But no longer could I aks God what to do, since the answer, I was sure, would not suit me. I could do what suited me know, as long as I could pay for it. 'As long as I could pay for it.' That phrase soon became the tail that wagged my dog. If I had died then, it should have been my epigraph.
I'm interested in such things as the difference between how we perceive the world and what the world turns out to be. The difference is between the stories we tell others and the stories we tell ourselves. There is a wonderful Russian saying, which I use as the epigraph of one of my novels, which goes, He lies like an eyewitness. Which is very sly, clever and true.
But I would like to think for a moment about a man who in the morning teaches his students that a false attribution of a Watteau drawing or an inaccurate transcription of a fourteenth-century epigraph is a sin against the spirit and in the afternoon or evening transmits to the agents of Soviet intelligence classified, perhaps vital information given to him in sworn trust by his countrymen and intimate colleagues. What are the sources of such scission? How does the spirit mask itself?
From the almost total absence of fossil evidence relative to the origin of the phyla, it follows that any explanation of the mechanism in the creative evolution of the fundamental structural plans is heavily burdened with hypothesis. This should appear as an epigraph to every book on evolution. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formulation of pure conjecture as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct.
Mr Earbrass was virtually asleep when several lines of verse passed through his mind and left it hopelessly awake. Here was the perfect epigraph for TUH: A horrid ?monster has been [something] delay'd By your/their indiff'rence in the dank brown shade Below the garden... His mind's eye sees them quoted on the bottom third of a right-hand page in a (possibly) olive-bound book he read at least five years ago. When he does find them, it will be a great nuisance if no clue is given to their authorship.
It is worth remembering that every writer begins with a naively physical notion of what art is. A book for him or her is not an expression or a series of expressions, but literally a volume, a prism with six rectangular sides made of thin sheets of papers which should include a cover, an inside cover, an epigraph in italics, a preface, nine or ten parts with some verses at the beginning, a table of contents, an ex libris with an hourglass and a Latin phrase, a brief list of errata, some blank pages, a colophon and a publication notice: objects that are known to constitute the art of writing.
Jorge Luis Borges