On Friday, for an English lesson with two of my more charming and intelligent students (sisters in high-school), we read and analyzed an interview with Nick Hornby in Speak Up. One quote of his stuck out to me. When asked if he was concerned that the most popular (or rather best selling) books aren't necessarily "literature," he responded that people reading high literature aren't necessarily better than those who enjoy The Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter, so what does it matter?
Here is the quote:
"We all know- I'm sure you know as many as me- people who are extremely well read and they are also very bad people. So what have they learnt from these books? Nothing! These books are supposed to be great moral improvers and yet these people are just as likely to cheat on their wives, or cheat their expenses, as anybody else. So you think, "Well what is the value of this reading that we're always being told about?"
It was nice to remember it's not what you read, but how you act.
P.S. I haven't read any of Hornby's novels yet. Although I have been noticing them more and more and am excited to get to it- any recommendations of where to start?
Thank you for Holden Caulfield, thank you for Franny, thank you for Zooey posted at 5:02 AM
J.D. Salinger passed away at 91. I am a big fan of Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey and, of course, The Catcher in the Rye. I read all of three of his major works at different periods in my life. I can remember how old I was and where I was, how I was feeling and what I was doing when I discovered each of his charming characters that capture the unsatisfactory nature of life so well. My nickname for my first boyfriend was Holden Caulfield. As required reading, I finished The Catcher in Rye in high school while dating him. I was a sophomore at the time. So what, like 16? Holden Caulfield and I would spend hours aimlessly driving around Fullerton. We just wanted to get out of the house to smoke one of the cigarettes we weren't old enough to buy. We would frequent the same spots- "the top of the world," (I think every city has one), coffee shops, the movies, parking lots, and friends houses- just trying to stay out from under our parent's watchful eye while listening to mix cds we made for each other.
Four or five years later, I started reading Nine Stories one random morning while lounging around Maya's old apartment in Echo Park, waiting for Pamela to wake up. I remember being so inthralled by the stories I didn't even notice that just below the living room window a police man came and went while giving me a parking ticket. I read Franny and Zooey about six months later while living at home after college, and working ridiculous hours at a sales position in a telecommunications company. After hitting doors all day, I would read Franny and Zooey in the bathtub with the door locked, and it was soo good it really did help me relax and forget about Southern California traffic.
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behaviour. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.” -R.I.P. J.D. Salinger
I took this pic right after Messi scored his second goal of the game, which was also the winning score. Barcelona won 4-0.
We bought scalped tickets. At 30€/each they were 10€ less than the printed price. We were also able to sneak down a level, which was a huge improvement because it was sprinkling. Not only were we closer, but in a covered section of the stadium. They don't serve alcohol at the stadium, which was nice- we cheered on FC Barcelona while drinking coffee and eating peanuts.
I fought the war, I fought the war... but the war won posted at 5:38 PM
Artists create out of a craving to express something. Obviously. Most people are artists, in some way or another.
I was wandering the Musee D'Orsay, my favorite museum in Paris, listening to short stories on my iPod and thinking about how painters, sculptors, and writers are all trying to capture a human truth.
If they can reproduce through their art the
misery and happiness of life,
the vain search for meaning,
the difficulty and beauty of temporary things- if they can communicate their intuition about these things with others - then perhaps it will all be easier to deal with... because they won't be going about it alone.
This craving drives artists mad. Myself included. I was so impressed and awed by the art I was surrounded with, thinking that these artists should feel so satisfied and complete with their work on display. Yet we all know, from reading interviews and autobiographies, that even the most successful artists don't find satisfaction, inner peace, from their works of art... their craving to create more doesn't go away, they are always searching for more inspiration in life...
We will go mad, yes, there is nothing to do about that, continue to create, the world is grateful to you. Try to remember at the worst of times that there is nothing you sing that can't be sung...
Everybody already understands,and in their own way are suffering and thriving through the human condition with you. From the point of view of the artist or the audience, it is known before being painted that all things must pass, one day we will all die, and that's okay, because things are only precious if they don't last. And everything here is precious.
Thoughts on the over night train to Paris... posted at 12:42 PM
True travelers pack light. They do not hesitate to try new things. They know that people who have to consider and plan things for too long won't ever see half of the things they see. When given an opportunity for flights or trains they jump on it before it passes them by. I was wishing a friend was on this train with me, trying to journey to the end of the earth with me.... but like I said, true travelers pack light, so they can pick up and leave again at the drop of a ball.
Do you think you can be in love more than once? The Spanish say you will have three loves in your life. While I was traveling through India a young doctor, a serious man, told me solemnly, "I believe you can only be in love once. Everything after that is compromise." He was in love with a Muslim doctor who he could not marry because his family was Hindu.
I think you can be in love more than once, because love fades... just like everything else.
Passage from The Great Gatsby that reminds me of Los Angeles... posted at 2:17 PM
"I felt an unpleasantness in the air, a pervading harshness that hadn't been there before.
Or perhaps I had merely grown used to it, grown to accept West Egg as a world complete in itself, with it's own standards and it's own great figures, second to nothing because it had no consciousness of being so, and now I was looking at it again, through Daisy's eyes. It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expanded your own powers of adjustment.
Almost the last thing I remember was standing with Daisy and watching the movie picture director and his Star. They were still under the white plum tree and their faces were touching except for a pale, thin ray of moonlight between. It occurred to me that he had been very slowly bending towards her all evening to attain this proximity, and even while I watched I saw him stoop one ultimate degree and kiss at her cheek.
'I like her,' said Daisy, 'I think she's lovely.'
But the rest offended her- and inarguably, because it wasn't a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled by West Egg, this unprecedented 'place' that Broadway had begotten upon a Long Island fishing village - appalled by it's raw vigor that chafed under the old euphemisms and by the too obtrusive fate that herded its inhabitants along a short-cut from nothing to nothing. She saw something awful in the very simplicity she failed to understand."