"pausing beyond the closed door and softly knocking, softly knocking, on loves coffin."
- Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow (1991)
"I choose lines and circles because they do the job.
My art is about working in the wide world,
wherever, on the surface of the earth.
My work is not urban, nor is it romantic.
It is the laying down of modern ideas
in the only practical places to take them.”
- Richard Long, Five, six, pick up sticks (1980)
"Gragnola was dead. He had saved the Cossacks, got me back safely, and then died. I knew perfectly well how it had happened, he had foretold it too many times. He was a coward and feared that if they tortured him he would talk, would name names, sending his comrades to the slaughterhouse. It was for them he had died, Just like that, sffft, as I was sure he had done with the two Germans - a kind of Dantesque poetic justice, perhaps. The courageous death of a coward. He had paid for the only violent act of his life, and in the process purged himself of the remorse he was carrying within him and would no doubt have found unbearable. He had screwed them all: Fascists, Germans, and God in a single stroke. Sffft.”
- Umberto Eco The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (2004, trans. Geoffrey Brock)
This would definitely count as a spoiler - but it’s obvious anyway. It’s a great human moment in book which feels a bit lacking in real human characters - that is despite Eco himself. A great read though!
"You read any old story as a child, and you cultivate it in your memory, transform it, exalt it, sometimes elevating the blandest thing to the status of myth."
- Umberto Eco The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (2004)
"Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again. “
- A.E. Housman, from A Shropshire Lad (1896)
"They only watch the story line. But story is not only about human actions, everything can be a story. A man waiting at a corner can be a story. There are many things that are important in real life but that filmmakers find boring. I don’t think that these things are boring. In my films, I want to be closer to life than to cinema."
- Bela Tarr
Paraphrased from a Strangewood post. Thanks!
“‘I taught him,’ he quavered, ‘to trust in love. I said: “When love comes that is reality.” I said: “Passion does not blind. No. Passion is sanity, and the woman you love, she is the only person you will ever really understand.” He sighed: ‘True, everlastingly true, though my day is over. Poor boy! He is so sorry!’”
- E. M. Forster, A Room With a View (1908)
(Phew confusing quote marks there.)
"The stream does not flow between pre-cut banks, but cuts its even as it flows. Likewise, as we have seen, people shape the landscape even as they dwell. And human activities, as well as the action of rivers and the sea, contribute significantly to the process of erosion. As you watch, the stream flows, folks are at work, a landscape is being formed, and time passes."
- Tim Ingold, ‘The temporality of the landscape’ (p.203)
"The concept of landscape […] puts the emphasis on form, in just the same way that the concept of the body emphasises the form rather than the function of a living creature. If the body is the form in which a creature is present as a being-in-the-world, then the world of its being-in presents itself in the form of the landscape […] Both sets of forms are generated and sustained in and through the processual unfolding of a total field of relations which cuts across the emergent interface between organism and environment […] we may refer to this process as one of embodiment.”
- Tim Ingold ‘The temporaily of the landscape’ in The Perception of The Environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill (2000) (p.193)
Ingold stresses the difference here between the landscape and the environment. Like the body of a creature, Ingold argues that our understanding of a landscape must come from an appreciation of a whole range of relations betweenorganisms and environments. The relations between functions of a creature become formalised in the organism’s body or shape, just in the same way that the environment, through relations to organisms, weather and so on, has a form or shape. Landscape is therefore the embodiment of the environment. - As far as I understand it anyway…
I’m really enjoying this collection of essays and will be sure to post more quotes from them. Ingold has some great, and quite hard to communicate, ideas about landscape and how we understand it.
"Ah, he thought, the truth bursting on him suddenly, nobody grows up. Everyone carries around all the selves that they have ever been, intact, waiting to be reactivated in moments of pain, of fear, of danger. Everything is retrievable, every shock, every hurt. But perhaps it becomes a duty to abandon the stock of time that one carries around within oneself, to discard it in favour of the present, so that one’s embrace may be turned outwards to the world in which one has made one’s home."
- Anita Brookner, Latecomers (1988)
"The moment he pushes open the door the place speaks to me of prehistoric times, earlier even than the era of the cave men and lake dwellers that I have studied in school, a time when above the oozing bog that was the earth, swirling white gases choked out the sunlight, and aeons passed while the planet was drained for Man. I lose touch instantaneously with that ass licking little boy who runs home after school with his A’s in his hand, the little overearnest innocent endlessly in search of the key to that unfathomable mystery, his mother’s approbation, and am back in some sloppy watery time, before there were families such as we know them, before there were toilets and tragedies such as we know them, a time of amphibious creatures, plunging brainless hulking things, with wet flanks and steaming torsos."
- Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint (1969)
“Speaking of novels,’ I said, ‘you remember we decided once, you, your husband and I, that Proust’s rough masterpiece was a huge, ghoulish fairy tale, an asparagus dream, totally unconnected with any possible people in any historical France, a sexual travestissement and a colossal farce, the vocabulary of genius and its poetry, but no more, impossibly rude hostesses, please let me speak, and even ruder guests, mechanical Dostoevskian rows and Tolstoian nuances of snobbishness repeated and expanded to an unsufferable length, adorable seascapes, melting avenues, no, do not interrupt me, light and shade effects rivaling those of the greatest English poets, a flora of metaphors, described—by Cocteau, I think—as “a mirage of suspended gardens,” and, I have not yet finished, an absurd, rubber-and-wire romance between a blond young blackguard (the fictitious Marcel), and an improbable jeune fille who has a pasted-on bosom, Vronski’s (and Lyovin’s) thick neck, and a cupid’s buttocks for cheeks; but—and now let me finish sweetly—we were wrong, Sybil, we were wrong in denying our little beau ténébreux the capacity of evoking “human interest”: it is there, it is there—maybe a rather eighteenth-centuryish, or even seventeenth-centuryish, brand, but it is there. Please, dip or redip, spider, into this book [offering it], you will find a pretty marker in it bought in France, I want John to keep it. Au revoir, Sybil, I must go now. I think my telephone is ringing.”
- Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (originally published 1962)
"Francoise and Jean went slowly into the empty house. Darkness was falling and a last melancholy glimmer of light lit up the silent rooms. Everything seemed so old under this venerable roof, which had provided shelter for her wretched toiling ancestors over some three centuries, that there was the same solemn atmosphere that you feel in the shadow of old village churches. The doors had been left open and a blast of wind seemed to have blown through the timbers; chairs were lying in disorder on the floor, relics of the catastrophe of the eviction. The house seemed dead."
- Emile Zola, La Terre (trans. Douglas Parmee, 1980 )
"At this, Jesus Christ suddenly came to life. The flames of his punch were subsiding, he sat up and leant back in his chair, seeing that all the other people drinking had fallen silent and were watching how he would react.
'The land?' he bellowed. 'The land doesn't give a brass farthing for you. You're just a slave to it, you bloody fool. It takes away all your pleasure, all your strength, your whole life… It doesn't even make you rich! While I, who despise it and sit there with folded arms and give it a kick up the arse now and again, I live like a prince, as you can see, I just drink… Yes, bloody hell!'”
- Emile Zola, La Terre (trans. Douglas Parmee)
"On mornings when the weather was fine a pink mist would melt away, and as the sun rose higher in the limpid air, a gentle wind would blow in steady gusts, hollowing the fields out in waves which started on the skyline and swept along until they died away further on the horizon. The fields quivered and grew paler, the wheat was shot through with tints of old gold, the oats were tinged with blue whilst the rye trembled with glints of purple. And as one undulation followed the next the fields heaved ceaselessly under the ocean breath. As evening fell, the walls of the distant houses in the sun’s rays looked like white sails and the steeples reared up like masts from the folds of the earth. It grew cold and damp and the increasing gloom heightened the impression of a murmuring open sea; and a wood vanishing in the distance was like part of a sinking continent."
- Emile Zola, La Terre (trans. Douglas Parmee)