Sorry George.

Every Sunday night Mankind falls prey to luminous screens for an hour, eyes locked, mouths agape. Anticipation runs ravenous, ritualistic. Social media trends become worshipping grounds with millions of followers chanting hymns of praise and memes. A grand proselytizing begins! And somewhere alone in the dark George feels like the loneliest man on earth.

His art has long surpassed him. The biggest show on the planet commands a universal audience while somewhere in a dark corner of George’s room, inked pages rest silently…waiting to be beckoned, to be shuffled, to be seen and heard, to be shared and enjoyed. But most of all…to be read. George let’s out a sigh.

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Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

★★★★☆ (4/5)

This was my first brush with a novel about vampires. It is intense, sensual and full of throbbing energy that makes each page pulse out of the written word into the most fantastical of fancies. Characterization is full of depth, especially of the Vampire Lestat and Claudia. Louis as a first person narrator vividly describes each and every aspect of his ancient life, including the budding life of New Orleans, the pewter landscape of Eastern Europe and the mystical streets of Paris.

Every detail runs its thorough course and Louis’ eloquence in narrating the horrors and beauty of a life lived so long is just indescribably terrible yet beautiful. His meditations on death, evil and goodness, solitude and loneliness, on his purpose of an eternal life marred by a quest to revive his human nature are replete with profundity and have an ingenuous, unaffected quality about them.

Oh and the Vampire Lestat is perhaps one of the most nefarious and scheming of villains I’ve ever read in a novel. One is gravitated towards him despite his obdurate wickedness. He may be evil incarnate! Yet the fiend is able to rally sympathy of some odd sort, especially towards the end of the novel. All in all, this was a great read and I look forward to watching the film, which I’ve heard does complete justice to the story.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

On Goodness and Evil

  • People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don’t know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.
  • Existence, as I’ve said, was possible. There was always the promise behind his mocking smile that he knew great things or terrible things, had commerce with levels of darkness I could not possibly guess at.

  • That the death of an animal yielded such pleasure and experience to me that I had only begun to understand it, and wished to save the experience of human death for my mature understanding. But it was moral. Because all aesthetic decisions are moral, really.
  • ‘Why does that make you as evil as any vampire? Aren’t there gradations of evil? Is evil a great perilous gulf into which one falls with the first sin, plummeting to the depth?’
  • Because you cannot have love and goodness when you do what you know to be evil, what you know to be wrong. You can only have the desperate confusion and longing and the chasing of phantom goodness in its human form.

On the Self and Learning

  • What I mean is, the moment I saw him, saw his extraordinary aura and knew him to be no creature I’d ever known, I was reduced to nothing. That ego which could not accept the presence of an extraordinary human being in its midst was crushed. All my conceptions, even my guilt and wish to die, seemed utterly unimportant. I completely forgot myself!
  • By morning, I realized that I was his complete superior and I had been sadly cheated in having him for a teacher. He must guide me through the necessary lessons, if there were any more real lessons, and I must tolerate in him a frame of mind which was blasphemous to life itself.
  • You do not know your vampire nature. You are like an adult who, looking back on his childhood, realizes that he never appreciated it. You cannot, as a man, go back to the nursery and play with your toys, asking for the love and care to be showered on you again simply because now you know their worth.
  • And all this time I was educating Claudia, whispering in her tiny seashell ear that our eternal life was useless to us if we did not see the beauty around us, the creation of mortals everywhere; I was constantly sounding the depth of her still gaze as she took the books I gave her, whispered the poetry I taught her, and played with a light but confident touch her own strange, coherent songs on the piano. She could fall for hours into the pictures in a book and listen to me read until she sat so still the sight of her jarred me, made me put the book down, and just stare back at her across the lighted room; then she’d move, a doll coming to life, and say in the softest voice that I must read some more.

  • With a bowed head she bore the whole responsibility for defending life, and it was unfair, monstrously unfair that she should have to pit logic against his for what was obvious and sacred and so beautifully embodied in her. But he made her speechless, made her overwhelming instinct seem petty, confused. I could feel her dying inside, weakening, and I hated him.
  • Knowledge would never be withheld by Armand, I knew it. It would pass through him as through a pane of glass so that I might bask in it and absorb it and grow.

On Death and Detachment

  • I was to watch and to approve; that is, to witness the taking of a human life as proof of my commitment and part of my change. This proved without doubt the most difficult part for me. I’ve told you I had no fear regarding my own death, only a squeamishness about taking my life myself. But I had a most high regard for the life of others, and a horror of death most recently developed because of my brother.
  • I was dying fast, which meant that my capacity for fear was diminishing as rapidly. I simply regret I was not more attentive to the process.

  • In any event, he took no pains to remind me now of what I’d felt when I clamped onto his wrist for life itself and wouldn’t let it go; or to pick and choose a place for me where I might experience my first kill with some measure of quiet and dignity. He rushed headlong through the encounter as if it were something to put behind us as quickly as possible, like so many yards of the road.
  • Being a vampire for him meant revenge. Revenge against life itself. Every time he took a life it was revenge. It was no wonder, then, that he appreciated nothing.
  • One of its aspects—detachment with feeling, I should say—is that you can think of two things at the same time. You can think that you are not safe and may die, and you can think of something very abstract and remote.

  • I knew peace only when I killed, only for that minute; and there was no question in my mind that the killing of anything less than a human being brought nothing but a vague longing, the discontent which had brought me close to humans, to watch their lives through glass. I was no vampire.
  • I was almost loath to put an end to it. I needed to let the lust, the excitement blot out all consciousness, and I thought of the kill over and over and over, walking slowly up this street and down the next, moving inexorably towards it, saying, ‘It’s a string which is pulling me through the labyrinth. I am not pulling the string. The string is pulling me….’

  • Who knew that better than I, who had presided over the death of my own body, seeing all I called human wither and die only to form an unbreakable chain which held me fast to this world yet made me forever its exile, a specter with a beating heart?
  • And…it was seldom savored…something acute that was quickly lost. I think that it was the pale shadow of killing.

On the Quest for Reality

  • I had that feeling then which I described before, that the buildings around me—the Cabildo, the cathedral, the apartments along the square—all this was silk and illusion and would ripple suddenly in a horrific wind, and a chasm would open in the earth that was the reality.
  • I had now lived in two centuries, seen the illusions of one utterly shattered by the other, been eternally young and eternally ancient, possessing no illusions, living moment to moment in a way that made me picture a silver clock ticking in a void: the painted face, the delicately carved hands looked upon by no one, looking out at no one, illuminated by a light which was not a light

Potent World Building

  • Remarkable, if for nothing else, because of this, that all of those men and women who stayed for any reason left behind them some monument, some structure of marble and brick and stone that still stands; so that even when the gas lamps went out and the planes came in and the office buildings crowded the blocks of Canal Street, something irreducible of beauty and romance remained.
  • I had found the house now by a blind effort, aware that I had always known where it was and avoided it, always turned before this dark lampless corner, not wishing to pass the low window where I’d first heard Claudia cry.
  • Hurricanes, floods, fevers, the plague—and the damp of the Louisiana climate itself worked tirelessly on every hewn plank or stone facade, so that New Orleans seemed at all times like a dream in the imagination of her striving populace, a dream held intact at every second by a tenacious, though unconscious, collective will.

Beautifully Constructed Sentences

  • The back of his skull had been shattered on the pavement, and his head had the wrong shape on the pillow. I forced myself to stare at it, to study it simply because I could hardly endure the pain and the smell of decay, and I was tempted over and over to try to open his eyes. All these were mad thoughts, mad impulses. The main thought was this: I had laughed at him; I had not believed him; I had not been kind to him. He had fallen because of me.
  • The burden of the past was on him with full force; and the present, which was only death, which he fought with all his will, could do nothing to soften that burden.
  • The ability to see a human life in its entirety, not with any mawkish sorrow but with a thrilling satisfaction in being the end of that life, in having a hand in the divine plan.
  • Yet I have your tongue. Your passion for the truth. Your need to drive the needle of the mind right to the heart of it all, like the beak of the hummingbird, who beats so wild and fast that mortals might think he had no tiny feet, could never set, just go from quest to quest, going again and again for the heart of it. I am your vampire self more than you are. And now the sleep of sixty-five years has ended.

  • I wanted to forget him, and yet it seemed I thought of him always. It was as if the empty nights were made for thinking of him. And sometimes I found myself so vividly aware of him it was as if he had only just left the room and the ring of his voice were still there.
  • I wish I could describe his manner of speaking, how each time he spoke he seemed to arise out of a state of contemplation very like that state into which I felt I was drifting, from which it took so much to wrench myself; and yet he never moved, and seemed at all times alert. This distracted me while at the same time I was powerfully attracted by it
  • Don’t you see that? Everyone else feels as you feel. Your fall from grace and faith has been the fall of a century.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

★★★★☆ (4/5)

My first crime noir was dark, intrepid, and thrilling. Chandler’s world building is quite gripping. I could almost envision the heat-choked greenhouse teeming with orchids, the corners of Geiger’s smut shop draped in the scene of burnt cigars, the long-winding roads and the unabashed, ceaseless rain tapping on glass panes.

The world of Philip Marlowe, a private eye, is full of corrupt men and diseased souls. He tends to treat people with a discreet aloofness which is either a charming virtue or an irredeemable vice, depending on who he is dealing with. The Sternwood sisters, Vivian and Carmen, were so compelling in their moods and coquetry, in their secrets and passions that I found myself gravitated towards them.

And who doesn’t enjoy some ludicrous similes once in a while? But when the goofiness comes to an end, and absurdity starts to become more frequent, you can’t help yourself but feel like punching the author or the character – whoever shows up in your face first. Here’s a compilation of them:

The Most Ridiculous Set of Similes

Casual Misogyny

  • Then she lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain.
  • She looked like a nice old horse that had been turned out to pasture after long service.
  • When I looked back she had her lip between her teeth and was worrying it like a puppy at the fringe of a rug.
  • Her whole body shivered and her face fell apart like a bride’s pie crust.
  • She was so platinumed that her hair shone like a silver fruit bowl.

Inventive but Ridiculous

  • I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider, and the orchids are an excuse for the heat.
  • He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.
  • His cigarette was jiggling like a doll on a coiled spring.
  • He shot at me like a plane from a catapult
  • Then her breathing began to make a rasping sound, like a small file on soft wood.
  • I reached a pipe out of my pocket and held it like a gun.
  • Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.
  • It was raining again the next morning, a slanting gray rain like a swung curtain of crystal beads.
  • His small neat fingers speared one like a trout taking the fly.
  • It had a heavy purr, like a small dynamo behind a brick wall.
  • I hung there motionless, like a lazy fish in the water.
  • She bought the glass over. Bubbles rose in it like false hopes.

Just Plain Hilarious

  • I lit the cigarette and blew a lungful at him and he sniffed at it like a terrier at a rathole.
  • The old man licked his lips watching me, over and over again, drawing one lip slowly across the other with a funereal absorption, like an undertaker dry-washing his hands.
  • His coat was cut from a rather loud piece of horse robe with shoulders so wide that his neck stuck up out of it like a celery stalk and his head wobbled on it as he walked.
  • His clasped hands rested peacefully on the edge of the rug, and the heat; which made me feel like a New England boiled dinner, didn’t seem to make him even warm.
  • A case of false teeth hung on the mustard-colored wall like a fuse box in a screen porch.
  • I was trussed like a turkey ready for the oven.
  • She bent over me again. Blood began to move around in me, like a prospective tenant looking over a house.
  • I balanced it there, and stepped back with my head on one side like a window-dresser getting the effect of a new twist of a scarf around a dummy’s neck.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • “A nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy,” he said dryly. “You are looking at a very dull survival of a rather gaudy life, a cripple paralyzed in both legs and with only half of his lower belly. There’s very little that I can eat and my sleep is so close to waking that it is hardly worth the name. I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider, and the orchids are an excuse for the heat.”
  • I think they go their separate and slightly divergent roads to perdition. Vivian is spoiled, exacting, smart and quite ruthless. Carmen is a child who likes to pull wings off flies.

  • I sat down on the edge of a deep soft chair and looked at Mrs. Regan. She was worth a stare. She was trouble. She was stretched out on a modernistic chaise-longue with her slippers off, so I stared at her legs in the sheerest silk stockings. They seemed to be arranged to stare at.
  • At seven-twenty a single flash of hard white light shot out of Geiger’s house like a wave of summer lightning. As the darkness folded back on it and ate it up a thin tinkling scream echoed out and lost itself among the rain-drenched trees.
  • Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.

  • “He didn’t know the right people. That’s all a police record means in this rotten crime-ridden country.”
  • You’re the second guy I’ve met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.
  • “I been shaking two nickels together for a month, trying to get them to mate.”

  • “And for that amount of money you’re willing to get yourself in Dutch with half the law enforcement of this county?”
  • Till then I’m leaving Eddie in the clear. Jealousy is a bad motive for his type. Top-flight racketeers have business brains. They learn to do things that are good policy and let their personal feelings take care of themselves.
  • This was a square room with a deep old bay window and a stone fireplace in which a fire of juniper logs burned lazily. It was wainscoted in walnut and had a frieze of faded damask above the paneling. The ceiling was high and remote. There was a smell of cold sea.
  • Knowing other people’s business is the worst investment a man can make in my circle.
  • “Such a nice escort, Mr. Cobb. So attentive. You should see him sober. I should see him sober. Somebody should him sober. I mean, just for the record. So it could become a part of history, that brief flashing moment, soon buried in time, but never forgotten—when Larry Cobb was sober.”

  • The hissing noise came tearing out of her mouth as if she had nothing to do with it. There was something behind her eyes, blank as they were, that I had never seen in a woman’s eyes.
  • The light went off. The dimness was a benison.
  • What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

★★★★★ (5/5)

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

The Dark Side of Fame

  • I hated it because I knew I was just doing it for money, and I hated it because they asked the staff to treat it like their whole life rather than like a day job
  • It’s just that there are a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things, so eventually you get a little jaded.
  • So here’s a really stupid thing about the world: The trick to looking cool is not caring whether you look cool. So the moment you achieve perfect coolness is simultaneously the moment that you actually, completely don’t care.
  • A person’s fame is in everyone’s head except their own.

  • This forced me to realize that, while I wanted to be fiercely myself, I also wanted someone around to see me do it.
  • Even knowing that I would go down in history as the person who made First Contact with an alien, that was somehow fleeting. Those things felt good, but they couldn’t keep feeling as good as they had felt when they first happened. And as they receded, even in the moments immediately after they happened, I felt the hole they left behind growing inside of me.
  • Dehumanization is usually a metaphor, but for a certain segment of folks, it had become reality. I was not human.
  • This is what rock stars feel like after their concerts . . . This is why they have after-parties with groupies and cocaine. You want to keep the high going, but you can’t rock forever, I guess.
  • She came to see herself not as a person but as a tool. And if that tool wasn’t being used, sharpened, refined, or strengthened at every opportunity, then she was letting the world down.

The Abyss of News & Social Media

  • It is amazing how disconcerting a single vile, manipulative person can be even if you have never and (hopefully) will never see them. The power that each of us has over complete strangers to make them feel terrible and frightened and weak is amazing.
  • It turns out pundits don’t want to talk about what’s happened; they want to use what’s happened to talk about the same things they talk about every day. Eventually, I realized that almost all of these people were talking on the news for free. And they weren’t doing it because they wanted to change the world, or because they wanted to do something interesting. They were doing it because it got their face and their name into the world.

  • Andy was into the spectacle of it. He believed in entertainment culture in a way I never have. There’s an appreciation that stretches beyond enjoying content and into worshipping all the bits that come together to make the content. I still saw it mostly as a necessary chore.
  • He was one of thousands of people who scraped by filtering reality through their ideology and then yelling really loudly at the internet.
  • We went from being a thing that everyone knew about to a thing that everyone could have an opinion on.
  • And that’s how I came to spend months of my life being exactly the thing I hated most in the world: a professional arguer, a pundit. Not because I was good at it or because I needed the money but because I was mad and scared and I didn’t know what else to do.
  • Why was it always “this country” with this guy, as if the whole world wasn’t in this one together?
  • Reasoned, caring conversations that considered the complexity of other perspectives didn’t get views. Rants did. Outrage did. Simplicity did. So, simple, outraged rants is what I gave people.

  • It’s so much easier for people to get excited about disliking something than agreeing to like it.
  • The news media is almost always in a bizarre frantic resting state. During these rests it tries to make distant and vague threats seem up close and menacing in order to give you some reason to watch their advertisements.

On Humanity

  • What is reality except for the things that people universally experience the same way? The Dream, in that sense, was very, very real.

  • For the first time ever, humanity was literally sharing a dream. It felt more like we were sharing a planet than ever before, and to me that felt like a gift given to us by the Carls.
  • “I think the Carls, maybe they didn’t pick you because of who you were but because of who you could become.”
  • Probably the Carls would just sit there forever, waiting for the Earth to get its shit together enough to do this one stupid, simple little thing.
  • I struggled to rephrase the question. “Humanity, what do you think of us?” “Beautiful,” Carl replied. We sat inside of that moment for a very long time. I thought maybe he would say more, but he didn’t.

On Art

  • If you’re wondering what the difference is, well, fine art is like art that exists for its
    cindy

    Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Still #56

    own sake. The thing that fine art does is itself. Design is art that does something else. It’s more like visual engineering.

  • Much of the best art is about balancing between reflecting culture while simultaneously being removed from it and commenting on it. In the best case, maybe an artist gets to say something about culture that hasn’t been said and needs to be said. That’s a lofty goal, but not a bad one.

Wise Gems

  • Every black person who spends time with a lot of white people eventually ends up being asked to speak for every black person.
  • You do the things you have to do in the order you have to do them.
  • Drug addiction is a health problem, not a crime problem.
  • Knowing something is a bad idea does not always decrease the odds that you will do it.
  • Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you. People who believe that tend to either be: People who have been victims of that sort of behavior, or . . . People who, if given power, will use it to hurt you.

  • Anticipation always negates grogginess

Beautifully Constructed Sentences

  • I say it “ran” because that’s the closest word I have to what it did, which was that it pushed itself up on the tips of all five fingers and then skittered away, clicking rapidly down the sacred marble of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, causing yelps and leaps of surprise as tourists spotted it.
  • You can basically summarize Manhattan living by the number of doors you have. If you only have one door, the one that leads into your apartment, that’s not ideal, but at least you’re not living in Jersey. Two doors, though—the front door and the bathroom door—that’s luxury!

  • It happened, it was official, the president of the United States had confirmed it, the scientists had been consulted: The Carls were aliens and we were not alone in the universe. “Goddamn,” Andy said afterward. “Goddamn,” I confirmed.
  • The cash register tray opened, revealing a bunch of money that I would not have recognized but knew from reading about it online was from Pakistan. The money, to my eyes, was useless, but a Pakistani Dreamer who Maya had found online determined that a number of letters were missing from the notes. Those missing letters spelled out the Urdu words for “floor” and “under.”
  • The weirdest thing about being in the ambulance (aside from being half naked under the blanket and having just been stabbed) was the steadiness of the siren. You hear sirens all the time, but they’re always either coming or going—getting louder or quieter, and pitch-shifted by the Doppler effect. You never just hear a siren steadily for a long time.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

★★★☆☆ (3/5)

Perhaps back in the day when this book was published, unusual cases related to mental conditions and neuroscience were largely unheard of – which accounts for the immense popularity of this book. Now knowledge, understanding and acceptability regarding such issues has been mainstreamed, primarily through films which did eventually wane my initial excitement of reading the book. However, I did find a myriad of supremely interesting cases in terms of their relevance to fiction and even magical surrealism. It prompted me to make mental notes of unique tics and character traits I may use in my stories and scripts later on. The fascinating case of the Twins, John and Michael, remains embedded in my memory and it is worth reading that particular chapter alone.

That being said, there was also a dire lack of diagrams or explanations for scientific, medical and technical terminologies which might have made it easier to comprehend the beautiful intricacies of a human’s physical, spiritual and mental psyche. I can’t help but think how much more enjoyable the reading experience must have been for the medical community or even for the relatives of those who suffered from such acute mental conditions.

An interesting takeaway from this book has been of the perennial question of nature of reality. Is there an objective reality compounded by multiple subjective realities? Do the Twins in their deeply eccentric and solitary understanding of numbers stand to concoct a reality that is true only to their own existence? Or are they comprehending an invisible layer of reality that enshrouds us all but only they, in their keen and unique frame of mind, are able to recognize and play around with.

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

Interesting Cases

The Man Who Only Saw the Particular

  • His eyes would dart from one thing to another, picking up tiny features, individual features, as they had done with my face. A striking brightness, a colour, a shape would arrest his attention and elicit comment—but in no case did he get the scene-as-a-whole. He failed to see the whole, seeing only details, which he spotted like blips on a radar screen.

The Complex World of Jimmie

  • If Jimmie was briefly ‘held’ by a task or puzzle or game or calculation, held in the purely mental challenge of these, he would fall apart as soon as they were done, into the abyss of his nothingness, his amnesia. But if he was held in emotional and spiritual attention—in the contemplation of nature or art, in listening to music, in taking part in the Mass in chapel—the attention, its ‘mood’, its quietude, would persist for a while, and there would be in him a pensiveness and peace we rarely, if ever, saw during the rest of his life at the Home.
  • In effect, he lost thirty years of his life—though, fortunately, for only a few hours. Recovery from such attacks is prompt and complete—yet they are, in a sense, the most horrifying of ‘little strokes’ in their power absolutely to annul or obliterate decades of richly lived, richly achieving, richly memoried life.

The Woman Who Lost the Use of Her Hands

  • Can it be that they are functionless—‘useless’—because she had never used them? Had being ‘protected’, ‘looked after’, ‘babied’ since birth prevented her from the normal exploratory use of the hands which all infants learn in the first months of life? Had she been carried about, had everything done for her, in a manner that had prevented her from developing a normal pair of hands? And if this was the case—it seemed far-fetched, but was the only hypothesis I could think of—could she now, in her sixtieth year, acquire what she should have acquired in the first weeks and months of life?
  • Now she needed to explore the human face and figure, at rest and in motion. To be ‘felt’ by Madeleine was a remarkable experience. Her hands, only such a little while ago inert, doughy, now seemed charged with a preternatural animation and sensibility. One was not merely being recognised, being scrutinised, in a way more intense and searching than any visual scrutiny, but being ‘tasted’ and appreciated meditatively, imaginatively and aesthetically, by a born (a newborn) artist. They were, one felt, not just the hands of a blind woman exploring, but of a blind artist, a meditative and creative mind, just opened to the full sensuous and spiritual reality of the world.

Sight and Reality

  • It was evident on closer questioning that what he experienced was not vertigo at all, but a flutter of ever-changing positional illusions—suddenly the floor seemed further, then suddenly nearer, it pitched, it jerked, it tilted—in his own words ‘like a ship in heavy seas’. In consequence he found himself lurching and pitching, unless he looked down at his feet. Vision was necessary to show him the true position of his feet and the floor—feel had become grossly unstable and misleading—but sometimes even vision was overwhelmed by feel, so that the floor and his feet looked frightening and shifting.

The Storyteller

  • Deprived of continuity, of a quiet, continuous, inner narrative, he is driven to a sort of narrational frenzy—hence his ceaseless tales, his confabulations, his mythomania. Unable to maintain a genuine narrative or continuity, unable to maintain a genuine inner world, he is driven to the proliferation of pseudo-narratives, in a pseudo-continuity, pseudo-worlds peopled by pseudo-people, phantoms.

The Sniffer

  • Intellectual before, and inclined to reflection and abstraction, he now found thought, abstraction and categorisation, somewhat difficult and unreal, in view of the compelling immediacy of each experience.

The Visions of Hildegard

  • Invested with this sense of ecstasy, burning with profound theophorous and philosophical significance, Hildegard’s visions were instrumental in directing her towards a life of holiness and mysticism. They provide a unique example of the manner in which a physiological event, banal, hateful or meaningless to the vast majority of people, can become, in a privileged consciousness, the substrate of a supreme ecstatic inspiration. One must go to Dostoyevsky, who experienced on occasion ecstatic epileptic auras to which he attached momentous significance, to find an adequate historical parallel.

The Most Intriguing Set of Twins

  • John made a gesture with two outstretched fingers and his thumb, which seemed to suggest that they had spontaneously trisected the number, or that it ‘came apart’ of its own accord, into these three equal parts, by a sort of spontaneous, numerical ‘fission’. They seemed surprised at my surprise—as if I were somehow blind; and John’s gesture conveyed an extraordinary sense of immediate, felt reality. Is it possible, I said to myself, that they can somehow ‘see’ the properties, not in a conceptual, abstract way, but as qualities, felt, sensuous, in some immediate, concrete way?
  • They summon up, they dwell among, strange scenes of numbers; they wander freely in great landscapes of numbers; they create, dramaturgically, a whole world made of numbers. They have, I believe, a most singular imagination—and not the least of its singularities is that it can imagine only numbers. They do not seem to ‘operate’ with numbers, non-iconically, like a calculator; they ‘see’ them, directly, as a vast natural scene.

The Autist Artist

  • He had a very quick eye for plant forms and colours, rapidly saw and picked a rare white clover, and found a still rarer four-leaved one. He found seven different types of grass, no less, seemed to recognise, to greet, each one as a friend. He was delighted most of all by the great yellow dandelions, open, all their florets flung open to the sun. This was his plant—it was how he felt, and to show his feeling he would draw it. The need to draw, to pay graphic reverence, was immediate and strong: he knelt down, placed his clipboard on the ground, and, holding the dandelion, drew it.


Points to Contemplate

  • Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.
  • In some sense, he had been reduced to a ‘Humean’ being—I could not help thinking how fascinated Hume would have been at seeing in Jimmie his own philosophical ‘chimaera’ incarnate, a gruesome reduction of a man to mere disconnected, incoherent flux and change.
  • It seems clear that intelligence, as such, plays no part in the matter—that the sole and essential thing is use.
  • You ‘normals’, who have the right transmitters in the right places at the right times in your brains, have all feelings, all styles, available all the time—gravity, levity, whatever is appropriate. We Touretters don’t: we are forced into levity by our Tourette’s and forced into gravity when we take Haldol. You are free, you have a natural balance: we must make the best of an artificial balance.
  • He has achieved what Nietzsche liked to call ‘The Great Health’—rare humour, valour, and resilience of spirit.
  • The power of music, narrative and drama is of the greatest practical and theoretical importance.
  • Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic.
  • Sensible, and in some sense ‘personal’ as well, for one cannot feel anything, find anything ‘sensible’, unless it is, in some way, related or relatable to oneself.
  • The autistic, by their nature, are seldom open to influence. It is their ‘fate’ to be isolated, and thus original. Their ‘vision’, if it can be glimpsed, comes from within and appears aboriginal. They seem to me, as I see more of them, to be a strange species in our midst, odd, original, wholly inwardly directed, unlike others.

Beautifully Constructed Sentences

  • What a paradox, what a cruelty, what an irony, there is here—that inner life and imagination may lie dull and dormant unless released, awakened, by an intoxication or disease!
  • The world keeps disappearing, losing meaning, vanishing—and he must seek meaning, make meaning, in a desperate way, continually inventing, throwing bridges of meaning over abysses of meaninglessness, the chaos that yawns continually beneath him.
  • There are moments, and it is only a matter of five or six seconds, when you feel the presence of the eternal harmony…a terrible thing is the frightful clearness with which it manifests itself and the rapture with which it fills you. If this state were to last more than five seconds, the soul could not endure it and would have to disappear. During these five seconds I live a whole human existence, and for that I would give my whole life and not think that I was paying too dearly…