I'm reading Reality Hunger, David Shields's commonplace book, and it led me to rummage around until I found a few pages of quotes and passages I'd kept, typed out from my reading, when I was an undergrad. They never had an arc beyond my liking them. I still like a lot of them:

"Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops." --Kurt Vonnegut

"'You have to let other people be right,' was his answer to their insults. 'It consoles them for not being anything else.'"--Andre Gide

"It is better to say 'I am suffering' than to say 'This landscape is ugly.'"--Simone Weil

"Indeed, her injuries were the cleanest areas of her body."--Patricia Cornwell

"There is a curious, extremely interesting term in Japanese that refers to a very special manner of polite, aristocratic speech known as 'play language,' asobase kotoba, whereby, instead of saying to a person, for example, 'I see that you have come to Tokyo,' one would express the observation by saying 'I see that you are playing at being in Tokyo'--the idea being that the person addressed is in such control of his life and his powers that for him everything is a play, a game. He is able to enter into life as one would enter into a game, freely and with ease. And this idea is carried so far that instead of saying to a person, 'I hear that your father has died,' you would say, rather, 'I hear that your father has played at dying.'"--Joseph Campbell

"Had we a theatre, would you, tragic one, stand there again and again--" --Rilke

"help me sing of grandpa who went to the store for a tube of toothpaste 16,000 lines of dactylic hexameter ago and never returned"--Mark Leyner

"Nature has given way to aura. A man cuts himself shaving and someone is signed up to write the biography of the cut."--Don Delillo

"'How strange it is that they can't tell us what they themselves seem to know,' a tall, thin beast murmured.'"--Madeleine L'Engle

"I have always been fascinated by that story which a friend found for me in a geography textbook: certain Australian tribes, when one of their members dies, eliminate a word from the vocabulary as a sign of mourning. This makes language equivalent to life, asserts that men are in control of what they say and that they give it orders rather than receive them from it."--Roland Barthes

"Even when we don't desire it,/God is ripening." --Rilke

"The place we rip open again and again/that always heals--that's God."--Rilke

"She always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day."--Virginia Woolf

"I want to take your hands off my hips/and put them on a statue's hips"--Frank O'Hara

"the high lore's in the mail"--Pattie McCarthy

"We say 'far away,' the Zulu has for that a word which means, in our sentence form, 'There where someone cries out, 'O mother, I am lost.' The Fuegian soars above our analytic wisdom with a seven-syllabled word whose precise meaning is, 'They stare at one another, each waiting for the other to volunteer to do what both wish, but are not able to do.'"--Buber

"Can I safely say that Greece was mainly/water, rock, and ideas?"--David Berman

"You can press his pants/but you cannot pant//when he presses you/against his Tuscan postcards"--John Yau

"Please do not understand me too quickly."--Gide

"If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion...but also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion." --Ursula LeGuin

"That feelings yield no personal life is understood only by a few. For the most personal life of all seems to reside in feelings, and if, like the modern man, you have learned to concern yourself wholly with your own feelings, despair at their unreality will not easily instruct you in a better way--for despair is also an interesting feeling."--Buber

"Baboons love maize. I have seen them running through maize fields in an orgy of gluttony, sticking an ear of maize under each arm, grabbing more ears, letting the first ears drop, replacing them with more ears, which fall when the next two ears are stolen. At the end of the row the baboon emerges with two ears of maize--and a whole trail of fallen and abandoned ears."--William Maples

"As long as he had his own car he was an American and could not die"--Joyce Carol Oates

"Believe me, for certain men at least, not taking what one doesn't desire is the hardest thing in the world."--Camus

"Liking is probably the best form of ownership, and ownership is the worst form of liking."--Jose Saramago

"What do you expect, one is what one is, partly at least."--Beckett

"What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the World but Loose-Fish? What all men's minds and opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a Fast-Fish, too?"--Melville


I'm enjoying the Shields--I'm about half-way through--but I'm not finding it as fresh and illuminating as some reviewers are, or as off-putting as other reviewers are. Part of me keeps thinking, "But poets have known this stuff for decades."


I didn't click through to this gallery of prom photos of lesbian couples for a few days after seeing the link. Mistake. It's really heartening. Very good medicine.

Autostraddle's looking for more photos for the gallery, curated in response to the school in Mississippi that cancelled the prom entirely in response to a lesbian student's request to bring a female date.

Thanks to Abby Henderson for the link.


Eurythmics at the 1984 Grammys

How is it I remained unaware until now that Annie Lennox performed in some serious male drag at the 1984 Grammys? By "serious," I mean without camping it up, without giving a cute reassuring wink to indicate that she'd be a girl again when the performance was over. The plainness, frankness, of this performance makes it far more exciting and transgressive to me than Madonna's much-talked-about VMA performance from the same year.

See below or click to view.