was an extremely painful lesson. There was a sentence the woman in this book speaks, she says "There is no boy", and the man in the story sees the boy all over, and he's a very beautiful boy, the most brightly coloured thing in the story, but it was something I used to say myself when waking up in the morning—there is no boy—but you learn it very, very slowly, in fact. I worked it out with my intellect very quickly that you had to learn that somebody was gone, that actually it takes you years and years not to wait for them to come round corners, and look down the street and see a child, you know, a small blond boy dancing, and it's not a good thing really. ● A. S. Byatt — Desert Island Discs, 1991

09th Sep 2019

As Imperceptibly As Grief The Summer Lapsed Away Mixtape

THE SONGS: Outsider ● Make Summer Last Forever ● Face Of Despair ● I've Got Sand In My Shoes ● Photobooth ● Lost Summer Love ● Back To School Again ● I Didn't Have Any Summer Romance ● Summer In My Eye ● The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun ● Summertime Promises ● Where Do The Girls of Summer Go? ● Summertime Lies ● Summer Romance ● Back To School Blues ● Farewell My Summer Love ● Why Did Summer Have To End ● Billy Burroughs ● After Apple Picking ● One More Time Back To School ● From Richard Brautigan ● Early Autumn ● Walkin' To School ● What's Gonna Happen When Summer's Done ● Cold Wind Blowing ● School Bells ● Tiny Moments, Tiny Omens ● Summer's End ● End of The Summer ● That Summer Feeling ● Summer Didn't Change A Thing ● I'll See You On The Radio ● Flaming September ● The Ocean ● Jackie ● Cold Wind Blowin' ● Ghost ● Summer Souvenirs ● September Song

THE SINGERS: The Young Gods ● VNV Nation ● David Lynch ● Placebo ● Tom Waits ● Marianne Faithfull ● Neil Diamond ● White Lies ● Jonathan Richman ● Dar Williams ● John Prine ● Nicky And The Nobles ● Clifford T. Ward ● Freddy Cannon ● Kalin Twins ● Johnny Mathis ● Percy Faith ● Case Studies ● Jerry Blavat ● Robert Frost ● Jeffrey Martin ● David Foster Wallace ● Bill Baker ● Michael Jackson ● Mark Eric ● The Rolling Stones ● The Four Preps ● Jack Jones ● Julie Brown ● Rod McKuen ● Gary Frenay ● Death Cab For Cutie ● Carole King ● Timmie Rogers ● Shelley Fabares ● The Drifters ● Johnny Cash ● Lou Christie ● Kitchens of Distinction ● Karl Hammel Jr. ● ^L_

15th Aug 2019


'night, Mother

THE SONGS: That Terrible, Terrible Night ● Black Moonlight ● But Not Tonight ● Darkest Night on a Wet Looking Road ● If I Can Just Get Through The Night ● Flash In The Night ● Walkin' After Midnight ● Me And The Moon ● Did You Ever See A Dream Walking ● Nightmare ● Sub-culture ● I Cry (Night After Night) ● Get Out And Get Under The Moon ● Miss You Nights ● Watch You Sleeping ft. Mark Kozelek ● Hey Moon ● Darkest Dreaming ● Losing My Taste For The Nightlife

THE SINGERS: Hamish Imlach ● Bing Crosby ● Depeche Mode ● Keith Hudson ● Sissy Spacek ● Secret Service ● Patsy Cline ● The Drums ● Gene Austin ● The Rats ● New Order ● The Egyptian Lover ● Helen Kane ● Art Garfunkel ● Blue Foundation ● John Maus ● David Sylvian ● Arthur Russell

12th Aug 2019

Garden of Earthly Delights (detail) by Hieronymous Bosch

I put several silent-film devices I had liked into The Wizard of Oz. The prologue came from Poor Little Rich Girl. That film had a nightmare sequence in which all the people who had been the poor little rich girl’s servants turned up. The two-faced nurse had two faces. That sort of thing. And the witch in Annette Kellerman’s Queen of the Sea, a silent version of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Little Mermaid,’ had first appeared as a bubble. So I felt we could do worse than allow Glinda the same mode of transport. — Noel Langley  • The Making of The Wizard of Oz by Aljean Harmetz

Terry and Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz dir. Victor Fleming

Simone d’Aillencourt photographed by Melvin Sokolsky for Harper’s Bazaar Spring 1963

Sheryl Lee in Wild At Heart dir. David Lynch

04th Aug 2019

“she is an orphan, in spirit and actually; she is stained, and illuminated by, the stigmata of orphan-thinking: while trusting no one, not very much, she labors like a fieldhand to please everybody, she wants to make of each of us an affectionate protector, and consequently we, her audience, are flattered, pitying, aroused.” — Truman Capote • Observations: Photographs by Richard Avedon

by Bob Beerman, 1953

01st Aug 2019

The day the fat woman

In the bright blue bathing suit

Walked into the water and died,

I thought about the human

Condition. Pieces of old fruit

Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human

Condition was this: old fruit

Comes in and is left, and dries

In the sun. Another fat woman

In a dull green bathing suit

Dives into the water and dies.

The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun

While the seascape arranges old fruit,

Coming in and the tide, glistening

At noon. A woman, moderately stout,

In a nondescript bathing suit,

Swims to a pier. A tall woman

Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human

Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

— The Beach In August • Weldon Kees

05th Jul 2019

Daedalus’ Vinyl Solution, or Shadow of the Waxwing Slain

The world is stuck and over and over like a burning spinning and hurt record, and the world is empty... — Janet Frame • Owls Do Cry

I had a little record player that ran on batteries. I would work outside on my terrace, and if I would forget how fast the sun was moving and forget to move, the record would melt, right over the turntable. I used to play Ray Charles all the time and I lost a couple of Ray Charles records, I still have them, they’re just like Dali watches, just dripped over the side of the turntable. — Leonard Cohen • Crawdaddy! March 1975

04th Jul 2019


No wonder we are so fascinated with fireworks And our huge bombs: it is a kind of homesickness perhaps for the howling fireblast that we were born from. — Robinson Jeffers • The Beginning and The End

Fireworks by M. C. Escher

30th Jun 2019

♥️ ͜ ♥️

Why don’t typewriters make little hearts?????

— from a letter by Anne Sexton to Tillie Olsen circa February 14, 1965 collected in A Self-Portrait in Letters

I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile–some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question.

— Vladimir Nabokov’s answer to a question Alden Whitman sent in April 1969 for an interview that appeared in The New York Times April 19 1969 and also collected in Strong Opinions

27th Jun 2019

The Wind Is An Invisible Wolf

The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe / And they call the wind Maria / Maria blows the stars around, sets the clouds a-flyin' / Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin'...

and I’ll huff...

Whilst watching Frances Marion’s homonymous 1928 adaptation of Dorothy Scarborough’s 1925 novel The Wind directed by Victor Sjöström starring Lillian Gish it was impossible not to think about the titular wind as an invisible wolf. The four winds as a pack of wolves. The big bad windy wolf drawn and quartered. Have you ever heard a howlin’ wolf? Moanin’ in the moonlight? Moanin’ at midnight? What if Peter hadn’t heard the wolf? What then?

and I’ll puff...

It was also impossible not to think of the possible and probable influence or inspiration upon anyone who’s bothered watching perhaps the first Horror Western or Western Horror, however you might prefer to frame it. It seems obvious if not overt in stories like Ray Bradbury’s The Wind collected in The October Country published in 1955 and films like The Walking Hills and the homonymous 1964 adaptation of Kōbō Abe’s 1962 novel 砂の女 (Suna no Onna / Woman In The Dunes) starring Eiji Okada and Kyōko Kishida. But why should I draw any lines in the sand and declare something as apparently disparate as Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day as an orphan whose lineage can’t possibly trace back to 1925 to say nothing of any and all other odes to the wind since humans gave a name to it. The cradle will rock. Who knows where this wind of Dorothy Scarborough has blown and what seeds it might have scattered. The answer my friend is blowin’ in The Wind...

He that troubles his own house shall inherit the wind. • Proverbs 11:9

For the night-wind has a dismal trick of wandering round and round a building of that sort, and moaning as it goes; and of trying, with its unseen hand, the windows and the doors; and seeking out some crevices by which to enter. And when it has got in; as one not finding what it seeks, whatever that may be, it wails and howls to issue forth again: and not content with stalking through the aisles, and gliding round and round the pillars, and tempting the deep organ, soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters: then flings itself despairingly upon the stones below, and passes, muttering, into the vaults. Anon, it comes up stealthily, and creeps along the walls, seeming to read, in whispers, the Inscriptions sacred to the Dead. At some of these, it breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at others, moans and cries as if it were lamenting. It has a ghostly sound too, lingering within the altar; where it seems to chaunt, in its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods worshipped, in defiance of the Tables of the Law, which look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken. Ugh! Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly round the fire! It has an awful voice, that wind at Midnight, singing in a church! — from The Chimes by Charles Dickens

and I’ll blow your house down...

26th Jun 2019

And My Letters Never Sent You

Living in the country, preferring solitude, we entertain few visitors and never go to dinner parties; but gregariousness withered in the flesh blooms in the post: thus my five thousand annual pieces of mail. — Life Work • Donald Hall

What I find is that I continually want to write to people, but hate it when I come to do it. It is so difficult to say what you mean, & one knows how different from what you meant it & from what it would be in conversation, it will all sound. — from Leonard Woolf’s April 30th 1905 letter to G.E. Moore

25th Jun 2019

Doing Time in a Maximum Security Twilight Home

Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled over the eyes. Wool blanket. I wish I could see in the dark, better than I do. — Margaret Atwood • The Handmaid’s Tale

24th Jun 2019


Sometimes people buy expensive hardcover journals. They are bulky and heavy, and because they are fancy, you are compelled to write something good. Instead you should feel that you have permission to write the worst junk in the world and it would be okay. Give yourself a lot of space in which to explore writing. A cheap spiral notebook lets you feel that you can fill it quickly and afford another. Also, it is easy to carry. (I often buy notebook-size purses.) — Natalie Goldberg • Writing Down the Bones

Is this journal to be like all the others I have started? A large first entry, consisting of the incident which made me think my life exciting enough to keep a journal, followed by a series of entries gradually decreasing in size and culminating in a week of blank days. Inexperienced diary-writers make their first entry the largest. They come to the paper with a constipation of ideas–eager, impatient. The white paper acts as a laxative. A diarrhoea of words is the result. The richness of the flow is unnatural; it cannot be sustained. A diary must grow naturally–a flower, a cancer... — Nathanael West • The Dream Life of Balso Snell

Show more