Sunday, August 14, 2011

Excerpts: "An Elemental Thing" (2007) by Eliot Weinberger

38 - 39: Liu Hseih wrote The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, the first extended book of Chinese literary criticism.

"'Look toward the present and create the unusual; consult the ancients to establish the laws.'"

"'The perfect combination or balance of wind and bone, the metaphor for the ideal poem, is a bird.'"

42: "A Kaluli lives in two worlds: the visible world of people and the world of their reflections, where people live as wild pigs or cassowaries on the slopes of Mr. Bosavi. When a person dies his reflection also disappears, and turns into a bird in the invisible world. Birds see each other as people, and their calls are people talking to one another. The passage of life is from infant to bird."

116: "Against Descartes' Cogito, [Ezra] Pound's letterhead read: J'AYME DONC JE SUIS, I love therefore I am."

150: "In the British Library there is a box of fragments and dust from a birch bark scroll buried two thousand years ago on the Jalalabad Plain, west of the Khyber Pass. It is the oldest known Buddhist text, written in the Gandharan language. Some of the chips contain only a single letter, but the scholars have pierced them together to reconstruct a sutra:

'Doing no violence to living things, not even a single one of them, wander alone like a rhinoceros.'
'Fire does not return to what it has burnt, wander alone like a rhinoceros.'
'At home anywhere, wander alone like a rhinoceros.'"

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