how & why
i • amélie’s theories
Nino is late. Amélie can only see two explanations. 1, he didn’t get the photo. 2, before he could assemble it, a gang of bank robbers took him hostage. The cops gave chase. They got away, but he caused a crash. When he came to, he’d lost his memory. An ex-con picked him up, mistook him for a fugitive, and shipped him to Istanbul. There he met some Afghan raiders who took him to steal some Russian warheads. But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan. He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin. Amélie refuses to get upset for a guy who’ll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy.
ii • proust & the news-in-brief
in the chapter “how to take your time” (of how proust can change your life), alain de botton tells of how marcel proust would read the newspaper thoroughly & with great care, gaining much from even the news-in-brief section (A news-in-brief told by him turned into a whole tragic or comic novel, thanks to his imagination and his fantasy…).
It shows how vulnerable much of human experience is to abbreviation, how easily it can be stripped of the more obvious signposts by which we guide ourselves when ascribing importance. Much literature and drama would conceivably have proved entirely unengaging, would have said nothing to us had we first encountered its subject matter over breakfast in the form of a news-in-brief.
Tragic end for Verona lovebirds: after mistakenly thinking his sweetheart dead, a young man took his life. Having discovered the fate of her lover, the woman killed herself in turn. / A young mother threw herself under a train and died in Russia after domestic problems. / A young mother took arsenic and died in a French provincial town after domestic problems.
…Hence Proust’s assertion that the greatness of works of art has nothing to do with the apparent quality of their subject matter, and everything to do with the subsequent treatment of that matter. And hence his associated claim that everything is potentially a fertile subject for art and that we can make discoveries as valuable in an advertisement for soap as in Pascal’s Pensées.
iii • margaret atwood’s choose your own adventure
this was thoughtfully shared with me by kendall. i’m with stephanie, regarding her most favorite lines:
So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with.
That’s about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what.
Now try How and Why.