Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Choosing Book and Section Epigraphs, With Some Voltron

I had a string of 6 pretty darn good drafting days, and today focus is out the window like fruits and vegetables this month (viva Christmas cookies). I'd not planned on messing with this blog until late February, but maybe messing will appease me in some small measure--I am writing here, I am thinking about the book due in a little more than three weeks. Hey, at least I have the bibliography done. (Watch out if I ever have to do an index--I'd go postal, or I'd go grad-student-for-nine-years-now-let-me-the-heck-go.)

Possible main and section epigraphs, which very much feel to me like trying to put together the various lions to form Voltron (did you hear they might make a live action movie soon?):

“Aztec priests ground up the [morning glory] seeds as a potion which they used in ointments to make themselves fearless, or to appease pain.”
— Elsevier’s Dictionary of Plant Lore (by D.C. Watts)

“As a hue [blue] it is powerful, but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity, as it were, a stimulating negation. Its appearance, then, is a kind of contradiction between excitement and repose….we love to contemplate blue, not because it advances to us, but because it draws us after it.”
--Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, “Theory of Color”

“A metaphor is more than just a way to decorate a literal statement. Aristotle spoke of a metaphor’s ability to induce insight. That insight comes through a recognition of the similarities and the differences between the two things being compared…. If you doubt the power of a single metaphor, spend the rest of this day considering how different our treatment of each other, our philosophies, the health of our planet would be, if for the past millennia we had personified nature as a father instead of a mother.”
— Lisa Knopp, The Nature of Home

“There are only two attitudes toward nature. One confronts it or accepts is. The former finds in nature but the rawest materials to do with as one will—a form is imposed upon chaos. The latter discovers in chaos a new kind of naturalness—and to naturalize nature is to accept it.”
--Teiji Ito (Japanese garden writer 20th century)

“How fortunate any of us are to survive our own living. Our nesting is often so tenuous, as lightweight and frail as the combs the wasps build, meticulously rounding and joining each cell, where a brood will form and eventually emerge, wings taking to the air. If I close my fingers and squeeze, surely the structure will collapse, turn to dust. But it proves surprisingly elastic…. The comb folds in the middle but doesn’t break." – Lee Martin

“What is it that makes us long for other worlds? What hunger? Is it our common flaw to always believe we could have other lives, better lives? Is it this—this greed that keeps us hurtling toward one another and away?” – LM

“Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is the way you can both hate and love something you are not sure you understand.” – Dorothy Allison

“Two or three things I know for sure, and one of them is that to go on living I have to tell stories, that stories are the one sure way I know to touch the heart and change the world.” – DA

“Stories can save us.” – Tim O’Brien

“Sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” – TO

“Since the roots of our [ecological] trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.”
--Lynn White

“There is an old occult saying: whoever wants to see the invisible has to penetrate more deeply into the visible. All through Taoist thought, there is the idea that our disasters come from letting nothing live for itself, from the longing we have to pull everything, even friends, in to ourselves and let nothing alone. If we examine a pine carefully, we see how independent it is of us. When we first sense that a pine tree really doesn’t need us, that it has a physical life and a moral life and a spiritual life that is complete without us, we feel alienated and depressed. The second time we feel it, we feel joyful.”
--Robert Bly, The Morning Glory: Prose Poems


Susan Tomlinson said...

There are few things I've ever done as hard as writing a dissertation. A regular book, grant proposal, or academic paper doesn't compare. So hang in there. There is an end, and it will not always be this way.

k said...

Go with Von Goethe. If you figure out who this is, you'll probably understand why. Maybe not.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Susan--I don't know, the diss feels an awful lot like a regular book, maybe it's just the grad school deadline pressure I feel. Which is good for procrastinators like me.
Kyle--You mean his theories on color, or his link to Darwin? Or his influences on so many European and American thinkers and such?

k said...

I wasn't necessarily regarding Van Goethe specifically, rather the openness of his selected snippet you are considering for an epigraph. I guess by "openness" I'm saying it seems more intriguing to me as a reader than the other ones. Maybe less editorialized than say "Stories can save us." Van Goethe's seems to be based more on fact than anything subjective, even if it isn't. Not that that really matters. It just made me think about literature more than the others, which I thought was interesting because it doesn't have anything to do with it specifically.