Commonplace Book, Also

Welcome to the sixth aggregation of quotations that interest me — that is, the sixth blog installment of my “commonplace book,” a sixteenth-century tradition (that continued for several centuries), in which “one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement” (OED).  I’ve thus far done two other “general” collections of quotations, and three devoted to children’s literature. You’ll find links to the other such posts at the bottom of this one.

This collection of thoughts seems to fall in the category of “with arrangement.” That is, the ten quotations below do have a sort of logic to them. They all seem to address a search for meaning, and for hope — or at least for the will to keep struggling.

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.

Warren Zevon, Sentimental Hygiene (1987)—Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims, Vol. 2 (1851), Ch. 23

It’s tough to be somebody. It’s hard not to fall apart.
— Warren Zevon, “Detox Mansion,” Sentimental Hygiene (1987)
 
 
I’m reminded also of the three rules we came up with, rules to live by. And I’m just going to tell you what they are because they come in really handy. Because things happen so fast, it’s always good to have a few, like, watchwords to fall back on.

And the first one is: One. Don’t be afraid of anyone. Now, can you imagine living your life afraid of no one? Two. Get a really good bullshit detector. And three. Three is be really, really tender. And with those three things, you don’t need anything else.

— Laurie Anderson, describing her and Lou Reed’s rules to live by, in induction speech for Lou Reed, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 18 April 2015.

I’m just this meat sack with a conscience trying to make sense out of all this bright noise.

— Traci Brimhall, in Todd Gleason, “Building Impossible Houses: A Conversation With Traci Brimhall,” Drunk in a Midnight Choir, 8 June 2015.

Charles Simic, A Wedding in Hell (1994)Every worm is a martyr,
Every sparrow is subject to injustice,
I said to my cat,
Since there was no one else around.

It’s raining. In spite of their huge armies
What can the ants do?
And the roach on the wall
Like a waiter in an empty restaurant?

I’m going to the cellar
To stroke the rat caught in a trap.
You watch the sky.
If it clears, scratch on the door.

—Charles Simic, “Explaining a Few Things,” from A Wedding in Hell (1994)

There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.

—Toni Morrison, “No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear,” The Nation, 23 Mar. 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015)So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.

—Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (2015), p. 71

Buck up — never say die. We’ll get along!

—Charlie Chaplin, final words of Modern Times (1936)

We’re all just walking each other home.

—Ram Dass

Chaplin, Modern Times (1936): final scene

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