Thursday, April 09, 2009

Prime Passage: Rabbit, Run by John Updike

"He hates all the people on the street in dirty everyday clothes, advertising their belief that the world arches over a pit, that death is final, that the wandering thread of his feelings leads nowhere. Correspondingly, he loves the ones dressed for church: the pressed business suits of portly men give substance and respectability to his furtive sensations of the invisible; the flowers in the hats of their wives seem to begin to make it visible; and their daughters are themselves whole flowers, their bodies each a single flower, petaled in gauze and frills, a bloom of faith, so that even the plainest walk in Rabbit's eyes glowing with beauty, the beauty of belief. He could kiss their feet in gratitude; they release him from fear. By the time he enters the church he is too elevated to ask forgiveness. As he kneels in the pew on a red stool that is padded but not enough to keep his weight from pinching his knees painfully, his head buzzes with joy, his blood leaps in his skull, and the few words he frames, God, Rebecca, thank you, bob inconsecutively among senseless eddies of gladness. People who know God rustle and stir about him, upholding him in the dark."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Prime Passage: At the Same Time: Essays & Speeches by Susan Sontag

From the book's title piece, "At the Same Time: The Novelist and Moral Reasoning," the Nadine Gordimer Lecture delivered by Sontag in South Africa in 2004:

"... And one of the resources we have for helping us to make sense of our lives, and make choices, and propose and accept standards for ourselves, is our experience of singular authoritative voices, not our own, which make up that great body of work that educates the heart and the feelings and teaches us to be in the world, that embodies and defends the glories of language (that is, expands the basic instrument of consciousness): namely, literature."