Thursday, August 04, 2005

Reading Beauty

Something about the quietitude of a wet, dark afternoon brings forth melancholia. Something that intensifies an appreciation of beauty.

In words. In colour. In music. In art. In emotion. In description.

Something about the melancholia, rains and the accompanying wind undulates through the soul to engender a primeval oneness with all things around you.

I spent a lot of time this long weekend reading. Reading new material, leafing through old favourites and feeling deliciously alive. And at complete odds with that, I also felt bored enough to climb the walls. Since I haven't sorted out the dichotomy yet, I will wait for another post in which to discuss it. :-)

What follows are extracts from two books: a collection of short stories by Anais Nin called Under a Glass Bell and Ulysses by James Joyce. One is a well-thumbed favourite, the other is still being discovered.

These are two pieces of inexplicable beauty I thought I should like to share. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did... Do tell me if you did!

"...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

James Joyce, Ulysses.

The houseboat was tied to the foot of the stairs…. The shutters opened and closed in obedience to the gusts of wind and the heavy poles which kept the barge from touching the shore cracked with the strain like bones. A shiver passed along the houseboat asleep on the river, like a shiver of fever in a dream. The lights and shadows stopped waltzing. The nose of the houseboat plunged deeper and shook its chains. A moment of anguish: everything was slipping into anger again, as on earth. But no, the water dream persisted. Nothing was displaced. The nightmare might appear here, but the river knew the mystery of continuity. A fit of anger and only the surface erupted, leaving the deep flowing body of the dream intact.

--Houseboat - from Under a Glass Bell by Anais Nin.


Yours Truly...Conman said...

You know what... I think you sould be a little more outgoing rather than sit home and read...
Somewhere on my page there is this verse on the side panel which reads;
It is far better to travel a thousand miles than read 10,000 books.
God... if you read so much, what else but a mental disorder characterized by severe depression, guilt, hopelessness, and withdrawal would happen?

Extempore said...

Dude!! You're breaking my heart! You ought to meet me... no one I know would ever call me anything short of excessively extroverted. Among my favourite things in this world is meeting new ppl and exchanging ideas! Why do you think I blog?

I should say that I have spent 5 years studying Lit (and utterly love reading) and would love to make a life out of being a book editor but that does not mean I am not outgoing!

Tell me, am very curious, where did think that I suffer from "a mental disorder characterized by severe depression, guilt, hopelessness, and withdrawal"

Christ, dil tod diya!! :)

SaidBack said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Extempore said...

@Conman: You must forgive the drama of my reply... am given to it... genetic defect! :)

Ubermensch said...

oh some favorites there!
do check here
and here...
the latter was abt the second para u have posted/

wanderer said...


I partly agree with what you say but, primarily, I am sure you have little idea what you are talking about.

Travelling is not about taking a ticket and going to singapore. You can travel more in a walk around the lake than you can on a flight around the world. If this were not true, the most reflective and insightful people would be train drivers but that is not so.

Now, about books. Once again, it's not what you agree with in a book, it's what you do not which teaches you the most. So, akin to travelling, it's not how many you read but "what". I personally have travelled two time around the world (on a flight) and learnt nothing out of it. I spent 2 months alone travelling on foot in and around the Himalayas and that changed my life. Ofcourse your opinions will differ, won't it? I can almost feel you cringe and whine to prove a point that holds little water.

Reading does not lead to depression, withdrawl or guilt unless you are reading porn where the guy has a tool twice as long yours and the girl is way out of your league.

Ofcourse, I don't expect you to reply since you might be busy going out instead of sitting at home reading this and bringing a severe bout of depression upon yourself, now would you?

Your's truly,

Yours Truly...Conman said...

Wanderer: Only if I ever learnt by way of people telling me something. Save ur crap for someone else.

Extemp: Didn't mean to "break ur heart." U came across like that in your post. As far as why I thought you suffer from a mental disorder characterized by severe depression, guilt, hopelessness, and withdrawal.
You said it yourself. Check up the meaning of melancholia.

Anonymous said...

Too much, yes?

lakesidey said...

Nice passages, Extempore.

Conman....while we're on the subject of dictionary definitions, my dictionary informs me that a conman is "a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim". I am truly glad to learn you get the opportunity to travel so much in the performance of your job. Well done!

And Wanderer, old friend, let me join the liberal quoting going on around here - though, James Joyce being out of my league, I shall stick to quoting Dilbert:

"Never argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience."

Though I must admit, I am terribly bad at taking my own advice!....:o)


Anonymous said...

Like I said, my dear, too much, yes?

Extempore said...

Oh yes, I quite agree... too much. Damn the rain and damn the wax that flows through my veins... Damn!!! That even rhymes somewhat... or perhaps that just me being silly. :)

Extempore said...

p.s. Which Anon is this? Leave at least an inital no?

Anonymous said...

Conman: The truth is that I have been saving up all my crap for someone just like you because you present a perfect receptacle starting with your name, your user-icon and most importantly your IQ.


Extempore said...

Ok, guys stop! Take this somewhere else... with all due respect to everyone concerned.

wanderer said...

Dear Lakesidey:

Well, you know me. If someone is wallowing in dirt, I like to push their faces into it. Not quite what Dilbert had in mind coz _this_ is actually doing that someone a favour and doing _this_ you hardly ever lose. I guess the last time when someone had trouble doing this was when Jesus was aive. :))


finnegan said...

Extempore, I do believe Conman is guilty of a slight bit of malapropism in the use of "outgoing", where it seems he means to use the phrasal form "to go out" rather than the adjective which refers to a flaw or a lack in your character. I can see why you went off! :-{}

It's clear some people around here need to do more reading before writing.

Yours Truly...Conman said...

OK... now that I have attracted all the attention...(Lol)
- -
read it... or not... and feel free to leave a comment there - even negative would do...
Bloody losers...
don't mean you extemp... You have fun.

SaidBack said...

extempore: How many times have I told're supopsed to invite me to these parties!!! Man!

Conman: noone ever fell sick, physically or mentally, from reading a book. Unless ofcourse you escape into books to avoid social interaction whatsoeve, or the type of porn mentioned by wanderer (good one by the way wanderer).

Reading... travelling...coffeeshop...lakeside... treeshade....all these may serve to expand your phi. But as a person, you must be open to it.

Words Worth said...

Goodness gracious, what have they done to your blog?! My sympathies. *hugs*

To move on, you’ve fleshed out a truly wonderful blog. I read it everyday. It’s not often you come across a blog that’s well-written, interesting and thought-provoking. One of them maybe, all three very rare.

And yes melancholy, sweet, sweet melancholy! I love the way the word rolls so smooth and soft over your tongue. It conjures up an image of a deserted night club where you’re lounging on a couch at the far end of the room and it's so dark you can’t see anything through the smoke. All you can hear is a black man playing his saxophone with such beauty that your heart breaks. It’s the same feeling you get when you read a well-written book, heck it can be just one line.

James Joyce’s Ulysses I will probably never get around to. Reputation holds me back though it shouldn’t. But have his short story collection Dubliners. Simply fabulous. You should also read Scott Fitzgerald’s The Other Side of Paradise, if you haven’t. The language has such energy it gives you a complete high.

Anais Nin have promised myself I will get around to.

Have read your latest post too. Please don’t wait for coherence. It’s overrated. Wax on. You have fans now. :-)

Extempore said...

@ Words Worth: Have realised one thing about Ulysses. The book must call to you... you have to be ready to read it. How do you when you are ready? I don't know but you will. :)

SaidBack said...

you know when you're ready when you find yourself picking it up.

Extempore said...

@Peppered Soul: With Ulysses... that does not work. Trust me... experience tells me this.

GD said...

Exquisite... I reached the end of the Joyce piece and found I'd been holding my breath.
Will not comment on the amusing events that have marked this page.
But let me take the opportunity to try to change your (unfounded) opinion of Alan Paton:
"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much."

luz de la luna said...

"Something about the quietitude of a wet, dark afternoon brings forth melancholia. Something that intensifies an appreciation of beauty.

In words. In colour. In music. In art. In emotion. In description.

Something about the melancholia, rains and the accompanying wind undulates through the soul to engender a primeval oneness with all things around you."

I think this also. You said it so beautifully well.

- Martin

Extempore said...

@Luz de la Luna: Thank you! You are too kind. :)