Thoreau, Journal, June 24, 1853: There were piles of dried heart-leaf on shore at the bathing-place, a foot high and more. Were they torn up and driven ashore by the wind? I suspect it is the wind in both cases. As storms at sea tear up and cast ashore the seaweeds from the rocks. Our most common in the river appears to be between the Potamogeton natans and pulcher; it answers to neither, but can be no other described. All these, have a strong fresh-water marsh smell, rather agreeable sometimes as a bottle of salts, like the salt marsh and seaweeds, invigorating to my imagination. There are the heart-leaf ponds, but I cannot say the potamogeton rivers on account of the tautology, and, beside, I do not like this last name [from Greek: potamo = river, geiton = neighbor], which signifies that it grows in the neighborhood of rivers, when it is not a neighbor but an indweller. You might as well describe the seaweeds as growing in the neighborhood of the sea.
THIS AMBIENT MOMENT
HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY PROPHET CORPORATION
By a floor to ceiling window Behind a two story three story window I sit in the sun In the light of a dim sun a faded sun a more dimmed and more faded sky The window makes it
dimmer grayer though no less sky blue The sky it is bright and darker at once Behind a three story window waiting and sitting with arms behind my back and the chair's I am sitting and waiting He is five minutes late for lunch six seven minutes late The sun is bright and faded at once It is lunchtime Time for lunch There is nothing to do but wait I have left the office crossed the street to the other office across the street sat down to wait and waited and there is no work to do here Nowhere to go Nothing to do but wait and look out the two or three story window at the dark bright sky The sunlight outside It is a visceral moment The light does not "pour" into the lobby or "fill" it or "gather" in the high lobby The light is not pouring outside either The sky is dimmed Even the sun a bit dimmer The light is not "filling" the space outside or "glowing" there That's too ethereal It's there out there It's a visceral moment I am in a fishbowl but reversed Twice reversed The thick still water is outside and light not water A diving bell but reversed Nothing is motionless People are walking arriving for lunch maybe they are six minutes late too seven minutes late arriving for lunch and eating and talking and especially on the other side of the high window walking and all in all doing what people do on their lunch hour Everyone bustles and meanders and does "this and that" It is not motionless yet it sinks into stillness The swimming of fish in a fishbowl seems somehow stiller than stillness and this is like that I was motionless all along and I sink into stillness and now there is "pouring" Not light but time Time pours down Time pours not "into" me but down around me Waterfall not rain I swallow a little but mostly it pours down around me and I am at work I am on my lunch hour I haven't left for the day and even if I had I would still be at work on a salary not by the hour I am at work and sitting near a high glass window with the sunlight outside and my colleague is late for lunch and I am "making" money It is a visceral moment Time rushing not "in" not "by" not "along" but "down" I am empty and slowly being filled with money I can hear the coins clinking A low-pitched clanking muffled by a thick sackcloth sack People win the jackpot on slot machines in the movies never for real at least I've never seen it but in movies they win and the coins pour down with a fast steady clanking Sometimes into a bag sometimes not it depends how surprised they are I can hear time passing and my work doing its work while we all do "one thing and another" at lunch hour and the bright sky is dim through the window but bright with sunlight The bright sky is bright It is It is as I sit and I wait
The power of a country road when one is walking along it is different from the power it has when one flies over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text when it is read is different from the power it has when it is copied out. The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns of the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command. The Chinese practice of copying books was thus an incomparable guarantee of literary culture, and the transcript a key to China's enigmas.
Walter Benjamin, One-Way Street
Epigraph to "Life Is a Fairy Tale"
Dubravka Ugreić, Lend Me Your Character, p. 105