Wealth

At the back of every great fortune lies a great crime.

— Balzac

A great epigraph, if nothing else.

Provenance

On the debate as to who wrote Shakespeare’s sonnets:

“If they were not by Shakespeare, then they were by someone of the same name.”

— John G. Murray

Anabasis

We said goodbye to our mothers. They’d been around all our lives, but we’d never properly seen them. They’d been bent over washing tubs or cooking pots, their faces red and swollen from heat and steam, holding everything together while our fathers were away at sea, and nodding off every night on the kitchen chair, with a darning needle in hand. It was their endurance and exhaustion we knew, rather than them. And we never asked them for anything because we didn’t want to bother them.

That was how we showed our love: with silence.

Their eyes were always red. In the morning, when they woke us up, it was from stove smoke. And in the evening, when they said good night to us, still dressed, it was from exhaustion. And sometimes it was from crying over someone who would never come home again. Ask us about the color of a mother’s eyes, and we’d reply, “They’re not brown. They aren’t green. They’re neither blue nor gray. They’re red.” That’s what we’d say.

And now they’ve come down alongside the wharf to say goodbye. But between us, there’s silence. Their eyes pierce us.

“Come back,” their stare pleads. “Don’t leave us.”

But we won’t be coming back. We want out. We want to get away. Our mother sticks a knife in our heart when we say goodbye on the wharf. And we stick a knife in hers when we go. And that’s how we’re connected: through the hurt we inflict on one another.

— Carsten Jensen, We, The Drowned

Friendship

Do you know how I make a friend?” He leaned a little toward me, as though he had an amusing secret to impart. “I go about it very gently. I circle around and around. I circle. Then, gradually, I come nearer. Then I reach out and touch them—ah, so gently . . .” His fingers stretched forward like insect feelers and grazed my arm. “Then,” he said, one eye half shut, the other, à la Rasputin, mesmerically wide and shining, “I draw back. Wait awhile. Make them wonder. At just the right moment, I move in again. Touch them. Circle.” Now his hand, broad and blunt-fingered, traveled in a rotating pattern, as though it held a rope with which he was binding an invisible presence. “They don’t know what’s happening. Before they realize it, they’re all entangled, involved. I have them. And suddenly, sometimes, I’m all they have. A lot of them, you see, are people who don’t fit anywhere; they’re not accepted, they’ve been hurt, crippled one way or another. But I want to help them, and they can focus on me; I’m the duke. Sort of the duke of my domain.”

— Truman Capote, The Duke in His Domain

I had thought that the magnitude of Brando’s pathological strangeness (and manipulative behavior) had increased over time, starting sometime in the 1960s, but it’s on display in full force in this 1957 piece.

Gray

As the black-and-white photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said to the color photographer William Eggleston: “You know, William, color is bullshit.”

— Megan Flaherty, Ode to Gray

Limitations

All living beings have received their weapons through the same process of evolution that moulded their impulses and inhibitions; for the structural plan of the body and the system of behavior of a species are parts of the same whole. There is only one being in possession of weapons which do not grow on his body and of whose working plan, therefore, the instincts of his species know nothing and in the usage of which he has no correspondingly adequate inhibition.

— Konrad Lorenz