Celeste’s Walk


“Nature’s aim for everything includes its cessation just as much as its beginning and its duration – like someone throwing up a ball. How can it be good for the ball on the way up and bad on the way down, or even when it hits the ground? How can it be good for a bubble when it forms, and bad when it bursts? A candle is a similar example.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


“What is left of all that, of the life we lived at the Mora? For many years a scent of lime trees in the evening had been enough to make me feel like someone else, make me my real self – I was never sure why. I keep thinking of how many people must live here in the valley, in the world, having the same experiences right now that we had then. They don’t know it, never think about it. Perhaps there’s a house, some girls, some old people, a child – and a Nuto, a Canelli, a railway station, there’s someone like me who wants to leave and make his fortune – and in the summer they thresh the grain, pick the grapes, in the winter they go hunting. There’s a terrace – everything happens as it did with us. It must be that way. Boys, women, the world are certainly no different. They don’t carry parasols any longer, Sundays they go to the movies instead of to the fair, they send their grain to the grain pool, the girls smoke – yet life is the same, and they don’t know that one day they will look around and for them, too, everything will have passed. The first thing I said when I got off the boat at Genoa among houses smashed by the war was that every house, every courtyard, every terrace had meant something to someone, and that even more than the physical ruin and the dead, you hate to think of so many years of living, so many memories wiped out like that in one night without leaving a sign. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s better that way, better for everything to go up in a bonfire of dry grass and for people to begin again. That’s how it was in America – when you were sick of something, a job or a place, you changed it. Over there even whole towns, with taverns, city halls and stores, are as empty now as graveyards.”

Cesare Pavese, The Moon and The Bonfires


“Thus we begin to see the book’s general scheme: The insatiable search for a soul by means of the delicate glimmerings or reflections this soul has left in others – at first, the faint trace of a smile or word; toward the last, the varied and growing splendors of intelligence, imagination, and goodness. The more closely the men interrogated by the law student have known Al-Mu’tasim, the greater is their portion of divinity, but the reader knows that they themselves are but mirrors. A technical mathematical formula is applicable here: Bahadur’s heavily freighted novel is an ascending progression whose final term is the sensed or foreapprehended ‘man called Al-Mu’tasim.’ The person immediately preceding Al-Mu’tasim is a Persian bookseller of great courtesy and felicity; the man preceding the booksller is a saint…After all those years, the law student comes to a gallery ‘at the end of which there is a doorway and a tawdry curtain of many beads, and behind that, a glowing light.’ The law student claps his hands once, twice, and calls out for Al-Mu’tasim. A man’s voice – the incredible voice of Al-Mu’tasim – bids the law student enter. The law student draws back the bead curtain and steps into the room. At that point, the novel ends.”

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim”