When we catch sight of one of those birds balanced and steering on the currents, its five-pound body effortlessly carried by the six-foot span of its wings and therefore not quite constituting a material fact, the earthbound soul forgets itself and follows after, suddenly airborne, but when they’re down here with the rest of us, desecrating a corpse, brandishing their wings like the overlong arms of chimpanzees, bouncing on the dead thing, tearing at it, their nude red heads looking imbecilically minuscule and also, to a degree, obscene–isn’t it sad?
–from “Triumph Over the Grave” by Denis Johnson
And here, in the Supreme Court of the United States of America, fuck if between the handcuffs and the slipperiness of this chair’s leather upholstery, the only way I can keep from spilling my ass ignominiously onto the goddamn floor is to lean back until I’m reclined at an angle just short of detention-room nonchalance, but definitely well past courtroom contempt.
–from The Sellout by Paul Beatty
Mothers calling kids inside, the bus lit inside now, fat ladies coming home from offices at the Board of Education, on Livingston Street, their weary shapes like black teeth inside the glowing mouth of the bus, the light fading, street lights buzzing as they lit, their arched poles decorated with boomeranged-up sneakers, and Mingus Rude saying, one dying afternoon, eyes never ungluing from a panel in Marvel’s Greatest Comics in which Mr. Fantastic had balled himself into an orb the size of a baseball in order to be shot from a bazooka into the vulnerable mouth of an otherwise impervious fifty-foot-tall robot named Tomazooma, the Living Totem, “Your moms is still gone?”
–Jonathan Lethem, “View from a Headlock”
Perhaps, as we say in America, I wanted to find myself. This is an interesting phrase, not current as far as I know in the language of any other people, which certainly does not mean what it says but betrays a nagging suspicion that something has been misplaced.
-James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room
I am nothing.
I will always be nothing.
I can’t hope to be something.
But within me, I have all the dreams of the world.
–Fernando Pessoa, from his poem “The Tobacco Shop”
“Our first night professionally onstage,” Colbert said, the longtime Second City director Jeff Michalski told them that the most important lesson he could pass on to them was this: “You have to learn to love the bomb.”
“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn’t ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get it next time.’ It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.” (You’re welcome, Dune nerds.)
From Stephen Colbert Interview in GQ