Quotes from “Theatre”, by William Somerset Maugham

August 9, 2008

(which is unfortunately unavailable online)

  • People don’t want reasons to do what they’d like to do. […] They want excuses.
  • It’s like lying and not knowing you’re lying, that’s what’s fatal. […]
  • The tragedy of life is that sometimes we get what we want.
  • When I’ve seen you go into an empty room I’ve sometimes wanted to open the door suddenly, but I’ve been afraid to in case I found nobody there.
  • “the origin of poetry is emotion recollected in tranquillity”
  • […] It’s we, the actors, who are the reality. […] They are our raw material. We are the meaning of their lives.
    […] Why, it’s only we who do exist. They are the shadows and we give them substance. We are the symbols of all this confused, aimless struggling that they call life, and it’s only the symbol which is real. They say acting is only make-believe. That make-believe is the only reality.
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“A Clockwork Orange”, by Anthony Burgess

July 6, 2008

After reading 1984 nearly a year ago, I spent good hours sifting through the Google search results for “dystopia novels”. I think that’s how I got to this one, but I couldn’t be sure. Books often spend months at a time on my to-read list, and (un?)luckily I don’t keep track of who recommended what.

With its weird Russian-influenced Nadsat English, A Clockwork Orange became interesting pretty quickly. Here’s a sample paragraph:

“They viddied us just as we viddied them, and there was like a very quit kind of watching each other now. This would be real, this would be proper, this would be the nozh, the oozy, the britva, not just fisties and boots. Billyboy and his droogs stopped what they were doing, which was just getting ready to perform something on a weepy young devotchka they had there, not more than ten, she creeching away but with her platties still on.”

As you can see, even my not-enough-to-speak knowledge of Russian helped make this a lot of fun. It took me nearly half the audio book to figure out that “horrorshow” meant “хорошо” and not “horror show”. (That pun is actually used in the book, too.)

In the end, it turned out to be more of a coming-of-age story than an earnest dystopia. (Perhaps that’s why the ending caught me off-guard.) But if you asked me what other book I could compare it with, I wouldn’t have an answer, and this is enough to make it a great read.

  • Goodness comes from within, 6655321. Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.
  • What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?
  • It’s funny how the colours of the like real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.

7 Things I Didn’t Know Last Month… (September)

October 1, 2007

… about myself:

  1. My two favorite scents are that of rain and that of melons.
  2. I find it a lot easier to talk with people behind a wall of electronics than face-to-face. (bad bad bad!)
  3. I feel a certain amount of sadistic pleasure when saying ‘Bună ziua’ to neighbors of mine who speak Russian only.
  4. I like how British English sounds, but I never use it in written.

…and about the world:

  1. Telepathy _does_ work, but it only gives glimpses of someone else’s emotions. Full thoughts are impossible to discern with an untrained mind’s eye.
  2. Your teeth will go bad no matter how often you brush them or how often you visit the dentist.
  3. School bureaucracy is easy to fool.