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Old 04-23-2016   #1
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Topic Nominated Poignant passages

I thought it might be good to have a thread for quotations that are especially poignant. A poignant passage is not necessarily pessimistic, and a pessimistic passage not necessarily poignant. It might be possible to cackle at even the bleakest pessimism, but what I have in mind is a quotation or passage that is like a well of echoing pathos, that leaves one feeling sober with a sense of the pity of things.

So, I shall start with these lines from near the end of 'Dagon' by H.P. Lovecraft:

"I cannot think of the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering on its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks of water-soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind—of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium."

For me, the whole poignancy here hinges on one word: "war-exhausted". And people complain he uses adjectives badly. Certainly not in this case.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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Old 04-23-2016   #2
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Re: Poignant passages

this may be a very personal thing, and I find certain passages in Moorcock and Clark AshTon very poignant but here is something from Echopraxia - humanity - having artificially resurrected a predator species for their own selfish ends finds the the vampiric species has slipped the reins - Valerie is one of the subject/victims converted to the ancient state - (this is paraphrasing a more complex plot which contextually, I believe, also adds to the poignancy)

Why help prey?
Why help someone who tried to kill you?
Why aren’t I dead already?
Why aren’t we all?


“You bring us back” Valerie said simply

“To be slaves”

She shrugged “ We eat you otherwise”

We bring you back, then enslave you in self-defense.

But maybe she really did regard it as a good deal; given a choice between captivity and outright non-existence, who would choose the latter? {sic}

I’m sorry, he didn’t say.

“Don’t be, “ she replied, as if he had. “You don’t enslave us, Physics does. "

"The chains you build----“ Her fangs gleamed like little daggers in the firelight.

“We break them soon.”

"suckers for posterity" aren't we all
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Old 04-23-2016   #3
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Re: Poignant passages

He didn't want sex anymore, these days; he wanted what he'd once thought sex could give him. It had no name. —Joel Lane, "basement angels"

At the time he hadn't thought of her. Too intrusive: pointless. The Nanako he had known was long dead, buried by the woman now with her name. —Justin Isis, "Nanako"
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Old 06-11-2016   #4
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Re: Poignant passages

This passage is from the short storyTaman by Mikhail Lermontov (translated by Paul Foote), and the narrator is an itinerant officer passing by Taman, also called the "foulest hole among all the sea coast towns". Having no place to stay, he has to share a hut with a suspicious blind boy and an old woman. Later on, having met the woman's daughter (comparable to "Goethe's Mignon") and falling into an infatuation, he is tricked and almost drowned. He discovers "his mermaid" has a Tartar lover involved in smuggling (with help from the blind boy and old woman), and with his coming in the village he rouses them to flee. Here, my pity is with the blind boy...

" '[The Tartar smuggler speaking to the blind boy]...Things are going wrong, and this is the last he'll see of me. It's too dangerous. I'll go and look for a job somewhere else. He won't find another daredevil chap like me, and you tell him that I'd never have left him if he'd paid better. But I go where I please, wherever the wind blows and the sea roars...She's going with me. She can't stay here now. And tell the old woman it's time she died. She's lived too long, she's had her time. She won't see us again.'
'What about me?' asked the blind boy plaintively.
'You're no concern of mine,' said Yanko.
Meanwhile my mermaid had jumped into the boat and waved to her companion. Yanko put something in the blind boy's hand and said:
'Here, buy yourself some gingerbread.'
'Is that all I get?' asked the blind boy.
'There's another then,' said Yanko, and I heard the ring of a coin falling on the rocks. The blind boy didn't pick it up.
Yanko got into the boat and, hoisting a small sail, they sailed swiftly away before the offshore wind. For a long time the white sail could be seen in the moonlight, bobbing among the dark waves. The blind boy still sat on the shore, and I heard what sounded like sobbing. He was crying. He cried and cried.
I felt sad. Why did fate toss me into the peaceful midst of these honest smugglers? I had shattered their calm, like a stone thrown into a still pool--and like a stone, too, I had nearly gone to the bottom. "

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 06-12-2016   #5
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Re: Poignant passages

"Whatever lives here loves us. I know it does. But it only loves us once."

from Anima, by M. John Harrison

"What can a thing do with a thing, when it is a thing?"
-Shaykh Ibn Al 'Arabi
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Old 06-13-2016   #6
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Re: Poignant passages

From The Make-Up Artist: A Story on A Grave by Nikolay Leskov:

"I can see and hear her as if it were yesterday; each night, when the rest of the house were asleep, she would quietly raise herself a little in her bed, trying not to let even her bones creak. She would listen, get up and creep on her long, chilblained legs to the window. She'd stand there for a moment, looking and listening to be sure that my mother wasn't coming out of her bedroom. Then she would lift the bottle to her lips, so that its neck rattled ever so quietly against her teeth, and 'take a sip'. One swallow, two, a third...The burning coal was quenched and tribute paid to Arkady, so she'd go back to bed, slip under the blanket and soon she'd be quietly wheezing-whew,whew, whew...She was asleep!

Never in my life have I seen a more terrible and heart-breaking commemoration of the dead."

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 07-02-2016   #7
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Re: Poignant passages

"This is how I recognize an authentic poet: by frequenting him, living a long time in the intimacy of his work, something changes in myself, not so much my inclinations or my tastes as my very blood, as if a subtle disease had been injected to alter its course, its density and nature. To live around a true poet is to feel your blood run thin, to dream a paradise of anemia, and to hear, in your veins, the rustle of tears."

E.M Cioran, A Short History of Decay

"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 07-02-2016   #8
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Re: Poignant passages

"Everything necessary disappears. Only the useless things remain."

-- José Donoso, The Obscene Bird of Night

This is my life. This is my damnation. This is my only regret--that I ever was born.

-- Swans, "Beautiful Child"
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