holocene

It’s a bar in Portland, Oregon. But also the name of a geologic era; an epoch, if you will. All the songs (in the album) are meant to come together as this idea that places are time, people are places, and times are… people. Most of our lives feel like these epochs. But, once I knew I was not magnificent. Our lives feel like these epochs, but really we are dust in the wind.

(Justin Vernon of Bon Iver)

all this and heaven too

And the heart is hard to translate.
It has a language of it’s own.
It talks in tongues and quiet sighs and prayers and proclamations,
in the grand deeds of great men,
in the smallest of gestures,
in a short shallow gasps.
It talks to me in tiptoes
and it sings to me inside.
It cries out in the darkest night
and breaks in the morning light.

But with all my educations I can’t seem to command it.
The words are all escaping; coming back all damaged.
I would put them back in poetry if I only knew how.
I can’t seem to understand it.

I would give all this and heaven too.
I would give it all if only for a moment that I could just understand
the meaning of the words.
You see, ‘cause I’ve been scrawling it forever 
but it never makes sense to me at all.

No.
Words are a language. It doesn’t deserve such treatment.
All of my stumbling phrases never amounted to anything worth this feeling.
All this heaven never could describe such a feeling
as I’m hearing words were never so useful.
So I was screaming out a language that I never knew existed before!

(Florence and the Machine)

do we know ourselves, at all?

Recently I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s “Sputnik Sweetheart”. There is this one paragraph in the beginning of Chapter 5 that caught my attention the most.

Given the chance, [people] are surprisingly frank when they talk about themselves. “I’m honest and open to a ridiculous degree,” they’ll say, or “I’m thin-skinned and not the type who gets along easily in the world,” or “I’m very good at sensing others’ true feelings.” But any number of times I’ve seen people who say they’re easily hurt or hurt other people for no apparent reason. Self-styled honest and open people, without realizing what they’re doing, blithely use some self-serving excuse to get what they want. And those who are “good at sensing others’ true feelings” are taken in by the most transparent flattery. It’s enough to make me ask the question: how well do we really know ourselves?

Most of people tend to do those kinds of things. They can be surprisingly confident about themselves when sometimes they do something entirely opposite of what they say about themselves. I’m starting to doubt myself whether I do these kinds of things unconsciously, too. Am I one of those people? Do I know myself, at all?

there’s no end to it.

“I know I’m a little different from everyone else, but I’m still a human being. That’s what I’d like you to realize. I’m just a regular person, not some monster. I feel the same things everyone else does, act the same way. Sometimes, though, that small difference feels like an abyss. But I guess there’s not much I can do about it. I’ve experienced all kinds of discrimination. Only people who’ve been discriminated against can really know how much it hurts. Each person feels the pain in his own way, each has his own scars. So I think I’m as concerned about fairness and justice as anybody. But what disgusts me even more are people who have no imagination. The kind T. S. Eliot calls hollow men. People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing. Callous people who throw a lot of empty words at you, trying to force you to do what you don’t want to. Gays, lesbians, straights, feminists, fascist pigs, communists, Hare Krishnas—none of them bother me. I don’t care what banner they raise. But what I can’t stand are hollow people. When I’m with them I just can’t bear it, and wind up saying things I shouldn’t. I can’t control myself. That’s one of my weak points. Do you know why that’s a weak point of mine? ‘Cause if you take every single person who lacks much imagination seriously, there’s no end to it.”

Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (2002)

a world that isn’t here.

“I’m walking alone in the forest—not the thick, ominous forest that Hansel and Gretel got lost in, but more of a brightish, lightweight sort of forest. It’s a nice, warm afternoon, and I’m walking along without a care in the world. So then, up ahead, I see this little house. It’s got a chimney and a little porch, and gingham-check curtains in the windows. It’s friendly looking. I knock on the door and say, ‘Hello.’ There’s no answer. I try knocking again a little harder and the door opens by itself. It wasn’t completely closed, you see. I walk in yelling, ‘Hello! Is anybody home? I’m coming in!’

“It’s just a one-room cottage. Very simply built. It has a little kitchen, beds, and a dining area. There’s a woodstove in the middle, and dinner for four has been neatly set out on the table. Steam is rising from the dishes. But there’s nobody inside. It’s as if they were all set to start eating when something strange happened—like, a monster showed up or something, and everybody ran out. But the chairs are not in disarray. Everything is peaceful and almost strangely ordinary. There just aren’t any people there.

“So anyhow, I sit in one of the chairs and wait for the family that lives there to come back. That’s what I’m supposed to do: just wait for them to come home. I don’t know why I’m supposed to. I mean, it’s a dream, so not everything is clearly explained. Maybe I want them to tell me the way home, or maybe I have to get something: that kind of thing. So I’m just sitting there, waiting for them to come home, but no matter how long I wait, nobody comes. The meal is still steaming. I look at the hot food and get tremendously hungry. But just because I’m starved, I have no right to touch the food on the table without them there. It would be natural to think that, don’t you think?

“But soon the sun goes down. The cottage grows dark inside. The surrounding forest gets deeper and deeper. I want to turn the light on, but I don’t know how. I start to feel uneasy. Then at some point I realize something strange: the amount of steam rising from the food hasn’t decreased at all. Hours have gone by, but it’s still nice and hot. Then I start to think that something odd is going on. Something is wrong. That’s where the dream ends.

“Would you like to know what the scariest part of the dream is? It’s that I might be the monster. The possibility struck me once. Wasn’t it because they had seen me approaching that the people had abandoned their dinner and run out of the house? And as long as I stayed there, they couldn’t come back. In spite of that, I had to keep sitting in the cottage, waiting for them to come home. The thought of that is what scares me so much.

—”1q84″ 1:24