“And so the naturalist’s almanac, one of this library’s oldest inhabitants, witness to our nights of reading at Missembourg, tells us of events that have resounded in the walls of this old house, of meteors that have streaked through the skies, of trees struck by lightning, flowers startled by frost, of hailstorms, showers, and drought. But here, in the library, time has stood still for 108 years. Only the fine gray snow of dust commingled with moments gathers slowly on the edges of books in the almost geological strata by which time in libraries is measured. For these books measure time. Some here have an embarrassed air from still being white along the edges. Others, in addition to the dust that makes them seem dressed in comfy old suits, retain traces of each reading, and commemorate its events…”
Translated by Edward Gauvin
“The natives, they [John Fenwick and his family] looked upon as savages in a literal sense, and dreaded the necessity of any intercourse with them; regarding the wild beasts of the forest with less fear, and more easily controlled. Under these circumstances did our ancestors turn their ship from the ocean into Delaware bay and ascend the river, ignorant of where should be their abiding place.” — Thomas Shourds, History and Genealogy of Fenwick’s Colony, New Jersey (1876)
“Like the seafarer, the peregrine lives in a pouring-away world of no attachment, a world of wakes and tilting, of sinking planes of land and water. We who are anchored cannot envisage this freedom of the eye. The peregrine sees and remembers patterns we do not know exist: the neat squares of orchard and woodland, the endlessly varying quadrilateral shapes of fields. He finds his way across the land by a succession of remembered symmetries.”
“… a novel could be written about those changes in color in the sky and the transformations of the clouds between, say, six and eight, so long as the author confined himself to the most rigorous realism. The resulting novel, a report on atmospheric colors, shifts, and flows, would be the apotheosis of life’s futility. Why not? A supremely stupid saga; the world was ripe for such a work, or would be by the time he finished writing it… ‘Adventures,’ he said to himself, ‘are always adventures in boredom.'”
I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never–”
“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.
– Stephen Crane, “I saw a man pursuing the horizon”