Former Lines 2012

Collected Quotes

5.20.2012.  Poetry–literature in general–is the major cultural source of vital options for those who find that their lives fall short of their highest hopes.  Literature is, I believe, our best goad toward new beginnings….~~Mark Edmundson, Why Read?

5.27.2012.  I try to conjure up an image of myself at that time, also one of you, but it’s like conjuring the dead.  How do I know I’m not inventing both of us, and if I’m not inventing then it really is like conjuring the dead, a dangerous game.  –Margaret Atwood, “Hair Jewellery”

6.3.2012.  “In some city in the world, on all the walls, those words have to appear in writing: ‘Eyes of a blue dog,’ ” I said.  “If I remembered them tomorrow I could find you.”  –Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Eyes of a Blue Dog”

6.10.2012.  She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older–the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning.  –Jane Austen, Persuasion

6.17.2012.  An artist may be a profligate and, from the social point of view, a scoundrel.  But if he can paint a nude woman, or a couple of apples, so that they are a living image, then he was pure in spirit, and, for the time being, his was the kingdom of heaven.  This is the beginning of all art, visual or literary or musical:  be pure in spirit.  It isn’t the same as goodness.  It is much more difficult and nearer the divine.  The divine isn’t only good, it is all things.  –D.H. Lawrence, “Making Pictures”

7.5.2012.  A great work of art is like a dream; for all its apparent obviousness it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal.  A dream never says: “You ought,” or: “This is the truth.”  It presents an image in much the same way as nature allows a plant to grow, and we must draw our own conclusions.  –Carl Gustav Jung, “Psychology and Literature”

8.1.2012.  All the girls do pretty well. Ruby Gillis is rather sentimental. She puts too much lovemaking into her stories and you know too much is worse than too little. Jane never puts any because she says it makes her feel so silly when she had to read it out loud. Jane’s stories are extremely sensible. Then Diana puts too many murders into hers. She says most of the time she doesn’t know what to do with the people so she kills them off to get rid of them. I mostly always have to tell them what to write about, but that isn’t hard for I’ve millions of ideas.  –L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

8.5.2012.  I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his penthouse lid;
He shall live a man forbid.
Weary se’nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine;
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-toss’d.
–Shakespeare, Macbeth

8.13.2012.  The indirect boast; for you are really proud of your defects in writing, because you consider them as proceeding from a rapidity of thought and carelessness of execution, which, if not estimable, you think at least highly interesting.  –Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

8.27.2012.  More miles, more sand, and we all grew quiet as though the heat that screwed down and the expanding emptiness were nothing worth noting.  I had seen stretches of barren plain in Oklahoma and Texas but never the kind of infinite sweep that lay before me, the sand that moved like an animal rippling its hide, sloughing its skin, shifting, laying down, rising again.  –Kim Barnes, In the Kingdom of Men

9.3.2012.  “As far as I have had opportunity of judging, it appears to me that the usual style of letter-writing among women is faultless, except in three particulars.”

“And what are they?”

“A general deficiency of subject, a total inattention to stops, and a very frequent ignorance of grammar.”

–Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

9.9.2012.  But the way to tame the Devil is not to go down there to church and listen to what a sinful mean fool he is.  No, love the Devil like you love Jesus because he is a powerful man, and will do you a good turn if he knows you trust him.  –Truman Capote, “Children on Their Birthdays”

9.17.2012.  People said that he resembled Byron—at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.–Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days

9.23.2012.  Mr. Filch, the caretaker, has asked me to tell you that the list of objects forbidden inside the castle has this year been extended to include Screaming Yo-Yos, Fanged Frisbees, and Ever-Bashing Boomerangs.  The full list comprises some four hundred and thirty-seven items, I believe, and can be viewed in Mr. Filch’s office, if anybody would like to check it.  –J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

10.5.2012.  Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!  –Rosalind Russell, Auntie Mame (film)

11.1.2012.  Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, and each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.  –Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”

11.9.2012.  The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.   –L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

11.19.2012.  The book was blank, all the words had fallen out.

Her husband said, the book is blank.

His wife said, a funny thing happened to me on my way to the present moment.  I was shaking the book, to get all the typos out, and all of a sudden all the words and punctuation fell out too.  Maybe the whole book was a typo?

And what did you do with the words? said her husband.

I made a package and mailed it to a fictitious address, she said.

–Russell Edson, “The Blank Book”

11.26.2012.  “We do try to avoid that particular word when making a diagnosis,” said Dr. Chumley with a sigh, “but sometimes I wonder if the human race isn’t collectively as mad as a sack of doorknobs. […]”  –Jasper Fforde, The Woman Who Died A Lot

12.7.2012.  Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild. The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild—as wild as wild could be—and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. –Rudyard Kipling, “The Cat That Walked By Himself” from Just So Stories

12.31.12.  It was the kind of dream you cannot shake off, that clings to the skin.  You notice it at the oddest moments, your arm vaguely green as you reach through a patch of morning sun for the Cheerios box on the kitchen table.  Or in those moments, barefoot in the garden, when your toes disappear in a profusion of potato plants.  –Barbara Hurd, “The Country Below”


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