Monday, February 24, 2014

Enlarging your horizon

You could develop a taste for enlarging your horizon, that obligation more important than any other.
     --From Variation West

Friday, February 21, 2014

The hairdresser can tell you

There are few concepts so difficult that they do not yield to the repeated attack of the ordinary mind, and after dealing with all the basics over and over, love, death, money, and simple bits of local confusion, the hairdresser can tell you as well as any menticultured abstractionist that an inch is enough to keep us from drowning, that solutions are always partial and always subject to expiration, either short-term or long-term, and that . . . oh, yes, you could go farther and fare worse.
     --From Variation West

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Courts gone to hell

The courts in Utah, for instance. Once high-class tribunals, where Gentiles (few and far between) were barred from jury duty and every Judge stood high up in the Mormon church, had as the years passed plummeted to hell. On the bench and in the jury box now sat formless voids of primordial matter, Democrats, Catholics, wild-haired atheists, Trade Unionists, Masons. A man hadn’t a chance. “Two years’ hard labor, step down”—bang! with the gavel. Chains, the iron ball, convict stripes even on your hat. No appeal either! to anyone, even in a case where the excess “wife” in evidence was not the defendant’s wife at all but only the hired girl to a wife. So that just goes to show the rottenness.
     --From Variation West

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Not till the job is done

The artist who is going to do something spins out of his own mind a cocoon, he goes mentally into it, he seals it up and never comes out till the job is done.
     --From Variation West, paraphrasing Walter Prescott Webb

Monday, February 17, 2014

Early death

And that was one thing you could say for early death. It put off for the failer of full performance a date of grief forever.
     --From Variation West

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What a sensible person does

There was a silence. Then Serapta said, “That woman is as crazy as a loon.”
     “She’s not, Serapta. In fact, she’s using reason—”
     “You call that using reason? To want to do a terrible thing like that?”
     “Well, what does a sensible person want to do? Save their life if they possibly can. That’s built-in instinct,” Hindle said in the tone Doctor used to use when trying to teach her something. “If they got a problem, they want to solve it. If there’s doubt, they want to clear it up. If a thing needs settling, they want to settle it. A sensible person uses their faculties.”
     --From Variation West

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What art is for

He shook his head. “It wouldn’t seem like anything!”
     “Now wait,” she said. “It seems like something, doesn’t it? when they scare poor Falstaff in the woods? When Madame Butterfly kills herself? When the stone man, the man of white marble, comes clomping into Don Giovanni’s dining room, bump bump bump? That’s what art is for, isn’t it? to take something measly—measly in comparison with the universe—and make it count for something?”
     --From Variation West

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ardyth at her best

The holidays were so filled with social engagements—how odd for us!—that there was not even a half an hour to sit down and recollect. Ardyth was throughout at her best. She looked, with the additional ten pounds put on in the past two months, at her very, very best. Calm, enchanting, endearing and beautiful as ever a woman, and so witty. Not one single outbreak of Irish anger in all these days, full of plans and good intentions. Whenever people fall for her charms, she becomes frightened and confides later that she really does not love them as much as they might think she does and is afraid that some time sooner or later might be caught in anger and spoil the picture. Actually she never does, because what little of the deep, ever-whirling emotional pool of her comes to the surface, I am absorbing like a shock absorber, and she always makes up.
     --From her husband Egon's journal, New Year's Day 1948

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Not picky readers

They read anything, as a goat eats tin cans, apples or underwear off the line.
     --From Variation West

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"And what of insouciance then?"

He said that according to his friend Dr. F. Avery Jones, pathological fermentation in the stomach may generate enough methane gas to cause a pretty big explosion if a person should belch while lighting a cigarette. As a comparable microbic effect in the lower intestine generates inflammable and explosive hydrogen sulphide and plain hydrogen, if God had not in his mercy arranged for evolution to place the anus quite far away from the mouth, smoking would never have become popular. And what of insouciance then?
     --From Variation West