Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bite-sized

A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.

Saki, The Comments of Moung Ka

It's so convenient when one can tell the truth.

Graham Greene, Travels with my aunt

Honesty hath no fence against superior cunning.

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels

It is always a relief to believe what is pleasant, but it is more important to believe what is true.

Hilaire Belloc, The Silence of the Sea
These clippings from some recent reading were meant to anchor a number of pieces I've been working on. It struck me however that the verbiage that I might have attached didn't add much, and the plain juxtaposition of these bite-sized pearls sufficed. The first two statements, weighing the expedience of honesty, are paradoxically uttered by notorious dissemblers in the context of the stories in which they appear. Saki and Greene's mouthpieces share their author's sense of irony. In contrast Swift and Belloc are more satirical. [Insert disclaimer: we've all learned that honesty is the best policy.]
He was as American as folding money and waging war.

George Pelecanos, The Night Gardener

He liked his epiphanies American: brief and illusory.

Colson Whitehead, Apex hides the hurt
These last musings on America, by two of the sharpest and hungriest current wordsmiths, seem a little bleak and capture a certain malaise about the country. In the same book (it's nothing too weighty incidentally, and hopefully his next novel will have a greater impact), Colson Whitehead adds this choice piece of cynicism:
It was a good place to make a bad decision, and in particular, a bad decision that would affect a great many people.
I think I'd call this Blues 2.0 - we might as well add a version number to the sentiment.

Soundtrack: Me'Shell NdegéOcello - Elliptical

Taken from an album with the paradoxical title The world has made me the man of my dreams, this is one of the most fluid musical movements I've heard in the past couple of years.

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3 comments:

Qué? said...

That Pelecanos quote is brilliant. As is Meshelle. I'm still stuck on 'Bitter' and 'Fool of Me' is my favourite... this week. The first song I've ever heard to musically and lyrically make me as a guy understand a woman's pain.

(formerly frizzy) said...

What a fantastic album, woman, everything.

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Great post - your posts are few and far between but well worth reading, I'm glad I found my way back..:)