Tag: Quotation

An End-Of-The-World Book At Night

Welcome to Las Vegas Nevada-sign at night. Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash used to illustrate an end-of-the-world mood.
Photo by Guido Coppa on Unsplash

Vegas always carried with it an eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-may-die energy: a city perched on the cusp of a never-ending yet never-quite-happening end. It was a city permanently stuck in the predawn hour before the hangover truly hit. Right there at the Rubicon, still having fun and about to start puking, on the line between everything is amazing and the End Times are here.

Chuck Wendig, Wanderers

I’m reading Wanderers, by accident, really. I mean, I wasn’t looking for an end-of-the-world-book about a pandemic wiping out humanity (and 775 pages long at that) while we’re surfing Wave 2 of the real thing. Things happen, though, you know. Let’s call it the butterfly effect of reading.

Wendig is no Stephen King (The Stand is still the measure for end-of-the-world books), but it’s an OK read if you’re willing to put up with all the preaching. I’m researching my first non-fiction book * and I needed an easy read at the end of the day.

I usually read for pleasure somewhere between 7 pm and 10 pm (I only watch TV Fridays and Saturdays, it’s the only way to get anything done and have time to read). After reading non-fiction books and taking notes all day, I’m in the mood for some easy stuff in the evenings.

Speaking of notes-taking: this Zettelkasten method for taking notes changed my life. I’m so happy that I found it exactly when I was about to start my research. Well, I was actually looking for a better method, but this is revolutionary indeed. I’ll post a review once I’ve used it for a while. I have many books to read as part of my research, so it’ll be perfect to use Zettelkasten and see what it does for me. Hint: Zettelkasten means paper slip in German.

* I don’t want to talk about it yet, sorry! I’m still afraid I’ll jinx it.


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Through Shadows To The Edge Of Night

A dark forest
In a dark, dark forest. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Home is behind, the world ahead,

And there are many paths to tread

Through shadows to the edge of night,

Until the stars are all alight.

Then world behind and home ahead,

We’ll wander back and home to bed.

Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,

Away shall fade! Away shall fade!

J.R.R. Tolkien, A Walking Song from The Fellowship of the Ring


A New Refutation of Time

Close up of fire

Time is a river that carries me away, but I am the river; it is a tiger that destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

Jorge Luis Borges, A New Refutation of Time

I was nineteen when I discovered Borges, an age when the world is still new, and discoveries have a strong emotional effect. Reading Labyrinths for the first time is one of the motley experiences that shaped me into the person I am today.

The Refutation of Time (1946), an elegant essay on time, was later included in the Labyrinths volume from 1962. A mere quotation fails to convey Borges’ richness of thought, unexpected connections, and elegant prose.

If you haven’t read anything by Borges, I urge you to do so. I envy you the thrill of reading him for the first time.

Two books of Jorge Luis Borges

The first Borges books I bought back in the day from my meager student allowance. I still read them every few years, always remembering the joy I had experienced the first time. He imagined the universe as a library. Need I say more?


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The Theory Of Willlessness

A pine tree top against a background of dark storm clouds.
Before the storm. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Nothing can be willed into being, only waited on, for, or waited out.

A.K. Ramanujan from “Journeys: A Poet’s Diary”

I often find myself thinking of Ramanujan‘s words, especially when the blank page stares at me, the cursor steadily flickering its accusatory blink. I delete more than I write. The inner critic is always on duty. But write I do, in the end. After all, “you can always edit a bad page; you can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult would know.



Fragmentary Blue

Man and Pegasus statue by Carl Milles, at Millesgården, Sweden. Photo © Mihaela Limberea www.limberea.com
Man and Pegasus by Carl Milles, Millesgården, Sweden. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Why make so much of fragmentary blue

In here and there a bird, or butterfly,

Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,

When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—

Though some savants make earth include the sky;

And blue so far above us comes so high,

It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

by Robert Frost (1874–1963)



Cultivate The Habit Of Zest

Shadows of leaves over a parking sport in black and white. www.limberea.com
Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Cultivate the habit of zest. Purposefully seek out the beauty in the seemingly trivial. Especially in the trivial. The colors and shapes of the foods you eat. The shadows a vase makes on your table. The interesting faces of the people on the bus with you. – Karen Salmansohn

I snapped the image above with my iPhone (remember, the best camera is the one that you have with you) on my daily walk. A play of light and shadows, tree branches over a parking spot.

I’d make this the first rule of photography: always bring the camera; and your attention.



The Fairest Thing We Can Experience Is The Mysterious

Angel Musicians by Carl Milles at Millesgården, Stockholm. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a sniffed-out candle. – Albert Einstein



There Is No Time For Despair

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art. – Toni Morrison

As always, books are comforting. Both to write and to read. To give away, to loan, or to borrow. To read aloud or listen to. A shelter from the madness outside. Consolation. Oh, the “sweet serenity of books,” as Longfellow puts it. 

I write a bit; I delete a bit more, pause, stare through the window at the rough sea and the white clouds of the surf. A blackbird jumps back and forth on the grass, looking for worms. The cat suns herself, lazily licking her paw. I write away the virus, the anxiety, the madding crowd.


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Our Uncertain Future, Temporarily Arrested

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

As for whether this is the last time we will hear a new Bob Dylan song. I certainly hope not. But perhaps there is some wisdom in treating all songs, or for that matter, all experiences, with a certain care and reverence, as if encountering these things for the last time. I say this not just in the light of the novel coronavirus, rather that it is an eloquent way to lead one’s life and to appreciate the here and now, by savouring it as if it were for the last time. To have a drink with a friend as if it were the last time, to eat with your family as it were the last time, to read to your child as if it were the last time, or indeed, to sit in the kitchen listening to a new Bob Dylan song as if it were the last time. It permeates all that we do with greater meaning, placing us within the present, our uncertain future, temporarily arrested.

Nick Cave, the Australian singer, songwriter, and front figure of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, on a question about Bob Dylan’s latest song in his Red Hand Files (where he answers questions from fans).


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Our Power Is Patience

“Novelists are not only unusually depressed, by and large, but have, on the average, about the same IQ as the cosmetics consultants at Bloomingdale’s department store. Our power is patience. We have discovered that writing allows even a stupid person to seem halfway intelligent, if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it just a little bit each time. It is a lot like inflating a blimp with a bicycle pump. Anybody can do it. All it takes is time.”

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

I find solace in this Kurt Vonnegut quote in my moments of doubt, struggling with a text that doesn’t resemble in any way the picture I have in my head. I continue hammering at the keyboard, hoping to reach that exhilarating state when everything becomes possible.

From Suzanne McConnell’s book, Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style.


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