Schlagwortarchiv für: Jonathan Safran Foer

He awo­ke each morning with the desi­re to do right, to be a good and mea­ning­ful per­son, to be, as simp­le as it sound­ed and as impos­si­ble as it actual­ly was, hap­py. And during the cour­se of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his sto­mach. By ear­ly after­noon he was over­co­me by the fee­ling that not­hing was right, or not­hing was right for him, and by the desi­re to be alo­ne. By evening he was ful­fil­led: alo­ne in the magnitu­de of his grief, alo­ne in his aim­less guilt, alo­ne even in his lone­li­ness. ›I am not sad‹, he would repeat to hims­elf over and over, ›I am not sad‹. As if he might one day con­vin­ce hims­elf. Or fool hims­elf. Or con­vin­ce others – the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. ›I am not sad‹. ›I am not sad‹. Becau­se his life had unli­mi­ted poten­ti­al for hap­pi­ness, inso­far as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesti­ca­ted ani­mal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cup­board of his rib cage, having beco­me a litt­le hea­vier, a litt­le wea­ker, but still pum­ping. And by mid­af­ter­noon he was again over­co­me with the desi­re to be some­whe­re else, someo­ne else, someo­ne else some­whe­re else. ›I am not sad‹.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

I read the first chap­ter of A Brief Histo­ry of Time when Dad was still ali­ve, and I got incredi­b­ly hea­vy boots about how rela­tively insi­gni­fi­cant life is, and how, com­pa­red to the uni­ver­se and com­pa­red to time, it did­n’t even mat­ter if I exis­ted at all. When Dad was tuck­ing me in that night and we were tal­king about the book, I asked if he could think of a solu­ti­on to that pro­blem. “Which pro­blem?” “The pro­blem of how rela­tively insi­gni­fi­cant we are.” He said, “Well, what would hap­pen if a pla­ne drop­ped you in the midd­le of the Saha­ra Desert and you picked up a sin­gle grain of sand with tweezers and moved it one mil­li­me­ter?” I said, “I’d pro­bab­ly die of dehy­dra­ti­on.” He said, “I just mean right then, when you moved that sin­gle grain of sand. What would that mean?” I said, “I dun­no, what?” He said, “Think about it.” I thought about it. “I guess I would have moved a grain of sand.” “Which would mean?” “Which would mean I moved a grain of sand?” “Which would mean you chan­ged the Saha­ra.” “So?” “So? So the Saha­ra is a vast desert. And it has exis­ted for mil­li­ons of years. And you chan­ged it!” “That’s true!” I said, sit­ting up. “I chan­ged the Saha­ra!” “Which means?” he said. “What? Tell me.” “Well, I’m not tal­king about pain­ting the Mona Lisa or curing can­cer. I’m just tal­king about moving that one grain of sand one mil­li­me­ter.” “Yeah?” “If you had­n’t done it, human histo­ry would have been one way…” “Uh-huh?” “But you did do it, so…?” I stood in the bed, poin­ted my fin­gers at the fake stars, and screa­med: “I chan­ged the cour­se of human histo­ry!” “That’s right.” “I chan­ged the uni­ver­se!” “You did.” “I’m God!” “You’­re an athe­ist.” “I don’t exist!” I fell back onto the bed, into his arms, and we cra­cked up together.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Extre­me­ly Loud & Incredi­b­ly Close)

What if the water that came out of the sho­wer was trea­ted with a che­mi­cal that respon­ded to a com­bi­na­ti­on of things, like your heart­beat, and your body tem­pe­ra­tu­re, and your brain waves, so that your skin chan­ged color accord­ing to your mood? If you were extre­me­ly exci­ted your skin would turn green, and if you were angry you’d turn red, obvious­ly, and if you felt like shii­ta­ke you’d turn brown, and if you were blue you’d turn blue.
Ever­yo­ne could know what ever­yo­ne else felt, and we could be more care­ful with each other, becau­se you’d never want to tell a per­son who­se skin was pur­p­le that you’­re angry at her for being late, just like you would want to pat a pink per­son on the back and tell him, “Congra­tu­la­ti­ons!”
Ano­t­her rea­son it would be a good inven­ti­on is that the­re are so many times when you know you’­re fee­ling a lot of some­thing, but you don’t know what the some­thing is. Am I frus­tra­ted? Am I actual­ly just pani­cky? And that con­fu­si­on chan­ges your mood, it beco­mes your mood, and you beco­me a con­fu­sed, gray per­son. But with the spe­cial water, you could look at your oran­ge hand and think, I’m hap­py! That who­le time I was actual­ly hap­py! What a relief!
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Extre­me­ly Loud & Incredi­b­ly Close)

Art is that thing having to do only with its­elf – the pro­duct of a suc­cess­ful attempt to make a work of art. Unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly, the­re are no examp­les of art, nor good rea­sons to think that it will ever exist. (Ever­ything that has been made has been made with a pur­po­se, ever­ything with an end that exists out­side that thing, i.e., ›I want to sell this‹, or ›I want this to make me famous and loved‹, or ›I want this to make me who­le‹, or worse, ›I want this to make others who­le‹.) And yet we con­ti­nue to wri­te, paint, sculpt, and com­po­se. Is this foo­lish of us?
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

Mr. Black said, “I once went to report on a vil­la­ge in Rus­sia, a com­mu­ni­ty of artists who were for­ced to flee the cities! I’d heard that pain­tings hung ever­y­whe­re! I heard you could­n’t see the walls through all of the pain­tings! They’d pain­ted the cei­lings, the pla­tes, the win­dows, the lamp­sha­des! Was it an act of rebel­li­on! An act of expres­si­on! Were the pain­tings good, or was that bes­i­de the point! I nee­ded to see it for mys­elf, and I nee­ded to tell the world about it! I used to live for repor­ting like that! Sta­lin found out about the com­mu­ni­ty and sent his thugs in, just a few days befo­re I got the­re, to break all of their arms! That was worse than kil­ling them! It was a hor­ri­ble sight, Oskar: their arms in cru­de splints, strai­ght in front of them like zom­bies! They could­n’t feed them­sel­ves, becau­se they could­n’t get their hands to their mouths! So you know what they did!” “They star­ved?” “They fed each other! That’s the dif­fe­rence bet­ween hea­ven and hell! In hell we star­ve! In hea­ven we feed each other!” “I don’t belie­ve in the after­li­fe.” “Neit­her do I, but I belie­ve in the story!”
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Extre­me­ly Loud & Incredi­b­ly Close)

Let me tell you a sto­ry, the Dial went on. The house that your gre­at-gre­at-gre­at-grand­mo­ther and I moved into when we first beca­me mar­ried loo­ked out onto the small falls (…). It had wood floo­rs, long win­dows, and enough room for a lar­ge fami­ly. It was a hand­so­me house. A good house.
But the water, your gre­at-gre­at-gre­at-grand­mo­ther said, I can’t hear mys­elf think.
Time, I urged her. Give it time.
And let me tell you, while the house was unre­a­son­ab­ly humid, and the front lawn per­pe­tu­al mud from all the spray, while the walls nee­ded to be repa­pe­red every six mon­ths, and chips of paint fell from the cei­ling like snow for all sea­sons, what they say about peop­le who live next to water­falls is true.
What
, my grand­f­a­ther asked, do they say?
They say that peop­le who live next to water­falls don’t hear the water.
They say that?
They do. Of cour­se, your gre­at-gre­at-gre­at-grand­mo­ther was right. It was ter­ri­ble at first. We could­n’t stand to be in the house for more than a few hours at a time. The first two weeks were fil­led with nights of inter­mit­tent sleep and quar­re­ling for the sake of being heard over the water. We fought so much just to remind our­sel­ves that we were in love, and not in hate.
But the next weeks were a litt­le bet­ter. It was pos­si­ble to sleep a few good hours each night and eat in only mild dis­com­fort. Your gre­at-gre­at-gre­at-grand­mo­ther still cur­sed the water (who­se per­so­ni­fi­ca­ti­on had beco­me ana­to­mi­c­al­ly refi­ned), but less fre­quent­ly, and with less fury. Her attacks on me also quie­ted. It’s your fault, she would say. You wan­ted to live here.
Life con­ti­nued, as life con­ti­nues, and time pas­sed, as time pas­ses, and after a litt­le more than two mon­ths: Do you hear that? I asked her on one of the rare mornings we sat at the table tog­e­ther. Hear it? I put down my cof­fee and rose from my chair. You hear that thing?
What thing? she asked.
Exact­ly! I said, run­ning out­side to pump my fist at the water­fall. Exactly!
We dan­ced, thro­wing hand­fuls of water in the air, hea­ring not­hing at all. We alter­na­ted hugs of for­gi­ve­ness and shouts of human tri­umph at the water. Who wins the day? Who wins the day, water­fall? We do! We do!
And this is what living next to a water­fall is like, Safran. Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwa­vering grie­ving, to rea­li­ze she slept a good night’s sleep, and will be able to eat bre­ak­fast, and does­n’t hear her husband’s ghost all the time, but only some of the time. Her grief is repla­ced with a use­ful sad­ness. Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again. The tim­bre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt les­sens. Every love is car­ved from loss. Mine was. Yours is. Your great-great-great-grandchildren’s will be. But we learn to live in that love.

(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

I love you also means I love you more than anyo­ne loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyo­ne else, and never will love anyo­ne else.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

She never said no and never said yes, but pul­led, sla­cke­ned, pul­led her strings of control.
Pull: ›What would be nicest‹, she would say, ›is if I had a tall glass of iced tea‹. What hap­pen­ed next: the men raced to get one for her. The first to return might get a peck on the forehead (sla­cken), or (pull) a pro­mi­sed walk (to be gran­ted at a later date), or (sla­cken) a simp­le ›Thank you, good­bye‹. She main­tai­ned a care­ful balan­ce by her win­dow, never allowing the men to come too clo­se, never allowing them to stray too far. She nee­ded them desper­ate­ly, not only for the favors, not only for the things that they could get for Yan­kel and her that Yan­kel could­n’t afford, but becau­se they were a few more fin­gers to plug the dike that held back what she knew to be true: she did­n’t love life. The­re was no con­vin­cing rea­son to live.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

Brod’s life was a slow rea­liz­a­ti­on that the world was not for her, and that for wha­te­ver rea­son, she would never be hap­py and honest at the same time. She felt as if she were brim­ming, always pro­du­cing and hoar­ding more love insi­de her. But the­re was no release. Table, ivory ele­phant charm, rain­bow, oni­on, hair­do, mol­lusk, Shab­bos, vio­lence, cuti­cle, melo­dra­ma, ditch, honey, doi­ly… None of it moved her. She addres­sed her world honest­ly, sear­ching for some­thing deser­ving of the volu­mes of love she knew she had wit­hin her, but to each she would have to say, I don’t love you. Bark-brown fence post: I don’t love you. Poem too long: I don’t love you. Lunch in a bowl: I don’t love you. Phy­sics, the idea of you, the laws of you: I don’t love you. Not­hing felt like anything more than what it actual­ly was. Ever­ything was just a thing, mired com­ple­te­ly in its thingness.
If we were to open a ran­dom page in her jour­nal – which she must have kept and kept with her at all times, not fea­ring that it would be lost, dis­co­ve­r­ed and read, but that she would one day stumb­le upon that thing which was final­ly worth wri­ting about and remem­be­ring, only to find that she had no place to wri­te it – we would find some ren­de­ring of the fol­lowing sen­ti­ment: I am not in love.
So she had to satisfy herself with the idea of love – loving the loving of things who­se exis­tence she did­n’t care at all about. Love its­elf beca­me the object of her love. She loved herself in love, she loved loving love, as love loves loving, and was able, in that way, to recon­ci­le herself with a world that fell so short of what she would have hoped for. It was not the world that was the gre­at and saving lie, but wil­ling­ness to make it beau­ti­ful and fair, to live a once-remo­ved life, in a world once-remo­ved from the one in which ever­yo­ne else see­med to exist.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Ever­ything is Illuminated)

I never thought about things at all, ever­ything chan­ged, the distance that wed­ged its­elf bet­ween me and my hap­pi­ness was­n’t the world, it was­n’t the bombs or bur­ning buil­dings, it was me, my thin­king, the can­cer of never let­ting go, is igno­ran­ce bliss, I don’t know, but it’s so pain­ful to think, and tell me, what did thin­king ever do for me, to what gre­at place did thin­king ever bring me? I think and think and think, I’ve thought mys­elf out of hap­pi­ness one mil­li­on times, but never once into it.
(Jona­than Safran Foer – Extre­me­ly Loud and Incredi­b­ly Close)