WORDS: “Period. New Paragraph”

Preamble

“On July 10 [1948] I had published the last ‘Period. New Paragraph’ in El Universal, after three arduous months in which I could not overcome the obstacles of being a novice, and I preferred to stop writing it, the sole merit being that I would escape in time.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

Living to Tell the Tale, p. 342

On August 31st [2010] I decided to operate a technical change and move on to scribbling the various quotes, ideas, and hearsay tidbits that happened to cross my path to reverence here, on the blogosphere, instead of using tissues, back covers and other disposable substitutes at hand. With a respectful bow to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his marvellous youthful spirit, I re-open  “Period. New Paragraph,” his daily column for El Universal. Mind you that this “Period. New Paragraph” right here may be as irregular as every once in a blue moon… Call me a novice trying to escape, anyway.

Fishermen in Alexandria, photo by Mohamed Ebaid

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Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J. (astronomer, Vatican Observatory): 

“Will there be intelligent life in the Universe? I’ll be shocked if there wasn’t. Will it change the way we view our understanding of God? I hope so, because I know my understand my view of God woefully incomplete, but I’m not  gonna speculate about how it’s gonna change until I find the life.”

Father Consolmagno has a very unusual biography. Before he became a priest he worked as a scientist for  NASA and taught at two of the lead Universities such as Harvard and the MIT. Research for a higher meaning in life led him to join the Jesuit order. The Vatican gave him the exclusive freedom to combine both worlds. In his work, he focused on the analysis of meteorites, because they are the silent witnesses of the creation of our solar system.

“What I’m interested in is basically the different steps that occurred as the solar system was being formed. Our understanding is that the Universe was formed out of a cloud of gas and dust […]. I’m looking at the meteorites, they’re not clouds of dust, they’re solid rocks, really hard solid rocks. How did they go from being balls of dust, like you find under your bed, into rocks that you can hold in your hand and measure. [He leans forward.] The answer is: we have no idea… And we’re just  trying to basically put limits on a problem that is not gonna be solved in my lifetime.  

It’s funny… the people who think there’s a contradiction between science and religion generally do not really know what science is, or don’t know what religion is, or both. Now, within the Universe there are laws, there are effects, energy and matter, and we can study how energy and matter interact, but there ARE truths about life and the universe that science will never approach, the truths of love, the truths of beauty. We can describe, but we can never explain why beauty exists, why love exists, and yet, life without love and beauty is clearly incomplete. So, I think you need this wide range of understanding, this wide range of saying: my religion tells me that God made the Universe, but my science can tell me the way it’s done.”   

quoted from a documentary  broadcast on  the

National Geographic Channel on June 7th, 2012,

Vatican: Life Within  (directed by Richard Ladkani, 2011) 

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Fragment from a BBC HARDtalk interview with Sir Patrick Stuart on January 24th, 2012:

Interviewer: […] “you’ve also said that “such experiences are destructive. In my adult life  I’ve struggled to overcome the bad lessons of my father’s behaviour, this corrosive example of male irresponsibility.” What did you mean by that?

Patrick Stuart: “I can perhaps press on to that by making a metaphor. As an actor, there was one set of emotions I had to struggled with, and for years, and years, and years I faked, and that was anger. I knew so well how much of it lay inside me, and could, with little provocation emerge. And so, as an actor I kept that side of me sealed, lidded, shut down, and so I faked it, I faked it for years, I became quite good at faking it. I don’t do that anymore now. […] I found that it was possible on stage to express  murderousness, rage, fury, hostility, all of those things and nothing bad will happen.”

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“Beauty is the purgation of the superfluities.”

Michelangelo (quoted as favourite by magician David Blaine

in the Sundance documentary ICONOCLASTS – 5, episode 6)

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The text below was written in response to Cristina Bazavan’s post on her blog, SIMPA. The English-reading guests are recommended the quote from Gregory David Roberts’ novel “Shantaram.” 

Ma bucur sa citesc aceasta serie articole si sa pot lasa un semn de apreciere!

Cu mai multi ani in urma, in timpul studentiei, am dat si eu peste un volum publicat de o editura muzicala romaneasca despre ultimele cuvinte spuse, auzite, sau soptite, de mari compozitori ai lumii inainte de a muri.In mod similar, am avut o reactie de reverenta linistita si am purtat cu mine multa vreme impresii de lectura uneori coplesitoare.

“Orele astrale ale omenirii” de Stefan Zweig e o lectura pe care as incadra-o in aceeasi categorie a revelatiilor sau reactiilor personale de fiecare data cutremuratoare in fata mortii. Intr-una din povestirile din aceasta carte, ajuns la Polul Sud, degerand in cortul sau, Capitanul Scott scrie ultimele cuvinte. “Cu degetele tot mai tepene, capitanul Scott scrie in ceasul mortii scrisori catre toti cei pe care ii iubeste si nu mai sunt vii.[…] Ca ultim gand, degetele tremurande, gata inghetate au mai exprimat o dorinta: ‘Trimiteti acest jurnal sotiei mele!’ Dar pe urma sterge, cu o groaznica certitudine, cuvintele ‘sotiei mele’ si scrie deasupra cuvintele care astazi infioara: ‘vaduvei mele.’”

Voi incheia cu un ultim citat pe care, acum ca il voi reda mai jos, nu pot sa nu-l aduc cu mine inapoi pe blogul meu cel ireverent, unde am “conservat” de altfel inca alte cateva citate similare (100% natural:), sa le pastrez savoarea intacta) din romanul unui scriitor extraordinar, pe care l-am descoperit in timpul sederii mele de anul trecut in India, Gregory David Roberts. Si scrie el, cu captivanta simplitate, in capitolul 35 al impresionantului sau “Shantaram” (2004):
“Men wage wars for profit and principle, but they fight them for land and women. Sooner or later, the other causes and compelling reasons drown in blood and lose their meaning. Sooner or later, death and survival clog the senses. Sooner or later, surviving is the only voice and vision. Then, when best friends die screaming, and good men maddened with pain and fury lose their minds in the bloody pit, when all the fairness and justice and beauty in the world is blown away with arms and legs and heads of brothers and sons and fathers, then, what makes men fight on, and die, and keep on dying, year after year, is the will to protect the land and the women.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?

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Now hear my story. I insist. Look, take my arm, like that, and let’s just walk. I have tales to tell; you will like them.

Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot, from Louise Colet’s Version, p. 137

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70 years into Beatlemania, Larry King‘s special on The Beatles, October 8th, 2010.

Quoting & paraphrasing from memory, here’s what they said.

Paul McCartney: “Drums have been the core of The Beatles music.

Larry King to Ringo Starr: “Did you hear the singer while playing? Were you aware of the melody?”

Ringo Starr: “I always follow the singer when I play.

Larry King: “What made The Beatles special?”

Paul McCartney: “We were talented as individuals, then got together and developed, really grew together.

The message in everything we did was love, in all its forms.

This is something to be proud of.

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Rodrigo Garcia: “What’s a boyfriend, anyway?… Read more

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Virginia Woolf: “Words belong to words…

Words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. […] And how do they live in the mind? […]

They are certainly bound by less convention than we are. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy.

* * *

No matter what language they come from,

our words can make love

The word “talaz” for the Romanian “wave”

was washed ashore by the Black Sea

along with the body of a Greek warrior…


Even if we don’t understand it completely…

from The Incomplete Fantasy We Call Love by Alina Alens

* * *

Paraphrasing Peter Moran from memory (at a training session in October, 2010,

“Testing in Teaching: from Burden to Boost”):

“‘Which book are these words from?’

Is this sentence correct?

Answers: “Yes!” or “No!”

Well, today, yes, it is correct! However, according to the English textbooks of old, it is not.

In order for me to tell you why we have to go back to Neoclassicism and the Neoclassicist approach to language in England. Five centuries ago, Latin was the queen among languages in most scholarly circles. The other languages like English, German, French, and so on, were considered inferior by comparison. For the English Neoclassicist scholars the degree to which Latin (its grammar rules and vocabulary) were present in English gave English its value. This approach helped naturalise Latin language borrowings of words in English and, moreover, the adoption of Latin language construction rules which thus became “glued into”  construction rules of the English language.

In Latin, a sentence like the one above is incorrect. There are no Latin sentences that end in prepositions. Therefore, the scholars of old decided that such sentences had to be wrong in English as well. Up until recently, this rule was still in use. How did it come to change?

Peter, please indulge my poetic paraphrases!

Any language lives a life of its own. The rules it lives by are bound to outlive any others not naturalised by common language use.

* * *

[…] They are highlier democratic, too. One word is as good as another: uneducated words as good as educated words, uncultivated words as good as cultivated words.”

from a recording on the BBC archive

In Their Own Words: British Novelists | Interviews with remarkable modern writers

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Heard from Ed Degenaro (in the good old SAM days):

“Ladies and rhythm section first!”

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Read on the eve of my last day in India, in December, 2010, in Gregory David Roberts’ brilliant novel,

Shantaram (2003, St. Martin’s Press, New York, pp. 738-739):

When I climbed the wall of the prison all those years before, it was as if I’d climbed a wall on the rim of the world. When I slid down to freedom I lost the whole world that I knew, and all the love it held. In Bombay I’d tried, without realising it, to make a new world of loving that could resemble the lost one, and even replace it. Khader was my father. Prabaker and Abdullah were my brothers. Karla was my lover. And then, one by one, were all lost. Another whole world was lost.

A clear thought came to me, unbidden, and surging in my mind like the spoken words of a poem. I knew why (Khaled Ansari was so determined to help Habib. I suddenly knew with perfect understanding what Khaled was really trying to do. He’s trying to save himself, I said, more than once, feeling my numb lips tremble with the words, but hearing them in my head.) And I knew, as I said the words and thought them, that I didn’t hate Khader or Karla: that I couldn’t hate them.

[…] I was still angry that I’d put so much of a son’s love into Khader, and that my soul, against the wishes of my conscious mind, had begged for his love. I was angry that he’d considered me expendable, to be used as a means to achieve his ends. And I was enraged that he’d taken away the one thing in my whole life – my work as the slum doctor – that might’ve redeemed me, in my own mind if nowhere else, and might’ve gone some way to balance all the wrong I’d done. Even that little good had been polluted and defiled. The anger in me was as hard and heavy as a basalt hearthstone, and I knew it would take years to wear down, but I couldn’t hate them.

They’d lied to me and betrayed me, leaving jagged edges where all my trust had been, and I didn’t like or respect or admire them any more, but still I loved them. I had no choice. I understood that, perfectly, standing in the white wilderness of snow. You can’t kill love. You can’t even kill it with hate. You can kill in-love, and loving, and even loveliness. You can kill them all, or numb them into dense, leaden regret, but you can’t kill love itself. Love is the passionate search for a truth other than your own; and once you feel it, honestly and completely, love is forever. Every act of love, every moment of the heart reaching out, is part of the universal good: it’s part of God, or what we call God, and it can never die.

[…] It was over, and finished, and I never wanted to see [Khader] again; but as I watched him ride into that valley of white shadows I hoped he would live. I prayed he would be safe. I prayed my heartbreak into him, and I loved him. I loved him.

From Gregory David Roberts’ Acknowledgements:

It took me thirteen long and troubled years to write Shantaram. The first two drafts of the book – six year’s work and six hundred pages – were destroyed in prison. My hands, damaged by the residual effects of frostbite, suffered so badly during the winters in the punishment unit of the prison that many pages of the manuscript journal, which survived and which I still have with me, are stained and streaked with my blood. When I was released, the hardships were severe and unrelenting. I almost, but not quite ever, despaired of finishing the book. The fact that I did complete it, this novel written in blood and tears and exultation that you’ve just read, is a testament to the help and involvement of a great many people.

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6 responses

  1. Evita Clack

    I discovered your blog site on google and checked a few of your early posts. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!

    February 8, 2012 at 1:31 am

  2. Lan Hoffstatter

    I’m now not certain where you are getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time studying much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I used to be in search of this info for my mission.

    February 15, 2012 at 3:21 am

  3. An old friend of mine used to say it is books that look for readers, not the other way around.
    Simply put, these are just some of the quotes I came across while reading or watching something, which took hold of me and had my hand rewrite them… My thanks have to go to modern technology, along with, of course, the inspiration people bring in what they say or write…

    February 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

  4. Nguyet Hempel

    Wow! Thank you! I continually needed to write on my blog something like that.
    Can I include a part of your post to my website?

    March 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    • Hey, there! As far as quotes go, sharing is free and recommended!

      Glad you found inspiration in my selection of wise thoughts 🙂

      March 7, 2012 at 12:47 am

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