time ducklings

MANY: Number of goslings who safely crossed the Clairvaux/Main Road intersection with their parents yesterday morning in Kalk Bay. Thank you, with all our hearts, to the brave and kind woman who stopped traffic and fetched the last little one across safely, and to patient motorists. : )

Excerpt from Jan Morris’s ‘In My Mind’s Eye’ (2018)

The irrepressible travel writer Jan Morris, at the age of 90, decided to keep a diary. Each entry is a gem, unique in subject matter, and her observations are whimsical as well as incisive. Over the next few weeks we’ll share some of our favourites.

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DAY 5

morris-mindsSome novels I fear, are just too clever for me or, rather, I am not clever enough for them. Sometimes, though, it seems to me that they are just too clever for their own good. Of course, I relish the challenge of a superior artistic intellect, even if I need help to understand it.

For eighteen years I failed to get through Joyce’s Ulysses, until I was delightfully converted to its genius by Harry Blamires’s key to it all, and since then I have never looked back. I am still of the impertinent opinion, though, that such a great masterpiece would be even greater if it could be scoured of unnecessary obscurities, while its successor Finnegan’s Wake, since nobody I know has ever succeeded in reading it all the way through, seems to me a perfect waste of the master’s time.

All this is because I have now reached, with muddled feelings, page 38 of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). I am reading it, a bit late in the day, because I feel I ought to. The New York Times, I see, says it should be required reading for the whole human race. I shall soon know whether all of it is going to be required reading for me.

Later: No.

Rebecca Solnit – excerpt from ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’

solnit coverThe world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colourless, shallow water appears to be the colour of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water, the deeper the blue.

The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the colour blue.

For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that colour of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The colour of that distance is the colour of an emotion, the colour of solitude and of desire, the colour of there seen from here, the colour of where you are not. And the colour of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.

Mary Oliver via Brainpickings

upstream coverOn Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life:

“It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.”

Read the full article here.

Julian Barnes – excerpt from ‘A Life with Books’

A Life With Books coverThe American writer and dilettante Logan Pearsall Smith once said: “Some people think that life is the thing; but I prefer reading.” When I first came across this, I thought it witty; now I find it – as I do many aphorisms – a slick untruth. Life and reading are not separate activities. The distinction is false (as it is when Yeats imagines a choice between “perfection of the life, or of the work”).

When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic. And for this serious task of imaginative discovery and self-discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.