The stream of thought flows on;
but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of
some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is
confined to a few moments, hours, or days. Others, again, leave vestiges
which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as
long as life endures.
GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ One Hundred Years of Solitude ____________________
If I knew that today would be the last time I’d see you, I would hug you
tight and pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. If I knew that this
would be the last time you pass through this door, I’d embrace you,
kiss you, and call you back for one more. If I knew that this would be
the last time I would hear your voice, I’d take hold of each word to be
able to hear it over and over again. If I knew this is the last time I
see you, I’d tell you I love you, and would not just assume foolishly
you know it already.
One task of
literature is to formulate questions and construct counter-statements to
the reigning pieties. And even when art is not oppositional, the arts
gravitate toward contrariness. Literature is dialogue; responsiveness.
Literature might be described as the history of human responsiveness to
what is alive and what is moribund as cultures evolve and interact with
Writers can do something to combat the clichés of our
separateness, our difference - for writers are makers, not just
transmitters, of myths. Literature offers not only myths but
countermyths, just as life offers counter-experiences - experiences that
confound what you thought you thought, or felt, or believed.
and Freedom” was Susan Sontag’s acceptance speech after being awarded
the Friedenspreis, the Peace Prize of the German book trade, in 2003.
I don’t really think about it. I know some day I’ll move on. Everybody
does. But I don’t worry about it. I like where I am now. Everything’s
fine. And there’s nothing I can do about anything that’s happened. The
only thing I have any control over is what’s happening right now. So I
don’t worry about a while ago or after a while.
KO UN “Sunlight” ____________________
It’s absolutely inevitable! So just take a deep breath and accept this adversity. But look! A distinguished visitor deigns to visit my tiny north-facing cell. Not the chief making his rounds, no, but a ray of sunlight as evening falls, a gleam no bigger than a screwed-up stamp. A sweetheart fit to go crazy about. It settles there on the palm of a hand, warms the toes of a shyly bared foot. Then as I kneel and, undevoutly, offer it a dry, parched face to kiss, in a moment that scrap of sunlight slips away. After the guest has departed through the bars, the room feels several times colder and darker. This military prison special cell is a photographer’s darkroom. Without any sunlight I laughed like a fool. One day it was a coffin holding a corpse. One day it was altogether the sea. A wonderful thing! A few people survive here. Being alive is a sea without a single sail in sight.
KURT VONNEGUT From a 2003 speech at the University of Wisconsin - Madison
realize that some of you may have come in hopes of hearing tips on how
to become a professional writer. I say to you, “If you really want to
hurt your parents - and you don’t have the nerve to be a homosexual -
the least you can do is go into the arts.” But do not use semicolons.
They are transvestite hermaphrodites, standing for absolutely nothing.
All they do is show you’ve been to college.
Which squabble among twelve midwives Caused them to throw your love-thing away? To hell with that squeaking mouse. To hell with that droning wasp. Who knows if it’s smooth or bumpy? Who can tell if it’s stem or bud? Whatever it is, it must do. You’ll never be called a slut.
life is too short only if you are having fun
but way too fucking long if you are suffering.
don’t live in fear,
only fear to lose self-respect
and your right to be free.
claim what is rightfully yours and
please be proud of yourself,
be humble and
learn some more,
strengthen your mind
and love in abundance.
HỒ XUÂN HƯƠNG TRADITION “Ba Doi Gorge” ____________________
A gorge, a gorge, and yet, the same old gorge. Praise to whoever has gouged out this scene: A lurid cave with a stubby arch, And rich green boulders covered with algae. Now the stiff wind blows, shaking pine branches. Dew-drops dripping from willow leaves. You who are virtuous, or saintly, who hasn’t tried, Even with weak knees, exhausted feet, to mount it?
Man today is like a tree that is withering at the roots. And most women painted and wrote nothing but imitations of phalluses. The world was filled with phalluses, like totem poles, and no womb anywhere.
I must go the opposite way from Proust who found eternal moments in creation. I must find them in life. My work must be the closest to the life flow. I must install myself inside of the seed, growth, mysteries. I must prove the possibility of instantaneous, immediate, spontaneous art. My art must be like a miracle. Before it goes through the conduits of the brain and becomes an abstraction, a fiction, a lie.
It must be for woman, more like a personified ancient ritual, where every spiritual thought was made visible, enacted, represented.