If they'd been dogs, they would have all been in the yard eating grass and trying to yak up whatever was making them feel so lousy. Not a bone gnawed, not a ball chased-all tails went unwagged. Oh, life is a fast cat, a short leash, a flea in that place where you just can't scratch.
I have been a hundred times on the point of killing myself, but still was fond of life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts. What can be more absurd than choosing to carry a burden that one really wants to throw to the ground? To detest, and yet to strive to preserve our existence? To caress the serpent that devours us, and hug him close to our bosoms till he has gnawed into our hearts?
Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud: 'As God is my witness, and God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill - as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again.
I've found that I snack less and concentrate better when I chew on a plastic stirrer - the kind that you get to stir your to-go coffee. I picked up this habit from my husband, who loves to chew on things. His favorite chew-toy is a plastic pen top, and gnawed pen tops and little bits of plastic litter our apartment.
I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...
Much of American wealth is an illusion which is being secretly gnawed away and much of it will be completely wiped out in the near future....So what is the rest of your future? A grisly list of unpleasant events -- exploding inflation, price controls, erosion of your savings (eventually to nothing), a collapse of private as well as government pension programs, and eventually an international monetary holocaust which will sweep all paper currencies down the drain and turn the world upside down.
Lowell's best friend was the heroically moustached art director of a tobacco magazine that published in the same building where Lowell worked at plumbing. His name was Harry Balmer, and despite the evidence of his moustache he was nervous, compulsive, and wracked with small fears. He looked his best from across a wide room; the closer you got to him, the more he seemed to fall apart into a mass of twitches and gnawed finernails and the clearer it became that this big, smart-looking moustache was a kind of bush he was trying to hide behind.
I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name 'em, I ate 'em.
In 1546 a band of weevils were tried for damaging church vineyards in St Julien. Such trials were rife in the sixteenth century, and the distinguished French lawyer Bartholomew Chassenee rose to fame as an advocate for animals. His work is commemorated in Julian Barnes's mischievous short story 'The Wars of Religion', in which excommunication is sought for a colony of woodworm which had gnawed away the supporting legs of the Bishop of Besane§on's throne, causing him to be 'hurled against his will into a state of imbecility'.
It was a fossilized path: the will which had cut this gash out of these solitary places so that the blood and sap would flow there was long since dead - and dead too were the circumstances which had guided this will. A whitish and indurated scar remained, gradually gnawed away by the earth like a flesh that heals itself, yet its direction was still vaguely cut into the horizon; a language and crepuscular sign rather than a way forward - a worn-out lifeline which still vegetated through the fallow land as it does on the palm of a hand. It was so old that, since it had been constructed, the very configuration of the land must have changed imperceptibly.
For eight years I was an inmate in a state asylum for the insane. During those years I passed through such unbearable terror that I deteriorated into a wild, frightened creature intent only on survival. And I survived. I was raped by orderlies, gnawed on by rats and poisoned by tainted food. I was chained in padded cells, strapped into strait-jackets and half-drowned in ice baths. And I survived. The asylum itself was a steel trap, and I was not released from its jaws alive and victorious. I crawled out mutilated, whimpering and terribly alone. But I did survive.
Every time I go to sleep, I know I may never wake up. How could anyone expect to? You drop your tiny, helpless mind into a bottomless well, crossing your fingers and hoping that when you pull it out on its flimsy fishing wire it hasn't been gnawed to bones by nameless beast below. Hoping you pull up anything at all. Maybe this is why I only sleep a few hours a month. I don't want to die again. This has become clearer and clearer to me recently, a desire so sharp and focused I can hardly believe it's mine: I don't want to die. I don't want to disappear. I want to stay.
Without another word, we began to eat. I was hungry, but no appetite would excuse the way we set upon those dishes. We shoveled food into our mouths in a manner ill befitting our fine attire. Bears would have blushed to see us bent over our plates. The pheasant, still steaming from the oven, its dark flesh redolent with the mushroom musk of the forest floor, was gnawed quickly to the bone. It was a touch gamy - no milk-fed goose, this - but it was tender, and the piquant hominy balanced that wild taste as I had hoped it would. The eggs, laced pink at the edges and floating delicately in a carnal sauce, were gulped down in two bites. The yolks were cooked to that rare liminal degree, no longer liquid but not yet solid, like the formative moment of a sun-colored gem.
Tisiphone stood silent and helpless in Alicia's mind. It was all she could do to keep Alicia's blind savagery from dragging Megaira under and clouding the lightning-fast reflexes which kept them both alive. She'd never guessed what she was creating, never imagined the monster she'd spawned. She'd seen the power of Alicia DeVries's mind without recognizing the controls which kept that power in check, and only now had she begun to understand fully what she had done. She had shattered those controls. The compassion and mercy she'd feared no longer existed, only the red, ravening hunger. Yet terrible as that might be, there was worse. She'd found the hole Alicia had gnawed through the wall about her inner rage, and she couldn't close it. Somehow, without even realizing it was possible, Alicia had reached beyond herself. She'd followed Tisiphone's connection to the Fury's own rage, her own destruction, and made that incalculable power hers as well. For the first time in millennia, Tisiphone faced another as powerful as herself, a mortal mind which had stolen the power of the Furies themselves, and that power had driven it mad.
Many different kinds of sprouts lay torn. Green, purple and orange leaves lay scattered across the dark soil, and the thorn fence surrounding the bed had a fist-sized hole in it. Teacher eased himself into a squat, poked at the inside of the hole. Whatever made the hole had left blood on the thorns. The sprouts looked like wispy ghosts, pale and broken. Their delicate leaves and stems were riddled with bites. Life drained out of them like water dripping from a hanging cloth, and a breeze made them dance sadly. It felt like a funeral. Teacher picked up a gnawed berry and gently squeezed it until purple juice dripped down his thumb. He placed the berry by the plant's roots. Chandi's small face bunched up. 'Are they dead?' 'They're dying, yes.' Yuvali took her hand. 'But their bodies will help other plants grow.
We have already compared the benefits of theology and science. When the theologian governed the world, it was covered with huts and hovels for the many, palaces and cathedrals for the few. To nearly all the children of men, reading and writing were unknown arts. The poor were clad in rags and skins - they devoured crusts, and gnawed bones. The day of Science dawned, and the luxuries of a century ago are the necessities of to-day. Men in the middle ranks of life have more of the conveniences and elegancies than the princes and kings of the theological times. But above and over all this, is the development of mind. There is more of value in the brain of an average man of to-day - of a master-mechanic, of a chemist, of a naturalist, of an inventor, than there was in the brain of the world four hundred years ago. These blessings did not fall from the skies. These benefits did not drop from the outstretched hands of priests. They were not found in cathedrals or behind altars - neither were they searched for with holy candles. They were not discovered by the closed eyes of prayer, nor did they come in answer to superstitious supplication. They are the children of freedom, the gifts of reason, observation and experience - and for them all, man is indebted to man.
Robert G. Ingersoll
The fact is,' said Van Gogh, 'the fact is that we are painters in real life, and the important thing is to breathe as hard as ever we can breathe.' So I breathe. I breathe at the open window above my desk, and a moist fragrance assails me from the gnawed leaves of the growing mock orange. This air is as intricate as the light that filters through forested mountain ridges and into my kitchen window; this sweet air is the breath of leafy lungs more rotted than mine; it has sifted through the serrations of many teeth. I have to love these tatters. And I must confess that the thought of this old yard breathing alone in the dark turns my mind to something else. I cannot in all honesty call the world old when I've seen it new. On the other hand, neither will honesty permit me suddenly to invoke certain experiences of newness and beauty as binding, sweeping away all knowledge. But I am thinking now of the tree with the lights in it, the cedar in the yard by the creek I saw transfigured. That the world is old and frayed is no surprise; that the world could ever become new and whole beyond uncertainty was, and is, such a surprise that I find myself referring all subsequent kinds of knowledge to it. And it suddenly occurs to me to wonder: were the twigs of the cedar I saw really bloated with galls? They probably were; they almost surely were. I have seen these 'cedar apples' swell from that cedar's green before and since: reddish gray, rank, malignant. All right then. But knowledge does not vanquish mystery, or obscure its distant lights. I still now and will tomorrow steer by what happened that day, when some undeniably new spirit roared down the air, bowled me over, and turned on the lights. I stood on grass like air, air like lightning coursed in my blood, floated my bones, swam in my teeth. I've been there, seen it, been done by it. I know what happened to the cedar tree, I saw the cells in the cedar tree pulse charged like wings beating praise. Now, it would be too facile to pull everything out of the hat and say that mystery vanquishes knowledge. Although my vision of the world of the spirit would not be altered a jot if the cedar had been purulent with galls, those galls actually do matter to my understanding of this world. Can I say then that corruption is one of beauty's deep-blue speckles, that the frayed and nibbled fringe of the world is a tallith, a prayer shawl, the intricate garment of beauty? It is very tempting, but I cannot. But I can, however, affirm that corruption is not beauty's very heart and I can I think call the vision of the cedar and the knowledge of these wormy quarryings twin fjords cutting into the granite cliffs of mystery and say the new is always present simultaneously with the old, however hidden. The tree with the lights in it does not go out; that light still shines on an old world, now feebly, now bright. I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down.
If I was set an essay on Friday, I'd spend three hours on Saturday morning in the library. Was that normal? I didn't know. What I did know was that I felt less prone to depression and more normal walking through Venice or staring out over the lake in Zurich. At home I wrestled continually with my moods. The black thing inside me gnawed like a rat at my self-esteem and self-confidence. I felt there was a happy person inside me too, who wanted to enjoy life, to be normal, but my feelings of self-loathing and the deep distrust I had towards my father wouldn't allow that sunny person to come out. When the black thing had an iron grip on me, I couldn't even look at my father: Did you do bad things to me when I was little? Like a line from a song stuck in your brain, the words ran through my head and never once came out of my mouth. Not that I needed to say what was in my mind. I was sure Father could read my thoughts in my moods, in the blank, dead stare of my eyes. It was hardly surprising that there was always an atmosphere of strain and awkwardness in the house, and the blame was always mine: Alice and her moods, Alice and her anorexia; Alice and her low self-esteem; Alice and her inescapable feelings of loss and emptiness.
Let me sing the beauty of my Maggie. Legs:-the knees attached to the thighs, knees shiny, thighs like milk. Arms:-the levers of my content, the serpents of my joy. Back:-the sight of that in a strange street of dreams in the middle of Heaven would make me fall sitting from glad recognition. Ribs?-she had some melted and round like a well formed apple, from her thigh bones to waist I saw the earth roll. In her neck I hid myself like a lost snow goose of Australia, seeking the perfume of her breast... She didn't let me, she was a good girl. The poor big alley cat, though almost a year younger, had black ideas about her legs that he hid from himself, also in his prayers didn't mention... the dog. Across the big world darkness I've come, in boat, in bus, in airplane, in train standing my shadow immense traversing the fields and the redness of engine boilers behind me making me omnipotent upon the earth of the night, like God-but I have never made love with a little finger that has won me since. I gnawed her face with my eyes; she loved that; and that was bastardly I didn't know she loved me-I didn't understand.
THE VOICE YOU HEAR WHEN YOU READ SILENTLY is not silent, it is a speaking- out-loud voice in your head; it is spoken, a voice is saying it as you read. It's the writer's words, of course, in a literary sense his or her "voice" but the sound of that voice is the sound of your voice. Not the sound your friends know or the sound of a tape played back but your voice caught in the dark cathedral of your skull, your voice heard by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts and what you know by feeling, having felt. It is your voice saying, for example, the word "barn" that the writer wrote but the "barn" you say is a barn you know or knew. The voice in your head, speaking as you read, never says anything neutrally- some people hated the barn they knew, some people love the barn they know so you hear the word loaded and a sensory constellation is lit: horse-gnawed stalls, hayloft, black heat tape wrapping a water pipe, a slippery spilled chirr of oats from a split sack, the bony, filthy haunches of cows... And "barn" is only a noun- no verb or subject has entered into the sentence yet! The voice you hear when you read to yourself is the clearest voice: you speak it speaking to you. ~~-Thomas Lux
Beer gurgled through the beard. 'You see, ' the young man began, 'the desert's so big you can't be alone in it. Ever notice that? It's all empty and there's nothing in sight, but there's always something moving over there where you can't quite see it. It's something very dry and thin and brown, only when you look around it isn't there. Ever see it?' 'Optical fatigue -' Tallant began. 'Sure. I know. Every man to his own legend. There isn't a tribe of Indians hasn't got some way of accounting for it. You've heard of the Watchers? And the twentieth-century white man comes along, and it's optical fatigue. Only in the nineteenth century things weren't quite the same, and there were the Carkers.' 'You've got a special localized legend?' 'Call it that. You glimpse things out of the corner of your mind, same like you glimpse lean, dry things out of the corner of your eye. You incase 'em in solid circumstance and they're not so bad. That is known as the Growth of Legend. The Folk Mind in Action. You take the Carkers and the things you don't quite see and put 'em together. And they bite.' Tallant wondered how long that beard had been absorbing beer. 'And what were the Carkers?' he prompted politely. 'Ever hear of Sawney Bean? Scotland - reign of James the First or maybe the Sixth, though I think Roughead's wrong on that for once. Or let's be more modern - ever hear of the Benders? Kansas in the 1870's? No? Ever hear of Procrustes? Or Polyphemus? Or Fee-fi-fo-fum? 'There are ogres, you know. They're no legend. They're fact, they are. The inn where nine guests left for every ten that arrived, the mountain cabin that sheltered travelers from the snow, sheltered them all winter till the melting spring uncovered their bones, the lonely stretches of road that so many passengers traveled halfway - you'll find 'em everywhere. All over Europe and pretty much in this country too before communications became what they are. Profitable business. And it wasn't just the profit. The Benders made money, sure; but that wasn't why they killed all their victims as carefully as a kosher butcher. Sawney Bean got so he didn't give a damn about the profit; he just needed to lay in more meat for the winter. 'And think of the chances you'd have at an oasis.' 'So these Carkers of yours were, as you call them, ogres?' 'Carkers, ogres - maybe they were Benders. The Benders were never seen alive, you know, after the townspeople found those curiously butchered bodies. There's a rumor they got this far West. And the time checks pretty well. There wasn't any town here in the 80s. Just a couple of Indian families - last of a dying tribe living on at the oasis. They vanished after the Carkers moved in. That's not so surprising. The white race is a sort of super-ogre, anyway. Nobody worried about them. But they used to worry about why so many travelers never got across this stretch of desert. The travelers used to stop over at the Carkers, you see, and somehow they often never got any further. Their wagons'd be found maybe fifteen miles beyond in the desert. Sometimes they found the bones, too, parched and white. Gnawed-looking, they said sometimes.' 'And nobody ever did anything about these Carkers?' 'Oh, sure. We didn't have King James the Sixth - only I still think it was the First - to ride up on a great white horse for a gesture, but twice there were Army detachments came here and wiped them all out.' 'Twice? One wiping-out would do for most families.' Tallant smiled at the beery confusion of the young man's speech. 'Uh-huh, That was no slip. They wiped out the Carkers twice because you see once didn't do any good. They wiped 'em out and still travelers vanished and still there were white gnawed bones. So they wiped 'em out again. After that they gave up, and people detoured the oasis. ("They Bite")
You are to make up your mind whether it is to be God or man. Whether you are to be free or a slave. Whether it is to be progress or stagnation. As long as man loves a phantom in the sky more than he loves his fellow man, there will never be peace upon this earth; so long as man worships a Tyrant as the "Fatherhood of God, " there will never be a "Brotherhood of Man." You must make the choice, you must come to the decision. Is it to be God or Man? Churches or Homes-preparation for death or happiness for the living? If ever man needed an example of the benefit of the one against the other, he need but read the pages of history for proof of how religion retarded progress and provoked hatred among the children of men. When theology ruled the world, man was a slave. The people lived in huts and hovels. They were clad in rags and skins; they devoured crusts and gnawed bones; the priests wore garments of silk and satin; carried mitres of gold and precious stones, robbed the poor and lived upon the fat of the land! Here and there a brave man appeared to question their authority. These martyrs to intellectual emancipation slowly and painfully broke the spell of superstition and ushered in the Age of Reason and the Dawn of Science. Man became the only god that man can know. He no longer fell upon his knees in fear. He began to enjoy the fruits of his own labor. He discovered a way to relieve himself from the drudgery of continuous toil; he began to enjoy a few comforts of life-and for the first time upon this earth he found a few moments for happiness. It is far more important to learn how to live than to learn how to pray. A new day and a new era dawned for him. His labors produced enormous dividends. He looked at the sky for the first time and saw that it was blue! He searched the heavens and found no God. He no longer feared the manifestations of nature.
And that date, too, is far off?' 'Far off; when it comes, think your end in this world is at hand!' 'How and what is the end? Look east, west, south and north.' 'In the north, where you never yet trod, towards the point whence your instincts have warned you, there a spectre will seize you. 'Tis Death! I see a ship - it is haunted - 'tis chased - it sails on. Baffled navies sail after that ship. It enters the regions of ice. It passes a sky red with meteors. Two moons stand on high, over ice-reefs. I see the ship locked between white defiles - they are ice-rocks. I see the dead strew the decks - stark and livid, green mold on their limbs. All are dead, but one man - it is you! But years, though so slowly they come, have then scathed you. There is the coming of age on your brow, and the will is relaxed in the cells of the brain. Still that will, though enfeebled, exceeds all that man knew before you, through the will you live on, gnawed with famine; and nature no longer obeys you in that death-spreading region; the sky is a sky of iron, and the air has iron clamps, and the ice-rocks wedge in the ship. Hark how it cracks and groans. Ice will imbed it as amber imbeds a straw. And a man has gone forth, living yet, from the ship and its dead; and he has clambered up the spikes of an iceberg, and the two moons gaze down on his form. That man is yourself; and terror is on you - terror; and terror has swallowed your will. And I see swarming up the steep ice-rock, grey grisly things. The bears of the north have scented their quarry - they come near you and nearer, shambling and rolling their bulk, and in that day every moment shall seem to you longer than the centuries through which you have passed. And heed this - after life, moments continued make the bliss or the hell of eternity.' 'Hush, ' said the whisper; 'but the day, you assure me, is far off - very far! I go back to the almond and rose of Damascus! - sleep!' ("The House And The Brain
I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who sprang through the open window by my bed and pummeled my chest, barely sheathing his claws. I've been bloodied and mauled, wrung, dazzled, drawn. I taste salt on my lips in the early morning; I surprise my eyes in the mirror and they are ashes, or fiery sprouts, and I gape appalled or full of breath. The planet whirls along and dreaming. Power broods, spins, and lurches down. The planet and the power meet with a shock. They fuse and tumble, lightning, ground fire; they part, mute, submitting, and touch again with hiss and cry. The tree with the lights in it buzzes into flame and the cast-rock mountains ring. Emerson saw it. 'I dreamed that I floated at will in the great Ether, and I saw this world floating also not far off, but diminished to the size of an apple. Then an angel took it in his hand and brought it to me and said, 'This must thou eat.' And I ate the world.' All of it. All of it intricate, speckled, gnawed, fringed, and free. Israel's priests offered the wave breast and the heave shoulder together, freely, in full knowledge, for thanksgiving. They waved, they heaved, and neither gesture was whole without the other, and both meant a wide-eyed and keen-eyed thanks. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, said the bell. A sixteenth-century alchemist wrote of the philosopher's stone, 'One finds it in the open country, in the village and in the town. It is in everything which God created. Maids throw it on the street. Children play with it.' The giant water bug ate the world. And like Billy Bray, I go my way, and my left foot says 'Glory,' and my right foot says 'Amen': in and out of Shadow Creek, upstream and down, exultant, in a daze, dancing, to the twin silver trumpets of praise.