Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thank You, E. M. Forster.

One of my favorite reads in high school was E. M. Forster's A Room with a View. After my first time reading the book, I was so excited about it and easily proclaimed it as my favorite. But I realized about a week ago that as time has passed, I somehow forgot everything about it, minus the fact that I apparently love it. I knew there was a girl who went to Italy with some woman, and there was some business about a guy and his dad... and that's pretty much as far as I could recall. I started reading it again, because after all, a person should know what one of her favorite books is about. I just finished it this morning. It's definitely still deserves a spot among the list of my favorites. It's incredibly beautiful, even if it is a little sappy.

There are two quotes I kind of wanted to post here, and then I'll be done. Maybe they'll only be significant to me because of the jerky awkwardness of my life right now, but here they are anyway. Just in case you'd be interested.

It did not do to think, nor, for the matter of that to feel. She gave up trying to understand herself, and joined the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters--the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go.

Neat, huh? I like E. M. Forster.

The next quote is the wise, old, withered Mr. Emerson talking to Lucy, the protagonist. He's quoting someone else here:
"Life," wrote a friend of mine, "is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along."

(Funny that my parents always told us kids that we could learn whatever instrument we wanted, except for a string instrument. Their reason was that it was too painful to wait for the student to progress from learning it, and playing badly, to actually knowing it, and playing well. An amusing coincidence in the context of this quote.)

But it's so true that we're all learning as we go along. I remember as a kid being irritated with my mom one day, and arriving at this childhood epiphany: my mom has never before raised me; this is the first time she has lived this day; she is just trying to get through it the best she can, improvising and figuring it out as quickly as life comes at her. I've thought back on that moment of realization many times as I've gotten older.

We make mistakes because we're new at living today. We'll always be new at living today. Hopefully, though, we gain some experience that will help us improve as we endeavor to keep living. At the very least, I hope we keep living.


the narrator said...

thanks for this post.