LET'S EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS, by David Sedaris
'For to witness majesty, to find yourself literally touched by it - isn't that what we've all been waiting for?'
'...the first person who'll reach the age of two hundred as already been born.'
HOW TO BE ALONE, by Jonathan Franzen
'Memory is a set of hardwired neuronal connections among the pertinent regions of the brain, and a predisposition for the entire constellation to light up - chemically, electrically - when any one part of the circuit is stimulated...Each succeeding recollection and retelling reinforces the constellation of images and knowledge that constitute the memory. At the cellular level, according to neuroscientists, I'm burning the memory in a little deeper each time, strengthening the dendritic connections among its components, further encouraging the firing of that specific set of synapses. One of the great adaptive virtues of our brains, is our ability to forget almost everything that has ever happened to us. I retain general, largely categorical memories of the past but relatively few specific episodic memories. Those memories that I do retain I tend to revisit and, thereby, strengthen. They become literally - morphologically, electrochemically - part of the architecture of my brain.'
panoptical: including everything visible in one view (from Greek panoptos, fully visible: pan-, with respect to everything, fully)
'the "business of fiction" is "to embody mystery through manners" [Flannery O'Connor]..."mystery" (how human beings avoid or confront the meaning of existence) and "manners" (the nuts and bolts of how human beings behave)'
French poststructuralists: ie. Jacques Derrida, Miche Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler, Jacques Lacan, Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva
'depression's actual essence is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity'
'the most memorable characters in U.S. fiction have tended to be socially marginal: Huck Finn and Janie Crawford, Hazel Motes and Tyrone Slothrop.'
Zeliglike: an omniprsent person; a person who appears to be present everywhere (after Leonard Zelig, hero of the 1983 movie Zelig by Woody Allen); an ordinary person who can change themselves to imitate anyone they are near.
The Mahabarata: one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana
'There's o simple, universal reason why people smoke, but there's one thing I'm sure of: they don't do it because they're slaves to nicotine. My best guess about my own attraction to the habit is that I belong to a class of people whose lives are insufficiently structured. The mentally ill and the indigent are also members of this class. We embrace a toxin as deadly as nicotine, suspended in an aerosol of hydrocarbons and nitrosamines, because we have not yet found pleasures or routines that can replace the comforting, structure-bringing rhythm of need and gratification that the cigarette habit offers. One word for this structuring might be 'self-medication'; another might be 'coping.'
'Books as catalysts of self-realization and books as sanctuary: the notions are piared because [Sven] Birkerts believes that "inwardness, the more reflective component of self," requires a "space" where a person can reflect on the meaning of things...absorption in a novel is closer to a state of meditation'
'Elitism is the Achilles' heel of every serious defense of art, an invitation to the poisoned arrows of populist rhetoric.'
samizdat: the clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by the state, especially formerly in the communist countries of eastern Europe.
the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova
'the first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone'
nonpareil: adj. having no match or equal; unrivaled; noun. an unrivaled or matchless person or thing