Autodidact: self-taught



by V. L. Craven

W Who the Heck is Sylvia? by Joyce Porter
001. As the daughter of an earl and with the bluest of blood coursing through her veins she didn’t have to bother with trifles like gratitude or common politeness or even consideration for other people’s feelings.
002. ‘Any more tea in that pot, Bones?’
‘Of course, dear!’ Miss Jones dutifully poured out another steaming cup of the stuff that cheers but does not inebriate.
003.Precisely why Miss Jones failed to pick up the nearest heavy garden implement and wrap it around the Honourable Constance’s noble head is one of those little mysteries of human behaviour that are still awaiting scientific elucidation.

W Wild Nights: Stories about the last days of Poe, Dickinson, Twain, James and Hemingway by Joyce Carol Oates
‘Poe Posthumous’
001. …for I acknowledge, I am one of those individuals of a somewhat fantastical and nervous disposition, who entertains worries when there are none, as my late beloved V. observed of me, yet who does not sufficiently worry of what is: ‘In this, you are not unlike all men, from our esteemed “leaders” downward,’ V. gently chided. (V. took but fond note of my character, never criticizing it; between us, who were related by cousinly blood as by matrimony, and by a like predilection for the great Gothic works of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Heinrich von Kleist, and Jean Paul Richter, there fluidly passed at all times as if we shared an identical bloodstream a kindred humour and wryness of sympathy undetectable to the crass individuals who surrounded us.)
002. To live immersed in society was a terrible error, for one of my temperament.
003. I am perfectly at ease with aloneness . As Pascal observed in the 139th Pensee: …all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.
This Diary shall record whether such a ‘truth’ is universal, or applies merely to the weak.
004. [Following the death of Virginia] …when I vowed I would remain celibate, and penitent, for the remainder of my unhappy life. As V. dreaded the bestial, which permeates so much of human intercourse, within even the marital bed, I have a like aversion; tho’ I take pleasure in fondling Mercury and stroking his pricked up ears, I would be revulsed to so intimately touch another human being! For even hand-shaking, one gentleman with another, leaves me repelled.

W The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
001. 25-6 Going out to work can be tough, not something sweet and peaceful like picking the prettiest rose in your garden for your sick grandmother and spending the day with her, two streets away. Sometimes you have to do unpleasant things with unpleasant people…
002. 50 Nothing so consumes a person as meaningless exertion.
003. 57-8 Just before ten, it started to rain. Not a heavy rain. You couldn’t really be sure it was raining, the drops were so fine, but if you looked hard, you could tell. The world existed in two states, raining and nonraining, and there should be a line of demarcation between the two.
004. 78-9 I rarely suffer lengthy emotional distress from contact with other people. A person may anger or annoy me, but not for long. i can distinguish between myself and another as beings of two different realms. It’s a kind of talent (by which I do not mean to boast: it’s not an easy thing to do, so if you can do it, it is a kind of talent—a special power). When someone gets on my nerves, the first thing I do is transfer the object of my unpleasant feelings to another domain, one having no connection with me. Then I tell myself, Fine, I’m feeling bad, but I’ve put the source of these feelings into another zone, away from here, where I can examine it and deal with it later in my own good time. In other words, I put a freeze on my emotions. Later, when I thaw them out to perform the examination, I do occasionally find my emotions still in a distressed state, but that is rare. The passage of time will usually extract the venom from most things and render them harmless. Then, sooner or later, I forget about them.
005. 113 “I’m only sixteen,” she said, “and I don’t know much about the world, but I do know one thing for sure. If I’m pessimistic, then the adults in this world who are not pessimistic are a bunch of idiots.”
006. 261 “… it’s kind of impossible for anybody to do that stuff, like, ‘OK, now I’m gonna make a whole new world’ or ‘OK, now I’m gonna make a whole new self.’ That’s what I think. You might think you made a new world or a new self, but your old self is always gonna be there, just below the surface, and if something happens, it’ll stick its head out and say ‘Hi.’…”

W The Witches of Chiswick by Robert Rankin
001. Gladys was a vision in scarlet—but a vision from the Book of Revelation.
002. [The protagonist has time-travelled back to the 19th century] Will’s hands clamped about his nose. His head swam and tears rose to his eyes. The nineteenth century didn’t smell at all good.
003. This season’s colour was presently black, because black was always the new black as far as Queen Victoria was concerned.
004. [Regarding an artist] Mr Dodd in his ‘you chuck it on and I’ll spread it’ period…
005. A prediction was made in the year eighteen ninety, which seemed a most logical prediction at the time, that with the ever-growing volume of horse-drawn traffic in London, by the year nineteen twenty, every street, road and lane in England would be nose to tail in horse-drawn vehicles and London would be thirty-five feet deep in horse manure. And it was a prediction based on logic.
006. Tim hid his face, put his hands together and recommended himself to his deity.
007. ‘It’s the best advice I’ve ever had,’ said Gamma. ‘i read it on the side of a matchbox. It is, “Keep dry and away from children”.’
008. There is a theory and it’s a very ancient theory, that Man and God are co-dependent upon one another…Without Man, God has no one to worship Him; therefore He is God to no one and as such does not exist…The Egyptians worshipped Ra and Horus and Isis. Those gods were real to the Egyptians, those gods existed to them. But the temples of Ra and Horus and Isis were eventually overthrown; those gods were no longer worshipped, so what of those gods now?’
‘They never existed,’ said Will.

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