Would it be possible for me to see something from up there?" asked Milo politely. "You could," said Alec, "but only if you try very hard to look at things as an adult does." Milo tried as hard as he could, and, as he did, his feet floated slowly off the ground until he was standing in the air next to Alex Bings. He looked around very quickly and, an instant later, crashed back down to the earth again. "Interesting, wasn't it?" asked Alex. "Yes, it was," agreed Milo, rubbing his head and dusting himself off, "but I think I'll continue to see things as a child. It's not so far to fall.
Would it be possible for me to see something from up there?" asked Milo politely. "You could, " said Alec, "but only if you try very hard to look at things as an adult does." Milo tried as hard as he could, and, as he did, his feet floated slowly off the ground until he was standing in the air next to Alex Bings. He looked around very quickly and, an instant later, crashed back down to the earth again. "Interesting, wasn't it?" asked Alex. "Yes, it was, " agreed Milo, rubbing his head and dusting himself off, "but I think I'll continue to see things as a child. It's not so far to fall.
Yeah, a lot more than he likes you," said Oh. It didn't look like Milo appreciated the joke very much. "That's debatable," said Milo. "Is not," said Oh. She leaned in and put her pink cast against my cheek, kissing me quickly on the lips. "That's incredibly unfair. If we were gay you'd be up a creek without a paddle. You wouldn't even be in the game." "He's right, you know," I said. "Aw. You guys are having a bromance. That's really cute.
Stupid deer, " I said, embarrassed about being startled. "We need a ladder." "I think they're easier to shoot with a rifle." "I'm not talking about the deer, " I said, hitting Milo on the back of his shoulder. "We need a ladder to look over the wall." "Or a catapult, " Milo said seriously.
Dictionopolis is the place where all the words in the world come from. They're grown right here in our orchards." "I didn't know that words grew on trees, " said Milo timidly. "Where did you think they grew?" shouted the earl irritably. A small crowd began to gather to see the little boy who didn't know that letters grew on trees. "I didn't know they grew at all, " admitted Milo even more timidly. Several people shook their heads sadly. "Well, money doesn't grow on trees, does it?" demanded the count. "I've heard not, " said Milo. "Then something must. Why not words?" exclaimed the undersecretary triumphantly. The crowd cheered his display of logic and continued about its business.
Does everyone grow the way you do?" puffed Milo when he had caught up. "Almost everyone," replied Alec, and then he stopped a moment and thought. "Now and then, though, someone does begin to grow differently. Instead of down, his feet grow up towards the sky. But we do our best to discourage awkward things like that." "What happens to them?" insisted Milo. "Oddly enough, they often grow ten times the size of everyone else," said Alec thoughtfully, "and I've heard that they walk among the stars." And with that he skipped off once again toward the waiting woods.
Is everyone with one face called a Milo?" "Oh no, " Milo replied; "some are called Henry or George or Robert or John or lots of other things." "How terribly confusing, " he cried. "Everything here is called exactly what it is. The triangles are called triangles, the circles are called circles, and even the same numbers have the same name. Why, can you imagine what would happen if we named all the twos Henry or George or Robert or John or lots of other things? You'd have to say Robert plus John equals four, and if the four's name were Albert, things would be hopeless." "I never thought of it that way, " Milo admitted. "Then I suggest you begin at once, " admonished the Dodecahedron from his admonishing face, "for here in Digitopolis everything is quite precise.
I didn't want to miss out on a chance to congratulate you on your bouncing baby boy.' Garrett's eyes trailed over to Milo who stood tall with an arrogant smile on his face next to his father. 'I'm not sure on the protocol over here, though, is it customary to celebrate bastards?' Garrett's comment hit the mark just like he knew it would. The smile was wiped from Milo's face, and he stalked right up to Garrett and threw a punch at his jaw.
But there's so much to learn," he said, with a thoughtful frown. "Yes, that's true," admitted Rhyme; "but it's not just learning things that's important. It's learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters." "That's just what I mean," explained Milo as Tock and the exhausted bug drifted quietly off to sleep. "Many of the things I'm supposed to know seem so useless that I can't see the purpose in learning them at all." "You may not see it now," said the Princess of Pure Reason, looking knowingly at Milo's puzzled face, "but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way.
Oh, do you, Milo? You're so selfish. You don't see the bigger picture.' 'What's the bigger picture?' 'You're still here looking for handouts. Who's going to take care of me?' 'I'm on my knees here, Mom. Not for me, for my family. For my wife. For a beautiful grandson you have totally ignored.' 'He's kind of a brat. I'll be in his life when he gets a little impulse control.' 'He's not even four.' 'I have needs. I'm tired of this child-worshipping culture. You're just a slave to it, Milo.' 'I'm only trying to be a decent dad.' 'Don't waste your time. It's not in your genes. Besides, try making some money. That might be a good dad move. For heaven's sake, the system's rigged for white men and you still can't tap in.' 'You're right, Mom. What can I say? But still, it would mean a lot to me if you made a little more of an effort with Bernie.' 'Bernie schmernie. This is my decade.' 'Okay, you wrinkled old spidercunt, have it your way.
I've always found paintings of nudes depressing because they can't compete with photographs. The grainiest photograph of some girl, a blurry Polaroid - you'd rather look at that than the Venus de Milo, because you think, Wow, that's really somebody... This camera really was in front of this real naked lady.
Every weekday morning, I picture my first paragraph while I hike with my dog Milo near Mulholland Drive, looking out over the San Fernando Valley. I edit the paragraph, then memorize it, so that when I get back home and sit down at my computer, the blank screen's tyranny lasts only a second or two. A brief reign!
Maybe all wondrous books appear in our lives the way Milo's tollbooth appears, an inexplicable gift, cast up by some curious chance that comes to feel, after we have finished and fallen in love with the book, like the workings of a secret purpose. Of all the enchantments of beloved books the most mysterious-the most phantasmal-is the way they always seem to come our way precisely when we need them.
They walked for a while, all silent in their thoughts, until they reached the car and Alec drew a fine telescope from his shirt and handed it to Milo. "Carry this with you on your journey," he said softly, "for there is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye. Through it you can see everything from the tender moss in a sidewalk crack to the glow of the farthest star "" and, most important of all, you can see things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. It's my gift to you.
But that can never be, " said Milo, jumping to his feet. "Don't be too sure, " said the child patiently, "for one of the nicest things about mathematics, or anything else you might care to learn, is that many of the things which can never be, often are. You see, " he went on, "it's very much like your trying to reach Infinity. You know that it's there, but you just don't know where - but just because you can never reach it doesn't mean that it's not worth looking for.
Alexandros of Antioch took a block of marble and chiseled away from it everything that was not his masterpiece, the Venus de Milo. If you will chisel away one fault from your character every day, you may discover - a) that you're actually a statue of Margaret Thatcher. b) that you're still just a block of marble. c) that there are pigeon droppings on your shoes. d) that you, too, are a hidden masterpiece.
For instance," said the boy again, "if Christmas trees were people and people were Christmas trees, we'd all be chopped down, put up in the living room, and covered in tinsel, while the trees opened our presents." "What does that have to do with it?" asked Milo. "Nothing at all," he answered, "but it's an interesting possibility, don't you think?
There was shish-kabob for lunch, huge, savory hunks of spitted meat sizzling like the devil over charcoal after marinating seventy-two hours in a secret mixture Milo had stolen from a crooked trader in the Levant, served with Iranian rice and asparagus tips Parmesan, followed by cherries jubilee for dessert and then steaming cups of fresh coffee with Benedictine and brandy.
But why do only unimportant things?" asked Milo, who suddenly remembered how much time he spent each day doing them. "Think of all the trouble it saves, " the man explained, and his face looked as if he'd be grinning an evil grin-if he could grin at all. "If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting.
But why do only unimportant things?" asked Milo, who suddenly remembered how much time he spent each day doing them. "Think of all the trouble it saves," the man explained, and his face looked as if he'd be grinning an evil grin--if he could grin at all. "If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting.
It's completely logical, " explained the Dodecahedron. "The more you want, the less you get, and the less you get, the more you have. Simple arithmetic, that's all. Suppose you had something and added something to it. What would that make?" "More, " said Milo quickly. "Quite correct, " he nodded. "Now suppose you had something and added nothing to it. What would you have?" "The same, " he answered again, without much conviction. "Splendid, " cried the Dodecahedron. "And suppose you had something and added less than nothing to it. What would you have then?" "FAMINE!" roared the anguished Humbug, who suddenly realized that that was exactly what he'd eaten twenty-three bowls of.
It has been a long trip, " said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; "but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn't made so many mistakes. I'm afraid it's all my fault." "You must never feel badly about making mistakes, " explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.
The preliminaries were out of the way, the creative process was about to begin. The creative process, that mystic life force, that splurge out of which has come the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, the Fantasie Impromptu, the Bayeux tapestries, Romeo and Juliet, the windows of Chartres Cathedral, Paradise Lost - and a pulp murder story by Dan Moody. The process is the same in all; if the results are a little uneven, that doesn't invalidate the basic similarity of origin.
I warned you; I warned you I was the Senses Taker, " sneered the Senses Taker. "I help people find what they're not looking for, hear what they're not listening for, run after what they're not chasing, and smell what isn't even there. And, furthermore, " he cackled, hopping around gleefully on his stubby legs, "I'll steal your sense of purpose, take your sense of duty, destroy your sense of proportion - and, but for one thing, you'd be helpless yet." "What's that?" asked Milo fearfully. "As long as you have the sound of laughter, " he groaned unhappily, "I cannot take your sense of humor - and, with it, you've nothing to fear from me.
Every thought which enters the mind, every word we utter, every deed we perform, makes its impression upon the inmost fiber of our being and the result of these impressions is our character. The study of books, of music, or of the fine arts is not essential to a lofty character. It rests with the worker whether a rude piece of marble shall be squared into a horse-block or carved into an Apollo, a Psyche, or a Venus di Milo. It is yours, if you choose, to develop a spiritual form more beautiful than any of these, instinct with immortal life, refulgent with all the glory of character.
Orison Swett Marden
What a shame, " signed the Dodecahedron. "They're so very useful. Why, did you know that if a beaver two feet long with a tail a foot and a half long can build a dam twelve feet high and six feet wide in two days, all you would need to build Boulder Dam is a beaver sixty-eight feet long with a fifty-one-foot tail?" "Where would you find a beaver that big?" grumbled the Humbug as his pencil point snapped. "I'm sure I don't know, " he replied, "but if you did, you'd certainly know what to do with him." "That's absurd, " objected Milo, whose head was spinning from all the numbers and questions. "That may be true, " he acknowledged, "but it's completely accurate, and as long as the answer is right, who cares if the question is wrong? If you want sense, you'll have to make it yourself.
Beauty! Wasn't that what mattered? Beauty was hardly a popular ideal at that jumpy moment in history. The masses had been desensitized to it, the intelligentsia regarded it with suspicion. To most of her peers, 'beauty' smacked of the rarefied, the indulgent, the superfluous, the effete. How could persons of good conscience pursue the beautiful when there was so much suffering and injustice in the world? Ellen Cherry's answer was that if one didn't cultivate beauty, soon he or she wouldn't be able to recognize ugliness. The prevalence of social ugliness made commitment to physical beauty all the more essential. And the very presence in life of double-wide mobile homes, Magic Marker graffiti, and orange shag carpeting had the effect of making ills such as poverty, crime, repression, pollution, and child abuse seem tolerable. In a sense, beauty was the ultimate protest, and, in that it generally lasted longer than an orgasm, the ultimate refuge. The Venus de Milo screamed 'No!' at evil, whereas the Spandex stretch pant, the macrame plant holder were compliant with it. Ugly bedrooms bred ugly habits. Of course, it wasn't required of beauty that it perform a social function. That was what was valuable about it.