Why are you putting on lip gloss, my daughter?" Dad asked. "Trip to the library? Trip to the nunnery? I hear the nunneries are nice this time of year" ... "Is this true, Kami? Are you going out on a date?" Dad asked tragically. "Wearing that? Wouldn't you fancy a shapeless cardigan instead? You rock a shapeless cardigan, honey.
Sarah Rees Brennan
He was beautiful, that was always affirmed, but his beauty was hard to fix or to see, for he was always glimmering, flickering, melting, mixing, he was the shape of a shapeless flame, he was the eddying thread of needle-shapes in the shapeless mass of the waterfall. He was the invisible wind that hurried the clouds in billows and ribbons. You could see a bare tree on the skyline bent by the wind, holding up twisted branches and bent twigs, and suddenly its formless form would resolve itself into that of the trickster.
A. S. Byatt
What we will be seeking ... for the rest of our lives will be large, stable communities of like-minded people, which is to say relatives. They no longer exist. The lack of them is not only the main cause, but probably the only cause of our shapeless discontent in the midst of such prosperity.
If you hunger for certain types of clothes, for which you have little use, put yourself on a diet. Just as you resist too much whipped cream and French pastry to keep your figure in shape, you can say no to those yearned-for but unneeded purchases that lead to a wardrobe that is shapeless and without form.
If you hunger for certain types of clothes, for which you have little use, put yourself on a diet. Just as you resist too much whipped cream and French pastry to keep your figure in shape,you can say no to those yearned-for but unneeded purchases that lead to a wardrobe that is shapeless and without form.
In my students, I'm always dispelling the notion that characters come like a light bulb over the head in cartoons. For me, it's like a shapeless big lump of clay. You just build it into something, and then you step back and go, 'That's not right,' hack it apart, put out a new arm, and say, 'Maybe this will walk around and work.'
She'd been cross so much of the time and often about small things. Looking back at herself, she thought that her crossness was like a shapeless overcoat, covering loneliness, and it wasn't the old loneliness she'd felt after her mother died, or even an adult version of it, but something different and more punishing.
Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms [the child] to the idea that these limitless terrors had a limit, that these shapeless enemies have enemies in the knights of God, that there is something in the universe more mystical than darkness, and stronger than strong fear.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Every time I start on a new book, I am a beginner again. I doubt myself, I grow discouraged, all the work accomplished in the past is as though it never was, my first drafts are so shapeless that it seems impossible to go on with the attempt at all, right up until the moment - always imperceptible, there, too, there is a break - when it is has become impossible not to finish it.
Simone de Beauvoir
It is hereby earnestly proposed that the USA would be much better off if that big, sprawling, incoherent, shapeless, slobbering civic idiot in the family of American communities, the City of Los Angeles, could be declared incompetent and placed in charge of a guardian like any individual mental defective.
No breed of cats in its proper condition can by any stretch of the imagination be thought of as even slightly ungraceful - a record against which must be pitted the depressing spectacle of impossibly flattened bulldogs, grotesquely elongated dachshunds, hideously shapeless and shaggy Airedales, and the like.
H. P. Lovecraft
The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honor in challenging; it was ineptitude-a gray spread of cotton that 'seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in her way.
Anyone who has attempted to create knows the hellishness of it, which consists in the final inescapability from it. Knows that anything, however deadly humdrum to drug the senses, is preferable to it. Knows the gigantic effort to get started on the boundless, unwieldy, shapeless material; the forest of hesitations; of what to keep and what to throw out; the running-out terror and reluctance in one of finishing.
Ideas are somewhat like babies--they are born small, immature, and shapeless. They are promise rather than fulfillment. In the innovative company executives do not say, "This is a damn-fool idea." Instead they ask, "What would be needed to make this embryonic, half-baked, foolish idea into something that makes sense, that is an opportunity for us?
All was there-the programme of German resurrection, the technique of party propaganda; the plan for combating Marxism; the concept of a National-Socialist State; the rightful position of Germany at the summit ofthe world. Here was the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.
We had no one else to learn this from- none of our parents were shining examples of relationship success- so we learned this from each other: when someone you love needs you to, you can get a hold of your five-alarm temper, get a hold of the shapeless things that scare you senseless, act like an adult instead of the Cro-Magnon teenager you are, you can do a million things you never saw coming.
It is only a short step from exaggerating what we can find in the world to exaggerating our power to remake the world. Expecting more novelty than there is, more greatness than there is, and more strangeness than there is, we imagine ourselves masters of a plastic universe. But a world we can shape to our will is a shapeless world.
Daniel J. Boorstin
The adversary she found herself forced to fight was not worth matching or beating; it was not a superior ability which she would have found honour in challenging; it was ineptitude - a grey spread of cotton that seemed soft and shapeless, that could offer no resistance to anything or anybody, yet managed to be a barrier in her way. She stood, disarmed, before the riddle of what made this possible, she could find no answer.
Not the wretchedest man or woman but has a deep secretive mythology with which to wrestle with the material world and to overcome it and pass beyond it. Not the wretchedest human being but has his share in the creative energy that builds the world. We are all creators. We all create a mythological world of our own out of certain shapeless materials.
John Cowper Powys
Like the ocean is your god-self; It remains for ever undefiled. And like the ether it lifts but the winged. Even like the sun is your god-self; It knows not the ways of the mole nor seeks it the holes of the serpent. But your god-self does not dwell alone in your being. Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man, But a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening.
Princes & Kings Isn't it strange how princes and kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings, and common people, like you and me, are builders for eternity? Each is given a list of rules; a shapeless mass; a bag of tools. And each must fashion, ere life is flown, A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.
R. Lee Sharpe
Something like panic struck at Hurlow. Moffat's calm confession of fear withdrew the prop upon which he had leaned. Down there, among the motionless shadows, lurked invisible things, things that were nameless, shapeless and malignant; things which could see without being seen. One of the long lost terrors of childhood returned to him, and like a child he put his hand into Moffat's.
In a play, certainly, the subject is of more importance than in any other work of art. Infelicity, triviality, vagueness of subject, may be outweighed in a poem, a novel, or a picture, by charm of manner, by ingenuity of execution; but in a drama the subject is of the essence of the work-it is the work. If it is feeble, the work can have no force; if it is shapeless, the work must be amorphous.
Her blog was doing well, with thousands of unique visitors each month, and she was earning good speaking fees, and she had a fellowship at Princeton and a relationship with Blaine - "You are the absolute love of my life," he'd written in her last birthday card - and yet there was cement in her soul. It had been there for a while, an early morning disease of fatigue, shapeless desires, brief imaginary glints of other lives she could be living, that over the months melded into a piercing homesickness.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can ever have undergone, and it's the Jew who, thanks to this diabolic invention, has thrown him back fifteen centuries. The only thing that would be still worse would be victory for the Jew through Bolshevism. If Bolshevism triumphed, mankind would lose the gift of laughter and joy. It would become merely a shapeless mass, doomed to grayness and despair.
His day, usually a jelly-like creature, a shapeless, spineless thing, had attained Mesozoic structure. It was marching along surely, even jauntily, toward a climax, as a play should, as a day should. He dreaded the moment when the backbone of the day should be broken, when he should have met the girl at last, talked to her, and then bowed her laughter out the door, returning only to the melancholy dregs in the teacups and the gathering staleness of the uneaten sandwiches.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Medicine is an incoherent assemblage of incoherent ideas, and is, perhaps, of all the physiological Sciences, that which best shows the caprice of the human mind. What did I say! It is not a Science for a methodical mind. It is a shapeless assemblage of inaccurate ideas, of observations often puerile, of deceptive remedies, and of formulae as fantastically conceived as they are tediously arranged.
Marie Francois Xavier Bichat
The first serious consciousness of Nature's gesture - her attitude towards life-took form then as a phantasm, a nightmare, all insanity of force. For the first time, the stage-scenery of the senses collapsed; the human mind felt itself stripped naked, vibrating in a void of shapeless energies, with resistless mass, colliding, crushing, wasting, and destroying what these same energies had created and labored from eternity to perfect.
There are stages in bread-making quite similar to the stages of writing. You begin with something shapeless, which sticks to your fingers, a kind of paste. Gradually that paste becomes more and more firm. Then there comes a point when it turns rubbery. Finally, you sense that the yeast has begun to do its work: the dough is alive. Then all you have to do is let it rest. But in the case of a book the work may take ten years.
Mum said earlier what a lovely dress you're wearing." Beryl's eyebrows wriggled like two tiny tapeworms. "This?" she said. "But I've had this for years." It was a beige dress that would have looked better on an eighty year-old. Any eighty-year-old, man or woman. "I think you've really grown into it," Valkyrie said. "I always thought it was a little shapeless." Valkyrie resisted the urge to say that was what she meant.
I like the copious, shapeless, warm, not so very clever, but extremely easy and rather coarse aspect of things; the talk of men in clubs and public-houses; of miners half naked in drawers the forthright, perfectly unassuming, and without end in view except dinner, love, money and getting along tolerably; that which is without great hopes, ideals, or anything of that kind; what is unassuming except to make a tolerably, good job of it. I like all that.
The Federal Building's large Ceremonial Courtroom, reserved for show trials, is veneered in executive teak. Bench, counsel tables, jury boxes, entrances, and exits -- all are as formally arranged as an Elizabethan stage. Only the drama is shapeless, at least to those of us who have never seen a trial before. We see only random movements, sequences, comings and goings, no form or agenda apparent. To us the action is less like watching a play than watching an aquarium.
In the firm expectation that when London shall be a habitation of bitterns, when St. Paul and Westminster Abbey shall stand shapeless and nameless ruins in the midst of an unpeopled marsh, when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers, and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some Transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism the respective merits of the Bells and the Fudges and their historians.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Give your enemy a face, If he is human, do not dehumanize him. Know him and know why he is your enemy. If your enemy is within you, understand what it is and why you are afraid. Put a face on your fear. When you understand it, and it is no longer vague and shapeless, you will find that your fear is no longer so formidable.
I would lie of course. I lied a lot and with good reason: to protect the truth-safeguard it like wearing fake gems to keep the real ones from getting stolen or cheapened by overuse. I guarded what truths I possessed because information was not a thing-it was colorless odorless shapeless and therefore indestructible. There was no way to retrieve or void it no way to halt its proliferation. Telling someone a secret was like storing plutonium inside a sandwich bag the information would inevitably outlive the friendship or love or trust in which you'd placed it. And then you would have given it away.
The rest-the vast majority, tens of thousands of days-are unremarkable, repetitive, even monotonous. We glide through them then instantly forget them. We tend not to think about this arithmetic when we look back on our lives. We remember the handful of Big Days and throw away the rest.We organize our long, shapeless lives into tidy little stories...But our lives are mostly made up of junk, of ordinary, forgettable days, and 'The End' is never the end.
All around us were people I had spent ten years avoiding-shapeless women in wool bathing suits, dull-eyed men with hairless legs and self-conscious laughs, all Americans, all fearsomely alike. These people should be kept at home, I thought; lock them in the basement of some goddamn Elks Club and keep them pacified with erotic movies; if they want a vacation, show them a foreign art film; and if they still aren't satisfied, send them into the wilderness and run them with vicious dogs.
Hunter S. Thompson
The Moon I And, like a dying lady lean and pale, Who totters forth, wrapp'd in a gauzy veil, Out of her chamber, led by the insane And feeble wanderings of her fading brain, The moon arose up in the murky east A white and shapeless mass. II Art thou pale for weariness Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, Wandering companionless Among the stars that have a different birth, And ever changing, like a joyless eye That finds no object worth its constancy?
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.
An artist is identical with an anarchist, ' he cried. 'You might transpose the words anywhere. An anarchist is an artist. The man who throws a bomb is an artist, because he prefers a great moment to everything. He sees how much more valuable is one burst of blazing light, one peal of perfect thunder, than the mere common bodies of a few shapeless policemen. An artist disregards all governments, abolishes all conventions. The poet delights in disorder only. If it were not so, the most poetical thing in the world would be the Underground Railway.' 'So it is, ' said Mr. Syme. 'Nonsense!' said Gregory, who was very rational when any one else attempted paradox.
People need foundation myths, some imprint of year zero, a bolt that secures the scaffolding that in turn holds fast the entire architecture of reality, of time: memory-chambers and oblivion-cellars, walls between eras, hallways that sweep us on towards the end-days and the coming whatever-it-is. We see things shroudedly, as through a veil, an over-pixellated screen. When the shapeless plasma takes on form and resolution, like a fish approaching us through murky waters or an image looming into view from noxious liquid in a darkroom, when it begins to coalesce into a figure that's discernible, if ciphered, we can say: This is it, stirring, looming even if it isn't really, if it's all just ink-blots.
The white saucer like some full moon descends At last from the clouds of the table above; She sighs and dreams and thrills and glows, Transfigured with love. She nestles over the shining rim, Buries her chin in the creamy sea; Her tail hangs loose; each drowsy paw Is doubled under each bending knee. A long, dim ecstasy holds her life; Her world is an infinite shapeless white, Till her tongue has curled the last holy drop, Then she sinks back into the night, Draws and dips her body to heap Her sleepy nerves in the great arm-chair, Lies defeated and buried deep Three or four hours unconscious there.
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.
The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday, mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own victorious invisibility. Detached intellectualism is (in the exact sense of a popular phrase) all moonshine; for it is light without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world. But the Greeks were right when they made Apollo the god both of imagination and of sanity; for he was both the patron of poetry and the patron of healing. Of necessary dogmas and a special creed I shall speak later. But that transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky. We are conscious of it as of a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur. But the circle of the moon is as clear and unmistakable, as recurrent and inevitable, as the circle of Euclid on a blackboard. For the moon is utterly reasonable; and the moon is the mother of lunatics and has given to them all her name.
I know a woman who keeps buying puzzles chinese puzzles blocks wires pieces that finally fit into some order. she works it out mathmatically she solves all her puzzles lives down by the sea puts sugar out for the ants and believes ultimately in a better world. her hair is white she seldom combs it her teeth are snaggled and she wears loose shapeless coveralls over a body most women would wish they had. for many years she irritated me with what I considered her eccentricities- like soaking eggshells in water (to feed the plants so that they'd get calcium). but finally when I think of her life and compare it to other lives more dazzling, original and beautiful I realize that she has hurt fewer people than anybody I know (and by hurt I simply mean hurt). she has had some terrible times, times when maybe I should have helped her more for she is the mother of my only child and we were once great lovers, but she has come through like I said she has hurt fewer people than anybody I know, and if you look at it like that, well, she has created a better world. she has won. Frances, this poem is for you.
Harry flung himself out from behind the bush and pulled out his wand. "EXPECTO PATRONUM!" he yelled. And out of the end of his wand burst, not a shapeless cloud of mist, but a blinding, dazzling, silver animal. He screwed up his eyes, trying to see what it was. It looked like a horse. It was galloping silently away from him, across the black surface of the lake. He saw it lower its head and charge at the swarming dementors... Now it was galloping around and around the black shapes on the ground, and the dementors were falling back, scattering, retreating into the darkness... They were gone. The Patronus turned. It was cantering back toward Harry across the still surface of the water. It wasn't a horse. It wasn't a unicorn, either. It was a stag. It was shining brightly as the moon above... it was coming back to him... It stopped on the bank. Its hooves made no mark on the soft ground as it stared at Harry with its large, silver eyes. Slowly, it bowed its antlered head. And Harry realized... "Prongs, " he whispered. But as his trembling fingertips stretched toward the creature, it vanished.
Wait." Walter went to the basket, taking what was a gray sleeve, drawing it out fro the middle of the heap. "Oh, " He said. He held the shapeless wool sweater to his chest. Joyce had knit for months the year Daniel died, and here was the result, her handiwork, the garment that would fit a giant. It was nothing more than twelve skeins of yarn and thousands of loops, but it had the power to bring back in a flash the green-tiled walls of the hospital, the sound of an ambulance trying to cut through city traffic in the distance, the breathing of the dying boy, his father staring at the ceiling, the full greasy bucket of fried chicken on he bed table. "I'll take this one, " Walter said, balling up the sweater as best he could, stuffing it into a shopping bag that was half full of the books he was taking home, that he was borrowing. "Oh, honey, " Joyce said. "You don't want that old scrap." "You made it. I remember your making it." Keep it light, he said to himself, that's a boy. "There's a use for it. Don't you think so, Aunt Jeannie? No offense, Mom, but I could invade the Huns with it or strap the sleeves to my car tires in a blizzard, for traction, or protect our nation with it out in space, a shield against nuclear attack." Jeannie tittered in her usual way in spite of herself. "You always did have that sense of humor, " she said as she went upstairs. When she was out of range, Joyce went to Walter's bag and retrieved the sweater. She laid it on the card table, the long arms hanging down, and she fingered the stitches. "Will you look at the mass of it, " she exclaimed. "I don't even recall making it." ""'Memory - that strange deceiver, '" Walter quoted.
the presence of others has become even more intolerable to me, their conversation most of all. Oh, how it all annoys and exasperates me: their attitudes, their manners, their whole way of being! The people of my world, all my unhappy peers, have come to irritate, oppress and sadden me with their noisy and empty chatter, their monstrous and boundless vanity, their even more monstrous egotism, their club gossip... the endless repetition of opinions already formed and judgments already made; the automatic vomiting forth of articles read in those morning papers which are the recognised outlet of the hopeless wilderness of their ideas; the eternal daily meal of overfamiliar cliches concerning racing stables and the stalls of fillies of the human variety... the hutches of the 'petites femmes' - another worn out phrase in the dirty usury of shapeless expression! Oh my contemporaries, my dear contemporaries... Their idiotic self-satisfaction; their fat and full-blown self-sufficiency: the stupid display of their good fortune; the clink of fifty- and a hundred-franc coins forever sounding out their financial prowess, according their own reckoning; their hen-like clucking and their pig-like grunting, as they pronounce the names of certain women; the obesity of their minds, the obscenity of their eyes, and the toneless-ness of their laughter! They are, in truth, handsome puppets of amour, with all the exhausted despondency of their gestures and the slackness of their chic... Chic! A hideous word, which fits their manner like a new glove: as dejected as undertakers' mutes, as full-blown as Falstaff... Oh my contemporaries: the ceusses of my circle, to put it in their own ignoble argot. They have all welcomed the moneylenders into their homes, and have been recruited as their clients, and they have likewise played host to the fat journalists who milk their conversations for the society columns. How I hate them; how I execrate them; how I would love to devour them liver and lights - and how well I understand the Anarchists and their bombs!
It had all begun on the elevated. There was a particular little sea of roots he had grown into the habit of glancing at just as the packed car carrying him homeward lurched around a turn. A dingy, melancholy little world of tar paper, tarred gravel, and smoky brick. Rusty tin chimneys with odd conical hats suggested abandoned listening posts. There was a washed-out advertisement of some ancient patent medicine on the nearest wall. Superficially it was like ten thousand other drab city roofs. But he always saw it around dusk, either in the normal, smoky half-light, or tinged with red by the flat rays of a dirty sunset, or covered by ghostly windblown white sheets of rain-splash, or patched with blackish snow; and it seemed unusually bleak and suggestive, almost beautifully ugly, though in no sense picturesque; dreary but meaningful. Unconsciously it came to symbolize for Catesby Wran certain disagreeable aspects of the frustrated, frightened century in which he lived, the jangled century of hate and heavy industry and Fascist wars. The quick, daily glance into the half darkness became an integral part of his life. Oddly, he never saw it in the morning, for it was then his habit to sit on the other side of the car, his head buried in the paper. One evening toward winter he noticed what seemed to be a shapeless black sack lying on the third roof from the tracks. He did not think about it. It merely registered as an addition to the well-known scene and his memory stored away the impression for further reference. Next evening, however, he decided he had been mistaken in one detail. The object was a roof nearer than he had thought. Its color and texture, and the grimy stains around it, suggested that it was filled with coal dust, which was hardly reasonable. Then, too, the following evening it seemed to have been blown against a rusty ventilator by the wind, which could hardly have happened if it were at all heavy. ("Smoke Ghost")
The last time I saw Collin was in 1917, at the foot of Mort-Homme. Before the great slaughter, Collin'd been an avid angler. On that day, he was standing at the hole, watching maggots swarm among blow flies on two boys that we couldn't retrieve for burial without putting our own lives at risk. And there, at the loop hole, he thought of his bamboo rods, his flies and the new reel he hadn't even tried out yet. Collin was imaging himself on the riverbank, wine cooling in the current his stash of worms in a little metal box and a maggot on his hook, writhing like... Holy shit. Were the corpses getting to him? Collin. The poor guy didn't even have time to sort out his thoughts. In that split second, he was turned into a slab of bloody meat. A white hot hook drilled right through him and churned through his guts, which spilled out of a hole in his belly. He was cleared out of the first aid station. The major did triage. Stomach wounds weren't worth the trouble. There were all going to die anyway, and besides, he wasn't equipped to deal with them. Behind the aid station, next to a pile of wood crosses, there was a heap of body parts and shapeless, oozing human debris laid out on stretchers, stirred only be passing rats and clusters of large white maggots. But on their last run, the stretcher bearers carried him out after all... Old Collin was still alive. From the aid station to the ambulance and from the ambulance to the hospital, all he could remember was his fall into that pit, with maggots swarming over the open wound he had become from head to toe... Come to think of it, where was his head? And what about his feet? In the ambulance, the bumps were so awful and the pain so intense that it would have been a relief to pass out. But he didn't. He was still alive, writhing on his hook. They carved up old Collin good. They fixed him as best they could, but his hands and legs were gone. So much for fishing. Later, they pinned a medal on him, right there in that putrid recovery room. And later still, they explained to him about gangrene and bandages packed with larvae that feed on death tissue. He owed them his life. From one amputation and operation to the next - thirty-eight in all - the docs finally got him 'back on his feet'. But by then, the war was long over.
I did say that to deny the existence of evil spirits, or to deny the existence of the devil, is to deny the truth of the New Testament; and that to deny the existence of these imps of darkness is to contradict the words of Jesus Christ. I did say that if we give up the belief in devils we must give up the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, and we must give up the divinity of Christ. Upon that declaration I stand, because if devils do not exist, then Jesus Christ was mistaken, or we have not in the New Testament a true account of what he said and of what he pretended to do. If the New Testament gives a true account of his words and pretended actions, then he did claim to cast out devils. That was his principal business. That was his certificate of divinity, casting out devils. That authenticated his mission and proved that he was superior to the hosts of darkness. Now, take the devil out of the New Testament, and you also take the veracity of Christ; with that veracity you take the divinity; with that divinity you take the atonement, and when you take the atonement, the great fabric known as Christianity becomes a shapeless ruin. The Christians now claim that Jesus was God. If he was God, of course the devil knew that fact, and yet, according to this account, the devil took the omnipotent God and placed him upon a pinnacle of the temple, and endeavored to induce him to dash himself against the earth... Think of it! The devil - the prince of sharpers - the king of cunning - the master of finesse, trying to bribe God with a grain of sand that belonged to God! Casting out devils was a certificate of divinity. Is there in all the religious literature of the world anything more grossly absurd than this? These devils, according to the Bible, were of various kinds - some could speak and hear, others were deaf and dumb. All could not be cast out in the same way. The deaf and dumb spirits were quite difficult to deal with. St. Mark tells of a gentleman who brought his son to Christ. The boy, it seems, was possessed of a dumb spirit, over which the disciples had no control. 'Jesus said unto the spirit: 'Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee come out of him, and enter no more into him.'' Whereupon, the deaf spirit (having heard what was said) cried out (being dumb) and immediately vacated the premises. The ease with which Christ controlled this deaf and dumb spirit excited the wonder of his disciples, and they asked him privately why they could not cast that spirit out. To whom he replied: 'This kind can come forth by nothing but prayer and fasting.' Is there a Christian in the whole world who would believe such a story if found in any other book? The trouble is, these pious people shut up their reason, and then open their Bible.
Robert G. Ingersoll
It happens that in our phase of civility, the novel is the central form of literary art. It lends itself to explanations borrowed from any intellectual system of the universe which seems at the time satisfactory. Its history is an attempt to evade the laws of what Scott called 'the land of fiction'-the stereotypes which ignore reality, and whose remoteness from it we identify as absurd. From Cervantes forward it has been, when it has satisfied us, the poetry which is 'capable, ' in the words of Ortega, 'of coping with present reality.' But it is a 'realistic poetry' and its theme is, bluntly, 'the collapse of the poetic' because it has to do with 'the barbarous, brutal, mute, meaningless reality of things.' It cannot work with the old hero, or with the old laws of the land of romance; moreover, such new laws and customs as it creates have themselves to be repeatedly broken under the demands of a changed and no less brutal reality. 'Reality has such a violent temper that it does not tolerate the ideal even when reality itself is idealized.' Nevertheless, the effort continues to be made. The extremest revolt against the customs or laws of fiction-the antinovels of Fielding or Jane Austen or Flaubert or Natalie Sarraute-creates its new laws, in their turn to be broken. Even when there is a profession of complete narrative anarchy, as in some of the works I discussed last week, or in a poem such as Paterson, which rejects as spurious whatever most of us understand as form, it seems that time will always reveal some congruence with a paradigm-provided always that there is in the work that necessary element of the customary which enables it to communicate at all. I shall not spend much time on matters so familiar to you. Whether, with Luke¡cs, you think of the novel as peculiarly the resolution of the problem of the individual in an open society-or as relating to that problem in respect of an utterly contingent world; or express this in terms of the modern French theorists and call its progress a necessary and 'unceasing movement from the known to the unknown'; or simply see the novel as resembling the other arts in that it cannot avoid creating new possibilities for its own future-however you put it, the history of the novel is the history of forms rejected or modified, by parody, manifesto, neglect, as absurd. Nowhere else, perhaps, are we so conscious of the dissidence between inherited forms and our own reality. There is at present some good discussion of the issue not only in French but in English. Here I have in mind Iris Murdoch, a writer whose persistent and radical thinking about the form has not as yet been fully reflected in her own fiction. She contrasts what she calls 'crystalline form' with narrative of the shapeless, quasi-documentary kind, rejecting the first as uncharacteristic of the novel because it does not contain free characters, and the second because it cannot satisfy that need of form which it is easier to assert than to describe; we are at least sure that it exists, and that it is not always illicit. Her argument is important and subtle, and this is not an attempt to restate it; it is enough to say that Miss Murdoch, as a novelist, finds much difficulty in resisting what she calls 'the consolations of form' and in that degree damages the 'opacity, ' as she calls it, of character. A novel has this (and more) in common with love, that it is, so to speak, delighted with its own inventions of character, but must respect their uniqueness and their freedom. It must do so without losing the formal qualities that make it a novel. But the truly imaginative novelist has an unshakable 'respect for the contingent'; without it he sinks into fantasy, which is a way of deforming reality. 'Since reality is incomplete, art must not be too afraid of incompleteness, ' says Miss Murdoch. We must not falsify it with patterns too neat, too inclusive; there must be dissonance.
Have you ever wondered What happens to all the poems people write? The poems they never let anyone else read? Perhaps they are Too private and personal Perhaps they are just not good enough. Perhaps the prospect of such a heartfelt expression being seen as clumsy shallow silly pretentious saccharine unoriginal sentimental trite boring overwrought obscure stupid pointless or simply embarrassing is enough to give any aspiring poet good reason to hide their work from public view. forever. Naturally many poems are IMMEDIATELY DESTROYED. Burnt shredded flushed away Occasionally they are folded Into little squares And wedged under the corner of An unstable piece of furniture (So actually quite useful) Others are hidden behind a loose brick or drainpipe or sealed into the back of an old alarm clock or put between the pages of AN OBSCURE BOOK that is unlikely to ever be opened. someone might find them one day, BUT PROBABLY NOT The truth is that unread poetry Will almost always be just that. DOOMED to join a vast invisible river of waste that flows out of suburbia. well Almost always. On rare occasions, Some especially insistent pieces of writing will escape into a backyard or a laneway be blown along a roadside embankment and finally come to rest in a shopping center parking lot as so many things do It is here that something quite Remarkable takes place two or more pieces of poetry drift toward each other through a strange force of attraction unknown to science and ever so slowly cling together to form a tiny, shapeless ball. Left undisturbed, this ball gradually becomes larger and rounder as other free verses confessions secrets stray musings wishes and unsent love letters attach themselves one by one. Such a ball creeps through the streets Like a tumbleweed for months even years If it comes out only at night it has a good Chance of surviving traffic and children and through a slow rolling motion AVOIDS SNAILS (its number one predator) At a certain size, it instinctively shelters from bad weather, unnoticed but otherwise roams the streets searching for scraps of forgotten thought and feeling. Given time and luck the poetry ball becomes large HUGE ENORMOUS: A vast accumulation of papery bits That ultimately take to the air, levitating by The sheer force of so much unspoken emotion. It floats gently above suburban rooftops when everybody is asleep inspiring lonely dogs to bark in the middle of the night. Sadly a big ball of paper not matter how large and buoyant, is still a fragile thing. Sooner or LATER it will be surprised by a sudden gust of wind Beaten by driving rain and REDUCED in a matter of minutes to a billion soggy shreds. One morning everyone will wake up to find a pulpy mess covering front lawns clogging up gutters and plastering car windscreens. Traffic will be delayed children delighted adults baffled unable to figure out where it all came from Stranger still Will be the Discovery that Every lump of Wet paper Contains various faded words pressed into accidental verse. Barely visible but undeniably present To each reader they will whisper something different something joyful something sad truthful absurd hilarious profound and perfect No one will be able to explain the Strange feeling of weightlessness or the private smile that remains Long after the street sweepers have come and gone.