The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

Adversaria (8)

‘And yet it’s autumn now, as clear as water and as bright as a mirror, and I should be happy’ —Eileen Chang (‘On the Second Edition of Romances’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 218)

‘Every reader is cumbered by an excess of books, and every book by an excess of readers—each overwhelmed in turn by the consciousness that others have touched the same book that he or she is now holding, and thereby gain some hold over him or her’ —Leah Price (How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, p. 140)

‘Those exquisite minuets dance gingerly on cloven hoofs, as if they’re afraid to break something underfoot’ —Eileen Chang (‘On Music’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 225)

‘The result then is euphoria in unhappiness. Most of the prevailing need to relax, to have fun, to behave and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate, belong to this category of false needs’ —Herbert Marcuse (One-Dimensional Man, p. 7)

‘Not a beauty that necessarily reminds you of anything. But in the dimness of the room, they carve out a space and quietly pervade it with a sort of joy’ —Eileen Chang (‘On Music’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 219)

‘I want to tell how sorrow makes a shape that is familiar. And how that familiar thing can be difficult both to name and to narrate’ —Christina Sharpe (Ordinary Notes, p. 128 [note 83])

‘I am not fond of the romantic tradition: its atmospheric suggestions of mysteries left complacently unexplained strike me as tantamount to flicking on a light switch so as to shine artificial moonlight on whatever comes in view, fabricating a scene of hazy blue beauty, intermingled with dark shadows, through which one might hear the excited calls of insects and the startled croaking of frogs’ —Eileen Chang (‘On Painting’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 205)

‘There was a time when I would answer people’s questions largely with quotations from plays, novels, poems, and nonfiction works. What I wanted to say had already been said and said better than I could have hoped to say it myself’ —Christina Sharpe (Ordinary Notes, p. 219 [note 154])

‘The discovery that someone else has long ago given voice to your own words, and said them much better than you ever could, is disconcerting enough. But to discover that he didn’t say it as well as you might have done is heartbreaking’ —Eileen Chang (‘Let’s Go! Let’s Go Upstairs’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 105)

‘Once a sign of economic power, reading is now the province of those whose time lacks market value’ —Leah Price (How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, p. 57)

‘I have neither the desire to write history nor the qualifications to comment on the approach historians ought to bring to their work, but privately I have always found myself wishing that they would concern themselves more with irrelevant things. This thing we call reality is unsystematic, like seven or eight talking machines playing all at once in a chaos of sound, each singing its own song. From within that incomprehensible cacophony, however, there sometimes happens to emerge a moment of sad and luminous clarity, when the musicality of a melody can be heard, just before it is engulfed once more by layer after layer of darkness, snuffing out this unexpected moment of lucidity’ —Eileen Chang (‘From the Ashes’, Written on Water, trans. Andrew F. Jones, p. 44)

‘The question of whether books stand outside the market becomes a test case of whether anything at all stands outside the market. Anything, or even anyone: the value of used paper provides a measure of the value of the human beings who sell it’ —Leah Price (How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, p. 223)

‘Each book held and underlying sadness, some bit of despair
Each book also held wonder and a kind of fury.
Each book produced in me the feeling that I needed to feel.’
—Christina Sharpe (Ordinary Notes, p. 288 [note 202])

‘But the real empirical world is also that in which these things are taken for granted or forgotten or repressed or unknown, in which people are free. It is a world in which the broom in the corner or the taste of something like pineapple are quite important, in which the daily toil and the daily comforts are perhaps the only items that make up all experience’ —Herbert Marcuse (One-Dimensional Man, p. 185)


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