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post #1 of 124 (permalink) Old January 4th, 2008, 21:14 Thread Starter
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a story for ILA

As many of you have probably known, Jeff (ILA), our moderator, is now recuperating.

To wish him a speedy recovery, I created this thread of selected passages from books that i think Jeff would like. When a laptop is fully installed at his room, he could read the posts himself. In the interim, his brother David will read to him.

The aim is: one story per day, until Jeff comes back to us

You too can contribute -- and please, no nay sayers alright?

Here goes ...

For me, football is irrationality, tribal, passionate... - Almogāver
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post #2 of 124 (permalink) Old January 4th, 2008, 21:16 Thread Starter
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The artist is the creator of beautiful things.

To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.

The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.

This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.

The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies.

An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician.

From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.


- Oscar Wilde, Preface to < The Portrait of Dorian Gray >

For me, football is irrationality, tribal, passionate... - Almogāver
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post #3 of 124 (permalink) Old January 5th, 2008, 21:02 Thread Starter
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"Do you know the knack of slicing onions without tears?" I ask my students sometimes.

"No," they say.

"Finish cutting them before tears start dropping." A big laughter occurs.

When it comes to the topic like this, a lively sparkle appears in my students' eyes. That might be partly because they've rarely heard such a story in their regular classes, and partly because they more or less have a sort of vague anxiety about their future: "What kind of life course am I going to follow?" "What kind of possibility can I find there?" I can understand their sense of instability about their present position and their future. Around the age of twenty, I was as unstable as they are now, or my case must have been far worse than what the word "unstable" means. If a god appears here and asks me if I'd like to go back to the age of twenty again, I will probably decline by saying "I appreciate your offer, but I am quite satisfied with the way I am now." If you pardon me, I want to say frankly "To hell with my twenties."

Then at the age of 29, a sudden impulse of writing a novel knocked on me. Now I'll explain about it more. It was an early afternoon in spring and I went to see a baseball game between Yakult Swallows and Hiroshima Carp in Jingu Baseball Stadium. Lying down in the outfield bleacher, drinking beer, and when a player named Hilton hit a double, I made a sudden resolution that "Now it's time for me to start writing a novel." This is how I started to write a novel.

When I give such an explanation to my students, all of them make a stunned face. "That means ah...the ball game meant something very special to you?" "I don't think so. The spring sunshine, the taste of beer, the flying two-base-hit ball, all these elements got together and they stimulated something in me, I guess," I explain. "All I needed was the time and the experience to identify myself. It doesn't have to be a special experience. It doesn't matter that they are just a series of ordinary experiences. But they have to be the experiences that are embedding themselves deeply in my body. When a student, I couldn't find out what to write despite the itch for writing something. I needed the seven years and hardships to discover the theme for my writing, I guess." "If you hadn't gone to the ball game stadium on that April afternoon, you would not be a writer now, Mr. Murakami?"

"Who knows?"

- Haruki Murakami

.

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post #4 of 124 (permalink) Old January 6th, 2008, 00:30
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Murakami, a superb choice!

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post #5 of 124 (permalink) Old January 6th, 2008, 00:53
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The Story of the Pencil

A boy was watching his grandmother writes a letter. At one point, he asked:

'Are you writing a story about what we've done? Is it a story about me?'

His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson: 'I'm writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I'm using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.'

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn't seem very special.

'But it's just like any other pencil I've ever seen!'

'That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on to them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.

'First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.

'Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he's much shaper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.

'Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.

'Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So, always pay attention to what is happening inside you.

'Finally, the pencil's fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. In just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action.'

Paulo Coelho
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post #6 of 124 (permalink) Old January 6th, 2008, 13:55
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The Story of the Pencil
Thank you for posting that, it's so beautiful.

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post #7 of 124 (permalink) Old January 6th, 2008, 20:37 Thread Starter
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Murakami, a superb choice!
Glad you like it.

For me, football is irrationality, tribal, passionate... - Almogāver
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post #8 of 124 (permalink) Old January 6th, 2008, 20:38 Thread Starter
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I have learned things from the game. Much of my knowledge of locations in Britain and Europe comes not from school, but from away games or the sports pages, and hooliganism has given me both a taste for sociology and a degree of fieldwork experience. I have learned the value of investing time and emotion in things I cannot control, and of belonging to a community whose aspirations I share completely and uncritically. And on my first visit to Selhurst Park with my friend Frog, I saw a dead body, still my first, and learned a little bit about, well, life itself.

- Nick Hornby, < Fever Pitch >

.

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post #9 of 124 (permalink) Old January 8th, 2008, 20:38
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Jeff wishes to pass on a huge thanks for the book excerpts and stories, he's very enjoyed reading them.

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post #10 of 124 (permalink) Old January 8th, 2008, 23:32 Thread Starter
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a new day, a new story - this is beginning to look like a thousand and one nights


A Zen Master lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening, while he was away, a thief sneaked into the hut only to find there was nothing in it to steal. The Zen Master returned and found him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered, but he took the clothes and ran away. The Master sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, " I wish I could give him this beautiful moon."

- from a volume of Zen Buddhist stories

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post #11 of 124 (permalink) Old January 9th, 2008, 12:53
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a new day, a new story - this is beginning to look like a thousand and one nights
p We appreciate the trouble you are going to!! I'm sure the other members are enjoying the stories in this thread too.

That was a nice story - I wish I could give Jeff the moon :smileani: He's been inside all this time - the nurses offered to take him outside in a wheelchair, but he didn't feel like it today. Hopefully tomorrow he'll feel like going outside.

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post #12 of 124 (permalink) Old January 10th, 2008, 00:35 Thread Starter
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p We appreciate the trouble you are going to!! I'm sure the other members are enjoying the stories in this thread too.

That was a nice story - I wish I could give Jeff the moon :smileani: He's been inside all this time - the nurses offered to take him outside in a wheelchair, but he didn't feel like it today. Hopefully tomorrow he'll feel like going outside.
It's no trouble at all, David. Actually it's fun for me

Hope Jeff's in a better mood and spend some time outside ... when he returns there is a new, and a little lengthy story awaiting ...

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post #13 of 124 (permalink) Old January 10th, 2008, 00:43 Thread Starter
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If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, an what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

* * *

Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep.

Pencey Prep is this school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard of it. You've probably seen the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place. And underneath the guy on the horse's picture, it always says: "Since 1888 we have been molding boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men." Strictly for the birds. They don't do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn't know anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probably came to Pencey that way.

* * *

"I flunked you in history because you knew absolutely nothing."

"I know that, sir. Boy, I know it. You couldn't help it."

"Absolutely nothing," he said over again. That's something that drives me crazy. When people say something twice that way, after you admit it the first time. Then he said it three times. "But absolutely nothing. I doubt very much if you opened your textbook even once the whole term.
Did you? Tell the truth, boy."

"Well, I sort of glanced through it a couple of times," I told him. I didn't want to hurt his feelings. He was mad about history.

"You glanced through it, eh?" he said--very sarcastic. "Your, ah, exam paper is over there on top of my chiffonier. On top of the pile. Bring it here, please."

It was a very dirty trick, but I went over and brought it over to him--I didn't have any alternative or anything. Then I sat down on his cement bed again. Boy, you can't imagine how sorry I was getting that I'd stopped by to say good-by to him. He started handling my exam paper like it was a turd or something. "We studied the Egyptians from November 4th to December 2nd," he said. "You chose to write about them for the optional essay question. Would you care to hear what you had to say?"

"No, sir, not very much," I said.

He read it anyway, though. You can't stop a teacher when they want
to do something. They just do it.

"The Egyptians were an ancient race of Caucasians residing in one of the northern sections of Africa. The latter as we all know is the largest continent in the Eastern Hemisphere."

I had to sit there and listen to that crap. It certainly was a dirty trick.

"The Egyptians are extremely interesting to us today for various reasons. Modern science would still like to know what the secret ingredients were that the Egyptians used when they wrapped up dead people so that their faces would not rot for innumerable centuries. This interesting riddle is still quite a challenge to modern science in the twentieth century."

He stopped reading and put my paper down. I was beginning to sort of hate him. "Your essay, shall we say, ends there," he said in this very sarcastic voice. You wouldn't think such an old guy would be so sarcastic and all. "However, you dropped me a little note, at the bottom of the page," he said.

"I know I did," I said. I said it very fast because I wanted to stop him before he started reading that out loud. But you couldn't stop him. He was hot as a firecracker.

DEAR MR. SPENCER [he read out loud]. That is all I know about the Egyptians. I can't seem to get very interested in them although your lectures are very interesting. It is all right with me if you flunk me though as I am flunking everything else except English anyway.

Respectfully yours, HOLDEN CAULFIELD.


- J.D. Salinger, < THE CATCHER IN THE RYE >

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post #14 of 124 (permalink) Old January 10th, 2008, 23:52
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Quote:
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It's no trouble at all, David. Actually it's fun for me

Hope Jeff's in a better mood and spend some time outside ... when he returns there is a new, and a little lengthy story awaiting ...
I'm glad

Unfortunately it has been v~e~r~y hot here the past two days, so he hasn't been able to go out. Saturday, Sunday and Monday are looking like fine days, so fingers crossed he can get a bit of sunshine then.

Ooh! The Catcher in the Rye Jeff's in for a treat.

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The following is a story to be read in 2 parts (today and tomorrow). Enjoy.


One day Mrs. Fretag gave us an assignment.

"Our distinguished President, President Herbert Hoover, is going to visit Los Angeles this Saturday to speak. I want all of you to go hear our President. And I want you to write an essay about the experience and about what you think of President Hoover's speech."

Saturday? There was no way I could go. I had to mow the lawn. I had to get the hairs. (I could never get all the hairs.) Almost every Saturday I got a beating with the razor strop because my father found a hair. (I also got stropped during the week, once or twice, for other things I failed to do or didn't do right.) There was no way I could tell my father that I had to go see President Hoover. So,I didn't go.

That Sunday I took some paper and sat down to write about how I had seen the President. His open car, trailing flowing streamers, had entered the football stadium. One car, full of secret service agents, went ahead and two cars followed close behind. The agents were brave men with guns to protect our President. The crowd rose as the President's car entered the arena. There had never been anything like it before. It was the President. It was him. He waved. We cheered. A band played. Seagulls circled overhead as if they too knew it was the President. And there were skywriting airplanes too. They wrote words in the sky like "Prosperity is just around the corner."

The President stood up in his car, and just as he did the clouds parted and the light from the sun fell across his face. It was almost as if God knew too. Then the cars stopped and our great President, surrounded by secret service agents, walked to the speaker's platform. As he stood behind the microphone a bird flew down from the sky and landed on the speaker's platform near him. The President waved to the bird and laughed and we all laughed with him. Then he began to speak and the people listened ...


Charles Bukowski, < Ham On Rye > - part one of two

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post #16 of 124 (permalink) Old January 12th, 2008, 01:10 Thread Starter
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...continued from yesterday's story ...


I couldn't quite hear the speech because I was sitting too near a popcorn machine which made a lot of noise popping the kernels, but I think I heard him say that the problems in Manchuria were not serious, and that at home everything was going to be all right, we shouldn't worry, all we had to do was to believe in America. There would be enough jobs for everybody. There would be enough dentists with enough teeth to pull, enough fires and enough firemen to put them out. Mills and factories would open again. Our friends in South America would pay their debts. Soon we would all sleep peacefully, our stomachs and our hearts full. God and our great country would surround us with love and protect us from evil, from the socialists, awaken us from our national nightmare, forever...

The President listened to the applause, waved, then went back to his car, got in, and was driven off followed by carloads of secret service agents as the sun began to sink, the afternoon turning into evening, red and gold and wonderful. We had seen and heard President Herbert Hoover.

I turned in my essay on Monday. On Tuesday Mrs. Fretag faced the class. "I've read all your essays about our distinguished President's visit to Los Angeles. I was there. Some of you, I noticed, could not attend for one reason or another. For those of you who could not attend, I would like to read this essay by Henry Chinaski."

The class was terribly silent. I was the most unpopular member of the class by far. It was like a knife slicing through all their hearts.

"This is very creative," said Mrs. Fretag, and she began to read my essay. The words sounded good to me. Everybody was listening. My words filled the room, from blackboard to blackboard, they hit the ceiling and bounced off, they covered Mrs. Fretag's shoes and piled up on the floor. Some of the prettiest girls in the class began to sneak glances at me. All the tough guys were pissed. Their essays hadn't been worth shit. I drank in my words like a thirsty man. I even began to believe them. I saw Juan sitting there like I'd punched him in the face. I stretched out my legs and leaned back.

All too soon it was over.

"Upon this grand note," said Mrs. Fretag, "I hereby dismiss the class..."

They got up and began packing out. "Not you, Henry," said Mrs. Fretag. I sat in my chair and Mrs. Fretag stood there looking at me. Then she said, "Henry, were you there?" I sat there trying to think of an answer. I couldn't. I said, "No, I wasn&#185;t there." She smiled. "That makes it all the more remarkable." "Yes, ma'am..." "You can leave, Henry."

I got up and walked out. I began my walk home. So, that's what they wanted: lies. Beautiful lies. That's what they needed. People were fools. It was going to be easy for me. I looked around. Juan and his buddy were not following me. Things were looking up.


- Charles Bukowski, < Ham On Rye > part two of two

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post #17 of 124 (permalink) Old January 12th, 2008, 20:39
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Thanks Bonita! I'm pretty sure Jeff hasn't read any Bukowski*

*Not that I have! - I only just started reading Kerouac last year :embarrassed:

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post #18 of 124 (permalink) Old January 12th, 2008, 23:07
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I don't really know what ILA enjoys, as I don't know him, so I don't know how if my contribution will be to his liking, but as the saying goes its the gesture that counts. As far as I understand he's a big fan of Japanese culture so I thought he might enjoy reading a Japanese Folk Tale. Searching the net I picked one I personally enjoyed the most and I hope ILA will too.

The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman. The old man, who had a kind heart, kept a young sparrow, which he tenderly nurtured. But the dame was a cross-grained old thing; and one day, when the sparrow had pecked at some paste with which she was going to starch her linen, she flew into a great rage, and cut the sparrow's tongue and let it loose.

When the old man came home from the hills and found that the bird had flown, he asked what had become of it; so the old woman answered that she had cut its tongue and let it go, because it had stolen her starching-paste. Now the old man, hearing this cruel tale, was sorely grieved, and thought to himself: "Alas! Where can my bird be gone? Poor thing! Poor little tongue-cut sparrow! Where is your home now?" and he wandered far and wide, seeking for his pet, and crying: "Mr. Sparrow! Mr. Sparrow! Where are you living?"

One day, at the foot of a certain mountain, the old man fell in with the lost bird; and when they had congratulated one another on their mutual safety, the sparrow led the old man to his home, and, having introduced him to his wife and chicks, set before him all sorts of dainties, and entertained him hospitably.

"Please partake of our humble fare," said the sparrow. Poor as it is, you are very welcome."

"What a polite sparrow!" answered the old man, who remained for a long time as the sparrow's guest, and was daily feasted right royally. At last the old man said that he must take his leave and return home; and the bird, offering him two wicker baskets, begged him to carry them with him as a parting present. One of the baskets was heavy, and the other was light; so the old man, saying that as he was feeble and stricken in years he would only accept the light one, shouldered it, and trudged off home, leaving the sparrow family disconsolate at parting from him.

When the old man got home, the dame grew very angry, and began to scold him saying: "Well, and pray where have you been this many a day? A pretty thing, indeed, to be gadding about at your time of life!"

"Oh!" replied he, "I have been on a visit to the sparrows; and when I came away, they gave me this wicker basket as a parting gift." Then they opened the basket to see what was inside, and, lo and behold, it was full of gold and silver and precious things. When the old woman, who was as greedy as she was cross, saw all the riches displayed before her, she changed her scolding strain, and could not contain herself for joy.

"I'll go and call upon the sparrows, too," said she, "and get a pretty present." So she asked the old man the way to the sparrows' house, and set forth on her journey.

Following his direction, she at last met the tongue-cut sparrow, and exclaimed: "Well met! Well met, Mr. Sparrow! I have been looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you." So she tried to flatter and cajole the sparrow by soft speeches.

The bird could not but invite the dame to its home; but it took no pains to feast her, and said nothing about a parting gift. She, however, was not to be put off; so she asked for something to carry away with her in remembrance of her visit. The sparrow accordingly produced two baskets, as before, and the greedy old woman, choosing the heavier of the two, carried it off with her. But when she opened the basket to see what was inside, all sorts of hobgoblins and elves sprang out of it, and began to torment her.

But the old man adopted a son, and his family grew rich and prosperous. What a happy old man!

Never forget
Never forgive
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post #19 of 124 (permalink) Old January 13th, 2008, 18:56 Thread Starter
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Just wanted to say a word of thanks to mchanna and MM - for the stories you have contributed

For me, football is irrationality, tribal, passionate... - Almogāver
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post #20 of 124 (permalink) Old January 13th, 2008, 18:58 Thread Starter
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David, I am happy to hear [from the other thread] that Jeff's condition is better today as we were all worried about him being in the ICU again. Kudos for keeping us posted, you've done a terrific job!

For me, football is irrationality, tribal, passionate... - Almogāver

Last edited by Punkette B; January 13th, 2008 at 19:06.
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Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive. Try to avoid choosing short (like '1'), simple (like 'abcd') and easy to guess passwords (like a name of your favorite team, player, etc)! Complex and long enough passwords, that consists of random string of alphabet and numerical characters, are almost impossible to be stolen and misused.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

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