Friday, August 12, 2011

Noted fragments from a few years past

I keep a reading notebook in which I jot down both long and short passages from books that simply strike me, move me, provoke me, or, stated simply, correspond with my heart. This afternoon I came across one from 5 or 6 years ago, I don't believe I used any of the quotes I recorded in this particular notebook for anything. Among the books from which I gathered quote are books I read from were Austerlitz, a book by one of my all-time favorite authors, the late W.G. Seabald, Father Joe, by Tony Hendra, which remains one of the best I've read over the past ten years or so, and Ignorance, by another author whose works my life would be poorer without, Milan Kundera. Also included are bits by Susan Howatch, whose Starbridge series of novels are marvelous expositions on the spiritual life and a bit by the Dane, Kierkegaard- not necessarily in that order.

From Austerlitz:
I think how little we can hold in mind, how everything is instantly lapsing into oblivion with every extinguished life, how the world is, as it were, draining itself, in that the history of countless places and objects which themselves have no power of memory is never heard, never described or passed on

Seabald writing about the Palace of Justice in Brussels
the largest accumulation of stone blocks anywhere in Europe...this huge pile of seven hundred thousand cubic meters contains corridors and stairways leading nowhere and doorless rooms and halls where no one would ever set foot, empty spaces surrounded by walls and representing the innermost secret of all sanctioned authority

Palace of Justice- Brussels, Belgium

From Ignorance
"The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering". So nostalgia is the suffering caused by and unappeased yearning to return"

Also by Kundera from Ignorance
All predictions are wrong, that's one of the few certainties granted to mankind. But though predictions may be wrong, they are right about the people who voice them, not about their future but about their experience of the present moment

From Søren Kierkegaard's journal for May 1843 "Faith has hope of this life...but only by virtue of the absurd, not because of human reason; otherwise it would be mere worldly wisdom."

From Susan Howatch's The High Flyer said by Anglican priest, Fr. Lewis Hall:
...since we see through a glass darkly there are inevitably going to be times when we're obliged to live with uncertainty. Only the narrow-minded think they know the truth about everything, and their certainty is usually a response born of fear

Tony Hendra from Father Joe
A saint is a person who practices humility. Humility in the face of wealth and plenty, humility in the face of hatred and violence, humility in the face of strength, humility in the face of your own genius or lack of it, humility in the face of pain and death. Saints are driven to humbling themselves before all the splendor and horror of the world because they perceive there to be something divine in it, something pulsing and alive beneath the hard dead surface of material things, something inconceivably greater and purer than they...


  1. Just before I read this post, I read the following:

    "If memories can be a source of genuine hope in the midst of darkness, nostalgia can hinder communities and guardians of memory from pursuing the hard labor involved in the purification of memories."

    - Bradford E. Hinze, "Ecclesial Impasse: What Can We Learn From Our Laments?" Theological Studies 72 (2011), p. 488.


A political non-rant

In the wake of yesterday's Helsinki press conference, which, like a lot of my fellow U.S. citizens, as well as many people abroad, left ...