Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 17 - Favorite quote from your favorite book

Naturally this one comes when I'm on a day trip away from all my books that I could possibly use for reference. On top of that, I have a few. I think I really should have more than one anyway because I notice the last question of this meme is "favorite book ever" and wouldn't it kind of ruin the surprise if you just gave that away now? So, I have options and I don't have any of them on me. Bear with me, interwebs.

The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco

"Non in commotione, non in commotione Dominus."

I cannot give context for this quote and you simply must read the book. The translations vary. I have only just discovered that the "official" translation is quite different from the one I cobbled together from Latin translators online. And undoubtedly it is the "correct" one. I put these words in quotes because I really like my version. It means something totally different, but it made a huge impact on me and I thought it was so perfect for what was happening in the story. Given the nature of the thing, I feel as though an argument can be made for the validity of my unofficial translation, being that language is complex, words can mean many things, and subjectivity is crucial to appreciating a work. I don't know if my translation is at all grammatically viable, but I hope it is, because I like it.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?"

This is something that is, I believe, repeated a few times, though I primarily recall the first time. I love that it doesn't make any sense, not for the longest time, and I love that it is somehow beautiful and haunting just the same, despite the inherent silliness of the surrounding scene. This quote stuck in me like a pin for the duration of the book. It is iconic, and not without reason.

Also iconic, also beloved, also wonderful and silly at the same time:

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain, he fell madly in love with him.

Finally, though I could quote the entire book if I had the means, I am also fond, for simpler reasons, of this bit:

"Yes, Yossarian. That's right. Yossarian. Yossarian? Is that his name? Yossarian? What the hell kind of name is Yossarian?"

Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his finger tips. "It's Yossarian's name, sir," he explained.

The Collected Works of Jorge Luis Borges

It is probably a good thing that I don't have this volume on me, because there are so many. Here are several, presented without comment:

Siento un poco de vértigo. / No estoy acostumbrado a la eternidad.
I feel a bit of vertigo. / I am not accustomed to eternity.
-The Cipher (a poem)

I come now to the ineffable center of my tale; it is here that a writer’s hopelessness begins. Every language is an alphabet of symbols the employment of which assumes a past shared by its interlocutors. How can one transmit to others the infinite Aleph, which my timorous memory can scarcely contain? [...] And besides, the central problem—the enumeration, even partial enumeration, of infinity—is irresolvable. In that unbounded moment, I saw millions of delightful and horrible acts; none amazed me so much as the fact that all occupied the same point, without superposition and without transparency. What my eyes saw was simultaneous; what I shall write is successive, because language is successive. Something of it, though, I will capture.
-The Aleph

And yet, and yet … Denying temporal succession, denying the self, denying the astronomical universe, are apparent desperations and secret consolations. Our destiny is not frightful by being unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and iron-clad. Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.
-A New Refutation of Time (an essay)

What will my redeemer be like, I wonder? Will he be bull or man? Will he perhaps be a bull with the face of a man? Or will he be like me?
-The House of Asterion

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