Just finished reading East of Eden, devouring the final 160 or so pages (out of 601) in one sitting, and so, in celebration and meditation, some quotes from John Steinbeck:
"Lee said, 'Remember, Mr. Hamilton, I told you I was trying to translate some old Chinese poetry into English? No, don't worry. I won't read it. Doing it, found some of the old things as fresh and clear as this morning. And I wondered why. And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule--a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting--only the deeply personal and familiar.'" (pg. 268)
"A child may ask, 'What is the world’s story about?' And a grown man or woman may wonder, 'What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we’re at it, what’s the story about?'
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught – in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too – in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and mangers. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well – or ill?" (411)
"Cal stood up and clasped his hands behind his back. He said, 'When you were little, did you'--he paused to get the thought straight--'did you ever have the feeling like you were missing something? Like as if the others knew something you didn't--like a secret they wouldn't tell you? Did you ever feel that way?'" (461)
And, of course..."Timshel!"
Portrait of John Steinbeck by Scott Morse, from "Hey Oscar Wilde! It's clobberin' time!"
The book puts me in mind of this:
Current Soundtrack: various from MGMT, though lots of Brian Eno & Harold Budd to finish the book