The apocalypse was quiet. It had a way about it, a certain charm. It could be called graceful. It was taking a long time.
People prepared for an apocalypse that they could take up arms against, bunker down with. People hoarded filtered water, canned corn, dry milk, batteries. They published books on how to get things done in the new post-world, a world that they always imagined as being much like our own, only missing one or two key things. They might imagine, for example, that survivors would reemerge onto a planet stripped of all vegetable and plant life. First, the animals would grow vicious and then starve. It would be important to hoard as many of these animals as possible, pack them in salt and hide them away to keep. You’d want to have a supply of emergency seed to grow in a secure location, maybe using sterilized soil that you had already hoarded. Then you’d want to gather a crew. One muscle man with a heart of gold, a scientist type, an engineer, a child, and somebody that you thought maybe you could love, if you survived long enough to love them.
Clouds Detected on Alien Planet —New Hubble Discovery | TheDailyGalaxy
Weather forecasters on exoplanet GJ 1214b would have an easy job. Today’s forecast: cloudy. Tomorrow: overcast. Extended outlook: more clouds. A team of scientists led by researchers in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago report they have definitively characterized the atmosphere of a super-Earth class planet orbiting another star for the first time.
GUIL: It really boils down to symptoms. Pregnant replies, mystic allusions, mistaken identities, arguing his father is his mother, that sort of thing; intimations of suicide, forgoing of exercise, loss of mirth, hints of claustrophobia not to say delusions of imprisonment; invocations of camels, chameleons, capons, whales, weasels, hawks, handsaws — riddles, quibbles and evasions; amnesia, paranoia, myopia; day-dreaming, hallucinations; stabbing his elders, abusing his parents, insulting his lover, and appearing hatless in public — knock-kneed, droop-stockinged and sighing like a love-sick schoolboy, which at his age is coming on a bit strong.
ROS: And talking to himself.
GUIL: And talking to himself.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard
I love your tags on Borges' quotes (I love his stories for the don't-know-what they all carry, and your tags just make it better)
i could write about borges all day
(& would barely scratch below the surface because the whole body of work is like a metafictional house of mirrors, a purgatorial garden of divergent and convergent paths, a fractal narrative maze, a haunting house with no doors. one story folds into another and another and another, “death and the compass” into “ibn-hakam al-bokhari” into “tlön uqbar orbis tertius” into “house of asterion”, on and on, this infinite hermetic structure of echo and riddle and irrealism built out of language, the most paradoxical material we have. there’s a line of thought that all of borges’s fictions exist in one fantastic and diabolic and impossible universe… but when you try to approach it the imaginative vertigo is overwhelming.)
That book! I did the same and went straight for the 'God or Khora?' chapter. A "barren, radically non-human and atheological place", a "dark bottomless abyss" where "those who end up in its desert always end up lost" - and all I could think about was House of Leaves, House of Leaves, House of Leaves
"The Greek stories of Oedipus without eyes, Sisyphus in Hades, Prometheus in chains, Iphighenia in waiting? The biblical stories of tohu bohu before creation, Job in the pit, Jonah in the whale, Joseph at the bottom of the well, Naomi all tears, Jesus abandoned on the cross (crying out to the Father) or descended into hell? Or the fictional and dramatic accounts of Conrad’s heart of darkness, Hamlet’s stale and unprofitable world, Monte Cristo’s prison cell, Primo Levi’s death camp? Or more basically still, is khora not that pre-original abyss each of us encounters in fear and trembling when faced with the bottomless void of our existence? […] [T]he most unspeakably traumatic ‘limit experiences’ of things that exceed our understanding. The most sublime of horrors.”
humans will never stop narrating this awe and horror before the absolute other because there’s a metaphysical & narrative frisson in contemplating the abyss, and house of leaves is a fascinating performance / framing of unspeakable alterity.
but what makes kearney’s book so good and compelling to me is that it refuses to make “a virtue of the void”. nihilistic visions of monstrosity / otherness are terrifying and sublime, but nihilism is a transitional state, not a place you can occupy—we traverse these spaces “in fear and trembling… on the way to grace” (kearney). this book taps into why narratives about monstrosity are deeply meaningful and important to me—survival and liminality and compassion and justice and pleasure and self-interrogation and embrace of otherness without erasure of otherness.
(for anyone else—the book is richard kearney’s strangers, gods, and monsters: interpreting otherness and there’s a, um, copy here.)
(it’s a broad comparative study of the concept of “sacral kingship” across continents & ages: hellenistic, early roman, hebraic messianic kingship, the islamic political tradition, christian monarchy—roman & byzantine emperors, russian tsars—and conflicts with monotheism, carolingian, anglo-saxon, ottonian, medieval english and french, “divine right of kings”, demystification, crisis of legitimacy, survivals into the twentieth century, &c. it’s sort of “jack of all trades, master of none”—e.g. there are a lot of errors in the section on kingship in ancient egypt re: pharoahs of the old/new kingdom—and in many places i dispute his argument, but it’s worth a look.)
ahmygosh i'm in love with your blog with the way you voice your thoughts with the way you use your words and with everything and just ur so amazing [also i stumbled upon your blog via a post you had made on helen and i would just like to say that is an amazing post wo w wow wow & also i was just wondering, how do you type in greek characters?? [like in your meta you have greek words sometimes i was just wondering how you type them out sorry if this is a stupid question have a wonderful day!]
yes, i type them out. i’m on osx so there’s a number of characters i can access on the standard keyboard (e.g. alt + p = π, alt + m = µ) but if i’m typing full text i’ll switch my entire keyboard: i have two keyboards installed—british english & polytonic greek—and i switch between them using the flag icon at the top of my screen (install guide here). to get acute, grave, and circumflex accents, iota subscripts, &c. you have to use shift / punctuation keys in combination with letters. (takes some practice.)