2.10.2011

Currently Reading: Faulkner

As much as a chore it may seem, everybody must read one William Faulkner novel in their lives. It took me weeks to get through my first one, but once you allow his eloquent and descriptive language to carry you away instead of trying to focus exclusively on the narrative, it's quite beautiful. Although the storyline may get lost in a number of these metaphors and allegories, you can often find your own treasure buried within a description of something entirely different. These are a few of my favorite quotes from Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom and why.

"They are there, yet something in missing; they are like a chemical formula exhumed along with the letters from that forgotten chest, carefully, the paper old and faded and falling to pieces, the writing faded, almost indecipherable, yet meaningful, familiar in shape and sense, the name and presence of volatile and sentient forces; you bring them together in the proportions called for, but nothing happens; you re-read, tedious and intent, poring, making sure that you have forgotten nothing, made no miscalculation; you bring them together again and again nothing happens: just the words, the symbols, the shapes themselves, shadowy inscrutable and serene, against that turgid background of a horrible and blood mischancing of human affairs."
When we think of history, we often go straight for the drama. Anything that will catch interest and make the past seem more relevant to our own lives. And often enough, that's  then how we reflect and share our own affairs. But sometimes, history is just history. One's life, remembered for all its years, may not be full of meaning and event. And yet this actually seems just as familiar. As much as we would like to think differently, life seems to carry itself out in quite similar patterns. We are not the only one who has suffered hardship or undergone a seemingly drastic transformation. These things are happening everyday. So in spite of what we believe to be "turgid backgrounds," we are all going through the same experiences.  This quotation reminds me that human affairs don't have to be focused on the extraordinary or the devastating, but instead appreciate the seamless moments that create the majority of our reality. Even when major events upset this stream, you are the one that chooses how to gather meaning from it, not anyone else. 

"...who must have seen his situation as that of a show girl, the pony, who realises that the principle tune she prances to comes not from horn and fiddle and drum but from a clock and calendar..."
This has actually made its way into my all time favorite quotations. I think were all afraid to become caught up in something that seems enjoyable, only to realize that its not actually what we truly desire. No matter what, we still operate under the terms of the clock and calendar. There are deadlines and finish lines that we must all reach and our best hope is that these can be delegated throughout our lives in a way that we can manage and still participate in willingly. I guess what it comes down to is finding what you love and what you can do passionately within the confines of the world. Because even if society is asking us to arrange our days according to its own expectations, that doesn't mean we can't do just that while still embracing each day as an opportunity to reach the finish line, knowing we ran our best race. 


"And so maybe if you could go to someone, the stranger the better, and give them something--a scrap of paper--something, anything, it not to mean anything in itself and them not even to read it or keep it, not even bother to throw it away or destroy it, at least it would be something just because it would have happened, be remembered even if only from passing from one hand to another, one mind to another, and it would be at least a scratch, something, something that might make a mark on something that was once for the reason that it can die someday, while the block of stone can't be is because it never can become was  because it can't ever die or perish..."
We have all heard the phrase, "it's the little things that count." Well not only is it true, but they don't even have to be actual things. I'm sure we all have memory boxes full of various mementos either under our beds or stashed in our closets, myself guilty. But as much as even I enjoy the walk down memory lane that begins to map itself our in each of these boxes, we don't really need physical evidence to accompany a good memory. There are plenty of instances throughout life where we take no souvenir. Are they not as memorable? This quotation emphasizes the importance of making opportunities for memories, to do something or pass something along simply because it will spark a connection and create a lasting impression that you, yourself can hold for yourself and can become a reminder of your own history. I don't really need a box to remind me of all the wonderful encounters I have had; I just need to take my time to reflect upon them and take away a new idea on how to formulate even more. Who cares if I can't actually hold onto a physical reminder? If you begin to reminisce one day about that moment, it only proves how much more meaningful it was that you could recall it on your own.