Wednesday, 30 November 2016

...of mutuality

He made Armande’s acquaintance in a Swiss railway carriage one dazzling afternoon between Thur and Versex on the eve of his meeting with Mr. R. He had boarded a slow train by mistake; she had chosen one that would stop at the small station from which a bus line went up to Witt, where her mother owned a chalet. Armande and Hugh had simultaneously settled in two window seats facing each other on the lake side of the coach. An American family occupied the corresponding four-seat side across the aisle. Hugh unfolded the Journal de Genève.
Oh, she was pretty and would have been exquisitely so had her lips been fuller. She had dark eyes, fair hair, a honey-hued skin. Two dimples of the crescentic type came down her tanned cheeks on the sides of her mournful mouth. She wore a black suit over a frilly blouse. A book lay in her lap under her black gloved hands. He thought her recognised that flame-and-soot paperback. The mechanism of their first acquaintance was ideally banal.
They exchanged a glance of urbane disapproval as the three American kids began pulling sweaters and pants out of a suitcase in savage search for something stupidly left behind (a heap of comics - by now taken care of, with the used towels, by a brisk hotel maid). One of the two adults, catching Armande’s cold eye, responded with a look of good-natured helplessness. The conductor came for the tickets.

[Transparent Things, Nabokov, V.]

...of disbelief

Horace ran. Ahead of him he saw other figures running, turning into the alley beside the jail; then he heard the sound of the fire; the furious sound of gasoline. He turned into the alley. He could see the blaze, in the center of a vacant lot where on market days wagons were tethered. Against the flames black figures showed, frantic; he could hear panting shouts; through a fleeting gap he saw a man turn and run, a mass of flames, still carrying a five-gallon coal oil can which exploded with a rocket-like glare while he carried it, running.
He ran into the throng, into the circle which had formed about a blazing mass in the middle of the lot. From one side of the circle came the screams of the man about whom the coal oil can had exploded, but from the central mass of fire there came no sound at all. It was now indistinguishable, the flames whirling in long and thunderous plumes from a white-hot mass out of which there defined themselves faintly the ends of a few posts and planks. Horace ran among them; they were holding him, but he did not know it; they were talking, but he could not hear the voices.
“It’s his lawyer.”
“Here’s the man that defended him. That tried to get him clear.”
“Put him in, too. There’s enough left to burn a lawyer.
“Do to the lawyer what we did to him. What he did to her. Only we never used a cob. We made him wish we had used a cob.”
Horace couldn’t hear them. He couldn’t hear the man who got burned screaming. He couldn’t hear the fire, though it swirled upward unabated, as though it were living upon itself, and soundless: a voice of fury like in a dream, roaring silently out of a peaceful void.

[Sanctuary, Faulkner, W.]

...of a murder

To Temple, sitting in the cottonseed- hulls and the corncobs, the sound was no louder than the striking of a match: a short, minor sound shutting down upon the scene, the instant, with a profound finality, completely isolating it, and she sat there, her legs straight before her, her hands limp and palm-up on her lap, looking at Popeye’s tight back and the ridges of his coat across the shoulders as he leaned out the door, the pistol behind him, against his flank, wisping thinly along his leg.
He turned to look at her. He waggled the pistol slightly and put it back in his coat, then he walked toward her. Moving, he made no sound at all; the released door yawned and clapped against the jamb, but it made no sound either; it was as though sound and silence had become inverted. She could hear silence in a thick rustling as he moved toward her through it, thrusting it aside, and she began to say Something is going to happen to me. She was saying it to the old man with the yellow clots for eyes. “Something is happening to me!” she screamed at him, sitting in his chair in the sunlight, his hands crossed on the top of the stick. “I told you it was!” she screamed, voiding the words like hot silent bubbles into the bright silence about them until he turned his head and the two phlegm-clots above her where she lay tossing and thrashing on the rough, sunny boards. “I told you! I told you all the time!”

[Sanctuary, Faulkner, W.]

...of a captive

She stood just inside the door. She could tell all of them by the way they breathed. Then, without having heard, felt, the door open, she began to smell something: the brilliantine which Popeye used on his hair. She did not see Popeye at all when he entered and passed her; she did not know he had entered yet; she was waiting for him; until Tommy entered, following Popeye. Tommy crept into the room, also soundless; she would have been no more aware of his entrance than of Popeye’s, if it had not been for his eyes. They glowed, breast-high, with a profound interrogation, then they disappeared and the woman could then feel him, squatting beside her; she knew that he too was looking toward the bed over which Popeye stood in the darkness, upon which Temple and Gowan lay, with Gowan snoring and choking and snoring. The woman stood just inside the door.
She could hear no sound from the shucks, so she remained motionless beside the door, with Tommy squatting beside her, his face toward the invisible bed. Then she smelled the brilliantine again. Or rather, she felt Tommy move from beside her, without a sound, as though the stealthy evacuation of his position blew soft and cold upon her in the black silence; without seeing or hearing him, she knew that he had crept again from the room, following Popeye. She heard them go down the hall; the last sound died out of the house.
She went to bed. Temple did not move until the woman touched her. Then she began to struggle. The woman found Temple’s mouth and put her hand over it, though Temple had not attempted to scream. She lay on the shuck mattress, turning and thrashing her body from side to side, rolling her head, holding the coat together across her breast but making no sound.

[Sanctuary, Faulkner, W.]

...of a predator

From beyond the screen of bushes which surrounded the spring, Popeye watched the man drinking. A faint path led from the road to the spring. Popeye watched the man - a tall, thin man, hatless, in worn gray flannel trousers and carrying a tweed coat over his arm - emerge from the path and kneel to drink from the spring.
The spring welled up at the root of a beech tree and flowed away upon a bottom of whorled and waved sand. It was surrounded by a thick growth of cane and brier, of cypress and gum in which broken sunlight lay sourceless. Somewhere, hidden and secret yet nearby, a bird sang three notes and ceased.
In the spring the drinking man leaned his face to the broken and myriad reflection of his own drinking. When he rose up he saw among them the shattered reflection of Popeye’s straw hat, though he had heard no sound.
He saw, facing him acrosss the spring, a man of under size, his hands in his coat pockets, a cigarette slanted from his chin. His suit was black, with a tight, high-waisted coat. His trousers were rolled once and caked with mud above mud-caked shoes. His face had a queer, bloodless color, as though seen by electric light; against the sunny silence, in his slanted straw hat and his slightly akimbo arms, he had that vicious depthless quality of stamped tin.

[Sanctuary, Faulkner, W.]

...of a type of man

Like Christmas, Brown came to work in the same clothes which he wore on the street. But unlike Christmas, he made no change in his costume for some time. ‘He’ll win just enough in that crap game some Saturday night to buy a new suit and still have fifty cents in nickels to rattle in his pocket,’ Mooney said. ‘And on the next Monday morning we aint going to see him again.’ Meanwhile Brown continued to come to work in the same overalls and shirt in which he had arrived in Jefferson, losing his week’s pay in the Saturday night dice game or perhaps winning a little, greeting either the one or the other with the same shouts of imbecile laughter, joking and chaffing with the very men who in all likelihood were periodically robbing him. Then one day they heard he had won sixty dollars. ‘Well, that’s the last we’ll see of him,’ one said.
‘I don’t know,’ Mooney said. ’Sixty dollars is the wrong figure. If it had been ten dollars or five hundred, I reckon you’d be right. But not just sixty. He’ll just feel now that he is settled down good here, drawing at last somewhere about what he is worth a week.’ And on Monday he did return to work, in the overalls; they saw them, Brown and Christmas, down at the sawdust pile. They had been watching the two of them down there from the day when Brown went to work: Christmas jabbing his shovel into the sawdust slowly and steadily and hard, as though he were chopping up a buried snake (‘or a man,’ Mooney said) and Brown leaning on his shovel while he apparently told Christmas a story, an anecdote. Because presently he would laugh, shout with laughter, his head backflung, while beside him the other man worked with silent and unflagging savageness. Then Brown would fall to again, working for a time once again as fast as Christmas, but picking up less and less in the scoop until at last the shovel would not even touch the sawdust in its flagging arc. Then he would lean upon it again and apparently finish whatever it was that he was telling Christmas, telling to the man who did not even seem to hear his voice. As if the other were a mile away, or spoke a different language from the one he knew, Byron thought. And they would be seen together down town on Saturday evening sometimes: Christmas in his neat, soberly austere serge-and-white and the straw hat, and Brown in his new suit (it was tan, with a red crisscross, and he had a coloured shirt and a hat like Christmas’ but with a coloured band) talking and laughing, his voice heard clear across the square and back again in echo, somewhat as a meaningless sound in a church seems to come from everywhere at once. Like he aimed for everybody to see how he and Christmas were buddies, Byron thought. And then Christmas would turn and with that still, sullen face of his walk out of whatever small gathering the sheer empty sound of Brown’s voice had surrounded them with, with Brown following, still laughing and talking. And each time the other workmen would say, ‘Well, he won’t be back on the job Monday morning.’ But each Monday he was back. It was Christmas who quit first.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of culpability

‘Listen,’ she said. Then she stopped, looking at him. It was as though she could not think what to say next. The child waited, still, motionless. Slowly and gradually the muscles of his backside were becoming flat and rigid and tense as boards. ‘Are you going to tell?’ she said.
He didn’t answer. He believed that anyone should have known that the last thing in the world he would do would be to tell about the toothpaste, the vomit. He was not looking at her face. He was watching her hands, waiting. One of them was clenched inside her skirt pocket. Through the cloth he could see that it was clenched hard. He had never been struck with a fist. Yet neither had he ever waited three days to be punished. When he saw the hand emerge from the pocket he believed that she was about to strike him. But she did not; the hand just opened beneath his eyes. Upon it lay a silver dollar. Her voice was thin, urgent, whispering, though the corridor was empty about them. ‘You can buy a lot with this. A whole dollar.’ He had never seen a dollar before, though he knew what it was. He looked at it. He wanted it as he would have wanted the bright cap from a beer bottle. But he did not believe she would give it to him, because he would not give it to her if it were his. He didn’t know what she wanted him to do. He was waiting to get whipped and then be released. Her voice went on, urgent, tense, fast: ‘A whole dollar. See? How much you could buy. Some to eat every day for a week. And next month maybe I’ll give you another one.’
He did not move nor speak. He might have been carven, a large toy: small, still, round headed and round eyed, in overalls. He was still with astonishment, shock, outrage. Looking at the dollar, he seemed to see ranked tubes of toothpaste like corded wood, endless and terrifying; his whole being coiled in a rich and passionate revulsion. ‘I don’t want no more,’ he said. ‘I don’t never want no more,’ he thought.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of abduction

When the child wakened, he was being carried. It was pitch-dark and cold; he was being carried down stairs by someone who moved with silent and infinite care. Pressed between him and one of the arms which supported him was a wad which he knew to be his clothes. He made no outcry, no sound. He knew where he was by the smell, the air, of the back stairway which led down to the side door from the room in which his bed had been one among forty others since he could remember. He knew also by smell that the person who carried him was a man. But he made no sound, lying as still and as lax as while he had been asleep, riding high in the invisible arms, moving, descending slowly toward the side door which gave on to the playground.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of a trap

Joe was already moving toward the door which he knew, very nearly running again, if he ever actually stopped. He was not listening to Max. He had never heard of Beale Street, that three or four Memphis city blocks in comparison with which Harlem is a movie set. Joe had not looked at anything. Because suddenly he saw the blonde woman standing in the hall at the rear. He had not seen her emerge into the hall at all, yet it was empty when he entered. And then suddenly she was standing there. She was dressed, in a dark skirt, and she held a hat in her hand. And just beyond an open dark door beside him was a pile of luggage, several bags. Perhaps he did not see them. Or perhaps looking saw once, faster than thought I didn’t think she would have that many Perhaps he thought then for the first time that they had nothing to travel in, thinking How can I carry all those But he did not pause, already turning toward the door which he knew. It was only as he put his hand on the door that he became aware of complete silence beyond it, a silence which he at eighteen knew that it would take more than one person to make. But he did not pause; perhaps he was not even aware the hall was empty again, that the blonde woman had vanished again without his having seen or heard him move.
He opened the door. He was running now; that is, as a man might run far ahead of himself and his knowing in the act of stopping stock still. The waitress sat on the bed as he had seen her sitting so many times. She wore the dark dress and the hat, as he had expected, known. She sat with her face lowered, not even looking at the door when it opened, a cigarette burning in one still hand that looked almost monstrous in its immobility against the dark dress. And in the same instant he saw the second man. He had never seen the man before. But he did not realise this now. It was only later that he remembered that, and remembered the piled luggage in the dark room which he had looked at for an instant while thought went faster than seeing.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of an intruder

He did not look once again toward the dark house. He lay perfectly still in the copse for more than an hour before he rose up and emerged. He did not creep. There was nothing skulking nor even especially careful about his approach to the house. He simply went quietly as if that were his natural manner of moving and passed around the now dimensionless bulk of the house, toward the rear, where the kitchen would be. He made no more noise than a cat as he paused and stood for a while beneath the window where the light had shown. In the grass about his feet the crickets, which had ceased as he moved, keeping a little island of silence about him like a thin yellow shadow of their small voices, began again, ceasing again when he moved with that tiny and alert suddenness.
From the rear of the house a single storey wing projected. ‘That will be the kitchen,’ he thought. ‘Yes. That will be it.’ He walked without sound, moving in his tiny island of abruptly ceased insects. He could discern a door in the kitchen wall. He would have found it unlocked if he had tried it. But he did not. He passed it and paused beneath a window. Before he tried it he remembered that he had seen no screen in the lighted window upstairs.
The window was even open, propped open with a stick. ‘What do you think about that,’ he thought. He stood beside the window, his hands on the sill, breathing quietly, not listening, not hurrying, as if there were no need for haste anywhere under the sun. ‘Well. Well. Well. What do you know about that. Well. Well. Well.’ Then he climbed into the window; he seemed to flow into the dark kitchen: a shadow returning without a sound and without locomotion to the allmother of obscurity and darkness. Perhaps he thought of that other window which he had used to use and of the rope upon which he had had to rely; perhaps not.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of a jilted woman

Brown heard the door close behind him. He was still moving forward. Then, in the midst of one of those quick, jerking, allembracing looks, as if his eyes could not wait to take in the room, he stopped dead still. Lena on the cot watched the white scar beside his mouth vanish completely, as if the ebb of blood behind it had snatched the scar in passing like a rag from a clothesline. She did not speak at all. She just lay there, propped on the pillows, watching him with her sober eyes in which there was nothing at all - joy, surprise, reproach, love - while over his face passed shock, astonishment, outrage, and then downright terror, each one mocking in turn at the telltale little white scar, while ceaselessly here and there about the empty room went his harried and desperate eyes. She watched him herd them by will, like two terrified beasts, and drive them up to meet her own. ‘Well, well,’ he said. ‘Well, well, well. It’s Lena.’ She watched him, holding his eyes up to hers like two beasts about to break, as if he knew that when they broke this time he would never catch them, turn them again, and that he himself would be lost. She could almost watch his mind casting this way and that, ceaseless, harried, terrified, seeking words which his voice, his tongue, could speak. ‘If it aint Lena. Yes, sir. So you got my message. Soon as I got here I sent you a message last month as soon as I got settled down and I thought it had got lost - It was a fellow I didn’t know what his name was but he said he would take - He didn’t look reliable but I had to trust him but I thought when I gave him the ten dollars for you to travel on that he…’ His voice died somewhere behind his desperate eyes. Yet still she could watch his mind darting and darting as without pity, without anything at all, she watched him with her grave, unwinking, unbearable gaze, watched him fumble and flee and tack until at last all that remained in him of pride, of what sorry pride the desire for justification was fled from him and left him naked. Then for the first time she spoke. Her voice was quiet, unruffled, cool.

[Light in August, Faulkner, W.]

...of conquerors

But most of all, the prints of men - the fitted shoes which Doctor Habersham and Louis Grenier had brought from the Atlantic seaboard, the cavalry boots in which Alec Holston had ridden behind Francis Marion, and - more myriad almost than leaves, outnumbering all the others lumped together - the moccasins, the deerhide sandals of the forest, worn not by the Indians but by white men, the pioneers, the long hunters, as though they had not only vanquished the wilderness but had even stepped into the very footgear of them they dispossessed (and mete and fitting so, since it was by means of his feet and legs that the white man conquered America; the closed and split U’s of his horses and cattle overlay his own prints always, merely consolidating his victory); - (the jail) watched them all, red men and white and black - the pioneers, the hunters, the forest men with rifles, who made the same light rapid soundless toed-in almost heelless prints as the red men as they dispossessed and who in fact dispossessed the red men for that reason: not because of the grooved barrel but because they could enter the red man’s milieu and make the same footprints that he made; the husbandman printing deep the hard heels of his brogans because of the weight he bore on his shoulders: axe and saw and plough-stock, who dispossessed the forest man for the obverse reason: because with his saw and axe he simply removed, obliterated, the milieu in which the alone the forest man could exist; then the land speculators and the traders in slaves and whiskey who followed the husbandmen, and the politicians who followed the land speculators, printing deeper and deeper the dust of that dusty widening, until at last there was no mark of Chickasaw left in it any more…

[Requiem for a Nun, Faulkner, W.]

...of the damned

May you never be impaled upon His horns.’
‘Amen,’ says the Chief; then straightening himself up and changing his tone abruptly from the devout to the briskly business-like, ‘Everything O.K. for tonight?’ he asks. In the voice of a ten-year-old, but with the long-winded and polysyllabic unctuousness of a veteran ecclesiastic long accustomed to playing the role of a superior being set apart from and above his fellows, the Arch-Vicar replies that all things are in order. Under the personal supervison of the Three-Horned Inquisitor and the Patriarch of Pasadena, a devoted band of Familiars and Postulants has traveled from settlement to settlement, making the yearly census. Every mother of a monster has been marked down. Heads have been shaved and the preliminary whippings administered. By this time all the guilty have been transported to one or other of the three Purification Centres at Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles. The knives and the consecrated bulls’ pizzles have been made ready and, Belial willing, the ceremonies will begin at the appointed hour. Before tomorrow’s sunrise the purification of the land should be complete.
Once more the Arch-Vicar makes the sign of the horns, then stands for a few seconds in recollected silence. Reopening his eyes, he turns to the ecclesiastics in his train.
‘Go, take the shaven ones,’ he squeaks, ‘take these defiled vessels, these living testimonies of Belial’s enmity, and lead them to the place of their shame.’
A dozen Presbyters and Postulants hurry down the stairs and out into the crowd of mothers.
‘Hurry, hurry!’
‘In Belial’s name.’
Slowly, reluctantly, the crop-headed women rise to their feet. Their little burdens of deformity pressed against bosoms heavy with milk, they move towards the door in a silence more painfully expressive of misery than any outcry.

[Ape and Essence, Huxley, A.]

...of servility

We dissolve to the exterior of the Unholy of Unholies, two weeks later. Several hundreds of bearded men and slatternly women are queued up, in double file, awaiting their turn to enter the shrine. The Camera passes down the long line of dull and dirty faces, then holds on Loola and Dr. Poole, who are in the act of passing through the sliding doors.
Within all is gloom and silence. Two by two the nymphs and prancing satyrs of a few short days ago shuffle despondently past an altar, whose mighty candle is now eclipsed by a tin extinguisher. At the foot of the Arch-Vicar’s empty throne lies the heap of discarded Seventh Commandments. As the procession slowly passes, the Archimandrite in charge of Public Morals hands out to every male an apron and to every female an apron and four round patches.
‘Out through the side door,’ he repeats to each recipient.
And out through the side door, when their turn comes, Loola and Dr. Poole duly go. There, in the sunshine, a score of Postulants are busily at work, with thread and needle, stitching aprons to waist-bands, patches to trouser seats and shirt fronts.
The Camera holds on Loola. Three young seminarists in Toggenbarg cassocks accost her as she emerges into the open air.
She hands her apron to the first, a patch to each of the others. All three rapidly set to work simultaneously and with extraordinary rapidity. NO, NO and NO.
‘Turn around, please.’
Handing over her last patches, she obeys; and while the apron specialist moves away to attend to Dr. Poole, the others ply their needles so diligently that, in half a minute, she is no less forbidding from behind than when seen from in front.
‘And there!’
The two clerical tailors step aside and reveal a close shot of their handiwork. NO NO. Cut back to the Postulants, who express their sentiments by spitting in unison, then turn towards the door of the shrine.
‘Next lady, please.’
Wearing a look of extreme dejection, the two inseperable mulatto girls step forward together.
Cut to Dr. Poole. Aproned, and bearded with a fortnight’s growth of hair, he walks over to where Loola is waiting for him.
‘This way, please,’ says a shrill voice.
In silence they take their places at the end of yet another queue. Resignedly, two or three hundred persons are waiting to be assigned their tasks by the Grand Inquisitor’s Chief Assistant in charge of Public Works. Three-horned and robed impressively in a white Saanen soutane, the great man is sitting with a couple of two-horned Familiars at a large table, on which stand several steel filing cabinets salvaged from the offices of the Providential Life Insurance Company.

[Ape and Essence, Huxley, A.]

...of a deserted poop

We came up through the companion-way on to the silence of the deserted poop. The mist had thickened up, even during the brief time that I had been below, and there was not a breath of wind. The mist was so dense that it seemed to press in upon us, and the two lamps made a kind of luminous halo in the mist, which seemed to absorb their light in a most peculiar way.
'Where was he?' The captain asked me almost in a whisper.
'On the port side sir' I said 'a little foreside the charthouse and about a dozen feet in from the rail. I'll show you the exact place'.
We went for'ard along what had been the weather side, going quietly and watchfully, though indeed, it was little enough that we could see, because of the mist. Once, as I led the way, I thought I heard a vague sound somewhere in the mist, but unsure because of the slow creak, creak of the spars and gear as the vessel rolled slightly upon an odd, oily swell. Apart from this slight sound, and the far-up rustle of the canvas slatting gently against the masts, there was no sound of all throughout the ship. I assure you the silence seemed to me to be almost menacing, in the tense, nervous state in which I was'.

[The Thing in the Weeds, Hodgson, W. H.]

- submitted by M. A. Pearce

...of a ship

Later I hear a cat's agonised howl, and then all is quiet. Sometime after comes a great splash alongside. Then for some hours all is silent as the grave. Occasionally I sit up on the chest and listen, yet never a whisper of noise comes to me. There is an absolute  silence, even the monotonous creak of the gear has died away entirely, and at last a real hope is springing up within me. That splash, this silence- surely I am justified in hoping.

[A Tropical Horror, Hodgson, W. H.]

- submitted by M. A. Pearce

...of the Sargasso Sea

We can but wait and wonder. Nothing more may we ever learn; for what is this one little tragedy among the uncounted millions that the silence of the sea holds so remorselessly. And yet, again, news may come to us out of the unknown out of the lonesome silences of the dread Sargasso sea- the loneliest and the moat inaccessible place of all the lonesome and inaccessible places of this Earth.

[From the Tideless Sea, W. H. Hodgson]

...of the air

In the air there rose no sound; even the wind was scarcely more than a low hum aloft among the sails and gear, and under me the oily water gave no rippling noise. All was silence, supreme and unearthly.
About midnight the moon rose away from our starboard beam, and from then until the dawn I stared out upon a ghostly world of noiseless weed, fantastic, silent, and unbelievable, under the moonlight.

[The Finding of the Graiken, Hodgson, W. H.]

- submitted by M. A. Pearce

...of the sea

Ever hear the kind of silence you can get away out at sea? You need to be in one of the old time wind jammers, with all the lights dowsed, and the sea as calm and quiet as some queer plain of death. And then you want a pipe and the lonesomeness of the fo'castle head, with the caps'n to lean against while you listen and think. And all about you, stretching out into the miles, only and always the enormous silence of the sea, spreading out a thousand miles every way into the everlasting, brooding night

[The Stone Ship, Hodgson, W. H.]

...of eating

We run around with bowls in our hands, like highly skilled waiters. In complete silence we serve the soup, in complete silence we wrest the bowl out of hands that still try desperately to scrape up food from the empty bottom, wanting to prolong the moment of eating, to take a last drop, to run a finger over the edge.

[A Day at Harmenz, Borowski, T.]

- submitted by M. A. Pearce

..of violence

At last they seized him inside the German barracks, just as he was about to climb over the window ledge. In absolute silence they pulled him down to the floor and panting with hate dragged him into a dark alley. Here, closely surrounded by a silent mob, they began tearing at him with greedy hands.

[Silence, Borowski, T.]

- submitted by M. A. Pearce

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

...of a gossiper

What was it you saw Grandmother?
she leaned over even closer glanced quickly towards the lame man, the card players till busy throwing their cards noisily on the table: Jesus she said. Jesus. Christ. But he’s a sly one.
over the top of the stove I looked at him he winked at me again I know I said He’s the slyest one of all Where is he?
On the road
Yes? How did he look?
He had his beard she said And a staff
I saw him too I said
He always has his staff He wanted to beat me
God damn it, the lame man shouted turning round Aren’t you through telling your lies yet Why don’t you go to bed
Christ the old woman said. The soldiers round the table burst out laughing, for a moment the old woman sat still watching the lame man waiting for him to pick up his cards huddled crouching over her bench her little faded red-rimmed eyes shining with a wicked hostile gleam, Cuckold! she said, (still talking between her teeth, still mumbling:) They’re nasty I’m all alone, repeating Cuckold! and again Cuckold! but they had started playing again, she glanced at me triumphantly leaned toward me again, Chased him away with his rifle, she said. Took his gun but he’s a cuckold all the same. I looked at him again over the top of the stove and he winked at me again
Didn’t matter if he locked her in her room she said with a giggle She leaned further nudged me with her elbow her little cadaver’s eyes with their yellowish ooze laughing silently But there’s more than one key she said
More than one key
What are you talking about now, the lame man screamed Go to bed! She started suddenly moved away huddled in silence at the other end of the bench still making gestures signals grimacing her eyes still staring at me raising her eyebrows while her silent mouth formed the words saying soundlessly Nasty, Nasty, twisting her hideous goat face)…

[The Flanders Road, Simon, C.]

...of dismay

But Georges didn’t go back to the summerhouse any more now, merely defying it, spying on it without even looking at it (for he had no need to, he had no need to use his eyes for that, being able to see without needing the image printed on his retina, the mass of body now increasingly invaded by fat, monstrous, more and more overpowered by its own weight, the face with the features more and more weighted down by the effect of something that was not only fat and which gradually was taking possession of him, invading him, imprisoning him, immuring him in a kind of mute solitude, a proud and ponderous sadness), the way he had defied him, spied on him when he came home, the scene occurring like this: Georges declaring that he had decided to work on the land, and supported (although he pretended not to hear her although he pretended to speak to them both together, and yet turning noticeably towards her alone and noticeably turning away from his father, and yet speaking to him, and noticeably paying no attention to her or to anything she might say), supported then by Sabine’s noisy, obscene and uterine approval; and no more, in other words not a word, not a remark, not a regret, the heavy mountain of flesh still motionless, silent, the heavy and pathetic mass of distended and worn organs inside which or rather under which lay something that was part of Georges, so that depsite his complete absence of apparent reaction Georges heard perfectly and louder than Sabine’s deafening prattle, the imperceptible sound of some secret and delicate organ breaking, snapping, and after that nothing else, nothing except that carapace of silence when Georges would sit down at the dinner table in his filthy smock, with his hands not dirty but somehow encrusted with earth and grease the evenings of the slow and empty days during which he drove the tractor,…

[The Flanders Road, Simon, C.]

...of a steeplechase

They appeared finally after the last tree, still in the same order, the pink lozenge still in the same position as they rounded the last section of the turn, the bunch moving gradually in a confused mass (the last seeming to catch up with the first) which, at the end of the straight stretch, was nothing more than a surge, a billowing of heads rising and falling in one place, the horses clustered, no longer seeming to advance (merely the jockey’s caps rising and sinking) until suddenly the first horse didn’t cross but burst over the hedge, in other words suddenly it was there, its forelegs stuck straight ahead, stiff, together, or rather one slightly ahead of the other, the two hoofs not quite at the same height, the horse caught for half the width of its body between the brown faggots that topped the barrier, apparently resting on its belly as though balanced, motionless for a fraction of a second, until it collapsed forward while a second, then a third, then several together, all frozen successively in equilibrium, in that rocking-horse position, appear, stay motionless, then collapse forward, recovering movement simultaneously with contact with the earth, the bunch galloping now, massed again, towards the grandstands, growing larger, clearing the next obstacle,and then it was there: the silent thunder, the muffled pounding of the earth under the hoofs, the clods of turf flying far behind, the rumpled silks flapping in the wind and the jockey’s bodies leaning over the necks, not motionless as they seemed to be on the opposite side but swaying slightly to the rhythm of the strides, with their identical mouths open, gasping for breath, their identical look of fish out of water, half asphyxiated, passing in front of the grandstands surrounded or rather enveloped by that attentive cape of dizzying silence that seemed to isolate them (the few shouts rising out of the crowd seeming - and not to the jockey’s ears but to those of the spectators themselves - to come from far away, futile, vain, incongruous and as weak as the inarticulate stammering of infants), to accompany them, leaving behind them, long after their passage, a persistent wake of silence within which the hammering of the hoofs faded, broken only sporadically by the dry clack (like the sound of a branch snapping) of a whiplash, tiny explosions fading too, diminishing, the last horse crossing the live hedge crowning the slight rise, exactly like a rabbit, the image of its hindquarters in kicking position remaining for a second immobilised on the retina and finally vanishing, jockey’s and horses invisible now, re-descending the slope on the other side of the hedge, as if it had all never existed, as if the lightning-like apparition of the dozen animals and their riders had suddenly been whisked away, leaving behind, like those clouds of smoke in which goblins and magicians vanish, only a bank of reddish fog, of dust in suspension in front of the hedge, in the place where the horses had taken their leap, clearing, diluting, slowly sinking in the waning afternoon light,… 

[The Flanders Road, Simon, C.]

...of a crossfire

…when I seized the pommel and the cantle to lift myself up the saddle turned over, I was expecting that too for three days I had been trying to find a girth to exchange for this one that was too long for her after I had had to leave Edgar behind me but you can’t get a thing out of those peasants it was as if asking them to switch girths was trying to rob them and Blum’s too was too long too so it was really the perfect moment for a thing like that to happen to me when there was shooting on all sides at once but I didn’t even have time to swear not even enough breath not even enough time to get out a word just enough to think of it while I was trying to get that damn saddle on her back again in the middle of all those men who were passing round me at a gallop now and then I saw that my were trembling but I couldn’t stop them any more than I could stop her body from trembling I stopped trying I began running alongside her holding her by the bridle she starting to canter with the saddle almost directly under her belly among the horses - with riders or riderless - that were passing us the deadly network of plucked guitar strings stretched like a ceiling over our heads but it was only when I was two or three fall that I realised that I was in the ditch of the road while they were too high on horseback so that they got shot down like ninepins then I saw Wack (things happening paradoxically enough in a kind of silence a void in other words the sound of the bullets and the explosions - they must have been using mortars now or those little tank cannons - once accepted admitted and somehow forgotten neutralising themselves somehow you heard absolutely nothing no shouts no voices probably because no one had time to shout so that it reminded me of when I was running the 1,500 metres: only the whistling noise of the breathing the swearing itself choked before it came out and then came a jostling as if the lungs were seizing all the available air to distribute it through the body and use it only for useful things: looking deciding running, things consequently happening a little as though in a film without its sound track),…

[The Flanders Road, Simon, C.]

...of peasants and jockeys

…I pushed away the mirror, my or rather that ghastly face swaying spinning as though sucked up by the shadowy brown depths of the barn vanishing with that lightning-like rapidity which the slightest change of angle imposes on reflected images and in its place I saw them at the other end of the stable, palavering or rather saying nothing I mean exchanging silences the way other people exchange words I mean a certain kind of silence which they alone understood and which was undoubtedly more eloquent to them than any speech, surrounding the horse lying on its side: three men with peasant faces: three of those taciturn suspicious close-mouthed types which made up the larger share of the regiment’s fighting force with that painful expression in their precociously wrinkled faces stamped with that nostalgia for their fields their solitude their animals for the black and greedy earth, and I said What is it what’s happening? but they didn’t even answer, undoubtedly thinking that it was no use or that maybe we didn’t speak the same language then I went over and looked for myself for a moment the horse breathing hard, Iglésia was there too but he didn’t seem to have heard me any more than the others although between us I thought I hoped that there could at least be a possibility of contact, but probably being a jockey is also a little like being a peasant despite the appearances that would lead you to believe that he, in other words since he had lived in cities or at least in contact with cities it was understandable to suppose he was after all a little different from a peasant, I mean betting gambling and even somewhat enlightened the way jockeys often are, and having spent his childhood not tending geese or leading the cows to the watering trough but probably playing in the gutter and in the city’s streets, but most likely it’s not so much the country as the animals the company the contact of animals, for he was almost as close-mouthed as taciturn as uncommunicative as any of them and like them always occupied absorbed (as if he were incapable of remaining idle) in one of those intricate and slow tasks they have a secret of creating for themselves…

[The Flanders Road
, Simon, C.]

...of the progress of time

Then he stopped wondering anything at all, and at the same time stopped seeing although he made himself keep his eyes open and sit as straight as possible on his saddle while the kind of dark slime in which he seemed to be moving grew still thicker, and it was completely dark and all he could make out now was the sound, the monotonous and multiple hammering of the hoofs on the road echoing, increasing (hundreds, thousands of hoofs now) until (like the pattering of the rain) it effaced and destroyed itself, engendering by its continuity, its uniformity, like a kind of silence to the second power, something majestic, something monumental: the progress of time itself, that is, invisible immaterial with neither beginning nor end nor point of reference and at the heart of which he had the sensation of remaining frozen, stiff on his horse that was also invisible in the darkness among the phantoms of cavalrymen whose invisible and tall figures slipped by horizontally swaying or rather slouching faintly as the horses jolted so that the squadron the whole regiment seemed to advance without progression, like those pantomimists whose legs imitate the movement of walking while behind them a trembling canvas backdrop unrolls on which are painted houses trees clouds, with this difference that here the canvas backdrop was only the night, blackness,…

[The Flanders Road, Simon, C.]

...of distraction

Her voice would not cease, it would just vanish. There would be the dim coffin-smelling gloom sweet and over-sweet with the twice-bloomed wistaria against the outer wall by the savage quiet September sun impacted distilled and hyperdistilled, into which came now and then the loud cloudy flutter of the sparrows like a flat limber stick whipped by an idle boy, and the rank smell of female old flesh long embattled in virginity while the wan haggard face watched him above the faint triangle of lace at wrists and throat from the too tall chair in which she resembled a crucified child; and the voice not ceasing but vanishing into and then out of the long intervals like a stream, a trickle running from patch to patch of dried sand, and the ghost mused with shadowy docility as if it were the voice which he haunted where a more fortunate one would have had a house. Out of quiet thunderclap he would abrupt (man-horse-demon) upon a scene peaceful and decorous as a schoolprize watercolour, faint sulphur-reek still in hair clothes and beard, with grouped behind him his band of wild niggers like beasts half tamed to walk upright like men, in attitudes wild and reposed, and manacled among them the French architect with his air grim, haggard, and tatter-ran. Immobile, bearded and hand palm-lifted the horseman sat; behind him the wild blacks and the captive architect huddled quietly, carrying in bloodless paradox the shovels and picks and axes of peaceful conquest. Then in the long unmaze Quentin seemed to watch them overrun suddenly the hundred square miles of tranquil and astonished earth and drag house and formal gardens violently out of the soundless Nothing and clap them down like cards upon a table beneath the up-palm immobile and pontific, creating the Sutpen’s Hundred, the Be Sutpen’s Hundred like the oldentime Be Light. The hearing would reconcile and he would seem to listen to two separate Quentin’s now - the Quentin Compson preparing for Harvard in the South, the deep South dead since 1865 and peopled with garrulous outraged baffled ghosts, listening, having to listen, to one of the ghosts which had refused to lie still even longer than most had, telling him about old ghost-times; and the Quentin Compson who was still too young to deserve yet to be a ghost, but nevertheless having to be one for all that, since he was born and bred in the deep South the same as she was - the two separate Quentins now talking to one another in the long silence of notpeople, in not language…

[Absalom, Absalom!
, Faulkner, W.]

...of a fright

There was no answer. I had expected none; possibly even then I did not expect Judith to answer, just as a child, before the full instant of comprehended terror, calls on the parent to whom it actually knows (this before the terror destroys all judgement whatever) is not even there to hear it. I was crying not to someone, something, but (trying to cry) through something, through that force, that furious yet absolutely rocklike and immobile antagonism which had stopped me - that presence, that familiar coffee-coloured face, that body (the bare coffee-coloured feet motionless on the bare floor, the curve of the stair rising just beyond her) no larger than my own which, without moving, with no alteration of visual displacement whatever (she did not even remove her gaze from mine for the reason that she was not looking at me but through me, apparently still musing upon the open door’s serene rectangle which I had broken) seemed to elongate and project upward something - not soul, not spirit, but something rather of a profoundly attentive and distracted listening to or for something which I myself could not hear and was not intended to hear - a brooding awareness and acceptance of the inexplicable unseen, inherited from an older and a purer race than mine, which created postulated and shaped in the empty air between us that which I believed I had come to find (nay, which I must find, else breathing and standing there, I would have denied that I was ever born) - that bedroom long-closed and musty, that sheetless bed (that nuptial couch of love and grief) with the pale and bloodless corpse in its patched and weathered gray crimsoning the bare mattress, the bowed and unwived widow kneeling beside it - and I (my body) not stopping yet (yes, it needed the hand, the touch, for that) - I, self-mesmerised fool who still believed that what must be would be, could not but be, else I must deny sanity as well as breath, running, hurling myself into that inscrutable coffee-coloured face, that cold implacable mindless (no, not mindless: anything but mindless: his own clairvoyant will tempered to amoral evil’s undeviating absolute by the black willing blood with which he crossed it) replica of his own which he had created and decreed to preside upon his absence, as you might watch a wild distracted nightbound bird flutter into the brazen and fatal lamp...

[Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner, W.]

...of a teenage girl

That was the miscast summer of my barren youth which (for that short time, that short brief unreturning springtime of the female heart) I lived out not as a woman, a girl, but rather as the man which I perhaps should have been. I was fourteen then, fourteen in years if they could have been called years while in that unpaced corridor which I called childhood, which was not living but rather some projection of the lightless womb itself; I gestate and complete, not aged, just overdue because of some caesarean lack, some cold head-nuzzling forceps of the savage time which should have torn me free, I waited not for light but for that doom which we call female victory which is: endure and then endure, without rhyme or reason or hope of reward - and then endure; I like that blind subterranean fish, that insulated spark whose origin the fish no longeer remembers, which pulses and beats at its crepuscular and lethargic tenement with the old unsleeping itch which has no words to speak with other than ‘This was called light,’ that ‘smell,’ that ‘touch,’ that other something which has bequeathed not even name for sound of bee or bird or flower’s scent or light or sun or love - yes, not even growing and developing, beloved by and loving light, but equipped only with that cunning, that inverted canker-growth of solitude which substitutes the omnivorous and unrational hearing-sense for all the others: so that instead of accomplishing the processional and measured milestones of the childhood’s time I lurked, unapprehended as though, shod with the very damp and velvet silence of the womb, I displaced no air, gave off no betraying sound, from one closed forbidden door to the next and so acquired all I knew of that light and space in which people moved and breathed as I (that same child) might have gained conception of the sun from seeing it through a piece of smoky glass - fourteen, four years younger than Judith, four years later than Judith’s moment which only virgins know: when the entire delicate spirit’s bent is one anonymous climaxless epicene and unravished nuptial - not that widowed and nightly violation by the inescapable and scornful dead which is the need of twenty and thirty and forty, but a world filled with living marriage like the light and air which she breathes. But it was no summer of a virgin’s itching discontent; no summer’s caesarean lack which should have torn me, dead flesh or even embryo, from the living: or else, by friction’s ravishing of the male-furrowed meat, also weaponed and panoplied as a man instead of hollow woman.

[Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner, W.]

...of an engagement

That was my courtship. That minute’s exchanged look in a kitchen garden, that hand upon my head in his daughter’s bedroom; a ukase, a decree, a serene and florid boast like a sentence (ay, and delivered in the same attitude) not to be spoken and heard but to be read carved in the bland stone which pediments a forgotten and nameless effigy. I do not excuse it. I claim no brief, no pity, who did not answer ‘I will’ because I was not asked, because there was no place, no niche, no interval for reply. Because I could have made one. I could have forced that niche myself if I had willed to - a niche not shaped to fit mild ‘Yes’ but some blind desperate female weapon’s frenzied slash whose very gaping wound had cried ‘No! No!’ and ‘Help!’ and ‘Save me!’ No, no brief, no pity, who did not even move, who sat beneath that hard oblivious childhood ogre’s hand and heard him speak to Judith now, heard Judith’s feet, saw Judith’s hand, not Judith - that palm in which I read as from a printed chronicle the orphaning, the hardship, the bereave of love; the four hard barren years of scoriating loom, of axe and hoe and all the other tools decreed for men to use: and upon it lying the ring which he gave Ellen in the church almost thirty years ago. Yes, analogy and paradox and madness too. I sat there and felt, not watched, him slip the ring onto my finger in turn (he was sitting now also, in the chair which we called Clytie’s while she stood just beyond the firelight’s range beside the chimney) and listened to his voice as Ellen must have listened in her own spirit’s April thirty years ago: he talking not about me or love or marriage, not even about himself and to no sane mortal listening not oout of any sanity, but to the very dark forces of fate which he had evoked and dared, out of that wild braggart dream where an intact Sutpen’s Hundred which no more had actual being now (and would never have again) than it had when Ellen first heard it, as though in the restoration of that ring to a living finger he had turned all time back twenty years and stopped it, froze it. Yes. I sat there and listened to his voice and told myself, ‘Why, he is mad. He will decree this marriage for tonight and perform his own ceremony, himself both groom and minister; pronounce his own wild benediction on it with the very bedward candle in his hand: and I mad too, for I will acquiesce, succumb; abet him and plunge down.’ No, I hold no brief, ask no pity. If I was saved that night (and I was saved, mine was to be some later, colder sacrifice when we - I - should be free of all excuse of the surprised importunate traitorous flesh) it was no fault, no doing of my own but rather because, once he had restored the ring, he ceased to look at me save as he had looked for the twenty years before that afternoon, as if he had reached for the moment some interval of sanity such as the mad know, just as the sane have intervals of madness to keep them aware that they are sane…

[Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner, W.]

...of the accused

…It had happened at a negro ball held in a cabin a few miles from Sutpen’s Hundred and he there, present and your grandfather never to know how often he ahd done this before, whether he had gone there to engage in the dancing or for the dice game in progress in the kitchen where the trouble started, trouble which he and not the negroes started according to the witnesses and for no reason, for no accusation of cheating, nothing. And he made no denial, saying nothing, refusing to speak at all, sitting there in court sullen, pale and silent: so that at this point all truth, evidence vanished into a moiling clump of negro backs and heads and black arms and hands clutching sticks of stove wood and cooking implements and razors, the white man the focal point of it using a knife which he had produced from somewhere, clumsily, with obvious lack of skill and practice, yet with deadly earnestness and a strength which his slight build denied, a strength composed of sheer desperate will and imperviousness to the punishment, the blows and slashes which he took in return and did not even seem to feel. There had been no cause, no reason for it; none to ever know exactly what happened, what curses and ejaculations which might have indicated what it was that drove him, and there was only your grandfather to fumble, grope, grasp the presence of that furious protest, that indictment of heaven’s ordering, that gage flung into the face of what is with a furious and indomitable desperation which the demon himself might have shown, as if the child and then the youth had acquired it from the walls in which the demon had lived, the air which he had once walked in and breathed until that moment when his own fate which he had dared in his turn struck back at him; only your grandfather to sense that protest, because the justice and the others present did not recognise him, did not recognise this slight man with his bandaged head and arm, his sullen impassive (and now bloodless) olive face, who refused to answer any questions, make any statement…

[Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner, W.]

...of Whites in the South

…Because he was still innocent. He knew it without being aware that he did; he told Grandfather how, before the monkey nigger who came to the door had finished saying what he said, he seemed to kind of dissolve and a part of him turn and rush back through the two years they had lived there, like when you pass through a room fast and look at all the objects in it and you turn and go back through the room again and look at all the objects from the other side and you find out you had never seen them before, rushing back through those two years and seeing a dozen things that had happened and he hadn’t seen them before: the certain flat level silent way his older sisters and the other white women of their kind had of looking at niggers, not with fear or dread but with a kind of speculative antagonism not because of any known fact or reason but inherited, by both white and black, the sense, effluvium of it passing between the white women in the doors of sagging cabins and the niggers in the road and which was not quite explainable by the fact that the niggers had better clothes, and which the niggers did not return as antagonism or in any sense of dare or taunt but through the very fact that they were oblivious of it, too oblivious of it. You knew that you could hit them, he told Grandfather, and they would not hit back or even resist. But you did not want to, because they (the niggers) were not it, not what you wanted to hit; that you knew when you hit them you would just be hitting a child’s toy balloon with a face painted on it, a face slick and smooth and distended and about to burst into laughing, and so you did not dare strike it because it would merely burst and you would rather let it walk on out of your sight than to have stood there in the loud laughing…

[Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner, W.]