The exemplary sentence and the elusive world

I realize I have collected a number of sentences about imagination vs. reality.

“What a gulf between the self which experiences and the self which describes experience.”  Edmund Wilson, I Thought of Daisy from the last one of these posts

“Life is not what we live; it is what we imagine we are living.”  Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon, from the one before

and this one:
“The world in out heads is not a precise replica of reality.” from Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, which Larry happens to be reading.

I’ve been pondering this idea a lot lately, the construct we carry in our heads as opposed to the world an infant experiences, for example, one without labels or words. Continue reading “The exemplary sentence and the elusive world”

The exemplary sentence, take 3

Here are some notes from the little pad I keep inside my purse to capture the stray sentence or idea, or in Brenda Hillman’s words, to be a rancher of phrases. These are all the more pleasing to me because they are surrounded by directions, movie and book titles, stray phone numbers.

We got ready and showed our home.
The visitor thought: you live well.
The slum must be inside you.
…  Tomas Tranströmer, “The Scattered Congregation” (translated by Robert Bly)

Words make things happen. We must weigh them carefully.
…  Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (see more of these)

Maybe he better get out of here
before it’s too late, but maybe too late
was what he wanted.
…  Philip Levine Continue reading “The exemplary sentence, take 3”

The exemplary sentence, take 2

I recently finished Night Train to Lisbon, by the Swiss author, Pascal Mercier, translated by Barbara Harshav.  This is another book about a quest. In most ways, Henderson and Gregorius could not be more opposite: Henderson a flamboyant, wandering millionaire seeking the meaning of life, and Gregorius a scholar of Greek and Latin, nicknamed Papyrus because of his dry, papery ways. Gregorius is of working class origins. He has lived his whole adult life as a high school teacher in Bern. And yet, as Night Train to Lisbon opens, a strange encounter is a catalyst for Gregorius to drop precipitously out of his former life and start on a quest for the Portuguese author of an obscure, privately published book A Goldsmith of Words, a book that purports to explore the fragmented, buried, kaleidoscopic experiences that make up a life.

The passion to learn about this mysterious author, the conceit of a book within a book, and the appealing figure of Gregorius all captured my imagination and sustained me through the 438 pages of this novel.  This book is almost too full of intriguing sentences, most attributed to the mysterious Portuguese author, Amadeu de Almeida Prado. Here are a few: Continue reading “The exemplary sentence, take 2”