Jacket worn and shabby like a pack of wolves.
Face like a marble chip.
Sitting in a ring of his letters in the grove that sighs
of mocking and mistakes.
Yes, the heart is blown like paper through inhospitable passages.
Now sunset steals like a fox across this land
setting the grass on fire in a moment.
The sky is filled with horns and hooves, and underneath
the calèche glides shadowy between my father’s
—Tomas Tranströmer, excerpted from “Gogol”
(from the archives)
“In saying that performers act in a relatively informal, relaxed way while backstage and are on their guard when giving a performance, it should not be assumed that the pleasant interpersonal things of life—courtesy, warmth, generosity, and pleasure in the company of others—are always reserved for those backstage and that suspiciousness, snobbishness, and a show of authority are reserved for front region activity. Often it seems that whatever enthusiasm and lively interest we have at our disposal we reserve for those before home were are putting on a show and that the surest sign of backstage solidarity is to feel that it is safe to lapse into an sociable mood of sullen, silent irritability.” —Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
“The forest edge is a few hundred yards away from the village, past two wooden crosses wreathed with herbs and rowan. Deer, lynx and boar live here, beavers and wolves and—further south—a few bison. I am sitting on a bench with my back against one of the houses, at the end of a summer day, doing nothing more than inhaling: sorting out the scents and tasting each, like a dog. The smells from the forest itself—pine-needles and resin, heather, sphagnum moss, the whiff of boletus mushrooms, moist earth—mix with wood-smoke, trodden rowan berries, long grass heated by the sun, cooking in one of the cottages, a dish of apples. It is entirely silent. Then a voice echoes against the forest wall and dies away.” —Neal Ascherson, “Borderlands”
(Have you seen the forest edge?)
“Two events drew Kneeshaw’s attention away from the Green Child. One was the death of this father, together with the expanding trade of the mill—the mill absorbed more and more of his time and energy. The other event was less creditable. One summer day he discovered the kitchenmaid asleep in the barn where the hay was kept. She was lying on her back, her limbs open and abandoned. The sudden lust that swept over Kneeshaw met no resistance, and from that time onwards Kneeshaw’s natural desires were completely satisfied by this subordinate member of the household.”—Herbert Read, The Green Child
“It wasn’t long before everyone on Cloud Street and anyone who lived near it knew about the Lambs’ new shop, and not long before they started to spend as much as they gawked. At dawn you’d see the little woman out there sending Lester and Quick off to the markets across the rails, and the whole still street would be full of the coughing of the new truck and the reverberation of Oriel’s instructions. Nobody was ever left in doubt as to how many stones of spuds she thought necessary for a day’s trading, or how to feel the ripest watermelon or what to tell that man Boswell when he started trying to fence bad tomatoes on them again. Even if you couldn’t see those meatly little arms and the sexless ashen bob and the sensible boots on her through your bedroom window and your morning blear, there wasn’t a chance you’d escape the sound of her sending the family about it business.” —Tim Winton, Cloudstreet
(From an ongoing series of urban architecture shots)