David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Month: June 2010 (page 2 of 2)


Nabokov succinctly captures the two sides of cynicism–one jaded and pessimistic, the other selfish and contemptuous–in the person of the sadistic Axel Rex:

On such occasions Rex could talk endlessly, indefatigably, inventing stories about non-existent friends and propounding reflections not too profound for the mind of his listener and couched in a sham-brilliant form. His culture was patchy, but his mind shrewd and penetrating, and his itch to make fools of his fellow men amounted almost to genius. Perhaps the only real thing about him was his innate conviction that everything that had ever been created in the domain of art, science or sentiment, was only a more or less clever trick. No matter how important the subject under discussion, he could always find something witty or trite to say about it, supplying exactly what his listener’s mind or mood demanded, though, at the same time, he could be impossibly rude and overbearing when his interlocutor annoyed him. Even when he was talking quite seriously about a book or a picture, Rex had a pleasant feeling that he was a partner in a conspiracy, the partner of some ingenious quack–namely, the author of the book or the painter of the picture.

Laughter in the Dark

Proust on Homesickness

For a neurotic nature such as mine–one, that is to say, in which the intermediaries, the nerves, perform their functions badly, fail to arrest on its way to consciousness, allow indeed to reach it, distinct, exhausting, innumerable and distressing, the plaints of the most humble elements of the self which are about to disappear–the anxiety and alarm which I felt as I lay beneath that strange and too lofty ceiling were but the protest of an affection that survived in me for a ceiling that was familiar and low. Doubtless this affection too would disappear, another having taken its place; but until its annihilation, every night it would suffer afresh, and on this first night especially, confronted with an irreversible future in which there would no longer be any place for it, it rose in revolt, it tortured me with the sound of its lamentations whenever my straining eyes, powerless to turn from what was wounding them, endeavoured to fasten themselves upon that inaccessible ceiling.

The feeling of attachment gone wrong; that need to attach one’s self to minute, inhuman particulars, so as not to lose all moorings in life.

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