I read The Moviegoer in 2011. This quote occurs to me from time to time, especially when I’m on Facebook. Could I adjust to life off-the-grid? I think so. A home, a typewriter, a bookshelf. What else do I need? The complexity of a human being. But some people are nothing more than a few emojis and an empty reaction to this month’s fashionable outrage.
For some time now the impression has been growing upon me that everyone is dead.
It happens when I speak to people. In the middle of a sentence it will come over me: yes, beyond a doubt this is death. There is little to do but groan and make an excuse and slip away as quickly as one can. At such times it seems that the conversation is spoken by automatons who have no choice in what they say. I hear myself or someone else saying things like: “In my opinion the Russian people are a great people, but–” or “Yes, what you say about the hypocrisy of the North is unquestionably true. However–” and I think to myself: this is death. Lately it is all I can do to carry on such everyday conversations, because my cheek has developed a tendency to twitch of its own accord.
The first Hemingway I read was The Old Man & the Sea.
I didn’t read it in high school, or college. I read it in China, summer 2009. I’d bought it from a Hong Kong bookstore earlier that year. Back then (and maybe today, it’s a safe bet) Wuhan did not have a wide selection of English books. Even the much-touted store on Zhongnan Lu had little more than classic books.
I did most of my book buying through Albiris and later Thriftbooks. I did grab a few from some street vendors in Wudaokou on trips to Beijing, which netted me a copy of the fabulous Time Traveler’s Wife, a pirated copy whose text began repeating near the end.
Here’s a passage I underlined almost seven (seven!?) years ago:
He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
This week’s passage is from Atonement by Ian McEwan. I read Fight Club before watching the movie, read No Country for Old Men before watching the movie, but Atonement one of the few books whose movie version I watched first.
It helps to see the movie so you know what’s coming. Because this book drags, particularly at the beginning. Had I not known what was going to happen, I would’ve put it down.
I love the ending passage, but I ultimately decided not to put it here. I went with a passage instead that helps explain why Briony stuck to a story that ruined two lives:
Children hated generously, capriciously. It hardly mattered. But to be the object of adult hatred was an initiation into a solemn new world. It was promotion.
Or perhaps not, when you see how many people grow older but not up.
Missed last week. Working three mids shifts in a row, I had no time or energy for last week. In that regard, the Navy has finally succeeded in its purpose: it took over my life, if only for a few days.
Here’s another quote from Happy Hour is for Amateurs. I’ll leave it alone. It speaks for itself:
A friend of mine once explained the average life of toil by quoting his father, a psychiatrist. “People hate their jobs. We call it depression and give them drugs.” “Do anything solely for money and you’ll never be rich,” my father used to tell me when I was young. … Now the lesson was finally sticking. A little late, a little costly, but I was still lucky. For a lot of people, it never registers at all. They piss away the only irreplaceable resource they’ll ever have.
Last night a young E-3 said he regretted not taking SGOT-Norfolk orders. He finds the watchfloor too tedious…as if tedium goes away when you’re out to sea for months at a time. Perhaps he’d like to work mids on the ship, and have to wake up in the middle of the day for twelve GQ drills on a twenty-five day underway. I wanted to laugh, but when you’re awake long enough, you forget what laughter is.
Humor is secured. Bitching, on the other hand…