Ice Friday: Stephens’ “Charwoman’s Daughter”

In the evening of that day Mary and the young man who lodged with their neighbor went for the walk which had been customary with them. The young man had been fed with an amplitude which he had never known before, so that not even the remotest slim thread, shred, hint, echo or memory of hunger remained within him. He tried but could not make a dint in himself anywhere and, consequently, he was as sad as only a well-fed person can be. Now that his hunger was gone, he deemed that all else was gone also. His hunger, his sweetheart, his hopes, his good looks, all were gone, gone, gone.

Ice Friday: Francis Bacon on Form

I work on what’s called the given form. If you look at forms, they’re extremely, in a sense, unrepresentational. One of the things I’ve always tried to analyze is why it is that, if the formation of the image that you want is done irrationally, it seems to come from the nervous system much more strongly than if you knew how you could do it. Why is it possible to make the reality of an appearance more violently in this way than by doing it rationally? Perhaps it’s that, if the making is more instinctive, the image is more immediate.

(From Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester)

Ice Friday: Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”

I took the paper up and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, holding my breath, and then I says to myself, “All right then, I’ll go to hell” – and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said, and never thought more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head, and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn’t. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again. And if I could think up anything worse, I would do that too, because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Ice Friday: Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray”

I never approve or disapprove of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take toward life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid of ourselves. The basis for optimism is sheer terror. We think that we are generous because we credit our neighbor with the possession of those virtues we are likely to be of benefit to us. As for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested.

Ice Friday: Aesop’s “The Fox and the Lion”

A fox who had never seen a lion one day met one and was so terrified at the sight of him that he was ready to die of fear. After a time, he met him again and was still so frightened but not nearly so much as he had been when he met him first. But when he saw him for a third time, he was so far from being afraid that he went up to him and began to talk to him as if he had known him all his life.

Ice Friday: Italo Calvino’s “Enchanted Garden”

The pale boy was wandering about his shady room furtively, touching with his white fingers the edges of the scales studded with butterflies; then he stopped to listen. The pounding of Giovannino and Serenella’s hearts, which had died down, now got harder than ever. Perhaps it was the fear of a spell that hung over the villa and garden and over all these lovely, comfortable things, the residue of some injustice committed long ago. Very quietly, Giovannino and Serenella crept away. They went back along the same paths they had come, stepping fast but never at a run. 

Ice Friday: David Mamet’s “Oleanna”

Ah. (Pause) When I was young somebody told me, are you ready? The rich copulate less often than the poor. But when they do, they take more of their clothes off. Years. Years, mind you, I would compare experiences of my own to this dictum, saying, aha, this fits the norm, or ah, this is a variation from it. What did it mean? Nothing.