Choose one book, only one book, and name it your “favourite”. I read The Stranger so many years ago but I still remember the plot, the characters, the indifference, the weirdness of Meursault… The Arab, the trial, the trouble of being. Since the first time, I went back to this book, to read it again, to find answers for myself.
Below is one of my favourite extracts. Read it while listening to The Cure’s “Killing an Arab”. Keep in mind that neither of them are about racism (there are those who misinterpret the meaning), both are about existence.
The sun was the same as it had been the day I’d buried Maman, and like then, my forehead especially was hurting me, all the veins in it throbbing under the skin. It was this burning, which I couldn’t stand anymore, that made me move forward. I knew that it was stupid, that I wouldn’t get the sun off me by stepping forward. But I took a step, one step, forward. And this time, without getting up, the Arab drew his knife and held it up to me in the sun. The light shot off the steel and it was like a long flashing blade cutting at my forehead. At the same instant the sweat in my eyebrows dripped down over my eyelids all at once and covered them with a warm, thick film. My eyes were blinded by the curtain of tears and salt. All I could feel were the cymbals of sunlight crashing on my forehead and, indistinctly, the dazzling spear flying up from the knife in front of me. The scorching blade slashed at my eyelashes and stabbed at my stinging eyes. That’s when everything began to reel. The sea carried up a thick, fiery breath. It seemed to me as if the sky split open from one end to the other to rain down fire. My whole being tensed and I squeezed my hand around the revolver. The trigger gave; I felt the smooth underside of the butt; and there, in that noise, sharp and deafening at the same time, is where it all started. I shook off the sweat and sun. I knew that I had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of a beach where I’d been happy. Then I fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. and it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness.
The Cure – Killing An Arab by marcuscorrea
He suddenly recalled from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split then in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.
When you meet someone so different from yourself, in a good way, you don’t even have to kiss to have fireworks go off. It’s like fireworks in your heart all the time. I always wondered, do opposites really attract? Now I know for sure they do. I’d grown up going to the library as often as most people go to the grocery store. Jackson didn’t need to read about exciting people or places. He went out and found them, or created excitement himself if there wasn’t any to be found. The things I like are pretty simple. Burning CDs around themes, like Songs to Get You Groove On and Tunes to Fix a Broken Heart; watching movies; baking cookies; and swimming. It’s like I was a salad with a light vinaigrette, and Jackson was a platter of seafood Cajun pasta. Alone, we were good. Together, we were fantastic.
Μπορείς να τρέξεις, μπορείς να κρυφτείς, μπορείς να ξεφύγεις από τα πάντα. Μόνο από την μνήμη δεν μπορείς να ξεφύγεις. Οι μυρωδιές, η αίσθηση στα δάχτυλα είναι μέσα στο μυαλό σου και δε φεύγουν ποτέ. Ούτε όταν κοιμάσαι. Το μυαλό ανασύρει ο,τιδήποτε μπορεί προκειμένου να σε πληγώσει.
Και βοηθάμε κι εμείς την ανάμνηση να μείνει ζωντανή. Έχουμε βρει δεκάδες τρόπους να θυμόμαστε. Έχουμε αποθηκευμένα μηνύματα στο κινητό μας και τα διαβάζουμε ξανά και ξανά. Φωτογραφίες αποθηκευμένες στον υπολογιστή μας ή στο τηλέφωνο και δεν παίρνουμε απόφαση να τις σβήσουμε. Και κοιτάμε τον άλλον, στα μάτια μέσα από το κρύσταλλο της οθόνης, και απομνημονεύουμε κάθε λακκάκι, κάθε μικρή ρυτίδα στο μέτωπό του, κάθε ατέλεια στο υπέροχο πρόσωπό του. Έχουμε e–mails που μένουν για πάντα εκεί, με ώρες, ημερομηνίες, για να ελέγχουμε ξανά και ξανά πότε ακριβώς ο παλιός αγαπημένος μας έστειλε τα πιο όμορφα λόγια που διαβάσαμε ποτέ.
Γιατί όλα αυτά δεν διαγράφονται μόνα τους την στιγμή ακριβώς που μας διαγράφουν; Γιατί δεν ξεχνάμε ακριβώς όπως μας ξεχνάνε;
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
I had a ticket to take us both to the carnival. Remember the summer when the carnival visited our little town? And there were all those clowns, and the acrobats, and the woman with the mustache, and that guy that could swallow fires and swords?
I remember that all I wanted was just to rest for a while. Just to sit for a while on that bench, feel your lips on my shoulder, have my hand in yours.
I never thought that you were giving me your last kiss.
moth: I gave you my life.
flame: I allowed you to kiss me.
– Hazrat Inayat Khan –
I have issues. And you’re not helping much.
Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible.
Numbers never lie. People lie. It’s the researcher who can and may distort the statistics, who can lie about the analysis. Numbers never lie. It’s people who like to cover up their limitations or weaknesses with long discussions. After all, everything is a matter of interpretation. Tricky.
Numbers are ruthless. Ruthless, but honest. But following the interpretive path is so seductive. And every girl wants to be seduced. Why would i be the exception?
I used to be good with numbers, with statistics, and i miss the art of reading into numbers. But reading into the double meaning of the human conversations, trying to interpret what one actually says… That’s the Queen of arts.