The transition into summertime has been a disconcerting one to say the least. Going from a jam-packed schedule that barely provides me time to eat, much less wander aimlessly or watch multiple movies, to an open ended abyss of free time has left me scrambling for things to do. The first few days of freedom were fully appreciated, as I frolicked in the sun and relished sleeping and bopping about. Now, however, restlessness has hit full force and I find myself creating tasks to occupy myself.
That said, reading has taken up most of my time lately, mostly in effort to get out of the house, and I have squandered away countless dollars on caffeinated beverages to fuel the reading frenzy. In constructing my summer reading list, I couldn’t help but notice the piles of books laying around my room–for the most part unfinished ones. I have this horrible habit of reading several books simultaneously, all of them in a perpetual rotation with one another leaving most of them half-finished.
I have decided that before allowing myself to buy any new books (okay, I did buy one on my kindle but excluding that one) I have decided to finish all my other ones. This is a bit awkward when done in a public setting, and quite inconvenient as well, because toting multiple novels around tends to get heavy and probably looks a bit bizarre to anyone seeing me reading several books at a time. Ultimately, this endeavor has been absolutely worth it because now I can return the books to their rightful owners, and it has allowed me to discover the value in the forgotten about novels!
I thought I would share with you some of my favorite passages from my top three favorites of these books:
Just a Couple of Days
Recommended to me by a friend, it is a truly interesting and original premise for a book. Essentially there is a genetic weaponry project in development to create a non-lethal method of destroying enemy territory in wartime, and it gets released “accidentally” to the public. This highly contagious weapon destroys people’s capacity for symbolic comprehension, and the result of its release is not what one might expect. The book is beautifully written with interspersed insights into humanity’s inclinations and society’s idiosyncrasies. It reveals human nature at a fundamental level, and demonstrates a postmodern way of human interaction and understanding and the impact of language in shaping our identity and culture.
“Language is a piss poor attempt at telepathy is what it is. We try to put our thoughts into each other’s heads through language…But half the intended meaning gets lost in the transmission, and the other half is filtered through existing assumptions. Everything is a half truth!”
“That’s the whole problem! You can’t understand me through the smog of your presumptions and prejudices. Multiply that six billion times and you’ll begin to understand the desperation of our global situation”
“The fall of humanity was the fall from the actual to the symbolic. Language abstracts us from the real world; keeping us from direct, intuitive perception. Words, like the ego, are merely guides. Don’t mistake them for the real thing. Pull aside the filthy curtains of the social. Language makes an enigma of simple existence; it obscures the true nature of reality and of your self.”
“Things take care of themselves as long as you trust and don’t try to control too much. Things will happen. Things tend to occur. Why resist what’s inevitable? That’s like swimming against the current, salmon notwithstanding. Go with the flow, you know? Glide with the glow, man. It’s easier.”
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Though David is a bit overrated in my opinion, this book (particularly in the second half) had me laughing out loud unintentionally. It is a compilation of stories from his life, and reminded me of Augusten Borough’s Possible Side Effects–possibly because they are both sassy, sarcastic, gay men?–which was a favorite of mine in high school. The second half of the novel focuses on his time in Paris learning French, and is cleverly written in English to depict his French interactions, with the grammar that a French person would understand. I could fully appreciate his insights into learning another language, as well as the fourth grade diction that one uses when learning a new language.
this explanation of easter in another language was particularly laugh enducing:
“The italian nanny was attempting to answer the teachers latest question when the moroccan student interrupted, shouting “Excuse me, What is an easter?”
it would seem that despite having grown up in a muslim country, she would have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. “I mean it,” She said. ” I have no idea what you people are talking about.”
The teacher called upon the rest of us to explain.
The poles led the charge to the best of their ability. It is,” said one, “a party for the little boy of god who call his self jesus and… oh shit.” She faltered and her fellow country man came to her aid.
He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two… morsels of… lumber.”
The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.
he die one day and then he go above of my head to live with your father.”
he weared of himself the long hair and after he die. the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples.”
he Nice the jesus.”
he make the good things, and on the easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today.”
“When shit brings you down, just say ‘fuck it’, and eat yourself some motherfucking candy.”
his observations regarding learning the genders of French were really funny as well:
“I find it ridiculous to assign a gender to an inanimate object incapable of disrobing and making an occasional fool of itself. Why refer to lady crack pipe or good sir dishrag when these things could never live up to all that their sex implied?”
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
I am actually still working on this one, but I had to share it because it is absolutely beautiful and I cannot seem to put it down. It is essentially a meditation on love, explored through the telling of two interconnected and simultaneously occurring love stories. It addresses the complexity of the human spirit and connections with those around us, as well as the beauty of love as a whole. It’s one of the books that I want to keep reading, but don’t want to finish.
“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”
“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.”
“The greater the ambiguity, the greater the pleasure.”
“A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence. ”
“Einmal ist keinmal, says Tomas to himself. What happens but once, says the German adage, might as well not have happened at all. If we have only one life to live, we might as well not have lived at all.”
My absolute favorite part–and possibly my favorite part of any book, ever, I went ahead and copied and pasted in here. It is about the role of chance in our lives, and all the latent possibilites that inherently reside within our current life.
anyways, hope everyone else’s summer is going splendidly!