Monday, May 10, 2021

Quote of the Day (Henry Alford, Imagining ‘Insomnia: The Opera’)

(10 P.M. A bedchamber, with a balcony overlooking a village square. Enrico is putting on pajamas. He sings at half voice.)

Enrico: “My raccoon eyes and zombie stare
Boldly sing the woes of bodily miscare.
O, hundred-dollar white-noise machine! O, yoga dude named Tevin!
Help me reverse twelve months of 24/7.
Collective woe has ravaged my breast,
America, you put the ‘un’ in unrest.”

(He parts his blackout curtains, opens the window, and addresses the villagers.)


“Hark, twentysomething coder! Hark, seasoned whore!
Tonight’s the night I finally snore;
When might turns to will, and is rises from seems.
I’ve reduced my caffeine and I’m ready to dream.”—American humorist and journalist Henry Alford, “Shouts and Murmurs—Insomnia: The Opera,” The New Yorker, Apr. 12, 2021

The image accompanying this post comes from the 2002 film Insomnia, where Al Pacino plays one of several characters afflicted with this sleep disorder.

Among contemporary practitioners of musical theater—including opera—Stephen Sondheim seems the lyricist-composer most likely to choose a daunting subject such as this—if anybody was drawn to the kind of tongue-in-cheek project that Alford has in mind.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Spiritual Quote of the Day (Book of Isaiah, on God As ‘My Strength and My Song’)

“ ‘Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation.’
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” —Isaiah 12:2-3 (Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition)

(The image accompanying this post is the detail of the prophet Isaiah from Michelangelo’s ceiling for the Sistine Chapel.)

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Quote of the Day (Brian Doyle, on ‘The House of the Heart’)

“So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end—not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words 'I have something to tell you,' a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.”— Spiritual author-editor Brian Doyle (1956-2017), One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder for the Spiritual and Nonspiritual Alike (2019)

I took the image accompanying this post in July 2013 at Lake Chautauqua, in upstate New York. I think it conveys something of the sense of loneliness and wonder that the late Brian Doyle was expressing here.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Quote of the Day (Mark Twain, on Invented Quotations)

"It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive."— American novelist and humorist Mark Twain (1835-1910), Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World (1897)

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Quote of the Day (John Updike, on How ‘Every Day and Season Has Its Beauty and Its Uses’)

“Also like my late Unitarian father-in-law am I now in my amazed, insistent appreciation of the physical world, of this planet with its scenery and weather—that pathetic discovery which the old make that every day and season has its beauty and its uses, that even a walk to the mailbox is a precious experience, that all species of tree and weed have their signature and style and the day is a pageant of clouds.” — American man of letters John Updike (1932-2009), Self-Consciousness: Memoirs (1989)

I took this photo eight years ago yesterday, looking across the Hudson from Fort Tryon Park in New York.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Quote of the Day (John W. Gardner, on ‘Respect for People As They Are’)

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.”— Educator, public official, and Common Cause founder John W. Gardner (1912-2002), No Easy Victories (1968)

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Quote of the Day (Carl Hiaasen, on the Consequences of Declining Hometown Journalism)

“Retail corruption is now a breeze, since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings. You wake up one day, and they’re bulldozing 20 acres of pines at the end of your block to put up a Costco. Your kids ask what’s going on, and you can’t tell them because you don’t have a clue.

“That’s what happens when hometown journalism fades — neighborhood stories don’t get reported until it’s too late, after the deal’s gone down. Most local papers are gasping for life, and if they die it will be their readers who lose the most.”—Crime novelist Carl Hiaasen, in his last column for The Miami Herald, “With or Without Me, Florida Will Always Be Wonderfully, Unrelentingly Weird,” The Miami Herald, Mar. 12, 2021

(The attached photo of Carl Hiassen, originally appearing on the author’s Web site, was taken by Joe Rimkus Jr.)