Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cherry Picking

For my creative non-fiction assignment this week, I have to craft an essay from a series of quotes. Juxtaposing a passage of prose with a quote -- a line from a poem or a particularly insightful aphorism -- isn't new. What's novel about this assignment is that the quotes come first; not the prose.

The quotes are supposed to come from one of the texts we've been reading in the class, The Next American Essay, edited by John D'Agata. (If there are any essay lovers out there, I highly recommend it.) 
I have to cull this list down to four. But of course I ended up with way more than four, so I thought I would share the whole bunch here:

“Fact: The fleabite isn’t a bite. It’s a piercing and siphoning up.” -- Albert Goldbarth, “Delft”

“What if the wings feel like a tight fitting harness, what if they cramp and constrict.” -- Susan Mitchell, “Notes Toward a History of Scaffolding”

“Out of the plunge perfected, flight pushed up as a necessity.” -- Susan Mitchell, “Notes Toward a History of Scaffolding”

“Everything oily has a name.” -- Fabio Morabito, “Oil”

“It is already late when you wake up inside a question.” -- Anne Carson, “Kinds of Water”

“They’re like a group of one-legged men watching a good dancer.” -- Dennis Silk, “The Marionette Theater”

“There is a race of people with backward feet.”
“In India crabs turn to stone the minute they are exposed to air.”
“In India the wise men can produce and quell great winds. For this reason they eat in secret.” -- Eliot Weinberger, “The Dream of India”

“It had nothing to do with anything.” -- Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse”

“I watched the landscape innocently, like a fool, like a diver in the rapture of the deep who plays on the bottom while his air runs out.” -- Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse”

“It was a painting of the sort which you do not intend to look at, and which, alas, you never forget. Some tasteless fate presses it upon you; it becomes part of the complex junk you carry with you wherever you go.” -- Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse”

“I had, at this time, a sharp apprehension not of what it was like to be old but what it was like to open the door to a stranger and find that the stranger did indeed have the knife.” -- Joan Didion, “The While Album”

“It’s not love that the past needs in order to survive, it’s an absence of choices.” -- Susan Sontag, “Unguided Tour”

“To forget the crow completely, as some have tried to do, would be like trying to understand the one who stayed without talking to the one who left.” -- Barry Lopez, “The Raven”

“Sometimes the dead are buried in the air.” -- Susan Mitchell, “Notes Toward a History of Scaffolding”

“All those things for which we have no words are lost.” -- Annie Dillard, “Total Eclipse”

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