"Gogol was balked of his material because his friends were not writers whereas he could not address himself to those friends of his who were writers, because then the facts supplied would be anything but bare. The whole business is indeed one of the best illustrations of the utter stupidity of such terms as “bare facts” and “realism.” Gogol—a “realist”! There are text books that say so. And very possibly Gogol himself in his pathetic and futile efforts to get the bits that would form the mosaic of his book from his readers themselves, surmised that he was acting in a thoroughly rational way. It is so simple, he kept on peevishly repeating to various ladies and gentlemen, just sit down for an hour every day and jot down all you see and hear. He might as well have told them to mail him the moon—no matter in what quarter. And never mind if a star or two and a streak of mist get mixed up with it in your hastily tied blue paper parcel. And if a horn gets broken, I will replace it."
Vladimir Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol.
"The trouble is that bare facts do not exist in a state of nature, for they are never really quite bare: the white trace of a wrist watch, a curled piece of sticking plaster on a bruised heel, these cannot be discarded by the most ardent nudist. A mere string of figures will disclose the identity of the stringer as neatly as tame ciphers yielded their treasure to Poe. The crudest curriculum vitae crows and flaps its wings in a style peculiar to the undersigner. I doubt whether you can even give your telephone number without giving something of yourself. But Gogol in spite of all the things he said about wishing to know mankind because he loved mankind, was really not much interested in the personality of the giver. He wanted his facts absolutely bare—and at the same time he demanded not mere strings of figures but a complete set of minute observations. When some of his more indulgent friends yielded reluctantly to his requests and then warmed up to the business and sent him accounts of provincial and rural affairs—they would get from him a howl of disappointment and dismay instead of thanks; for his correspondents were not Gogols. They had been ordered by him to describe things—just describe them. They did so with a vengeance."
Vladimir Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol.
Christopher Williams, Fig. 5: Setting the aperture Exakta Varex IIa 35 mm film SLR camera Manufactured by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co, Dresden, German Democratic Republic Body serial no. 979625 (Production period: 1960 - 1963) Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f/2.8 lens Manufactured by VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, Jena, German Democratic Republic Serial no. 8034351 (Production period: 1967 - 1970) Model: Christoph Boland Studio Thomas Borho, Oberkasseler Str. 39, Düsseldorf, Germany June 27th, 2012, 2012. Source.
Christopher Williams, Fig. 4: Changing the shutter speed Exakta Varex IIa 35 mm film SLR camera Manufactured by Ihagee Kamerawerk Steenbergen & Co, Dresden, German Democratic Republic Body serial no. 979625 (Production period: 1960 - 1963) Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 50mm f/2.8 lens Manufactured by VEB Carl Zeiss Jena, Jena, German Democratic Republic Serial no. 8034351 (Production period: 1967 - 1970) Model: Christoph Boland Studio Thomas Borho, Oberkasseler Str. 39, Düsseldorf, Germany June 19th, 2012, 2012. Source.
"He is utterly and deliciously vulgar, and the ladies are vulgar, and the worthies are vulgar—in fact the whole play is (somewhat like Madame Bovary) composed by blending in a special way different aspects of vulgarity so that the prodigious artistic merit of the final result is due (as with all masterpieces) not to what is said but to how it is said—to the dazzling combinations of drab parts. As in the scaling of insects the wonderful color effect may be due not to the pigment of the scales but to their position and refractive power, so Gogol’s genius deals not in the intrinsic qualities of computable chemical matter (the “real life” of literary critics) but in the mimetic capacities of the physical phenomena produced by almost intangible particles of recreated life."
Vladimir Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol.
"Khlestakov’s very name is a stroke of genius, for it conveys to the Russian reader an effect of lightness and rashness, a prattling tongue, the swish of a slim walking cane, the slapping sound of playing cards, the braggadocio of a nincompoop and the dashing ways of a lady-killer (minus the capacity for completing this or any other action). He flutters through the play as indifferent to a full comprehension of the stir he creates, as he is eager to grab the benefits that luck is offering him. He is a gentle soul, a dreamer in his own way, and a certain sham charm hangs about him, the grace of a petit-maître that affords the ladies a refined pleasure as being in contrast with the boorish ways of the burly town worthies."
Vladimir Nabokov, Nikolai Gogol.
Deathwatch on the Southside
To Letizia Álvarez de Toledo
By reason of someone’s death—
a mystery whose empty name I know and whose reality is beyond us—
a house on the Southside stands open until dawn,
unfamiliar to me, and not to be seen again,
but waiting for me this night
with a wakeful light in the deep hours of sleep—
a house wasted away by bad nights and worn sharp
into a fineness of reality.
Toward its weighty deathwatch I make my way
through streets elemental as memories,
through time grown pure in plenitude of night,
with no more life to be heard
than neighborhood loiterers make near a corner store
and a whistler somewhere, lonely in the nightworld.
In my slow walk, in my expectancy,
I reach the block, the house, the plain door I am looking for,
where men constrained to gravity receive me,
men who had a part in my elders’ years,
and we size up our destinies in a tidied room overlooking the yard,
a yard that is under the power and wholeness of night:
and we speak of indifferent things, reality here being greater,
and in the mirror we are Argentine, apathetic,
and the shared maté measures out useless hours.
I am touched by the frail wisdoms
lost in every man’s death—
his habit of books, of a key, of one body among the others.
I know that every privilege, however obscure, is in the line of miracles,
and here is a great one: to take part in this vigil,
gathered around a being no one knows—the Dead Man,
gathered to keep him company and guard him, his first night in death.
(Faces grow haggard with watching:
our eyes are dying on the height like Jesus.)
And the dead man, the unbelievable?
His reality remains under the alien reality of flowers,
and his hospitality in death will give us
one memory more for time
and graven streets on the Southside, one by one to be savored,
and a dark breeze in my face as I walk home,
and night that frees us from that ordeal by weariness,
the daily round of the real.
— Jorge Luis Borges, from San Martín Copybook in Selected Poems, trans. Robert Fitzgerald.
Street with a Pink Corner Store
Gone into night are all the eyes from every intersection
and it’s like a drought anticipating rain.
Now all roads are near,
even the road of miracles.
The wind brings with it a slow, befuddled dawn.
Dawn is our fear of doing different things and it comes over us.
All the blessed night I have been walking
and its restlessness has left me
on this street, which could be any street.
Here again the certainty of the plains
on the horizon
and the barren terrain that fades into weeds and wire
and the store as bright as last night’s new moon.
The corner is familiar like a memory
with those spacious squares and the promise of a courtyard.
How lovely to attest to you, street of forever, since my own days have
witnessed so few things!
Light draws streaks in the air.
My years have run down roads of earth and water
and you are all I feel, strong rosy street.
I think it is your walls that conceived sunrise,
store so bright in the depth of night.
I think, and the confession of my poverty
is given voice before these houses:
I have seen nothing of mountain ranges, rivers, or the sea,
but the light of Buenos Aires made itself my friend
and I shape the lines of my life and my death with that light of the street.
Big long-suffering street,
you are the only music my life has understood.
— Jorge Luis Borges, from Moon Across the Way in Selected Poems, trans. Stephen Kessler.
" PARSIFAL: I move only a little, yet already I seem to have gone far.
GURNEMANZ: You see, my son, here time turns into space.
(The whole landscape becomes indistinct. A forest ebbs out and a wall of rough rock ebbs in, through which can be seen a gateway. The two men pass through the gateway. What happened to the forest? The two men did not really move; they did not really go anywhere, and yet they are not now where they originally were. Here time turns into space. Wagner began Parsifal in 1845. He died in 1873, long before Hermann Minkowski postulated four-dimensional space-time (1908). The source-basis for Parsifal consisted of Celtic legends, and Wagner’s research into Buddhism for his never-written opera about the Buddha to be called The Victors (Die Sieger). Where did Richard Wagner get the notion that time could turn into space?)"
Philip K. Dick, VALIS, 1981.
"RUNCITER’s manner is that of an American, old fashioned, fatherly captain-of-industry: personal rather than the cold and efficient manner which a more modern type such as HERBERT shows. He is a warm person, obviously, and betrays on his features his feelings; there is no mask, no transactional persona. He is one individual, one independent and unique human being, approaching another — approaching and relating to him on that — the human — basis. And yet he is impressive and powerful; he dominates these other people, and they seem smaller than he, in the sense of less complete: partial persons — except for the SECRETARY, who stands apart, watching, her arms folded. He is also rather old, and although expensively dressed in a double-breasted plastic-and-silk suit, his hair is tousled. RUNCITER is not a handsome man, but he is someone to take seriously: as HERBERT obviously does. In short, RUNCITER is one of those rare and influential men whose wrong guesses in situations are usually better than the average man’s correct ones. Or, at the very least, those wrong guesses — or hunches or impulses — are more colorful. More interesting. And certainly more unanticipated. And yet, despite this, we sense that RUNCITER somehow stays always in touch with common sense: with the real. It is this abiding quality of the genuine which is the most pronounced aspect of RUNCITER; whatever defects and faults he may have, he is never fake."
Philip K. Dick, UBIK: The Screenplay, 1974/1985.