a public journal: a series of first steps, missteps, standstills, and starting overs.


Yes, Holden never really gets anywhere—and yes, nothing much changes. It just keeps going around and around.

… but that doesn’t mean nothing changes.

jg, on The Catcher in the Rye

when holden stops thinking of time as a line toward corrupt adulthood, and starts imagining it as a circle where one goes around and around in a journey going to and from innocence that lasts throughout life, he can finally be “so damn happy.”

jg, on The Catcher in the Rye

It is an autobiography—not, perhaps, in the naked facts and circumstances, but in the actual suffering and experience—it is soul speaking to soul; it’s an utterance from the depths of a struggling, suffering, much-enduring spirit.

ghl, on Jane Eyre

The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valor. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all–all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience. Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality–there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire. No one to see you. Do you understand? Here is the truth–actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.

True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care — with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.

dfw, from The Pale King

life’s sumptuous branching complexity



co-authors of the world.

some, you have given eyes like microscopes;

some, you have given vision like telescopes;

and some, you have made blissfully blind—

and each sees, or feels, what the others cannot as vividly, or at all—

and we are all to convene, and tell stories of the sights that we have seen:

compiling the world’s narrative, from its unimaginable horrors, to its mind-gasmic wonders—

composing its song, the almost seemingly ironic symphony of detail and structure, and the Invisible inbetween.

If, by the virtue of charity or the circumstance of desperation, you ever chance to spend a little time around a Substance-recovery halfway facility like Enfield MA’s state-funded Ennet House, you will acquire many exotic new facts. … That loneliness is not a function of solitude. … That if enough people in a silent room are drinking coffee it is possible to make out the sound of steam coming off the coffee. That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. … That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. … That if you do something nice for somebody in secret, anonymously, without letting the person you did it for know it was you or anybody else know what it was you did or in any way or form trying to get credit for it, it’s almost its own form of intoxicating buzz.

That anonymous generosity, too, can be abused. …

That it is permissible to want. …

That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels.

dfw, from Infinite Jest