We do not need definite beliefs because their objects are necessarily true. We need them because they enable us to stand on steady spots from which the truth may be glimpsed. And not simply glimpsed-because certainly revelation is available outside of dogma; indeed all dogma, if it's alive at all, is the result of revelation at one time or another-but gathered in. Definite beliefs are what make the radical mystery-those moments when we suddenly know there is a God, about whom we 'know' absolutely nothing-accessible to us and our ordinary, unmysterious lives. And more crucially: definite beliefs enable us to withstand the storms of suffering that come into every life, and that tend to destroy any spiritual disposition that does not have deep roots.
The only magic that's left in the world right now is the magic that we make ourselves, deliberately. You're not going to stumble over enchantment by chance. You have to be open to it, looking for it, and when you first think you might have glimpsed it, you have to will it into your life with every machination available to you.
Had I glimpsed just a little of the suffering I would witness and the heartbreak I would endure, I would have fled in the other direction... But I could not foresee any of these things... And many years later, with tears in my eyes, I remembered my decision to follow this God no matter what the cost.
No one lives on the top of the mountain. It's fine to go there occasionally -for inspiration, for new perspectives. But you have to come down. Life is lived in the valleys. That's where the farms and gardens and orchards are, and where the plowing and the work is done. That's where you apply the visions you may have glimpsed from the peaks.
Arthur Gordon Webster
We all experience many freakish and unexpected events - you have to be open to suffering a little. The philosopher Schopenhauer talked about how out of the randomness, there is an apparent intention in the fate of an individual that can be glimpsed later on. When you are an old guy, you can look back, and maybe this rambling life has some through-line. Others can see it better sometimes. But when you glimpse it yourself, you see it more clearly than anyone
We all experience many freakish and unexpected events - you have to be open to suffering a little. The philosopher Schopenhauer talked about how out of the randomness, there is an apparent intention in the fate of an individual that can be glimpsed later on. When you are an old guy, you can look back, and maybe this rambling life has some through-line. Others can see it better sometimes. But when you glimpse it yourself, you see it more clearly than anyone.
Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers? Why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half earth's gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become.
Robert Farrar Capon
It seemed perfectly possible that, in spite of my certainty of my own genius, I might die of some illness, or perhaps even in a street accident, before I had ever glimpsed the meaning of life. My moods of happiness and self-confidence convinced me that I had a "destiny" to become a famous writer, and to be remembered as one of the most important thinkers of the century.
Spindly branches of buttercups were secreted among gleaming stems still moist at the roots from last night's rain that had washedand refreshed the entire wood, had dowered it in poignant transparency, the unique, inconsolable quality of rainy countries, as if all was glimpsed through tears.
There were days when you peered into yourself, into the secret places of your heart, and what you saw there made you faint with horror. And then, next day, you didn't know what to make of it,you couldn't interpret the horror you had glimpsed the day before. Yes, you know what evil costs.
For the rest of the night he sat by himself under the elm-tree. Until this moment it had never seemed to him that his magicianship set him apart from other men. But now he had glimpsed the wrong side of something. He had the eeriest feeling - as if the world were growing older around him, and the best part of existence - laughter, love and innocence - were slipping irrevocably into the past.
How often, you wonder, has the direction of your life been shaped by such misunderstandings? How many opportunities have you been denied-or, for that matter, awarded-because someone failed to see you properly? How many friends have you lost, how many have you gained, because they glimpsed some element of your personality that shone through for only an instant, and in circumstances you could never reproduce? An illusion of water shimmering at the far bend of a highway.
It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down....
It is a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to be evaporate into the past; should exist only in memories, glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photographs force us to see people before their future weighed them down...
Cockburn's personal history links him to the politics of the Communist Party, and there are still moments in his writing - debating the number of people estimated to have perished in Stalin's gulags, claiming that 'the Brezhnev years were a Golden Age for the Soviet working class', when aspects of his father's convictions can be glimpsed.
I'm aware that there is a bigger, far more complicated world out there than I'd ever realized, and just like the students at Beijing University, I've glimpsed it only fleetingly, peripherally. I've sensed the vast expanse of my own ignorance now. I feel antsy and constricted and a deep, almost sexual yearning for velocity, for some sort of raw, transcendent experience that I cannot even begin to articulate.
Susan Jane Gilman
I felt a pang - a strange and inexplicable pang that I had never felt before. It was homesickness. Now, even more than I had earlier when I'd first glimpsed it, I longed to be transported into that quiet little landscape, to walk up the path, to take a key from my pocket and open the cottage door, to sit down by the fireplace, to wrap my arms around myself, and to stay there forever and ever.
We Are All One. When we allow ourselves to become aware of this statement in its purest form, we open the doors to reveal the oneness of being. Using the process of conscious evolution we begin to recognize our true underlying identity, for once we have glimpsed the existence of this realm, we then begin to reveal what it is... our true natural state.
It's a cruel, ironical art, photography. The dragging of captured moments into the future; moments that should have been allowed to evaporate with the past, should exist only in memories glimpsed through the fog of events that came after. Photography forces us to see people before their future weighed down on them. Before they knew their endings.
We Are All One. When we allow ourselves to become aware of this statement in its purest form, we open the doors to reveal the oneness of being. Using the process of conscious evolution we begin to recognise our true underlying identity, for once we have glimpsed the existence of this realm, we then begin to reveal what it is . . . . our true natural state.
Seen from inside the bar, the avenue, the stores opposite, the street glimpsed going off at right angles, the trapezoid of sky visible above the lower buildings, are altered by the tinted windows into an elsewhere, oddly peaceful, a desert or the interior of the sea. Sometimes when he has fallen asleep face upward in the sun, his dreams have taken on this quality of supernatural bright darkness. ("Novelty")
Observing people taking in the work I had watched Robert create was an emotional experience. It had left our private world. It was what I had always wanted for him, but I felt a slight pang of possessiveness sharing it with others. Overriding that feeling was the joy of seeing Robert's face, suffused with confirmation, as he glimpsed the future he had so resolutely sought and had worked so hard to achieve.
Her life has seen little light. She is twelve years old but has a woman's weathered poise. Her abyss-blue eyes have a piercing focus that some adults find unsettling. [... ] She has fired a gun into a human head. She has watched a pile of bodies set alight. She has starved and thirsted, stolen food and given it away, and glimpsed the meaning of life by watching it end over and over.
Will urban sprawl spread so far that most people lose all touch with nature? Will the day come when the only bird a typical American child ever sees is a canary in a pet shop window? When the only wild animal he knows is a rat-glimpsed on a night drive through some city slum? When the only tree he touches is the cleverly fabricated plastic evergreen that shades his gifts on Christmas morning?
Frank N. Ikard
Her grey eyes sparkled with passion as she spoke. Sid looked into them and for a second he glimpsed her soul. He saw what she was - fierce and brave. Upright. Impatient. And good. So good that she would sit covered in gore, shout at dangerous men, and keep a long, lonely vigil - all to save the likes of him. He realized she was a rare creature, as rare as a rose in winter.
She gave Pretty Boy a surreptitious glance. Did he honestly expect her to believe he was gay? True, there were the gay boots and those stunning good looks. But, even so, he blasted enough heterosexual mega-wattage to light up the entire female population. Which he'd undoubtedly been doing since he shot out of the birth canal, glimpsed his reflection in the obstetrician's eyeglasses, and gave the world a high five.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
I glimpsed the man's face with the shine of death on it. They laid him down there in the open. They had brought him there to be close to his death, I understood this also at the same moment. For who would wish to see a companion gasp his last on a jolting cart? We desire to keep the dying and the newly dead close before our eyes so as to give them full meed of pity. Our Lord was brought down to be pitied, on the Cross He was too far away.
Construed as turf, home just seems a provisional claim, a designation you make upon a place, not one it makes on you. A certain set of buildings, a glimpsed, smudged window-view across a schoolyard, a musty aroma sniffed behind a garage when you were a child, all of which come crowding in upon your latter-day senses -- those are pungent things and vivid, even consoling. But to me they are also inert and nostalgic and unlikely to connect you to the real, to that essence art can sometimes achieve, which is permanence.
I fell in love with books. Some people find beauty in music, some in painting, some in landscape, but I find it in words. By beauty, I mean the feeling you have suddenly glimpsed another world, or looked into a portal that reveals a kind of magic or romance out of which the world has been constructed, a feeling there is something more than the mundane, and a reason for our plodding.
Light is important to us humans. It influences our moods, our perceptions, our energy levels. A face glimpsed among trees, dappled by the shadows and the green-tinged light reflected from the forest, will seem quite different to the same face seen on a beach in hard, dry, sunlight, or in a darkening room at twilight, with the shadows of a venetian blind striped across it like a convict's uniform.
His face set in grim determination, Richard slogged ahead, his fingers reaching up to touch the tooth under his shirt. Loneliness, deeper than he had never known, sagged his shoulders. All his friends were lost to him. He knew now that his life was not his own. It belonged to his duty, to his task. He was the Seeker. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not his own man, but a pawn to be used by others. A tool, same as his sword, to help others, that they might have the life he had only glimpsed for a twinkling. He was no different from the dark things in the boundary. A bringer of death.
She [a mother] never outgrows the burden of love, and to the end she carries the weight of hope for those she bore. Oddly, very oddly, she is forever surprised and even faintly wronged that her sons and daughters are just people, for many mothers hope and half expect that their new-born child will make the world better, will somehow be a redeemer. Perhaps they are right, and they can believe that the rare quality they glimpsed in the child is active in the burdened adult.
The sky pulsed with stars. Some people say it makes them lonesome when they stare up at the night sky. I can't imagine why. There's no shortage of company. By now there's not a constellation I can't name. Orion. Lupus. Serpens. Hercules. Draco. My father taught me all of their stories. So when I look up I see a galaxy of adventures and heroes and villains, all jostling together and trying to outdo one another, and I sometimes want to tell them to hush up and not distract me with their chatter. I've glimpsed all the stars ever discovered by astronomers, and plenty that haven't been.
Kaldar smiled at her. Now there was a work of art. If she were just a girl and he were just a man, and they met at a party, that smile would've guaranteed him a date. The man was hot. There was no doubt. But right now, all it would get him was a solid punch in those even teeth. Audrey laughed. "Aren't you sweet? Tell me, do girls usually throw their panties at you when you do that?" He grinned wider, and she glimpsed the funny evil spark in his eyes. "Do men throw money when you do your little Southern belle?
Events are the ephemera of history; they pass across its stage like fireflies, hardly glimpsed before they settle back into darkness and as often as not into oblivion. Every event, however brief, has to be sure a contribution to make, lights up some dark corner or even some wide vista of history. Nor is it only political history which benefits most, for every historical landscape - political, economic, social, even geographical - is illumined by the intermittent flare of the event.
He read the letter again, but could not take in any more meaning than he had done the first time and was reduced to staring at the handwriting itself. She had made her g's the same way he did : he searched through the letter for every one of them, and each felt like a friendly little wave glimpsed from behind a veil. The letter was an incredible treasure, proof that Lily Potter had lived, really lived, that her warm hand had once moved across this parchment, tracing ink into these letters, these words, words about him, Harry, her son.
There are some delightful places in this world which have a sensual charm for the eyes. One loves them with a physical love. We people who are attracted by the countryside cherish fond memories of certain springs, certain woods, certain ponds, certain hills, which have become familiar sights and can touch our hearts like happy events. Sometimes indeed the memory goes back towards a forest glade, or a spot on a river bank or an orchard in blossom, glimpsed only once on a happy day, but preserved in our heart.
Guy de Maupassant
Joel Lane documents a life we don't quite live, in a city we can't quite find: half glimpsed and half imagined, we know it's out there somewhere. Waiting, maybe. Mixing fear with desire, reputation with regret. Touching the blood-beat of our secret hunger with the rhythms of a music that never felt alien till now. Wasted lives, with never a wasted word. It's an extraordinary achievement: vivid as neon, real as rain. Devastating.
Don't be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then 'Ole!' And if not, do your dance anyhow. And 'Ole!' to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. 'Ole!' to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.
This was a vision of wildness contained - caged. Huge, powerful animals whose wild dignity was stripped from them. Panic jolted me. These animals had had their freedom seized by people who put their own desires first. In the glint of the silver cage bars I saw the same steely repression, the same cold entitlement that allows people to feel it is okay to steal bodies and lives as I glimpsed while frozen beneath Junior. The boy who had put his few minutes of pleasure before my entire life.
Next time we will look at this from a much more basic point of view and one antedating all zoology, which, glimpsed only a little after my twentieth year, made write in those days that what is most valuable in man is his eternal and almost divine discontent, a discontent which is a kind of love without a beloved, and like an ache which we feel in members of our body that we do not have. Man is the only being that misses he has never had. And the whole of what we miss, without ever having had it, is never what we call happiness. From this one could start a meditation on happiness, an analysis of that strange condition which makes man the only being who is unhappy for the very reason that he needs to be happy. That is, because he needs to be what he is not.
Jose Ortega y Gasset
We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?
Now the work of art also represents a state of final equilibrium, of accomplished order and maximum relative entropy, and there are those who resent it. But art is not meant to stop the stream of life. Within a narrow span of duration and space the work of art concentrates a view of the human condition; and sometimes it marks the steps of progression, just as a man climbing the dark stairs of a medieval tower assures himself by the changing sights glimpsed through its narrow windows that he is getting somewhere after all.
I realised I never wanted to leave her side, and I never wanted her to have to struggle to be released from her sadness. I could never suggest she required release; for she did not require release. It was a true thing, this sadness of hers; a true thing about the world, about life, about herself. I just wanted Daphne. I wanted who she was, how she was, only her, all of her, always. And I knew I would be forever treading the long path towards that shrouded chamber of dusky luminance I glimpsed in her flickering sort of half-smiles.
The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse... By misuse, I mean that people who have never glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzsche's famous statmeent "God is dead.
But it was enough if, in my own bed, my sleep was deep and allowed my mind to relax entirely; then it would let go of the map of the place where I had fallen asleep and, when I woke in the middle of the night, since I did not know where I was, I did not even understand in the first moment who I was; all I had, in its original simplicity, was the sense of existence as it may quiver in the depths of an animal; I was more bereft than a caveman; but then the memory - not yet of the place where I was, but of several of those where I had lived and where I might have been - would come to me like help from on high to pull me out of the void from which I could not have got out on my own; I passed over centuries of civilization in one second, and the image confusedly glimpsed of oil lamps, then of wing-collar shirts, gradually recomposed my self's original features.
Is beauty a reminder of something we once knew, with poetry one of its vehicles? Does it give us a brief vision of that 'rarely glimpsed bright face behind/ the apparency of things'? Here, I suppose, we ought to try the impossible task of defining poetry. No one definition will do. But I must admit to a liking for the words of Thomas Fuller, who said: 'Poetry is a dangerous honey. I advise thee only to taste it with the Tip of thy finger and not to live upon it. If thou do'st, it will disorder thy Head and give thee dangerous Vertigos.
P. K. Page
The willingness to undertake such action cannot be based on certainties, but on those possibilities glimpsed in a reading of history different from the customary painful recounting of human cruelties. In such a reading we can find not only war but resistance to war, not only injustice but rebellion against injustice, not only selfishness but self-sacrifice, not only silence in the fact of tyranny but defiance, not only callousness but compassion. Human beings show a broad spectrum of qualities, but it is the worst of these that are usually emphasized, and the result, too often, is to dishearten us, diminish our spirit. And yet, historically, that spirit refuses to surrender.
Only through the group, I realised - through sharing the suffering of the group - could the body reach that height of existence that the individual alone could never attain. And for the body to reach that level at which the divine might be glimpsed, a dissolution of individuality was necessary. The tragic quality of the group was also necessary, the quality that constantly raised the group out of the abandon and torpor into which it was prone to lapse, leading it to an ever-mounting shared suffering and so to death, which was the ultimate suffering. The group must be open to death - which meant, of course, that it must be a community of warriors.
I was coming up on a cross street when a man wearing a filthy suit stepped out from around the corner of the building ahead and directly into my path. Bent with age, he turned bleak red eyes to me and stared. Pressed with his chest to both hands he carried a paperback book as soiled and bereft as his suit. Are you one of the real ones or not? he demanded. And after a moment, when I failed to answer, he walked on, resuming his sotto voce conversation. A chill passed through me. Somehow, indefinably, I felt, felt with the kind of baffled, tacit understanding that we have in dreams , that I had just glimpsed one possible future self.
What frightens you? What makes the hair on your arms rise, your palms sweat, the breath catch in your chest like a wild thing caged? Is it the dark? A fleeting memory of a bedtime story, ghosts and goblins and witches hiding in the shadows? Is it the way the wind picks up just before a storm, the hint of wet in the air that makes you want to scurry home to the safety of your fire? Or is it something deeper, something much more frightening, a monster deep inside that you've glimpsed only in pieces, the vast unknown of your own soul where secrets gather with a terrible power, the dark inside?
Man is a glorious and unique species of animal. The species originated by evolution... Future evolution could raise man to superb heights as yet hardly glimpsed, but it will not automatically do so. As far as can now be foreseen, evolutionary degeneration is at least as likely in our future as is further progress.The only way to ensure a progressive evolutionary future for mankind is for man himself to take a hand in the process. Although much further knowledge is needed, it is unquestionably possible for man to guide his own evolution (within limits) along desirable lines. But the great weight of the most widespread... beliefs and institutions is against even attempting such guidance. ["Man's evolutionary future, " 1960, p. 134.]
George Gaylord Simpson
As he plods behind Cameron and Summer, he can't help but stare at Summer's exposed, glistening skin. His thoughts aren't depraved or even mildly in the splasher. In fact, he focuses on the marks of cruelty crisscrossing her back, stomach, and shoulders. He trudges along, drenched, feet swollen, constantly searching for even a hint of a breeze, all while being forced to stare at the alarming network of burns traversing Summer's delicate skin. This latticework of hate reveals a brutal truth-one he can scarcely comprehend. Yes, he's glimpsed and felt her scars before, but this is the first time he's really, truly seen the severity and extent of her life as a slave. With each step, he must digest the monstrosities of her past, leaving him utterly devastated.
Madeleine in her turn stared at him steadily, straight into his eyes, in a profound, strange way, as if seeking to read something there, as if seeking to discover there that hidden part of a human being which can never be fathomed but may perhaps be glimpsed for a fleeting instant, in those moments of unguardedness or surrender or inattention, that are like doors left ajar onto the mysterious depths of the spirit... they stood for a few seconds, each gazing into the other's eyes, each striving to reach the impenetrable secret of the other's heart, to probe each other's thoughts to the quick. They tried, in a mute and passionate questioning, to see the other's conscience in its essential truth: the intimate struggles of two beings who, living side by side, never really know one another, who suspect and sniff around and spy on one another, but cannot plumb the miry depths of one another's soul.
Guy de Maupassant
Harry lost any sense of where they were: Streetlights above him, yells around him, he was clinging to the sidecar for dear life. Hedwig's cage, the Firebolt, and his rucksack slipped from beneath his knees - 'No - HEDWIG!' The broomstick spun to earth, but he just managed to seize the strap of his rucksack and the top of the cage as the motorbike swung the right way up again. A second's relief, and then another burst of green light. The owl screeched and fell to the floor of the cage. 'No - NO!' The motorbike zoomed forward; Harry glimpsed hooded Death Eaters scattering as Hagrid blasted through their circle. 'Hedwig - Hedwig -' But the owl lay motionless and pathetic as a toy on the floor of her cage.
It's commonplace to say that we 'love' a book, but when we say it, we mean all sorts of things. Sometimes we mean that a book was important to us in out youth, though we haven't picked it up in years; sometimes what we 'love' is an impressionistic idea glimpsed from afar (Combray... madeleins... Tante Leonie...) as apposed to the experience of wallowing and plowing through an actual text, and all too often people claim to love books they haven't read at all. Then there are books we love so much that we read every year or two, and know passages of them by heart; that cheer us up when we are sick or sad and never fail to amuse us when we take them up at random; that we pass on to all our friends and acquaintances; and to which we return again and again with undimmed enthusiasm over the course of a lifetime. I think it goes without saying ghat most books that engage readers on this very high levels are masterpieces; and this is why I believe that True Grit by Charles Portis is a masterpiece.
One of the strangest things is the act of creation. You are faced with a blank slate-a page, a canvas, a block of stone or wood, a silent musical instrument. You then look inside yourself. You pull and tug and squeeze and fish around for slippery raw shapeless things that swim like fish made of cloud vapor and fill you with living clamor. You latch onto something. And you bring it forth out of your head like Zeus giving birth to Athena. And as it comes out, it takes shape and tangible form. It drips on the canvas, and slides through your pen, it springs forth and resonates into the musical strings, and slips along the edge of the sculptor's tool onto the surface of the wood or marble. You have given it cohesion. You have brought forth something ordered and beautiful out of nothing. You have glimpsed the divine.
It was language I loved, not meaning. I liked poetry better when I wasn't sure what it meant. Eliot has said that the meaning of the poem is provided to keep the mind busy while the poem gets on with its work - like the bone thrown to the dog by the robber so he can get on with his work... Is beauty a reminder of something we once knew, with poetry one of its vehicles? Does it give us a brief vision of that 'rarely glimpsed bright face behind/ the apparency of things'? Here, I suppose, we ought to try the impossible task of defining poetry. No one definition will do. But I must admit to a liking for the words of Thomas Fuller, who said: 'Poetry is a dangerous honey. I advise thee only to taste it with the Tip of thy finger and not to live upon it. If thou do'st, it will disorder thy Head and give thee dangerous Vertigos.
I should say we'd reach England by Tuesday or thereabouts, with a decent wind behind us. It would be a lot quicker than that if we could just sail straight there, but I was looking at the nautical charts, and there's a dirty great sea serpent right in the middle of the ocean! It has a horrible gaping maw and one of those scaly tails that looks like it could snap a boat clean in two. So I thought it best to sail around that.' FitzRoy frowned. 'I think they just draw those on maps to add a bit of decoration. It doesn't actually mean there's a sea serpent there.' The galley went rather quiet. A few of the pirate crew stared intently out of the portholes, embarrassed at their Captain's mistake. But to everyone's relief, instead of running somebody through, the Pirate Captain just narrowed his eyes thoughtfully. That explains a lot, ' he said. 'I suppose it's also why we've never glimpsed that giant compass in the corner of the Atlantic. I have to say, I'm a little disappointed.
How reprehensible it is when those blessed with commodities insist on ignoring the poor. Better to torment them, force them into indentured servitude, inflict compulsion and blows-this at least produces a connection, fury and a pounding heart, and these too constitute a form of relationship. But to cower in elegant homes behind golden garden gates, fearful lest the breath of warm humankind touch you, unable to indulge in extravagances for fear they might be glimpsed by the embittered oppressed, to oppress and yet lack the courage to show yourself as an oppressor, even to fear the ones you are oppressing, feeling ill at ease in your own wealth and begrudging others their ease, to resort to disagreeable weapons that require neither true audacity nor manly courage, to have money, but only money, without splendor: That's what things look like in our cities at present
V.S. Pritchett's definition of a short story is 'something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.' Notice the 'glimpse' part of this. First the glimpse. Then the glimpse gives life, turned into something that illuminates the moment and may, if we're lucky - that word again - have even further ranging consequences and meaning. The short story writer's task is to invest the glimpse with all that is in his power. He'll bring his intelligence and literary skill to bear (his talent), his sense of proportion and sense of the fitness of things: of how things out there really are and how he sees those things - like no one else sees them. And this is done through the use of clear and specific language, language used so as to bring to life the details that will light up the story for the reader. For the details to be concrete and convey meaning, the language must be accurate and precisely given. The words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right they can hit all the notes.
Now that his children had grown into their lives, their own children too, there was no one who needed more than the idea of him, and he thought maybe that was why he had this nagging feeling, this sense that there were things he had to know for himself, only for himself. He knew, of course he knew, that a life wasn't anything like one of those novels Jenny read, that it stumbled along, bouncing off one thing, then another, until it just stopped, nothing wrapped up neatly. He remembered his children's distress at different times, failing an exam or losing a race, a girlfriend. Knowing that they couldn't believe him but still trying to tell them that it would pass, that they would be amazed, looking back, to think it had mattered at all. He thought of himself, thought of things that had seemed so important, so full of meaning when he was twenty, or forty, and he thought maybe it was like Jenny's books after all. Red herrings and misdirection, all the characters and observations that seemed so central, so significant while the story was unfolding. But then at the end you realized that the crucial thing was really something else. Something buried in a conversation, a description - you realized that all along it had been a different answer, another person glimpsed but passed over, who was the key to everything. Whatever everything was. And if you went back, as Jenny sometimes did, they were there, the clues you'd missed while you were reading, caught up in the need to move forward. All quietly there.
Men, Kellhus had once told her, were like coins: they had two sides. Where one side of them saw, the other side of them was seen, and though all men were both at once, men could only truly know the side of themselves that saw and the side of others that was seen-they could only truly know the inner half of themselves and the outer half of others. At first Esmenet thought this foolish. Was not the inner half the whole, what was only imperfectly apprehended by others? But Kellhus bid her to think of everything she'd witnessed in others. How many unwitting mistakes? How many flaws of character? Conceits couched in passing remarks. Fears posed as judgements ... The shortcomings of men-their limits-were written in the eyes of those who watched them. And this was why everyone seemed so desperate to secure the good opinion of others-why everyone played the mummer. They knew without knowing that what they saw of themselves was only half of who they were. And they were desperate to be whole. The measure of wisdom, Kellhus had said, was found in the distance between these two selves. Only afterward had she thought of Kellhus in these terms. With a kind of surpriseless shock, she realized that not once-not once!-had she glimpsed shortcomings in his words or actions. And this, she understood, was why he seemed limitless, like the ground, which extended from the small circle about her feet to the great circle about the sky. He had become her horizon. For Kellhus, there was no distance between seeing and being seen. He alone was whole. And what was more, he somehow stood from without and saw from within. He made whole ...
R. Scott Bakker
She had signed her own death-warrant. He kept telling himself over and over that he was not to blame, she had brought it on herself. He had never seen the man. He knew there was one. He had known for six weeks now. Little things had told him. One day he came home and there was a cigar-butt in an ashtray, still moist at one end, still warm at the other. There were gasoline-drippings on the asphalt in front of their house, and they didn't own a car. And it wouldn't be a delivery-vehicle, because the drippings showed it had stood there a long time, an hour or more. And once he had actually glimpsed it, just rounding the far corner as he got off the bus two blocks down the other way. A second-hand Ford. She was often very flustered when he came home, hardly seemed to know what she was doing or saying at all. He pretended not to see any of these things; he was that type of man, Stapp, he didn't bring his hates or grudges out into the open where they had a chance to heal. He nursed them in the darkness of his mind. That's a dangerous kind of a man. If he had been honest with himself, he would have had to admit that this mysterious afternoon caller was just the excuse he gave himself, that he'd daydreamed of getting rid of her long before there was any reason to, that there had been something in him for years past now urging Kill, kill, kill. Maybe ever since that time he'd been treated at the hospital for a concussion. ("Three O'Clock")