Ode to the Written Word

“Next time you’re browsing the shelves in a library, realize you’re standing in the midst of a family discussion.” ~ Kathleen Duey

“Books, the children of the brain.” ~ Jonathan Swift

‘I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have gone ourselves.” ~ E.M. Forester

“I am part of all that I have read.” ~ John Kieran

“A house without books is a room without a soul.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

A book is: “A garden carried in a pocket.” ~ Chinese proverb

“Choose an author as you would choose a friend.” – Wentworth Dillon

These are but a few of the quotes I have collected about books and writing–does one speak to you above the others, or do they reflect the chorus of your thoughts?

I Love Me a Good Quote

English: Royal Monogram of Queen Marie-Antoine...

English: Royal Monogram of Queen Marie-Antoinette of France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What is a quote? A quote…. is a cut, a section, a slice of someone else’s orange. You suck the slice, toss the rind, skate away…..To loot someone else’s life or sentences and make off with a point of view.” ~ Anne Carson, “Foam (Essay with Rhapsody)” (from Decreation)

I love quotes. I looted this one from David Kanigan, but in the true spirit of the quote, I only took the parts that I wanted to illuminate, and left out some of the original quote, hence the dot dot dots……..

You can take quotes out of context and use them for whatever purpose you choose. The Bible, Shakespeare, and Hemingway all come to mind (those three in the same sentence is almost barbaric…)

As a journalist of sorts, I report on all manner of things, and know very well how to make someone sound stupid and mean, or intelligent and trustworthy—yet I do not use my powers, at least not consciously.  I try to be objective—and have to admit that in being objective, sometimes I am not subjective enough. Sometimes people deserve to see their words highlighted so they can see how others see them, to see the effect their words have, to see that sometimes they assess a situation incorrectly, callously, with no compassion to their fellow man or woman.

I will never stop using quotes—but when I do use them, I keep in mind that I generally use words frozen out of their original context and moulded to meet my circumstances and put forth my perspective. What did Marie Antoinette really mean when she said “Let them eat cake”? In a cursory search of this phrase I found out that she never really said it. According to Wikipedia: “Let them eat cakes was said 100 years before her by Marie-Therese, the wife of Louis XIV. It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither.” This was from the 2002 writings of the Queen’s best-selling English language biographer, Lady Antonia Fraser.

Let that be a lesson to me. I will be careful not to “skate away” without forethought when I deign to quote other’s words in an attempt to “make off with a point of view”.

Do you ever think about the fact that in quoting someone, you are putting your mark on their words?

Elixir of Life

Coffee day

Coffee day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Googled “elixir of life” this morning and these are the two quotes that showed themselves:

“Coffee makes us severe, and grave and philosophical.” ~ Jonathan Swift

This explains why I have only one cup of coffee in the morning (and generally only drink the top half). A modicum of severity (harshness) and gravity (serious solemnity) goes a long way. I could use a jolt in the philosophical nature of things though, so I hope my half cup provides me with a little theoretical logic to deeply think myself through the day. I do not want to get lost in thought though, then I would not make my bed (oh, that’s right I don’t make my bed, as I do not find it deeply logical to make up a bed I am only going to tear apart in a few hours—this high mindedness is sometimes called laziness.)

The second is taken almost entirely out of context, but on its own is powerful and exactly how I operate:

“Obey me and I will be your servant; free me and I will be your friend. Enslave me and I am a dangerous enemy; command me and I will make you mad….” ~ Patrick Harpur

Do you have a favourite quote that speaks to you?

Published in: on July 13, 2013 at 10:28 am  Comments (29)  
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Deep Tuesday Thoughts

Group of five happy children jumping outdoors.

Happy kids. (Photo credit: Lighttruth)

“Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”  ~ George Saunders

Not easy words to live by. But wise words if we take them, consider, and digest them. Then use them.

And most assuredly staying “open” will hurt. Sometimes. Other times though it will open us up to a world we would not have seen or experienced.

Dinty W. Moore, author of “The Mindful Writer” (yes, I am getting my $14.95 out of this book) says:

“Look at a child…full of wonder, amazed by the smallest thing, a yellow butterfly, a smooth rock, a stranger’s smile—or, in an instant, ready to bawl at the world’s pain and injustice.” Then he says, “Look at your average adult: jaded, seen-it-all, skeptical, ready to dismiss his own feelings as “false” because his intellect is trying to damp down his emotions.”

Moore encourages us to see the rock, the butterfly, the smile, as if for the first time and be “willing to bawl at all the world’s injustice” and to “be so open that it actually does hurt.”

So many times we will dismiss something with the hackneyed words “been there, done that”, but every situation is just a little bit different, and if we open ourselves up to it in wonder, we have created a whole new experience.

I have, on occasion, closed myself to new experiences, or shut myself away not wanting to be hurt by a person or situation—but that is no solution. We have to be open to what life offers us, and stay open as Saunders suggests, until the day we die. By not being open, we have already experienced a kind of death.

My contention is that you cannot find bliss until you remain open to “the world without end”. What do you think?

Eazy, Smeazy

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. S...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

This article expands on the quote I posted a couple of days ago. This is an excerpt from my weekly newspaper column — it is longer than my usual posts–sorry:

“Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.”  So says Robert Allen. He is the co-author of “The One Minute Millionaire”. No, I have not read his book. I just Googled him and that is what his official site says. He is apparently an author and successful. Enough said. It was really just his quote I was interested in—but people always seem to want to know who the person is that you quoted, so I have now done my due diligence. He is not my dry cleaner or the guy who cuts my lawn. Not of course that they wouldn’t have something profound to say—except I do not really have a dry cleaner and the guy who most often cuts my lawn is my eldest son.

So back to the quote. I often wonder why things always have to be difficult—because obviously being outside your comfort zone is going to be, well…..uncomfortable. I have picked up millions (okay hundreds) of books that start out telling you how to do something the easy way, but then, in the end what they are expounding is not easy at all.  For a long time, I was attracted to books that had the word “simple” in their title. My definition of simple involves things that are straightforward and uncomplicated.

Now I do not expect things to necessarily be easy (although that would be nice—it is too much to ask) nor would I want them to be effortless, as that would just take the fun out of everyday life—but why I ask you, do we always have to be ready to climb out of our comfort zone? It is our comfort zone for a reason—we are happy there.

But I guess that is the whole point. We are not always happy in our comfort zone. Things get stale, too workaday, and we find ourselves stuck in a rut without something to leverage us out of it. That is when we need to employ Allen’s theory.

So, taking that into account I have decided to climb out of my comfort zone, which will involve some hard work on my part. Perhaps, I will start out as simply as my feeble mind can conjure up, and work my way up to the bigger things. So here is my tentative list. I call it my “walking on fire” list, even though I never intend to walk on fire—I like the analogy.

Walk on Fire List

1. I will go to the grocery store with a list and follow it religiously. I will shop the outside perimeter of the store (as apparently that is where all the healthy stuff is) and avoid my evil cupcakes, my addiction to non-diet cola drinks (which I have kept under wraps since I found out how much sugar I am consuming), and my propensity for bologna (which I also try to avoid for many reasons—but sometimes I just can’t help myself). But the big thing here is I am going to stick to my list.

2. I am going to learn how to pump gas, as gas is always cheaper at those places where you pump your own gas. This is way out of my comfort zone, but I am determined.

3. I am going to write for my blog every day. (Okay this is not out of my comfort zone as I am already doing that—but I need to succeed at something on this list.)

4. I am going to become a stand-up comedian. Now this is so far out of my comfort zone that it is in someone else’s. First of all I hate memorizing, and I have never seen a stand-up comedian go on stage with notes written on a card. Second, I hate talking in front of people. Seriously, it is like a disease. Ask me my name in front of more than two people and I forget it. Third, I do not take criticism well (though a lot of comedians don’t either—but they just work it into their act.) Fourth, I try to make it a practice not to swear or be off-colour, thus cutting my audience down to about three people who would be interested in anything I would have to say. And fifth—okay this is not sounding too promising, I know—but if you don’t have dreams………..

5. I am going to stop procrastinating, get so organized I will not recognize myself, drive further than 15 miles from my home, and make a million in a minute like Mr. Allen. So there. If you can’t dream big, why dream at all?

(And yes, I know I did not spell easy correctly just in case you were wondering.)

Cover of "The One Minute Millionaire"

Cover of The One Minute Millionaire

Published in: on August 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm  Comments (32)  
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