“Classics” as defined by Italo Calvino

SOURCE: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1986/oct/09/why-read-the-classics/

2) We use the word “classics” for those books that are treasured by those who have read and loved them; but they are treasured no less by those who have the luck to read them for the first time in the best conditions to enjoy them.

In fact, reading in youth can be rather unfruitful, owing to impatience, distraction, inexperience with the product’s “instructions for use,” and inexperience in life itself. Books read then can be (possibly at one and the same time) formative, in the sense that they give a form to future experiences, providing models, terms of comparison, schemes for classification, scales of value, exemplars of beauty—all things that continue to operate even if the book read in one’s youth is almost or totally forgotten. If we reread the book at a mature age we are likely to rediscover these constants, which by this time are part of our inner mechanisms, but whose origins we have long forgotten. A literary work can succeed in making us forget it as such, but it leaves its seed in us.

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In Memoriam

In a state of perpetual mourning, withdrawn from overt expression. The memories of my dear, departed Mamoo Jan flash in a retinue of threaded existence. I remember the buttery aroma of your hand cooked food, as I strain to achieve a similar result each time I cook, failing implacably, which in turn preserves the moiety of remembrance of a day in the past whereupon I recall you gathering yourself to the kitchen and to the hall, frowning upon intrusion, aiming to cook the days meal all by yourself. The aromatic flavor engrossed in my mind serves as one of my dearest memories of childhood past. 
 
I recall when the family would welcome you at the airport, you’d emerge from the gates, effortlessly carrying baggage of all sorts, donning an appearance of, in words replenished, a hippie. Your hair unkempt of streaking grey and white, with a settled beaded band, yellow tinted spectacles and a distant look of careful contemplation and control. Which at times you would adorn with a guitar in your hands to my amusement, which I recall you exclaimed you played exclusively in your solitude upon our insistence to serenade us with a tune or two.
 
It ached me to see you strenuously working on Grandma’s house, alone, year after year exerting all mental and physical faculties on a ruin with which you expected a broken family might, in the near future, reconcile and begin to live together as had happened in the past. 
 
You would many a times clasp my and my sisters face in both hands, plant a kiss on either cheek and warmly whisper to us how everything will be alright, how our dad never left our mom, how their differences were temporary and soon we would all harmonise as one family unit. 
 
 With such sempiternal, warm affections, the eventuality of your personal tragedy never bore a burden on others. Rather, you took it upon yourself and your heaving conscious to sustain the losses, faltering at times but with excess which poured out as ill humor that those around you feared. 
 
During the course of past week, the similarities in your being to mine surfaced, chiefly that of solitude. Perhaps we shared such a bond in my childhood which attached your memories to mine, making you undoubtedly my favourite Mamoo. There always lay a magical demeanour about you which persists in my memories of you. ImageImage
 
I know not how to end this as my mind journeys back to the bucket load of toys you would send for me, in particular, a big brown bear that was part backpack part teddy. And as I wait at this traffic signal, a pick up van pulls over adjacent to my right, bearing a poster for a daycare centre with a toddler cuddling a teddy bear much similar to the one belonging to my childhood.

But when from a long distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.” – Swann’s Way (In Search of Lost Time), Marcel Proust

Be

It’s a run against time versus money and Life chases you around to either end, the two didactic polar opposites. Here, prevails a scarcity of the ephemeral, the surreal. Unlike steam escaping a hissing kettle, you are bound. Here you exist, you survive, you end. And ambition, passion, glory are but spirits, continually wearing one down. In a present circumstance, your sentimentality is maimed. What follows is of the truest Nature; guise of a viscous life. You fail to gather enough reasons to rationalize a material loss. You seek a postponement from the perpetual resolve of the living.