If we take the freedom to put a friend under our microscope, we thereby insulate him from many of his true relations, magnify his peculiarities, inevitably tear him into parts, and, of course, patch him very clumsily together again. What wonder, then, should we be frightened by the aspect of a monster.
All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other; hopelessly, I should add, because that frenzy of mutual possession might have been assuaged only by our actually imbibing and assimilating every particle of each other's soul and flesh; but there we were, unable even to mate as slum children would have so easily found an opportunity to do so.
As an adult, I have often been deep in serious conversation with someone I've highly respected and seen them roll an eye as my mouth has mangled yet another magnificently conceived, clumsily articulated sentence. In my mind, the words are mellifluous as honey. In my mouth, they are shards of glass.
I lied a lot when I was a kid. Somehow, I still do this today, but maybe in another way - not quite as ridiculously clumsily as I used to. But still, I think making music has a lot to do with it. One invents something that one can't possibly be. With songs, one invents a world that wouldn't exist otherwise.
To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.
Not only does the universe have its own laws, all of them indifferent to the contradictory dreams and desires of humanity, and in the formulation of which we contribute not one iota, apart, that is, from the words by which we clumsily name them, but everything seems to indicate that it uses these laws for aims and objectives that transcend and always will transcend our understanding.
Beloved, we are always in the wrong, Handling so clumsily our stupid lives, Suffering too little or too long, Too careful even in our selfish loves: The decorative manias we obey Die in grimaces round us every day, Yet through their tohu-bohu comes a voice Which utters an absurd command - Rejoice.
W. H. Auden
To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world""impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.
We depend upon other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.
The history of mankind for the last four centuries is rather like that of an imprisoned sleeper, stirring clumsily and uneasily while the prison that restrains and shelters him catches fire, not waking but incorporating the crackling and warmth of the fire with ancient and incongruous dreams, than like that of a man consciously awake to danger and opportunity.
H. G. Wells
Literature, although it stands apart by reason of the great destiny and general use of its medium in the affairs of men, is yet an art like other arts. Of these we may distinguish two great classes: those arts, like sculpture, painting, acting, which are representative, or as used to be said very clumsily, imitative; and those, like architecture, music, and the dance, which are self-sufficient, and merely presentative.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Franval, who was now absolutely at ease, thought on, y of upsetting others; he behaved in his vindictive, unruly, impetuous way when he was disturbed; he desired his own tranquility again at any price, and in order to obtain it he clumsily adopted the only means most likely to make him lose it once again. If he obtained it he used all his moral and physical facilities only to do harm to others; he was therefore always in a state of agitation, he had either to anticipate the wiles which he forced others to employ against him, or else he had to use them against others.
Marquis de Sade
Very few people realise that sex is a psychic and not a physical act. The clumsy coupling of human beings is simply a biological paraphrase of this truth - a primitive method of introducing minds to each other, engaging them. But most people are stuck in the physical aspect, unaware of the poetic rapport which it so clumsily tries to teach.
At some point during almost every romantic comedy, the female lead suddenly trips and falls, stumbling helplessly over something ridiculous like a leaf, and then some Matthew McConaughey type either whips around the corner just in the nick of time to save her or is clumsily pulled down along with her. That event predictably leads to the magical moment of their first kiss. Please. I fall ALL the time. You know who comes and gets me? The bouncer.
I know a good many men of great learning-that is, men born with an extraordinary eagerness and capacity to acquire knowledge. One and all, they tell me that they can't recall learning anything of any value in school. All that schoolmasters managed to accomplish with them was to test and determine the amount of knowledge that they had already acquired independently-and not infrequently the determination was made clumsily and inaccurately.
H. L. Mencken
And again there are no words. Words exist that can, used by a poet, achieve a dim monochrome of the body's love, but beyond that they fail clumsily. My love flowed out to her, hers back to me. Mine stroked and soothed. Hers caressed. The distance - and the difference - between us dwindled and vanished. We could meet, mingle, and blend. Neither one of us existed any more; for a time there was a single being that was both. There was escape from the solitary cell; a brief symbiosis, sharing all the word ...
Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
The wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling.
Yet Byron never made tea as you do, who fill the pot so that when you put the lid on the tea spills over. There is a brown pool on the table-it is running among your books and papers. Now you mop it up, clumsily, with your pocket-hankerchief. You then stuff your hankerchief back into your pocket-that is not Byron; that is so essentially you that if I think of you in twenty years' time, when we are both famous, gouty and intolerable, it will be by that scene: and if you are dead, I shall weep.
Yet Byron never made tea as you do, who fill the pot so that when you put the lid on the tea spills over. There is a brown pool on the table--it is running among your books and papers. Now you mop it up, clumsily, with your pocket-hankerchief. You then stuff your hankerchief back into your pocket--that is not Byron; that is so essentially you that if I think of you in twenty years' time, when we are both famous, gouty and intolerable, it will be by that scene: and if you are dead, I shall weep.
It seems to me that the novel is very much alive as a form. Without any question, every epoch has its own forms, and the novel nowadays cannot resemble that of the nineteenth century. In this domain all experiments are justified, and it is better to write something new clumsily than to repeat the old brilliantly. In the nineteenth century, novels dealt with the fate of a person or of a family; this was linked to life in that period. In our time the destinies of people are interwoven. Whether man recognizes it or not, his fate is much more linked to that of many other people than it used to be.
they knew each other as much as they knew themselves, and their intimacy, rather like too many suitcases, was a matter of perpetual concern; together they moved slowly, clumsily, effecting lugubrious compromises, attending to delicate shifts of mood, repairing breaches. As individuals they didn't easily take offense; but together they managed to offend each other in surprising, unexpected ways; then the offender - it had happened twice since their arrival - became irritated by the cloying susceptibilities of the other, and they would continue to explore the twisting alleyways and sudden squares in silence, and with each step the city would recede as they locked tighter into each other's presence.
Beauty is frightening, " they will tell you - Lazily you will arrange A Spanish shawl on your shoulders, A red rose in your hair. "Beauty is simple, " they will tell you - Clumsily with a motley shawl You will cover a child up, A red rose on the floor. But, distractedly heeding All the words sounding around you, Sadly lost in thought You will say about yourself: 'I am neither frightening nor simple; I am not so frightening, that I would simply Kill; I am not so simple That I do not know how frightening life is.' ("For Anna Akhmatova")
I find things hidden in books: dried flowers, locks of hair, tickets, labels, receipt, invoices, photographs, postcards, all manner of cards. I find letters, unpublished works by the ordinary, the anguished, the illiterate. Clumsily written or eloquent, they are love letters, everyday letters, secret letters and mundane letters talking about fruit and babies and tennis matches, from people signing themselves as Majorie or Jean... I can't bring myself to dispose of these snippets and snapshots of lives that once meant (or still do mean) so much.
It is no longer necessary to preach sonorously of the sinful and deleterious effect of liquor on the human mind and body; the essential evil is recognised scientifically, and only the sophistry of conscious immorality remains to be combated. Brewers and distillers still strive clumsily to delude the public by the transparent misstatements of their advertisements, and periodicals of easy conscience still permit these advertisements to disgrace their pages; but the end of such pernicious pretension is not remote. The drinker of yesterday flaunted his voice before all without shame; the average drinker of today must needs resort to excuses.
The genius of Laplace was a perfect sledge hammer in bursting purely mathematical obstacles; but, like that useful instrument, it gave neither finish nor beauty to the results. In truth, in truism if the reader please, Laplace was neither Lagrange nor Euler, as every student is made to feel. The second is power and symmetry, the third power and simplicity; the first is power without either symmetry or simplicity. But, nevertheless, Laplace never attempted investigation of a subject without leaving upon it the marks of difficulties conquered: sometimes clumsily, sometimes indirectly, always without minuteness of design or arrangement of detail; but still, his end is obtained and the difficulty is conquered.
Augustus De Morgan
I walk at night under a moonless sky. Only the terrain guides my steps, yet my footfall is as sure as if a dozen suns lit the way. I go to meet you under a leafless tree that never seems to grow or alter its shape. I am uncertain if it still lives or has learned to disguise its death. The same thought crosses my mind when I feel your cold fingers take my hand. It is not the tree I reflect upon. 'Do you still love me?' The words tumble clumsily out of the dark. Hesitation is its own answer, but I reply anyway, 'I'm here, ' as if my words were whispered comfort and not a weathered blade. They are taken wrong. 'I love you too.' Your arms wrap me up and clamp tightly around my waist. An old, familiar kiss hardens my lips. I wonder why it is I return to this place every year where only memories remain fond. Perhaps it is because I keep hoping this leafless tree will either change or die.
Richelle E. Goodrich
Night is the worst time. After the long regimentation of the day, the enforced silences, the men want to talk. At first it doesn't matter what about: TV, movies, travel, jobs. I lie on my side on my mattress as the words pool around me, reciting to myself the botanical classifications for peach, cherry, apple. Magnoliophyta, Magnoliopsida, Rosales, Rosaceae... I smell the smell of other bodies: stale skin, flatulence, cologne. I long to open the windows and let the fresh air sweep the smells away, sweep the bodies away too. Gradually one man drops out of the conversation, then another. Soon there will be only two men left speaking. And these two-they are not the same two every night-will drop their voices, speak in an intimate murmur. Perhaps they are only gossiping about one of the monks. Perhaps they are complaining about the food. But no, there is a reticence that lets me know that they are trying, clumsily, to reach each other.
It was Valentine's Day and I had spent the day in bed with my life partner, Ketel One. The two of us watched a romance movie marathon on TBS Superstation that made me wonder how people who write romantic comedies can sleep at night. At some point during almost every romantic comedy, the female lead suddenly trips and falls, stumbling helplessly over something ridiculous like a leaf, and then some Matthew McConaughey type either whips around the corner just in the nick of time to save her or is clumsily pulled down along with her. That event predictably leads to the magical moment of their first kiss. Please. I fall all-the-time. You know who comes and gets me? The bouncer. Then, within the two hour time frame of the movie, the couple meet, fall in love, fall out of love, break up, and then just before the end of the movie, they happen to bump into each other by "coincidence" somewhere absolutely absurd, like by the river. This never happens in real life. The last time I bumped into an ex-boyfriend was at three o'clock in the morning at Rite Aid. I was ringing up Gas-X and corn removers.
Perhaps vaguely aware that his movie so completely lacks gravitas, Moore concludes with a sonorous reading of some words from George Orwell. The words are taken from 1984 and consist of a third-person analysis of a hypothetical, endless and contrived war between three superpowers. The clear intention, as clumsily excerpted like this (...), is to suggest that there is no moral distinction between the United States, the Taliban and the Ba'ath Party, and that the war against jihad is about nothing. If Moore had studied a bit more, or at all, he could have read Orwell really saying, and in his own voice, the following: The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States... And that's just from Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945. A short word of advice: In general, it's highly unwise to quote Orwell if you are already way out of your depth on the question of moral equivalence. It's also incautious to remind people of Orwell if you are engaged in a sophomoric celluloid rewriting of recent history.
On the first day of November last year, sacred to many religious calendars but especially the Celtic, I went for a walk among bare oaks and birch. Nothing much was going on. Scarlet sumac had passed and the bees were dead. The pond had slicked overnight into that shiny and deceptive glaze of delusion, first ice. It made me remember sakes and conjure a vision of myself skimming backward on one foot, the other extended; the arms become wings. Minnesota girls know that this is not a difficult maneuver if one's limber and practices even a little after school before the boys claim the rink for hockey. I think I can still do it - one thinks many foolish things when November's bright sun skips over the entrancing first freeze. A flock of sparrows reels through the air looking more like a flying net than seventy conscious birds, a black veil thrown on the wind. When one sparrow dodges, the whole net swerves, dips: one mind. Am I part of anything like that? Maybe not. The last few years of my life have been characterized by stripping away, one by one, loves and communities that sustain the soul. A young colleague, new to my English department, recently asked me who I hang around with at school. "Nobody," I had to say, feeling briefly ashamed. This solitude is one of the surprises of middle age, especially if one's youth has been rich in love and friendship and children. If you do your job right, children leave home; few communities can stand an individual's most pitiful, amateur truth telling. So the soul must stand in her own meager feathers and learn to fly - or simply take hopeful jumps into the wind. In the Christian calendar, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints, a day honoring not only those who are known and recognized as enlightened souls, but more especially the unknowns, saints who walk beside us unrecognized down the millennia. In Buddhism, we honor the bodhisattvas - saints - who refuse enlightenment and return willingly to the wheel of karma to help other beings. Similarly, in Judaism, anonymous holy men pray the world from its well-merited destruction. We never know who is walking beside us, who is our spiritual teacher. That one - who annoys you so - pretends for a day that he's the one, your personal Obi Wan Kenobi. The first of November is a splendid, subversive holiday. Imagine a hectic procession of revelers - the half-mad bag lady; a mumbling, scarred janitor whose ravaged face made the children turn away; the austere, unsmiling mother superior who seemed with great focus and clarity to do harm; a haunted music teacher, survivor of Auschwitz. I bring them before my mind's eye, these old firends of my soul, awakening to dance their day. Crazy saints; but who knows what was home in the heart? This is the feast of those who tried to take the path, so clumsily that no one knew or notice, the feast, indeed, of most of us. It's an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: "nothing special," as Buddhists say, meaning "everything." Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral. All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.
Mary Rose O'Reilley