I often think about how my sons will come to know about September 11th. Something overheard? A newspaper image? In school? I would prefer that they learn about it from my wife and me, in a deliberate and safe way. But it's hard to imagine ever feeling ready to broach the subject without some impetus.
Jonathan Safran Foer
But the smell of the hospital, the sting of those overhead lights in the night, the snippets of conversations I had overheard, stayed with me and marked the beginning of how I came to know what a bold and dangerous thing parenthood is. Risk was not an event we had survived, but the place where we now lived.
It felt strange to call them directly, to hear her father's 'Hello?' after the second ring, and when he heard her voice, he raised his, almost shouting, as he always did with international calls. Her mother liked to take the phone out to the verandah, to make sure the neighbors overheard: 'Ifem, how is the weather in America?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Obviously any fiction is going to be a combination of what is invented, what is overheard, what is experienced, what is experienced by people close to you, what you are told, what you have read, all mixed together into this kind of soup which, like any good soup, at the end you cannot really distinguish the ingredients.
I heard an Englishman, who had been long resident in America, declare that in following, in meeting, or in overtaking, in the street, on the road, or in the field, at the theatre, the coffee-house, or at home, he had never overheard Americans conversing without the word DOLLAR being pronounced between them. Such unity of purpose ... can ... be found nowhere else, except... in an ant's nest.
I was a bartender in New York and I overheard this girl saying she made $3000 doing a commercial. A kid at work told me, 'Hey, I know this director and he'd really like you!'. So I walked into this guy's office and was like 'I was thinking maybe I could make $3000' and he hired me for commercials, short films, like 15 jobs in a row.
Suddenly so many things she'd overheard her brothers and Quinn saying when Grimm had been in residence made sense, and upon reflection she suspected a part of her had always known. Her love was a legendary warrior who had grown to despise himself, cut off from his roots. But now that he was home and given the time to explore those roots, he might be able to make peace with himself at long last.
Karen Marie Moning
I took notes on the people around me, in my town, in my family, in my memory. I took notes on my own state of mind, my grandiosity, the low self-esteem. I wrote down the funny stuff I overheard. I learned to be like a ship's rat, veined ears trembling, and I learned to scribble it all down.
For men and women are not only themselves; they are also the region in which they are born, the city apartment or farm in which they learnt to walk, the games they played as children, the old wives tales they overheard, the food they ate, the schools they attended, the sports they followed, the poets they read, and the God they believed in. It is all these things that have made them what they are, and these are the things that you can't come to know by hearsay...
W. Somerset Maugham
... I am more of an ambler. I once overheard my old boss in Dublin describe me as very "hello trees, hello flowers." It was intended as an insult and it fulfilled its brief; I was insulted. I had little interest in greeting trees and flowers but nor did I treat life as a treadmill, on which it was vital to keep fleeing forward in order to avoid being sucked off the back and out of the game.
One day, the infielders were having a pretty bad time and were making some bad throws to me at first base. After digging a few out of the dirt, Joe Orengo called over to me, 'Atta boy, John, you look like a big cat.' Some of the writers overheard the remark and asked Joe about it later. The nickname has stuck with me ever since.
I once overheard the sweetest old woman behind me on a train tell her adorable old husband as he scoffed down a ham sandwich she had brought along, "If you ever yell at me to "stop bringing a ham sandwich with me every where we go" again? Next time I'm bringing a gun. And I'm blowing your God damn head off."
Everyone talks too much. We are walled in like hostages behind words that come at us like rifle fire, an endless barrage from the net, the news, in texts and tweets, from the mouths of friends, in people's overheard conversations on mobile phones, in announcements on the bus and Tube. We are not living life, we are listening to it, interpreting life through what everyone else has to say and through our automatic responses. We are echoes.
Prose-it might be speculated-is discourse; poetry ellipsis. Prose is spoken aloud; poetry overheard. The one is presumably articulate and social, a shared language, the voice of "communication"; the other is private, allusive, teasing, sly, idiosyncratic as the spider's delicate web, a kind of witchcraft unfathomable to ordinary minds.
Joyce Carol Oates
For every grand and finely worded statement by the CEO, the brand is also defined by derisory consumer comments overheard in a hallway, or in a chat room on the Internet. Brands are sponges for content, for images, for fleeting feelings. They become psychological concepts held in the minds of the public, where they may stay forever. As such you can't entirely control a brand. At best you can only guide and influence it.
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
Speaking of your eyeballs, dear brother, I overheard some girls talking about you in the restroom at the tournament hotel. Apparently rumor now has it that you won't allow anyone to see your eyes-ever. In fact, according to this knowledgeable source, you even sleep and shower with your glasses on in case someone unexpectedly walks in... one of them said she'd seen your eyes for herself two years ago and could only describe them as 'ferocious and roving, ' and 'burning white-hot with a primal, raw wildness.
Singer and actress Gertrude Lawrence once overheard an assistant describing the beauty of a coat she knew she could never even dream of affording. Having ascertained the exact shop, coat and price, Ms. Lawrence returned from her lunch break wearing that coat, apparently in order to flaunt and emphasize her greater purchasing power and, by inference, her superior status.
So many things were testing his faith. There was the Bible, of course, but the Bible was a book, and so were Bleak House, Treasure Island, Ethan Frome and The Last of the Mohicans. Did it then seem probable, as he had once overheard Dunbar ask, that the answers to riddles of creation would be supplied by people too ignorant to understand the mechanics of rainfall? Had Almighty God, in all His infinite wisdom, really been afraid that men six thousand years ago would succeed in building a tower to heaven?
We're all dreaming, ' Arctor said. If the last to know he's an addict is the addict, then maybe the last to know when a man means what he says is the man himself, he reflected. He wondered how much of the garbage that Donna had overheard he had seriously meant. He wondered how much of the insanity of the day-his insanity-had been real, or just induced as a contact lunacy, by the situation. Donna, always, was a pivot point of reality for him; for her this was the basic, natural question. He wished he could answer.
Philip K. Dick
Why did they all have to tread so very delicately around Celeste's money? It was like wealth was an embarrassing medical condition. It was the same with Celeste's beauty. Strangers gave Celeste the same furtive looks they gave to people with missing limbs, and if Madeline ever mentioned Celeste's looks, Celeste responded with something like shame. "Shhh, " she'd say, looking around fearfully in case someone overheard. Everyone wanted to be rich and beautiful, but the truly rich and beautiful had to pretend they were just the same as everyone else. Oh, it was a funny old world.
I didn't think she was that kind of girl." I scampered up onto the ledge and strained to listen. "I overheard two of my students talking about her in homeroom yesterday. I never would have thought Natalie would do something like that. Then again, she's been acting out big-time. Fraternizing with that Spencer girl." I closed my eyes to stop the room from spinning. What would have ever made me think that teachers wouldn't hear about this, too? After all, it was all over the school. Another teacher agreed. "Natalie always seemed like such a nice girl." But I am a nice girl, I wanted to scream.
Count up the almonds, Count what was bitter and kept you waking, Count me in too: I sought your eye when you glanced up and no one would see you, I spun that secret thread Where the dew you mused on Slid down to pitchers Tended by a word that reached no one's heart. There you first fully entered the name that is yours, you stepped to yourself on steady feet, the hammers swung free in the belfry of your silence, things overheard thrust through to you, what's dead put it's arm around you too, and the three of you walked through the evening. Render me bitter. Number me among the almonds
In a very real way, one writes a story to find out what happens in it. Before it is written it sits in the mind like a piece of overheard gossip or a bit of intriguing tattle. The story process is like taking up such a piece of gossip, hunting down the people actually involved, questioning them, finding out what really occurred, and visiting pertinent locations. As with gossip, you can't be too surprised if important things turn up that were left out of the first-heard version entirely; or if points initially made much of turn out to have been distorted, or simply not to have happened at all.
Samuel R. Delany
She attended the French performance, but the play's content now had a connection to her life. She read a book and the book invariably had lines with sparks from her mind, the fire of her emotions flickered here and there, and words spoken the night before were written down, as if the author had overheard how her heart beat. The forest held the same trees, but their sound had taken on special meaning; she had established a vibrant consonance with them. The birds did not simply twitter and chirp but were saying something to each other. Everything around her spoke and responded to her mood; a flower would blossom and she seemed to hear its breathing. pp. 256-257
It seemed my whole life was composed of these disjointed fractions of time, hanging around in one public place and then another, as if I were waiting for trains that never came. And, like one of those ghosts who are said to linger around depots late at night, asking passersby for the timetable of the Midnight Express that derailed twenty years before, I wandered from light to light until that dreaded hour when all the doors closed and, stepping from the world of warmth and people and conversation overheard, I felt the old familiar cold twist through my bones again and then it was all forgotten, the warmth, the lights; I had never been warm in my life, ever.
God did not direct His call to Isaiah"" Isaiah overheard God saying, ". . . who will go for Us?" The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God's call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.
I was interested when Mr. Morton talked in this manner, giving his thoughts on the way of the world. I knew that most men of his generation fumed at what they considered lack of propriety and dangerous freedom of modern young women, but Mr. Morton was above all a fair and just man, without prejudices. I had once overheard him saying to Colonel Rodsley, 'Certainly I agree with you that women are not the equals of men, Colonel. But neither are men the equals of women. They are quite simply different creatures, thank God, and not to be compared. But that one should be subordinate to the other in the eyes of the law is an injustice I hope to see rectified before I die.
Every story is an act of trust between a writer and a reader: each story, in the end, is social. Whatever a writer sets down can help or harm a community of which he or she is a part. When I write I can imagine a child in California wishing to give away what he's just seen- a wild animal fleeing though creosote cover in the desert, casting a bright-eyed backward glance or three lines of overheard conversation that seem to contain everything we need understand to repair the gaping rift between body and soul. I look back at that boy turning in glee beneath his pigeons and know it can take a lifetime to convey what you mean, to find the opening. You watch, you set it down. Then you try again.
But why would they do that? What is to be asked? He was a man who sees into things - very ordinary things. A hat left on the floor of a cafe in Kingstown, a proverb overheard, an old fisherman mending a net: these, for him, were a kind of incitement. There are no answers other than that. He was not like the rest of us. Not even like himself. His imagination, or soul, or whatever province of his mind was hungry for the sustaining rain of the world, would soak in the storms of his own haunted strangeness, and the berries would bloom, and they were what they were, and if the tendrils were peculiar, and some of them wild, the fruits were so shockingly luscious and potent that the thirsty were willing to savour the bitter for the sake of the concomitant sweet. He needed the very ordinary. He was a beautiful man. What more than this need be said? The sort of man who makes you think the movement of foliage might be causing the breeze.
Overheard on a Saltmarsh" Nymph, nymph, what are your beads? Green glass, goblin. Why do you stare at them? Give them me. No. Give them me. Give them me. No. Then I will howl all night in the reeds, Lie in the mud and howl for them. Goblin, why do you love them so? They are better than stars or water, Better than voices of winds that sing, Better than any man's fair daughter, Your green glass beads on a silver ring. Hush, I stole them out of the moon. Give me your beads, I want them. No. I will howl in the deep lagoon For your green glass beads, I love them so. Give them me. Give them. No.
One day, the old wise Socrates walks down the streets, when all of the sudden a man runs up to him "Socrates I have to tell you something about your friend who... " "Hold up" Socrates interrupts him "About the story you're about to tell me, did you put it trough the three sieves?" "Three sieves?" The man asks "What three sieves?" "Let's try it" Socrates says. "The first sieve is the one of truth, did you examine what you were about to tell me if it is true?" Socrates asks. "Well no, I just overheard it" The man says. "Ah, well then you have used the second sieve, the sieve of good?" Socrates asks "Is it something good what you're about to tell me?" "Ehm no, on the contrary" the man answers. "Hmmm" The wise man says "Let's use the third sieve then, is it necessary to tell me what you're so exited about?" "No not necessary" the man says. "Well" Socrates says with a smile "If the story you're about to tell me isn't true, good or necessary, just forget it and don't bother me with it.
When we are asleep, so it seems to me, we sleep surrounded by all the years. I have imagined, sleeping, that I heard the footsteps of the long-dead; I have held conversations with them, and with the blank-faced people I was yet to meet, conversations that seemed of unbearable poignancy, though when I woke I could remember only a few words, and those not words that possessed, waking, any emotional significance to me. It is said that this is because content is divorced from emotion in sleep, as though the sleeping mind read two books at once, one of tears and lust and laughter, the other words and phrases picked up from old newspapers, from grimy handbills blowing along the street and conversations overheard in barbershops and bars, and the banalities of radio. I think rather that we have forgotten on waking what the words have meant to us, or have not learned as yet what they will mean. But the worst thing is to wake and remember that we have been talking to the dead, having never thought to hear that voice again, having never any expectation of hearing it again before we ourselves are gone.
8 April 1891 The obscenity of nostrils and mouths; the ignominious cupidity of smiles and women encountered in the street; the shifty baseness on every side, as of hyenas and wild beasts ready to bite: tradesmen in their shops and strollers on their pavements. How long must I suffer this? I have suffered it before, as a child, when, descending by chance to the servant's quarters, I overheard in astonishment their vile gossip, tearing up my own kind with their lovely teeth. This hostility to the entire race, this muted detestation of lynxes in human form, I must have rediscovered it later while at school. I had a repugnance and horror for all base instincts, but am I not myself instinctively violent and lewd, murderous and sensual? Am I any different, in essence, from the members of the riotous and murderous mob of a hundred years ago, who hurled the town sergeants into the Seine and cried, 'String up the aristos!' just as they shout 'Down with the army!' or 'Death to the Jews!
So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past: IwasabeautifulgirlPleasedon'tgoItoobelievemybodyismadeofglass-I'veneverlovedanyoneIthinkofmyselfasfunnyForgiveme... There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string. The practice of attaching cups to the ends of string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world's first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. When the world grew bigger, and there wasn't enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented. Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person's silence.
THE NEXT DAY WAS RAIN-SOAKED and smelled of thick sweet caramel, warm coconut and ginger. A nearby bakery fanned its daily offerings. A lapis lazuli sky was blanketed by gunmetal gray clouds as it wept crocodile tears across the parched Los Angeles landscape. When Ivy was a child and she overheard adults talking about their break-ups, in her young feeble-formed mind, she imagined it in the most literal of essences. She once heard her mother speaking of her break up with an emotionally unavailable man. She said they broke up on 69th Street. Ivy visualized her mother and that man breaking into countless fragments, like a spilled box of jigsaw pieces. And she imagined them shattered in broken shards, being blown down the pavement of 69th Street. For some reason, on the drive home from Marcel's apartment that next morning, all Ivy could think about was her mother and that faceless man in broken pieces, perhaps some aspects of them still stuck in cracks and crevices of the sidewalk, mistaken as grit. She couldn't get the image of Marcel having his seizure out of her mind. It left a burning sensation in the center of her chest. An incessant flame torched her lungs, chest, and even the back door of her tongue. Witnessing someone you cared about experiencing a seizure was one of those things that scribed itself indelibly on the canvas of your mind. It was gut-wrenching. Graphic and out-of-body, it was the stuff that post traumatic stress syndrome was made of.
Brandi L. Bates