Sunday, 4 February 2007

Yvonne Studer 2007

Dear Russ, dear Krakenistas, and dear 6th-form students from HoPro Zürich

On my very first SA4QE tour in 2003, I half-secretly 4qated the school where I work by hanging up quotations on various pillars and on a pinboard over the photocopier by the entrance to the school library. Half-secretly, because I told the deputy headmaster and also the librarian about my doings and met nothing but support and big smiles.

'Sometimes one's got to laugh, you know, or go mad.'
'And,' said Schwarzgang.
(Kleinzeit, 1974)

The photo of the photocopier was used in the collage on the 2007 SA4QE homepage. This year something more effective was wanted, not least because it's also the fifth anniversary of SA4QE. So I decided to read one of Russ's books with my sixth form and somehow involve my students in this year's celebration of Russ's 82nd birthday.

Originally, the book was to be Turtle Diary, but as this novel is still out of print, Kleinzeit took its place and I'm happy to report that it is the highlight of my working week when I can go into my English class to "teach" Russ's novel rather than, for instance, the elusive differences between the 1001 ways of expressing future time in English...

As my students are very hard-working young people and since this time of the year is particularly stressful for them, I didn't want to ask them to go 4qating with me today. Instead I chose an individual quotation from Russ's works for each of them, printed it out on a sheet of yellow A4 paper and gave them the sheets on Thursday, 1st February. Of course I first told them about the project (they were properly introduced to the verb "to 4qate", including its pronunciation "fork-you-ate") and I also showed them a few examples of past 4qations so they could see what good company they would be in when I made them part of it all.

These were the quotations:

The moment will not stay. We seek out places where the sorrow will be lessened, places where there is heart's ease in the sorrow, heart's comfort amidst the pain. For good or ill the moment will not stay. How fast the world flees in all directions from us! (...)
We must find in ourselves the shapes of letting go because we're not free to become what we're going to be next until we let go of what we are now.

from "Mnemosyne, Teen Taals, and Tottenham Court Road", The Moment under the Moment, 1992


~ ~ ~ ~

Sometimes he played the guitar quietly, improvising tunes, but more often he had no wish to let out anything that was in him, nor did he look for anything new to take in. Whatever thoughts and questions were in his mind carried on their own dialogues to which he paid little attention. The feeling of emptiness rushing towards something became a waiting stillness.

from The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, 1973


~ ~ ~ ~

Oh yes, I thought, feeling something good just around the corner of my mind: just be all the way in it and you're all right.

from Turtle Diary, 1975


~ ~ ~ ~

...The grown-up is only a thin coat of chocolate over the hard nut of the child. Whatever you were as a kid, you still are when the chocolate gets licked off or scraped off.

from Linger Awhile, 2006


~ ~ ~ ~

Could I be a turtle? Could I through an act of ecstasy swim unafraid and never lost, finding, finding?
from Turtle Diary, 1975


~ ~ ~ ~

'That's it,' said Serpentina. 'Nothing is the ultimate truth.'
'Nothing?' said the child.
'Nothing,' repeated Serpentina. ...
'I don't believe it,' said the mouse child. ... 'I wonder what's on the other side of nothing?' he said.
'Tiny upstart!' said Serpentina.. 'Who are you to seek the other side of nothing?'
'If I'm big enough to stand in the mud all this time and contemplate infinity,' said the child, 'I'm big enough to look at the other side of nothing.' ...
'Ah,' he said, 'there's nothing on the other side of nothing but us.'

from The Mouse and His Child, 1967


~ ~ ~ ~

'Con este tango nacio el tango,' she sang, 'y como un grito salio del sordido barrial buscando el cielo' (With this tango the tango was born, and like a cry it left the squalid slum, seeking the sky).' ... Klein had no Spanish, didn't know what the words meant, but they seemed vitally important to him, seemed the very flame of life in the darkness...
'I can't actually put canyengue into English,' said the Argentinian translator Klein found in the phone book the next day. 'It's a lunfardo word,' she said. 'Lunfardo is a local vocabulary in Buenos Aires and it's used a lot in tango lyrics. Canyengue carries the idea of the suburbs and the common person of low social condition whose manner of dancing the tango is earthy and full-blooded with no added-on refinement; canyengue in the hips means dancing with the real feeling of the tango.'
'Canyengue,' said Klein to himself later. 'Canyengue in the mind, from the outlying districts of the cerebral cortex and the limbic system. Either you have it or you don't. Right...?'

from Angelica's Grotto, 1999


~ ~ ~ ~

I was waiting for something now and the waiting was pleasant. I was waiting for the self inside me to come forward to the boundaries from which it had long ago withdrawn. Life would be less quiet and more dangerous, life is risky on the borders. ...
Come, I said to the self inside me. Come out and take your chance.

from Turtle Diary, 1975


~ ~ ~ ~

'Sometimes there's good news when you least expect it,' he said.
'So tell me,' I said.
'Have a look.' He folded the paper as necessary and passed it to me. ... There was a one-column item with a colour photograph of an upside-down bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup sporting a right-side-up label. SAUCE FLIPS TO GO WITH THE FLOW was the headline.
[Heinz] has spent millions of pounds and three years on research to come up with an upside-down bottle with a cap and valve in its bottom. It is a solution that customers hit upon years ago - seven out of ten say they balance their sauce bottles on their tops.
'How's that grab you?' said Selby.
'It's definitely good news,' I said.

from Come Dance With Me, 2005


~ ~ ~ ~

The world-child has been told that this is a world, ... and it believes it; it is the energy of this belief that binds the world together. The world-child holds in its mind the idea of every single thing: root and stone, tree and mountain, river and ocean and every living thing. The world-child holds in its mind the idea of woman and man, the idea of love.

from The Medusa Frequency, 1987


~ ~ ~ ~

Fidelity is a matter of perception; nobody is unfaithful to the sea or to mountains or to death: once recognized they fill the heart. In love or in terror or in loathing one responds to them with the true self; fidelity is not an act of the will: the soul is compelled by recognitions. Anyone who loves, anyone who perceives the other person fully can only be faithful, can never be unfaithful to the sea and the mountains and the death in that person, so pitiful and heroic is it to be a human being.
from The Medusa Frequency, 1987


~ ~ ~ ~

'Who can know anybody?' said the bookshop owner. 'Every person is like thousands of books. New, reprinting, in stock, out of stock, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, rubbish. The lot. Different every day. One's lucky to be able to put his hand on the one that's wanted, let alone know it.'

from The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, 1973


I'd be delighted if the yellow sheets were 4qated further but there is no need for them to wander on as I know they are in good hands where they are now. The only thing I asked my students to do is to pose for a picture with their yellow sheets and their copies of Kleinzeit, which they all did, and I'd like to thank them once again for being game.



Happy Birthday, Russ, love and all the best to all of you,

Yvonne x

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