“They waited for the elevator. ” Most people love butterflies and hate moth,” he said. “But moths are more interesting – more engaging.”
“Some are, a lot are, but they live in all kinds of ways. Just like we do.” Silence for one floor.
“There’s a moth, more than one in fact, that lives only on tears,” he offered. “That’s all they eat or drink.”
“What kind of tears? Whose tears?”
“The tears of large land mammals, about our size.
The old definition of moth was, ‘anything that gradually, silently eats, consumes, or wages any other thing.’
It was a verb for destruction too. . . .”
― Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs
The last paragraph of my journal entry from April 4, 2003, describing how I felt when I returned from a long work trip cleaning up a toxic waste site in the swamps of southern Louisiana.
I remember how I felt when that job was over and I flew back home. I had become so used to the swamps, to the green and the water – to the alligators and the snakes – that it began to feel like it was the whole world. I gazed out the window of my plane at the hard concrete and the terminal buildings of DFW airport, the metal planes and the masses of people – a sight I’d seen a hundred times but that seemed suddenly strange and alien after being in the swamp for so long. It took me a long time to feel normal again… or at least as normal as I ever feel.
“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
― David Lynch
Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.
I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.
Here’s another one for today (#27). What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.
A rumor powerful and gentle, a rumor vast and faint; the rumor of trembling leaves, of stirring boughs, ran through the tangled depths of the forests, ran over the starry smoothness of the lagoon, and the water between the piles lapped the slimy timber once with a sudden splash. A breath of warm air touched the two men’s faces and passed on with a mournful sound – a breath loud and short like an uneasy sigh of the dreaming earth.
—- Joseph Conrad, The Lagoon
The land of lakes, volcanoes, and sun. A painting I bought on my last trip to Nicaragua.
I re-read The Secret Sharer the other night (haven’t we all read that in school?) and now I’m thinking of Nostromo – a novel I started once (inspired by the ship in the original Alien) but never finished. I want to finish it now.
So we have a Joseph Conrad short story, The Lagoon, about death and love and courage… and the jungle.
Orchids are erotic. You have to consider the honest look of them: the labial petals ballet-slipper pink and eggshell white splayed delicately open, the blood-brown leopard spots on ridged tongues; you’re always compelled to stroke them with your finger. When the children ask why orchids, their mother says, “Because they’re handsome,” as if she is describing a square-faced Irish washerwoman, and when they press her further she says, “Because growing things is good for people.”
—- Jen Julian, I Have Entered My Garden, My Sweetheart, My Bride
Though I would have liked to been one… I haven’t been much of a gardener – it’s tough when you come home from work exhausted every day. Now, though, I’m working on a shade garden in front of my house. The problem is, shade plants grow slowly and it won’t really look good for years. I might not live that long. To compensate I look up places I lived decades ago on Google Street View and see if the plants and trees I did plant back then are still there. It’s surprising how many are. Some have grown to immense size.
And I said that when I said I want to keep things light I meant not-heavy, not not-dark. I don’t want not-dark but I also don’t want dark, I tell her. I want an intense grey.
—- Jennifer Wortman, A Person’s Essence Feels the Smallest
Transcendence, on the first night.
There’s overthinking and there’s overtalking and there are people that don’t know what is in front of them. Born in the USA was great, but I think it was also the tipping point where Springsteen began to believe his own hype. By the way, I thought Darkness on the Edge of Town was brilliant the first time I heard it. I remember buying a copy of the vinyl album in a KMart in Kansas when it first dropped. I guess none of those things have quite stood up to the test of time, but what does, really?
And she really began to wither away because her heart was dried up with fear, and those who believe in curses die from curses.
—- Rudyard Kipling, Through the Fire
Coal and coke fire, Frisco, Texas.
We all remember Rudyard Kipling’s children’s stories when we were children, Just So. I wanted to read something that wasn’t intended for children, though, and today’s tale of doomed love fits the bill.
One nice thing about reading online – especially reading something set somewhere so foreign and exotic as Kipling’s Himalayan village – are the Wikipedia hyperlinks. With one click you can have the little mysteries resolved in the next tab over. This is truly the best of all possible worlds.
“It was always the same; other people gave up loving before she did. They got spoilt, or else they went away; in any case, they were partly to blame. Why did it happen so? She herself never changed; when she loved anyone, it was for life. She could not understand desertion; it was something so huge, so monstrous that the notion of it made her little heart break.”
― Émile Zola, Une Page d’amour
Une Page d’amour (1878) (A Lesson in Love/A Love Episode/A Page of Love/A Love Affair)
Le Ventre de Paris (1873) (The Belly of Paris/The Fat and the Thin/Savage Paris/The Markets of Paris)
La Joie de Vivre (1884) (The Joys of Living/Joy of Life/How Jolly Life Is/Zest for Life)
L’Assommoir (1877) (The Dram Shop/The Gin Palace/Drink/Drunkard)
L’Œuvre (1886) (The Masterpiece/A Masterpiece/His Masterpiece)
La Bête Humaine (1890) (The Beast in the Man/The Human Beast/The Monomaniac)
La Terre (1887) (The Earth/The Soil)
La Débâcle (1892) (The Downfall/The Smash-up/The Debacle)
Le Docteur Pascal (1893) (Doctor Pascal)
The next one up was A Love Episode.
At this point I have finished the last of the books from the Mouret section of the Rougon Macquat books. The Rougon section dwelt mostly on the upper classes, especially on the mad ruthless speculation in L’Argent. Then came the Mouret branch of the family – middle class workers fighting to get ahead – and not always succeeding. Now, after A Love Episode I will move into the Macquat books – where poverty, drunkeness, and madness await. I’ve read four of these already – will have to decide whether to re-read them or not.
One characteristic of the last few books has been elaborate, extensive, florid, and detailed description. In A Love Episode this mostly consists of pages of description of the appearance of Paris out of the window of the protagonists suburban apartment. The changes in weather and light over the magnificent city reflect the inner turmoil that the main characters are experiencing.
It’s a short book, the easiest so far to read, that details… as the title suggests, a romance. The love story is between a beautiful young widow and the doctor that lives next door. He comes to her aid when her daughter falls ill. This is Paris, so the fact he is married is not an immovable obstacle, even though she is of sound moral character. The daughter, however, is sickly and very jealous, which leads to complications and, this being a Zola novel, an ultimate disaster.
A quick, fun, read… with a nice bunch of interesting characters – folks like those that you will still meet today.
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Kindly Ones
Graffiti on the wall across the street from Lee Harvey’s, Dallas, Texas