— Henry Miller
I’d previously posted an excerpt of this lecture, but this recording is a treat for any fans of Nick Cave’s work or songwriting in general.
The house was empty, and one felt, since one was the only person in the drawing-room, like one of those naturalists who, covered with grass and leaves, lie watching the shyest animals – badgers, otters, kingfishers – moving about freely, themselves unseen. The room that afternoon was full of such shy creatures, lights and shadows, curtains blowing, petals falling – things that never happen, so it seems, if someone is looking. The quiet old country room with its rugs and stone chimney pieces, its sunken book-cases and red and gold lacquer cabinets, was full of such nocturnal creatures. They came pirouetting across the floor, stepping delicately with high-lifted feet and spread tails and pecking allusive beaks as if they had been cranes or flocks of elegant flamingoes whose pink was faded, or peacocks whose trains were veined with silver. And there were obscure flushes and darkenings too, as if a cuttlefish had suddenly suffused the air with purple; and the room had its passions and rages and envies and sorrows coming over it and touting it, like a human being. Nothing stayed the same for two seconds together.
But, outside, the looking-glass reflected the hall table, the sun-flowers, the garden path so accurately and so fixedly that they seemed held there in their reality unescapably. It was a strange contrast — all changing here, all stillness there. One could not help looking from one to the other. Meanwhile, since all the doors and windows were open in the heat, there was a perpetual sighing and ceasing sound, the voice of the transient and the perishing, it seemed, coming and going like human breath, while in the looking-glass things had ceased to breathe and lay still in the trance of immortality.
– from The Lady in the Looking-Glass: A Reflection, Virginia Woolf
Imperfect, beautiful like faceted blood. It came from India where they wash up on the shore. Thousands of them — the beads of sorrow. Little droplets that somehow became gems gathered by beggars who trade them for rice. Whenever I stared into its depths I felt overcome, for caught within my little gem was more misery and hope than one could fathom.
It frightened and inspired, and I kept it in my sack, a waxed yellow packet the size and shape of a razor blade. I’d stop and take it out and look at it. I did this so often it was no longer necessary to see what I was looking at. And because of this I can not say for certain when it disappeared.
I can still see it though. I see it on the foreheads of the women. In the poet’s hollow. I see it at the throat of a diva and in the palm of the deserter. Pressing against a wire fence. A drop of blood on a calico dress. I open my bundle and dump the contents in the furrows of the earth. Nothing — an old spoon, a rudder, the remains of a walkie-talkie. Spreading the cloth to rest upon I take breaths as long as the furrows. As if to quell the spirits; hold them from shaking and clanging.
— Patti Smith (Woolgathering)