Optimism

Flowers, Ida thought scornfully; that wasn’t life. Life was sunlight on brass bedposts, Ruby port, the leap of the heart when the outsider you have backed passes the post and the colours go bobbing up… What was the sense of dying if it made you babble of flowers? … She took life with deadly seriousness: she was prepared to cause any amount of unhappiness to anyone in order to defend the only thing she believed in. To lose your lover—’broken hearts,’ she would say, ‘always mend,’ to be maimed or blinded—’lucky,’ she’d tell you, ‘to be alive at all.’ There was something dangerous and remorseless in her optimism, whether she was laughing in Henekey’s or weeping at a funeral or a marriage.

— Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

Good sketch of one of the main characters. I admire writers like Greene and Dickens, who can evoke a character with depth and contradictions in a single paragraph.

Western Psychogeography

The element that most clearly defines the western is the symbolic landscape in which it takes place and the influence this landscape has on the character and actions of the hero. This is, I think, why this particular formula has come to be known by a geographical term… [This] symbolic landscape is a field of action that centers on the point of encounter between civilization and wilderness, settled society and lawless openness.

— John G. Cawelti

Inconceivable, appalling

He said, ‘There was a man, a Frenchman, you wouldn’t know about him, my child, who had the same idea as you. He was a good man, a holy man, and he lived in sin all through his life, because he couldn’t bear the idea that any soul could suffer damnation.’ She listened with astonishment. He said, ‘This man decided that if any soul was going to be damned, he would be damned too. He never took the sacraments, he never married his wife in church. I don’t know, my child, but some people think he was—well, a saint. I think he died in what we are told is a mortal sin—I’m not sure: it was in the war: perhaps…’ He sighed and whistled, bending his old head. He said, ‘You can’t conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone the… appalling… strangeness of the mercy of God.’

— Graham Greene

Also, nested colon clauses.

Permission to skim

I do not bite my nails about the difficulties I meet with in my reading; after a charge or two, I give them over. Should I insist upon them, I should both lose myself and time; for I have an impatient understanding, that must be satisfied at first: what I do not discern at once is by persistence rendered more obscure.

– Montaigne

Hubris

Any problem can be solved using the materials in the room

— Edwin H. Land