Archive for the Quote of the Day Category

Art of Power

Posted in New release, Non Fiction, Quote of the Day with tags , , on January 25, 2013 by jaclemens

ImageThis was a new release when I started reading it, and I am still categorizing it as such. The triviality of the two months it took me to read and review it has no bearing on the subject matter or the presentation; Thomas Jefferson is fascinating, and Jon Meacham could win another Pulitzer Prize for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. In it another aspect of Jefferson is brought to light: “He dreamed big but understood that dreams become reality only when their champions are strong enough and wily enough to bend history to their purposes.” Jefferson was a philosopher, but that did not make him an ideologue. He was pragmatic, both in his personal affairs and his public service. He learned how to acquire and wield power early in his career and put those lessons into practice. It takes power to withstand tyranny, and Jefferson was a champion of democracy. Jefferson was narrowly elected president, but his principles guided four of the five presidents who succeeded him. “And so began the Age of Jefferson, a political achievement without parallel in American life,” Meacham writes. Would that it were so to this day, sir.


“To be unwatched is good”

Posted in Events, Poetry, Quote of the Day with tags , , , on April 1, 2011 by jaclemens

That notion runs counter to our current social media saturation – indeed to this very blog – yet it was Michael Ondaatje’s message for aspiring writers. Speaking at the University of Utah on Wednesday, the internationally-acclaimed author impressed upon his audience the need to start small: small projects with small presses and publications. This allows an author to experiment with form and genre (like Ondaatje) and discover an individual voice without being subjected to scrutiny too soon.

Ondaatje continues to start small in his writing, beginning with a single scene and finding his characters and his story through his first of many handwritten drafts. It is a lengthy process of discovery, but for Ondaatje there is a “pleasure in rewriting that is magical.” He considers the best time in writing to be when the story is still a secret to be shared privately with his alpha readers, away from the discerning eyes of copy editors, critics, and his legion of fans. Ondaatje was gracious enough to make three public appearances during his trip to Salt Lake City, but he still appreciates those times when he can go unwatched.

In honor of it being the first day of National Poetry Month, here is “The Time Around Scars” from The Dainty Monsters by Michael Ondaatje:

A girl whom I’ve not spoken to
or shared coffee with for several years
writes of an old scar.
On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white,
the size of a leech.
I gave it to her
brandishing a new Italian penknife.
Look, I said turning,
and blood spat onto her shirt.

My wife has scars like spread raindrops
on knees and ankles,
she talks of broken greenhouse panes
and yet, apart from imagining red feet,
(a nymph out of Chagall)
I bring little to that scene.
We remember the time around scars,
they freeze irrelevant emotions
and divide us from present friends.
I remember this girl’s face,
the widening rise of surprise.

And would she
moving with lover or husband
conceal or flaunt it,
or keep it at her wrist
a mysterious watch.
And this scar I then remember
is a medallion of no emotion.

I would meet you now
and I would wish this scar
to have been given with
all the love
that never occurred between us.

Quote of the Day

Posted in Quote of the Day with tags on May 2, 2008 by jaclemens

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Literally Life Changing

Posted in Quote of the Day with tags on March 8, 2008 by jaclemens

At a veritable crossroads in my life, when I was unemployed and living in a motel, I turned to Leon Uris, one of my favorite authors, for guidance. I was reading Mitla Pass for the first time, and this is what I found:

One of the cheapest commodities in the world is unfulfilled genius. All of us want to be known as a unique individual, the one who broke out of the pack. So, you offer yourself up as a sacrifice and what you’re afraid of is losing and being thrown back into the pack. One question taunts you. Do you want to have, or do you want to be?”

I copied that quote down and put it on the mirror of my motel room. My answer to that question got me out of the motel and back on track. It literally changed my life. How has literature impacted your life?

Quote of the Day

Posted in Quote of the Day with tags , , on February 18, 2008 by jaclemens

“Books written by thinkers – men who thought and dared to express their thoughts – are always worth reading. I care not whether their authors were Atheists or Methodists, Heathen or Mohammedan; the life’s blood of the author circulates through them, and in reading you feel its pulsations. But books written by men who never saw with their own eyes, who never put out their hands, and felt the world for themselves, nor took one manly step, are the faintest echoes from the distant hills compared with the heaven-shaking thunder that produced them.”

Denton, title page of Rocky Mountain Saints