Dearly maddened, we gather today in song

“The scheme of providence demands of us all that each man humbly perform his part, sing his own line in the terrestrial hymn, as the planets are singing, unheard, above us, and with charity forgive those to left and right when they falter.  That may sound pompous, simpleminded, but it’s true, or anyway I hope it’s true.  A man can go mad, discarding all tradition, reasoning out for himself the precise details of celestial and terrestrial law.” — John Gardner, “The Temptation of St. Ivo”

I’ll have a slice of happiness, thank you, and a cup of joy on the side

“To despair was to wish back for something already lost.  Or to prolong what was already unbearable.  How much can you wish for a favorite warm coat that hangs in the closet of a house that burned down with your mother and father inside of it?  How long can you see in your mind arms and legs hanging from telephone wires and starving dogs running down the streets with half-chewed hands dangling from their jaws?  What was worse, we asked among ourselves, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces?  Or to choose our own happiness?” — Amy Tan, “The Joy Luck Club”

Making the magic

“It’s in words that the magic is—Abracadabra, Open Sesame, and the rest—but the magic words in one story aren’t magical in the next.  The real magic is to understand which words work, and when, and for what; the trick is to learn the trick.” — John Barth, “Dunyazadiad”

Better that than cursing blind

“While the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.  There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.” — James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”