3 thoughts on “certainty-madeleine thien

  1. the science:

    “As far as we know, they hold no picture in their minds of the V formation, let alone the vast pattern of migration. They are aware only of the other birds in their immediate proximity. And the same is true for me; I respond to what is immediately around me. But the pattern that I cannot see, that I have no knowledge of, exists. My mind, my brain, is not made to imagine distances of great magnitude. Or infinite time, eternity. We glimpse a part of the puzzle and intimate, however vaguely, an answer. But if I read a book about geography, or the history of the Earth, or the universe, for that matter, how does that change the way I place myself within this formation?” (219)

    “Ed leans back in his chair. ‘Now correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the reasons we have so much trouble studying the brain is because it’s sort of like a big crumpled piece of paper. Lots of surface area in a very small place, tucked away inside folds and such.’” (11)

    “‘It’s Nietzsche. The ability to forget is what brings us peace.’
    ‘He was on to something in a biochemical way, too. If there’s a trauma, or a difficult memory, sometimes that severs the links. The memories themselves don’t disappear, but you can’t find your way back to them, because the glue that connects the different streams is somehow dissolved. That’s the idea, anyway.’” (85)

    “‘Every language leaves its own unique footprint. Cryptography, you know, is a complicated profession. You are given something in code, someone says, ‘Break this’, and then it becomes a game, a chase. Of course, you assume that there is something to be pursued, some meaning to be unravelled. It is exactly the kind of thing that can destroy a person. It is like a scent it is so strong, but there is no physical proof of it. What if you cannot, despite all efforts, find the way in?” (104-5)

  2. love(he)r:

    “When she returned, she was full of life, impassioned. She seemed to want change, within herself, between them, and she believed all things were possible. She said that the past is not static, our memories fold and bend, we change with every step taken into the future. As the weeks passed, they had found a way to begin again.” (110)

    “Nothing had prepared her for love, the physical ache that overwhelmed her body that diminished the world around her to sense, to touch. He was so close, moving on top of her, she had to fight to hold the sound in. She trapped her breath against his skin.” (159-60)

    “She has never been one for dramatic entries or exits. People fall in and out of love, relationships change, she accepts this fact as truth. But the intensity, the depth of her feelings for Ansel has always frightened her. Once, long ago, he asked her to marry him, but she had pushed them both away from that possibility. She did not want to get married, she wanted a different kind of relationship. Each day choosing to be with one another. Each day deciding.” (189)

    “Whenever she asked about his childhood, about her grandparents and the life he lived in East Malaysia, he smiled, looked away, or brushed her questions aside. In this new country, he told himself, there would be no need to reach back into the past for consolation. He has long accepted that some questions will find no meaningful answers, some stories cannot bear repeating.” (56)

  3. just nice images:

    “Across the street, their neighbor is crouched on the ground, snipping the grass with a pair of scissors. Because of the noise, she says. A lawnmower makes far too much noise. She is in her mid-sixties and the wide brim of a sun hat shades her face. Gail, who had grown up in a house a block away, once told Ansel that she remembered this same woman snipping the grass when Gail herself was a child. “All the kids would come with their plastic scissors and help her out. It was a kind of neighborhood haircut.” (3-4)

    “There are mornings when Matthew wakes and he forgets that he is old. He thinks that he is seven, perhaps ten years old, but then it is like being on a hilltop in the fog. He cannot see five feet ahead or five feet back.” (46)

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