Sunday, January 31, 2010

Times that we met/ Before we met

1) From “Where or When” by Rodgers and Hart (1937)

It seems we stood and talked like this before
We looked at each other the same way then
But I can't remember where or when

The clothes you're wearing are the clothes you wore
The smile you are smiling you were smiling then
But I can't remember where or when

Some things that happen for the first time
Seem to be happening again

And so it seems that we have met before
And laughed before and loved before
But who knows where or when?

2) From “The Mystery Zone” by Spoon (2010)

Picture yourself
Set up for good in a whole other life
In the mystery zone

Make us a house
Some far away town
Where nobody will know us well
Where your dad's not around
And all the trouble you look for all your life
You will find it for sure
In the mystery zone

Times that we met
Before we met
Times that we met
We'll go there
To the mystery zone
Ah the mystery zone

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shirt cardboards

1) From "Franny and Zooey," by J.D. Salinger, (1961)

"With his face in his hands and his handkerchief headgear drooping low over his brow, Zooey sat at Seymour's old desk, inert, but not asleep, for a good twenty minutes. Then, almost in one movement, he removed the support for his face, picked up his cigar, stowed it in his mouth, opened the left-hand bottom drawer of the desk, and took out, using both hands, a seven- or eight-inch-stack of what appeared to be — and were — shirt cardboards. He placed the stack before him on the desk and began to turn the cards over, two or three at a time. His hand stayed only once, really, and then quite briefly.

"The cardboard that he stopped at had been written on in February, 1938. The handwriting, in blue-lead pencil, was his brother Seymour's:

"My twenty-first birthday. Presents, presents, presents. Zooey and the baby, as usual, shopped lower Broadway. They gave me a fine supply of itching powder and a box of three stink bombs. I'm to drop the bombs in the elevator at Columbia or 'someplace very crowded' whenever I get a good chance.

"Several acts of vaudeville tonight for my entertainment. Les and Bessie did a lovely soft-shoe on sand swiped by Boo-Boo from the urn in the lobby. When they were finished, B. and Boo-Boo did a pretty funny imitation of them. Les nearly in tears. The baby sang 'Abdul Abulbul Amir.' Z. did the Will Mahoney exit Les taught him, ran smack into the bookcase and was furious. The twins did B.'s and my old Buck & Bubbles imitation. But to perfection. Marvellous. In the middle of it, the doorman called up on the housephone and asked if anybody was dancing up there. A Mr. Seligman on the fourth—

"There Zooey quit reading. He gave the stack of cardboards a solid-sounding double tap on the desk surface, as one taps a deck of cards, then dropped the stack back into the bottom drawer and closed the drawer."

2) From "The Puttermesser Papers," by Cynthia Ozick, (1997)

"Puttermesser went on studying. In law school they called her a grind, a competitive-compulsive, an egomaniac out for aggrandizement. But ego was no part of it; she was looking solve something, she did not know what. At the back of the linen closet she found a stack of her father's old shirt cardboards (her mother was provident, stingy: in kitchen drawers Puttermesser still discovered folded squares of used ancient waxed paper, million-creased into whiteness, cheese-smelling, nesting small unidentifiable wormlets); so behind the riser pipe in the bathroom Puttermesser kept weeks' worth of Sunday Times crossword puzzles stapled to these laundry boards and worked them indiscriminately. She played chess against herself, and was always victor over the color she had decided to identify with. She organized tort cases on index cards. It was not that she intended to remember everything: situation—it was her tendency to call intellectual problems 'situation' —slipped into her mind like butter into a bottle."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There is, nevertheless, a place where you can find it.

1) From “The Way of Man,” by Martin Buber (1950)

“Rabbi Bunam used to tell young men who came to him for the first time the story of Rabbi Eizik, son of Rabbi Yekel of Cracow. After many years of great poverty which had never shaken his faith in God, he dreamed someone bade him look for a treasure in Prague, under the bridge which leads to the king’s palace. When the dream recurred a third time, Rabbi Eizik prepared for the journey and set out for Prague. But the bridge was guarded day and night and he did not dare to start digging. Nevertheless he went to the bridge every morning and kept walking around it until evening. Finally the captain of the guards, which had been watching him, asked in a kindly way whether he was looking for something or waiting for somebody. Rabbi Eizik told him of the dream which had brought him here from a faraway country. The captain laughed: ‘And so to please the dream, you poor fellow wore out your shoes to come here! As for having faith in dreams, if I had had it, I should have had to get going when a dream once told me to go to Cracow and dig for treasure under the stove in the room of a Jew— Eizik, son of Yekel, that was the name! Eizik, son of Yekel! I can just imagine what it would be like, how I should have to try every house over there, where one half of the Jews are named Eizik and the other half Yekel!’ And he laughed again. Rabbi Eizik bowed, traveled home, dug up the treasure from under the stove, and built the House of Prayer which is called ‘Reb Eizik Reb Yekel’s Shul.’

“’Take this story to heart,’ Rabbi Bunam used to add, ‘and make what it says your own: There is something you cannot hind anywhere in the world, not even at the zaddik’s, and there is, nevertheless, a place where you can find it.’”

2) From “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” by Flannery O’Connor, published in “Mystery and Manners” (1969)

“We hear a great deal of lamentation these days about writers having all taken themselves to the colleges and universities where they live decorously instead of going out and getting first hand information about life. The fact is that anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”