& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In the Skin of a Lion-II

I’ve just finished reading Michael Ondaatje’s masterpiece. I’ll write about the book later, after I have ruminated on it for some time. Today, I'll share some nuggets from the book.

  • The first sentence of every novel should be: “Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.”

  • All his life Patrick Lewis has lived beside novels and their clear stories. Authors accompanying their heroes clarified motives. World events raised characters from destitution. The books would conclude with all wills rectified and all romances solvent. Even the spurned lover accepted the fact that the conflict had ended.

  • Patrick never believed that characters lived only on the page. They altered when the author’s eye was somewhere else. Outside the plot there was a great darkness, but there would of course be daylight elsewhere on earth. Each character had his own time zone, his own lamp, otherwise they were just men from nowhere.

  • He has always been alien, the third person in the picture. He is born in this country who knows nothing of the place...He was a watcher, a corrector...He searched out things. He collected things. He was an abashed man...What did the word mean? Something that suggested there was a terrible horizon in him beyond which he couldn’t leap. Something hollow, so when alone, when not aligned with another...he could hear the rattle within that suggested a space between him and community. A gap of love.

  • Seduction was the natural progression of curiosity.

  • And suddenly Patrick, surrounded by friendship, concern, was smiling, feeling the tears on his face falling towards his stern Macedonian-style moustache...He looked up and saw the men and women who could not know why he wept now among these strangers who in the past had seemed to him like dark blinds on his street, their street, for he was their alien.

  • I don’t think so. I don’t believe the language of politics, but I’ll protect the friends I have. It’s all I can handle.

  • ...of course some make it. They do it by becoming just like the ones they want to overtake...

  • The vista was Upper America, a New World. Landscape changed nothing but it brought rest, altered character as gradually as water on stone.

  • The trouble with ideology, Alice, is that it hates the private. You must make it human.

  • She was never self-centered in her mythologies.

  • The detritus and chaos of the age was realigned.

  • “The only thing that holds the rich to the earth is property.”

  • “In a rich man’s house there is nowhere to spit except in his face.” Diogenes.

  • “He lay down to sleep, until he was woken from out of a dream. He saw the lions around him glorying in life; then he took his axe in his hand, he drew his sword from his belt, and he fell upon them like an arrow from the strong.”

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